A Physics is a one year senior course for students who wish to study more in depth physics before progressing to university. A description of the content of each fo the three taught units is given below. For more detailed information of the exact requirements of the course, you can download the SQA content statements which list requirements for each unit, however are fairly difficult to understand. There is also a description of what is involved in the investigation aspect of the course which accounts for 20% of the overall grade awarded in the subject.
Building heavily on content from higher physics, the AH mechanics unit looks at linear and circular motion in detail and carries out calculus based mathematics on each. The full concept of gravity and how it allows solar systems to remain stable is explored along with some of the more complex ideas such as black holes and relativity. Simple harmonic motion is investigated allowing students to analyse vibrations in simple structures. Finally, students discover more intricacies in the structure of matter and how this can be interchangeable with energy. The course investigates all of these concepts in reasonable detail and encourages students to ask questions and learn how to find answers. This unit is particularly suited to students preparing to embark on mechanical, civil or aerospace engineering, applied mathematics and pure physics courses.
Unlike Higher and standard grade, the AH study of Electrical Phenomena moves away from circuits and instead concentrates on electrical and magnetic field theory. The concepts involved can be difficult to visualise and understand however technology based on these theories shapes the way we live our lives day by day. The unit deals with the motion of charged particles in magnetic and electric fields and in combinations of the two. Concepts also covered include inductors, electrostatic forces and the mysterious forces inside a nucleus which hold it together. This unit is particularly suited to students preparing to embark on courses in pure physics, sound and electrical engineering or particle physics.
The third AH unit is shorter and deals mostly in the behaviour of waves and in particular light. The unit starts with a more generalised theory of travelling waves and investigates what happens when waves combine and interfere and also the effects of moving sources and observers. The concept of standing waves is studied, explaining the physics behind most musical instruments before the unit shifts to focus on the behaviour and interference of light. A number of complicated and yet incredibly useful concepts about interference in thin films is investigated. This unit is particularly suited to students preparing to embark on courses in sound engineering, pure physics, optics, mechanical engineering and structural engineering
The final part of the AH course is probably the most challenging and rewarding. Students are asked to investigate an aspect of physics either at or above advanced higher level. The most common style of investigation seeks to prove some sort of constant by multiple different experiments and compare the results and accuracy, or to investigate the physics behind a particular device which can include (but is not limited to) operational amplifiers and musical instruments.
Students are encouraged to choose an investigation which is related to the types of courses they are applying for, allowing them to play to their own strengths. Despite the volume of work involved and the associated time required, many students enjoy this part of the course.
The investigation requires two separate submissions. The final report is sent away and marked by external examiners and constitutes 20% of the final grade, the other 80% coming from the final written exam. In addition to this students must submit a daybook. The daybook is a working document completed day by day as a student carries out their investigation planning, research and experimental work. This daybook counts as the internal assessment for this unit and must be submitted in a satisfactory condition in order to be allowed to sit the final examination.