Shrewsbury School

Physics in the Sixth Form

The following information is taken from our document 'The Sixth Form and Beyond', which is updated each December. It can be downloaded as a pdf file.


The essence of Physics is to understand rather than merely to accumulate facts.  A student will develop powerful methods of solving practical and theoretical problems.  These skills are highly regarded by future employers both within and outside the scientific and engineering world.

We have been teaching Cambridge Pre-U Physics for a number of years at Shrewsbury School and it is now a very established course. Students have achieved some outstanding results in that time. The course provides an excellent preparation for those who wish to go on to degree courses in engineering or the physical sciences. Students studying Physics would normally be advised to study Mathematics to at least AS level.

Unlike the new A Level where practical coursework is no longer separately assessed, the Pre-U course allows students to undertake a practical investigation of their own choice in the Upper Sixth. This will provide the students with an opportunity to develop their investigative skills and prepare them well for the sort of laboratory work practiced at university. Over the years we have had some very interesting projects and the students have found the work very rewarding.

The course content includes mechanics, waves, electricity, nuclear physics, quantum physics, rotational dynamics, thermodynamics, special relativity, electromagnetism, gravitational fields and aspects of astronomy and cosmology. Pre-release material on an aspect of applied physics will be tested on one of the papers (Paper 2). Paper 3 will have a section where students choose 3 from 6 questions (half of which are philosophical and half mathematical) to suit their own interests and strengths.

All papers are taken in the summer of the Upper Sixth year:

  • Multiple Choice: 1.5 hours (20%)
  • Written Paper: 2 hours – also testing pre-release material (30%)
  • Written Paper: 3 hours – including option questions (35%)
  • Personal Investigation (20 hours within 4 weeks) (15%)
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