At a glance – the CCSS approach

Physics attempts to explain what we see, predict what we will find in the future and detect what has gone on in the past. From Newton and Galileo to Einstein and Hawking – where and how do their discoveries affect us in everyday life? With a practical approach and entertaining style, physics at CCSS has a very strong record of students going on to take the subjects at university.

Cambridge University has a wealth of scientific opportunity and you will be guided towards making the most of both CCSS and university physics.

As with all sciences, new discoveries are being made that are causing us to re-evaluate our approaches and thoughts.

Exam Board: OCR (Spec A) with Practical assessments

Course content and assessment

The one-year Physics course at CCSS follows the OCR syllabus A and covers the first AS module, Mechanics, in the first three weeks. This includes such topics as motion, energy, materials and moments. The second AS module, Electrons, Photons and Waves, is covered in the next five weeks. As the name implies this includes electricity, waves and elementary quantum physics.

This speed is only possible because much of the AS course is revision of GCSE Physics, so the emphasis is on covering the new areas and practising harder problems on the familiar topics. Ideally a student tackling the one-year course should therefore revise the whole of the GCSE course before starting in September.

The remainder of the first term is spent on the first A2 module, The Newtonian World, and covers momentum, circular motion, gravitation, simple harmonic motion and thermal physics.

The second term completes the first A2 module and covers the second A2 module, Fields, Particles and Frontiers of Physics. This covers electrostatics, capacitance, electromagnetism and electromagnetic induction, radioactivity, health physics and cosmology.

The emphasis within lessons is on gaining a good understanding of the topics, so little time is dedicated to note-taking or solving examples. Notes are provided and the examples supplied each lesson must be completed for the next lesson, where any difficulties are explained. Ability to work through examples is then reinforced rigourously through homework and the feedback given to these.

With the topics covered at a very fast pace a real commitment is needed outside of lessons to read round each topic, learn the work as it is covered and complete the large amount of problems set.


Physics is a practical subject and whether it is a spring or a helium/neon laser, you will come across it at some time.

Throughout the first term practicals are performed every week and the AS assessments, which count as the third module, are completed towards the end of the first term. Practicals are again performed every week during the second term, and the A2 assessments which count as the sixth module are completed at appropriate times.

Due to the pace of the course and the time available the range of practicals performed is not as extensive as in the two-year course, but those which are omitted will be seen through demonstrations.

Suitable combinations

Physics combines well with all other sciences and maths, but is also a highly respected subject when in combination with arts based subjects. Physics, Maths and Fine Art is the ideal combination for Architecture.

Background needed

Students should have a good grounding in Physics and Mathematics and a tendency of being able to pick up and assimilate new information and concepts readily. Students who perform best on the One-Year course are those that have completed the AS Level already or who have done a similar course to a similar standard.

Students taking One-Year Physics would benefit very strongly from taking A Level Mathematics is where there is a high level of cross over with the mechanics unit. However, if you do not do A Level maths we will cover any additional mathematics that you need in class. The main characteristics you need are a willingness to work hard and an enquiring mind.

After A Level

Apart from degrees in Physics (and applied fields such as Space Technology, Medical Physics, Astronomy and Acoustics) the most important area generally requiring A Level Physics is engineering in all its diversity: General, Mechanical, Civil, Electrical, Aeronautical and Electronic. It is also useful in Computing and is one of the main sciences accepted by Medical, Veterinary and Radiology Schools.