A-level Physics: AS Level

Physicists explore the fundamental nature of almost everything we know of. They probe the furthest reaches of the earth to study the smallest pieces of matter. Join them to enter a world deep beneath the surface of normal human experience.

Possible degree options
According to, the top seven degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Physics are:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science
  • Civil Engineering
  • Economics
  • Business.

Possible career options
Studying A-level Physics offers a large number of amazing career opportunities including:

  • Geophysicist/field seismologist
  • Healthcare scientist, medical physics
  • Higher education lecturer
  • Radiation protection practitioner
  • Research scientist (physical sciences)
  • Scientific laboratory technician
  • Secondary school teacher
  • Meteorologist
  • Operational researcher
  • Patent attorney
  • Product/process development scientist
  • Systems developer
  • Technical author.

You can also move into engineering, astrophysics, chemical physics, nanotechnology, renewable energy and more, the opportunities are endless and even financial services.

Topics covered

AS and first year of A-level Second year of A-level
  • Measurements and their errors
  • Particles and radiation
  • Waves
  • Mechanics and energy
  • Electricity
  • Further mechanics and thermal physics
  • Fields
  • Nuclear physics
  • Plus one option from the following – ask your teacher which is offered at your school or college
  • Astrophysics

AS Physics lasts one year, with exams at the end. A-level Physics lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year. The table over shows the topics covered in each year.

Practical work
Physics, like all sciences, is a practical subject. Throughout the course you will carry out many practical activities.
The practical work will give you the skills and confidence needed to investigate the way things behave and work. It will also ensure that if you choose to study a Physics-based subject at university, you’ll have the practical skills needed to carry out successful experiments in your degree.

There is no coursework but your performance during practical work will be assessed. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Physics are based on what you learned in your practical work.
There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long.
The AS has two exams at the end of the year. Both are 1 hour 30 minutes long.

Entry requirements
Grade B or higher in physics or double science. It would be an advantage to have a good grade in Mathematics (many, but not all physics A-level students also do Maths).