Skip to main content

Unraveling the quirks and quarks of Physics

At RIC Physics is an adventure into the mind-boggling principles that make the universe tick. Our GCSE and A level courses mix the nuts and bolts of Physics with a sprinkle of creativity, encouraging students to dive into everything from the mysteries of quantum mechanics to the fundamentals of classical physics. 

With a team of passionate teachers ready to guide and inspire, students get to grips with the big ideas while enjoying a hands-on approach to learning. We love a good experiment here, and our labs are buzzing with nifty projects that bring theory to life. 

Whether you're dreaming of a career in science or just love figuring out how things work Physics at RIC is all about sparking curiosity and building a solid foundation in scientific thinking.

RIC students hae recently gone off to study Physics at universities including Imperial and UCL. 


Exam Specifications

Assessment methods 

100% written Assessment. No coursework or practical assessed component. 

Length of exams: 3 x 2 hour papers

Paper 1: Units 1 to 6.1
Paper 2: Units 6.2 to 8
Paper 3: Practical Skills and data Analysis plus Option Topic

Breakdown of units

1. Measurements and their Errors: Content in this section is a continuing study for a student of physics. A working knowledge of the specified fundamental (base) units of measurement is vital. Likewise, practical work in the subject needs to be underpinned by an awareness of the nature of measurement errors and of their numerical treatment.

2. Particles and Radiation: This section introduces students both to the fundamental properties of matter, and to electromagnetic radiation and quantum phenomena. Through a study of these topics, students become aware of the way ideas develop and evolve in physics. They will appreciate the importance of international collaboration in the development of new experiments and theories in this area of fundamental research.

3. Waves: GCSE studies of wave phenomena are extended through a development of knowledge of the characteristics, properties, and applications of travelling waves and stationary waves. Topics treated include refraction, diffraction, superposition and interference.

4. Mechanics and Materials: Vectors and their treatment are introduced followed by development of the student’s knowledge and understanding of forces, energy and momentum. The section continues with a study of materials considered in terms of their bulk properties and tensile strength.

5. Electricity: This section builds on and develops earlier study of these phenomena from GCSE. It provides opportunities for the development of practical skills at an early stage in the course and lays the groundwork for later study of the many electrical applications that are important to society.

6. Further Mechanics and Thermal Physics: The earlier study of mechanics is further advanced through a consideration of circular motion and simple harmonic motion (the harmonic oscillator). A further section allows the thermal properties of materials, the properties and nature of ideal gases, and the molecular kinetic theory to be studied in depth.

7. Fields and their Consequences: The concept of field is one of the great unifying ideas in physics. The ideas of gravitation, electrostatics and magnetic field theory are developed within the topic to emphasise this unification. Many ideas from mechanics and electricity from earlier in the course support this and are further developed. Practical applications considered include: planetary and satellite orbits, capacitance and capacitors, their charge and discharge through resistors, and electromagnetic induction. These topics have considerable impact on modern society.

8. Nuclear Physics: This section builds on the work of Particles and radiation to link the properties of the nucleus to the production of nuclear power through the characteristics of the nucleus, the properties of unstable nuclei, and the link between energy and mass. Students should become aware of the physics that underpins nuclear energy production and also of the impact that it can have on society.

Option Topic: Turning Points in Physics: This option is intended to enable key concepts and developments in physics to be studied in greater depth than in the core content. Students will be able to appreciate, from historical and conceptual viewpoints, the significance of major paradigm shifts for the subject in the perspectives of experimentation and understanding.


GCSE study in physics provides the foundations for understanding the material world. Scientific understanding is changing our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all students should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. They should be helped to appreciate how the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas relating to the sciences which are both inter-linked, and are of universal application. These key ideas include:

  • the use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound
  • the concept of cause and effect in explaining such links as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions
  • the phenomena of ‘action at a distance’ and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects
  • that differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change
  • that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science
  • that physical laws and models are expressed in mathematical form.


    Two exams to be taken at the end of the course Assessment will be focused on AQA’s three criteria:
    AO1) Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific techniques and procedures
    AO2) Apply knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific techniques and procedures
    AO3) Analyse information and ideas to: interpret and evaluate; make judgements and draw conclusions; develop and improve experimental procedures.

Curious about Physics?

Introductory video - Physics in life


What can I do with a degree in Physics?

Advice from the Top Universities website

Another perspective from Prospects website

What needs solving in Physics? Where are we up to and where are we going?

Finding things tricky? You are not alone…


Cutting edge yet accessible Physics? Have a listen

For those interested in Astrophysics

But where is Professor Brian Cox? Oh yes, of course…


Need to brush up on the basics but haven’t much time?

Try here

And finally… Don’t try this at home…

Quirky quantum quandries

Imperial College graduate Paul Dutton has been Head of Physics since 2003. The department is hoping to repeat the successful trip to Tenerife where the A level Astrophysics module was taught to a group of sixth formers from Rochester, using the resources of the famous observatory there. This year a group of A level students visited The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Oxford to take part in a Particle Physics masterclass. We are also planning a trip to CERN in Switzerland for A level Physicists.

Paul says: "The College attracts very high quality science students from both the UK and overseas who complete A levels, often in a year from scratch, and proceed to university."

Joining Paul in the Physics department is Oliver King who joined RIC in 2023. Oliver was a higher education outreach ambassador and researcher at Canterbury Christ Church University. He holds a First Class (Hons) degree in Chemical Engineering and obtained his PGCE (Hons) in secondary education as a physics specialist. Oliver's research focused on water treatment and microplastic capture, and he continues this work at RIC, leading efforts in the school plastic-free schools campaign and promoting sustainability.

Beyond his role at RIC, Oliver works closely with local higher education providers as a STEM Ambassador, aiming to increase participation in STEM-based degrees for individuals from diverse backgrounds.