A Level Physics
Science stretches the limits of my imagination and creative thought, allowing me to appreciate the world around me, from the seemingly mundane to the astonishingly grand.
Dr Kirwan (Teacher of Science)
Exam Board: AQA
8 or more GCSEs at grades A*–C including a minimum grade B in GCSE Chemistry or Double Award/Core and Additional Science.
Physics is the study of how our universe works, its rules and mechanics, and the scientific techniques which lie behind great discoveries. This specification has been developed for students who wish to continue with a study of Physics after GCSE. The course will prepare students to progress into further education, to follow courses in physics, engineering, one of the other sciences or related subjects, or to enter employment where a knowledge of physics would be useful. While the teaching of practical skills may be integrated with the theoretical topics, they are assessed separately.
If you love your sciences, then there is an enormous range of career options out there. And it’s not just about medicine, although if you’re looking at mostly range of A* and A at GCSE, then medicine is obviously a fulfilling, if highly competitive, career option. The real challenge for so-called STEM students (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) is to build your understanding of the myriad of jobs out there in order to find the most engaging career path for you.
- Earth Science (for example, meteorologist, hydrologist, soil scientist, environmental scientist)
- Biological Science (zoologist, embryologist, botanist)
- Pure & Applied Physics (for example, astronomer)
- Industrial & Analytical Chemistry (forensic scientist, toxicologist, cosmetic scientist, polymer technologist)
- Medicine (for example, doctor, radiographer, pharmacist, lab assistant)
- Engineering (for example, electrical engineer, civil engineer, biomedical engineer, chemical engineer, acoustic engineer)
- Animal care (for example, veterinary nurse, zoo keeper)
- Conservation (for example, marine biologist, environmental officer)
- Construction (for example, scaffolding engineer, surveyor, electrician).
Entry & Training
Science degrees are as many and varied as the career options, with a whole range of diversity even within an individual subject. For example, if you were interested in studying Physics, you could choose to apply for a degree in straight Physics, or Physics with Theoretical Physics, Physics and Music Performance, Physics with Science Education, Physics with Astrophysics, Physics and Business Studies, Physics and Astronomy, Physics and Philosophy, Chemical Physics, Mathematical Physics etc. It will be important to think hard about what interests you and where it will take you and then to spend time researching what is on offer. For this reason we haven’t included a listing of top universities for the three science subjects; there are so many different categories in the STEM subjects – the Guardian League Table lists Chemistry, Biological Sciences, Earth & Marine Sciences and Physics, as well as six different forms of engineering and three different healthcare categories, so a quick league HA league table would be more misleading than helpful. If you need some help in working out which are best universities for your subject, speak to your teacher or the Careers Co-ordinator.
A STEM degree will give you the opportunity to develop excellent subject-specific laboratory techniques, but as sciences overlap with other subjects, you’ll also pick up skills that are useful in other areas. As well as developing strong mathematical/numerical ability, the sciences will give you transferable skills, including analysis and problem-solving, time management and organisation, written and oral communication, monitoring/maintaining records and data, teamwork, IT and technology. You’re also likely to gain an awareness of ethical implications and issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability. For scientists who want to pursue a career straight from school, there are entry level options, including apprenticeship places, for roles such as health improvement assistant, medical laboratory assistant, nursing assistant, clinical trials assistant, power technician and plant maintenance. As with all apprenticeships, the best place to start your search is with the government’s apprenticeship website www.gov.uk/apprenticeships-guide.