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Programme Specification: Part IA Physics

The course is taught by the Department of Physics.


  1. to consolidate school physics, providing a more analytical framework for Newtonian statics and dynamics, oscillations and waves, electric circuits, and gravitational and electromagnetic fields, and to introduce new themes, including special relativity and quantum mechanics;
  2. to bridge the gap between school and university level physics by encouraging mathematical model building and by broadening the perspective, so that students appreciate the generality of the laws of physics;
  3. to develop basic skills in the collecting and analysis of experimental data;
  4. to provide a sound foundation for later courses in physics and in other physical sciences.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students who should

  1. have attained a sound level in basic physics, and laid a secure foundation for NST Part IB Physics A and Physics B, and for other NST Part IB courses;
  2. have developed problem-solving skills in basic physics;
  3. have developed experimental and data analysis skills through a range of straightforward experiments in the practical laboratories;
  4. have developed communication skills in describing physical arguments and reporting the results of experiments.

Teaching and learning methods

These include lectures, supervisions and practical classes.


Assessment for this course is through

  • one unseen examination, based on lectures and some practical class material (for aims 1-2, 4 and learning outcomes 1-2);
  • continuously assessed practical work (for aims 2-4 and learning outcomes 3-4).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: A Level Physics and Mathematics, or Mathematics and Further Mathematics (with three units of Mechanics).

Useful: AS or A Level Further Mathematics. We also expect students to take the Part IA Mathematics Paper in parallel with Physics.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.