Physics Wind TurbinePhysics is entering into a very exciting and interesting period and currently features very prominently in the media, whether it be the work carried out at CERN that has led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson, the latest NASA space missions to Mars with the Curiosity Rover and to comet 67P with Rosetta or simply a Brian Cox series on the BBC, Physics is never far away from the spotlight and is probably enjoying its most prominent position since the Space Race of the 1960s.

All lower school students study Physics. The 4th form get introduced to the subject and then study topics that will prepare them for the GCSE years. We aim to get them excited about Physics and science whilst giving them the skills that they will need later on. All Cranleigh students study Physics at GCSE level either separately or as part of a combined science qualification (Double Award Science). Physics is a popular choice in the Sixth Form with around 30 students usually choosing it in the L6th and around 20 electing to carry on with Physics until the end of school. Students follow the Edexcel International GCSE specification in the lower school and the new AQA specification at A-Level.

The Department itself is located in a new, purpose built building; the labs are modern and well resourced. The teachers within the Department have a range of experience but all are enthusiastic and dedicated to transferring their passion for the subject to the students through their teaching, which might explain why Physics is one of the most successful departments within the school in terms of exam results.


The 4th form curriculum gives pupils an introduction to elements of the GCSE course as well ensuring they develop their practical and mathematical skills that will stand them in good stead in subsequent years. The main topics covered involve waves, radioactivity, forces and space whilst also looking at the history and discoveries of great physicists such as Newton, Curie and Faraday.

In the Lower 5th and Upper 5th pupils focus entirely on studying the Edexcel International GCSE specification which involves both practical and theory work. The topics covered include Forces and Motion, Electricity, Waves, Energy, Magnetism & Electromagnetism, Radioactivity and Solids, Liquids & Gases. They either opt to work towards a stand-alone GCSE qualification in each science or a combined science qualification called Double Award Science (DAS) which equates to two full GCSEs.


AQA’s Physics specification provides the basis of an innovative course that has been designed to engage and inspire students. It has been designed with input from teachers and universities in order to develop a specification that will inspire and motivate students and suit a variety of interests. In addition, there is a strong focus on practical work and developing experimental skills throughout the two years. The practical element is assessed in the written exam papers and by the completion of 12 core practicals.

The full A-Level is examined by three exams testing material from both the L6 and U6 year. The last of the three A-Level papers includes questions on one optional topic that we select from a range of five.

Further details of topic areas can be found below:

  1. Measurements and their errors*
  2. Particles and radiation*
  3. Waves*
  4. Mechanics and materials*
  5. Electricity*
  6. Further mechanics and thermal physics
  7. Fields and their consequences
  8. Nuclear physics
  9. Optional Topic (one will be studied)
  • Astrophysics
  • Medical physics
  • Engineering physics
  • Turning points in physics
  • Electronics

* indicates an AS topic