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Course Description

This course includes a broad exposure to the historical and contemporary concepts that underpin modern physics. It includes a wide range of required practicals to ensure students will be trained in working scientifically so that they can think scientifically; develop experimental skills and strategies; analyse and evaluate; and develop scientific literacy (inclusive of numeracy, vocabulary and schemas). This course covers content and skills that link with geography, history, mathematics and physical education.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed by external exam only. The two papers are sat at the end of year 11 and assess different topics:

  • Paper 1: Energy; Electricity; Particle model of matter; and Atomic structure.
  • Paper 2: Forces; Waves; Magnetism and electromagnetism; and Space physics.

Each paper is 50% of the GCSE, made up of 100 marks and are 1 hour 45 minutes long. There are different styles of questions including multiple choice, structured, closed short answer, and open response questions. 

40% of marks will be based on demonstrating knowledge and understanding (AO1); 40% of marks will be based on applying that knowledge and understanding (AO2) and 20% on analysing given information and ideas (AO3). There is also a significant maths/numeracy component to the examinations.

Foundation and higher tier versions of the papers are available and students will sit the papers that are most suitable for them. Foundation tier papers are for those likely to achieve a grade between 1 and 5, whereas higher tier papers are for those likely to achieve a grade between 4 and 9.

What will I learn?




  • Energy stores and changes
  • Energy conservation and efficiency
  • Energy resources


  • Current, potential difference and resistance
  • Series and parallel circuits
  • Domestic uses and safety
  • Static electricity

Particle model of matter

  • Changes of state and the particle model
  • Internal energy and energy transfers
  • Particle model and pressures

Atomic structure

  • Atoms, isotopes and the development of the atomic model
  • Atoms and nuclear radiation
  • Background radiation & hazards of radiation
  • Nuclear fission and fusion


  • Forces and their interactions
  • Work done and energy transfer
  • Forces and elasticity
  • Moments, levers and gears
  • Pressure
  • Forces and motion; momentum


  • Waves in air, fluids and solids
  • Electromagnetic waves
  • Black body radiation

Magnetism and electro-magnetism

  • Magnetic forces and fields
  • The motor effect
  • Electromagnetic induction, transfers & the National Grid

Space physics

  • Our solar system, orbital motions & satellites
  • The life cycle of a star
  • Red-shift

What could I do next?

GCSE Physics allows for natural progress to A level biology in post-16. Students not wishing to study physics further will find the knowledge and skills developed on the GCSE Physics course are relevant in other post-sixteen courses and may directly complement other A-level subjects such as mathematics, sports science and chemistry. The knowledge acquired can also be utilised to provide examples of natural systems and interactions that have analogues in settings that are not explicitly scientific e.g. in art, business or engineering.