Physics is the scientific study of the natural world at all scales, ranging from subatomic particles to super-clusters of galaxies. It is a fascinating and rewarding subject for those prepared to accept its intellectual challenge.

The department provides a rich curriculum, which is studied in well-resourced laboratories using modern techniques, such as computer simulations, data logging and data analysis software. Practical work is an essential part of the subject in all years.

Following the first year of general science, which focuses on practical skills, Year 8 physics begins with an introductory course based around the topics of forces and motion, energy, and astronomy. At the end of the year, boys have the opportunity to enter an astronomy essay competition.

All pupils study the Edexcel IGCSE course, which provides a comprehensive and stimulating science education, as well as good preparation for more advanced physics courses. Topics studied for IGCSE include: forces and motion; electricity; waves; energy resources and energy transfers; solids, liquids and gases; magnetism and electromagnetism; radioactivity and particles; and astrophysics.

  • Sixth Form

    In the Sixth Form physics is offered at both Higher and Standard Level. Physics Higher Level is essential for further study in physics or engineering but both Higher and Standard Level are good preparation for any discipline in which the ability to reduce a problem to its essentials is important.

    The core topics studied at both levels are: measurement and uncertainties; mechanics; thermal physics; waves; electricity and magnetism; circular motion and gravitation; atomic, nuclear and particle physics; and energy production. All pupils also study astrophysics as the optional component. In addition, Higher Level candidates study further wave phenomena; fields; electromagnetic induction; and quantum and nuclear physics. ICT is used extensively in data logging, data analysis and simulations and all pupils undertake an individual investigation of their own design.

  • Beyond the classroom

    A high proportion of our boys take part in the GCSE Physics Challenge, AS Physics Challenge and the British Physics Olympiad, in which they regularly win Gold, Silver and Bronze awards. There is a STEM Club for younger pupils and a Physics Society, which is led by Sixth Form physicists. The University of Birmingham is ideally placed for boys to attend talks and masterclasses, and former pupils, who are studying physics at university, and visiting speakers give talks at the School.

    Boys in Year 9 go to GCSE Science Live and Sixth Form physicists have the opportunity to attend a week-long Particle Physics Summer School at the European Council for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Geneva. We also encourage boys to apply for university experience courses, such as Headstart, as well as the Senior Physics Challenge.

Latest science news


Rare collection of moon rocks land at KES

A rare selection of lunar rocks and meteorites collected on Apollo missions visit KES.


Newton’s apple tree plants inspiration for pupils

A graft from the apple tree that is believed to have led to Sir Isaac Newton discovering gravity has been planted at King Edward’s School to inspire the next generation of scientists.

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