We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more

AS Course


Aims and design of the AS course

The Advanced Subsidiary (AS) component of Advancing Physics is designed to attract students to physics, and to give them a good basis for future choice. It provides an introduction to physics and its uses that is thoroughly worth studying on its own, and which prepares the way for possible further study, by offering:
  • a broad vision of physics as it is today, including modern developments in imaging and visualisation, micro-electronics and sensors, communications technology, and modern developments in design and uses of materials;
  • a novel but very simple introduction to the essence of quantum mechanical thinking;
  • all the core topics required in all physics AS-levels, particularly electric circuits, waves and mechanics;
  • training in essential skills of experimentation and data handling, including dealing with uncertainty and systematic error.

AS course content

Physics in Action


1. Imaging
Image capture, image processing, lenses and optics, bits and bytes, ideas about information

2. Sensing
Instrumentation, use of sensors, current, potential difference, power, d.c. circuit theory up to the potential divider

3. Signalling
Digital signals, telephone, email, radio and television, spectra and polarisation, bandwidth and information

Designer Materials

4. Testing Materials
Mechanical and electrical properties of materials, types and uses of materials.

5. Looking Inside Materials
Explaining properties of materials in terms of structure at various scales; designing new materials.

Understanding Processes

Waves and Quantum Behaviour

6. Wave Behaviour
Superposition of waves, standing waves, colour and thin films, double slit, grating, diffraction, simple phasor picture

7. Quantum Behaviour
Quantum behaviour of photons and electrons, energy E = hf, 'many paths' picture of quantum behaviour

Space and Time

8. Mapping Space and Time
Vector quantities, vector addition, displacement and velocity, slopes of and areas under graphs

9. Computing the Next Move
Relative velocity, uniform acceleration, kinematic equations, F = ma, 'step-by-step' calculations, projectiles, uniform gravitational field, force, work and power

Case Studies: Quality of measurement

Case studies in quality of measurement, showing the importance of uncertainty and systematic error, and of resolution, sensitivity, calibration, stability, response time and zero error of instruments