Physics is at the heart of everything: from the very small to the very large


We study physics for three main reasons: physics is interesting, physics is useful and physics enables a wide variety of careers. It can be as practical as calculating the stresses in a bridge or as abstract as mapping the curved space-time near a black hole. Physics studies systems ranging in size from the smallest elementary particles to the entire universe.

In the first year you will cover mechanics, materials, DC electricity and wave behaviour, including a taster of quantum mechanics in the section on the nature of light. The second year of the A level course will extend your knowledge of mechanics as study moves to oscillations, electromagnetism, nuclear physics, thermal physics, particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology. In addition to the written examination papers you will sit, your teacher will make an assessment of your practical competence.


We regard the curriculum as a spring-board for exploring all fields of physics, which we encourage through a broad range of co-curricular activities. The Physics Society brings in external speakers and senior girls lead fun activities with the younger year groups including building robots.

Each year Paulinas take part in the British Physics Olympiad AS Challenge and have won numerous gold, silver and bronze awards. Senior girls thinking of pursuing engineering at university can be involved with the Engineering Education Scheme working with Halcrow. Last year, six of our senior girls took part by spending six months working at the local engineering company designing a pumping station and were rewarded with Gold CREST Awards. During the last academic year, two girls in the VII received the Arkwright Scholarship. The scheme aims to inspire and nurture future leaders in engineering and technical design by supporting students through their A level and encouraging them to pursue those subjects at university.

Girls are able to take participate in school trips to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, CERN in Switzerland, the Diamond Synchrotron in Oxfordshire and physics masterclasses at Imperial College.


In the last few years Paulinas have gone on to study physics and engineering courses at Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester and Imperial. Studying physics gives you an impressively diverse skill set, with significant links with other sciences and highly regarded by medical schools. There are strong interconnections between physics and other technical disciplines such as engineering, software design, nuclear medicine and materials science. The analytical and quantitative skills of a physicist are also widely applicable in areas such as management, law and finance.

‘Physicists can do pretty much anything. Our training can be applied to almost any activity, and it allows us to see things in ways that might not be obvious to others’
Simon Singh

Qualification : A level

Board : Edexcel

Mode of Assessment : 100% examination with Practical Endorsement (Pass/Fail)