A-LEVEL PHYSICS REVISION SHEET

Introduction The core module for introductory physics in the preliminary honours year at Durham (Level 1) is known as Foundations of Physics 1. This (double) module will build upon your knowledge of Physics from school level and provide the foundation knowledge on which to build more advanced material in later years of the course. In the following sections are topics from the UK A-level Physics syllabus which are relevant to the courses which will be taught in the Foundations of Physics 1 module. You should read through this list prior to starting the course and refresh your knowledge of any topics which you have covered but feel unsure on. If any topics are completely unfamiliar then you should raise these with your Physics tutor early in the first term.

Classical Mechanics: • Rectilinear motion Define displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration. Find the distance travelled by calculating the area under a velocity-time graph. Use the slope of a displacement-time graph to find velocity, and of a velocity-time graph to find acceleration. Circular motion Describe qualitatively motion in a curved path due to a perpendicular force, and understand the centripetal acceleration in the case of uniform motion in a circle. Express angular displacement in radians, and be able to convert from degrees to radians. Define centripetal acceleration as a = v 2 / r , where v is the tangential linear velocity and r is the radius of the circle. Momentum Define momentum as the product of mass and velocity. Define force as the rate of change of momentum. State the principle of conservation of momentum. Dynamics Define and use the equation for density, ρ = M / V , where M is the mass and V is the volume. Recall the equation F = Ma (Newton’s second law) where F is force, M is mass, and a is acceleration. Use it in situations where mass is constant, appreciating that force and acceleration are always in the same direction. Define mass as the property of a body which resists change in motion, and distinguish between mass and weight. Define the concept of weight as the effect of a gravitational field on a mass, and recall that they are related in a constant gravitational field by W = Mg , where M is mass and g is the acceleration due to gravity.
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Relate power to work done and time taken. m is the mass. its conversion and conservation. and apply the principle of energy conservation to simple examples. Gravitational fields Understand a gravitational field as a field of force and define. Describe graphically the changes in displacement. where F is the force and A is the area. Wave Phenomena: • Oscillations and waves Describe what is meant by wave motion as illustrated by vibrations in ropes. Recall and use the equation ν = f λ. where v is velocity. and r is the distance from the mass. E = mv 2 / 2 . Describe what is meant by critical angle and total internal reflection. phase difference. springs and ripple tanks. Appreciate that waves can be reflected and refracted. ∆E = mg∆h for changes near the Earth’s surface. Understand the concept of work in terms of the product of force and displacement in the direction of the force. Recall and use the equation for kinetic energy. recall and use gravitational field strength as force per unit mass. and ∆h is the change in height. amplitude. Define pressure as P = F / A . period. Describe refraction in terms of the expression n1 sin θ 1 = n 2 sin θ 2 where n1 and n2 are refractive indices and θ1 and θ2 are the angles between the rays and the interface normal. • • • -2- . f is frequency. Understand and use the terms displacement. m1 and m2 are the masses. Define refractive index n as c1 / c where c1 and c are the speeds of light in a medium and vacuum respectively. and x is the distance moved. and λ is the wavelength. and identify nodes and antinodes. between two point masses in the form F = Gm1m2 / r2. the magnitude of g is approximately constant and equal to the acceleration of free fall. on the surface of the Earth. g is the acceleration due to gravity. where G is the gravitational constant. Recall and use g = Gm / r2 for the gravitational field strength of a point mass.• • Work and energy Give examples of energy in different forms. frequency. Recall and use Newton’s law of gravitation for the force. wavelength and speed. Appreciate that. where m is mass and v is velocity. Superposition of waves Explain and use the principle of superposition. Light waves Recall the laws of refraction of light. Explain the meaning of the term diffraction. where G is the gravitational field constant. and r is the distance between them. velocity and acceleration during simple harmonic oscillations. m is the mass. Describe the nature of the motions in transverse and longitudinal waves. F. and use the equation W = Fx where F is a constant force along the direction of motion. Simple harmonic motion Define simple harmonic motion. Recall the equation for the change in energy due to a change in gravitational potential. Understand the term interference. In this equation. Explain the formation of a standing wave using a graphical method.

Recall and use E=V/d for the magnitude of the uniform electric field strength between charged parallel plates. k = 1 / 4π ε0. via the equation V = W / Q . Calculate the result of combining resistors in series and in parallel. Appreciate the difference between the directions of conventional current and of electron flow. Electrical circuits Recall and use appropriate circuit symbols and draw and interpret appropriate circuit diagrams. of capacitance C and resistance R.Electricity & Magnetism: • Electric current and potential difference Understand electric current as a net flow of charged particles. and r is the distance between them. Define. Electric fields Understand an electric field as an example of a field of force and define. Recall and use W=QV/2. N. the equation for the number of remaining nuclei. and l is the length of a conductor. via the equation. electric fields and gravitational fields. and represent graphically. C = Q / V where Q is the stored charge and V is the voltage. Define resistivity. as ρ = RA / l. Describe the nature. Appreciate that a force may act on a current-carrying conductor placed in a magnetic field. Nuclei & Particles: • Radioactive decay Appreciate the spontaneous and random nature of radioactive decay of unstable nuclei. and use the kilowatt-hour (kW h) as a unit of energy. F. recall and use electric field strength as force per unit positive charge. where N0 is the original number of particles. β-particles and γ-rays as different types of ionising radiation. where V is the voltage. penetration and range of α-particles. where R is resistance. Calculate the result of connecting capacitors in series and in parallel. where. Define half-life as the mean time for the number of nuclei of a nuclide to halve. Define power as rate of change of work done. in a radioactive decay as N = N 0 e − λt . Define potential difference and the volt in terms of energy transfer. Capacitors Define capacitance. between two point charges in a vacuum in the form F = kQ1Q2 / r2. Understand the concept of charge in terms of the product of current and time. Recognise the similarities of. where Q is the stored charge and V is the voltage. Magnetic forces Sketch magnetic field patterns caused by current in a long straight wire. A is cross sectional area. -3- . C. λ is the decay constant and t is the time. for the energy of a charged capacitor. Q1 and Q2 are the charges. and differences between. Recall and use Coulomb’s law for the force. W is the work done. Recall τ = CR for the time constant of a capacitor-resistor circuit. and the farad. and Q is the charge. Recall and use E=kQ/r2 for the electric field strength of a point charge. Define power as P = VI where V is the voltage and I is the current. State Ohm’s law. • • • • Atoms.

Demonstrate knowledge that there is an absolute scale of temperature which does not depend upon the physical property of any particular substance. and energy.e. R is the Universal gas law constant.02 x 1023 particles and that 6. Relate a rise in temperature of a body to an increase in internal energy. and T is the temperature. Appreciate that. Describe melting and boiling in terms of energy input without a change in temperature.02 x 1023 mole-1 is the Avogadro constant. atoms and molecules. charge and small size of the nucleus. Demonstrate a qualitative understanding of X-ray diffraction and the evidence this provides for crystal structure. Understand that an element can exist in various isotopic forms. on the thermodynamic (Kelvin) scale. where P is the pressure. the thermodynamic scale. Show familiarity with temperatures measured in kelvin and degrees Celsius. n is the amount of gas in moles. i. Demonstrate a qualitative understanding of the α-particle scattering experiment and the evidence this provides for the existence.• Atomic Structure. by the equation E = mc 2 . each with a different number of neutrons. Show an awareness of the relative sizes of nuclei. V is the volume. -4- . Recall and use the ideal gas equation PV = nRT . Phases of Matter: • Temperature and heat energy Show an awareness that internal energy is determined by the state of the system and can be expressed as the sum of a random distribution of kinetic and potential energies associated with the molecules of the system. Appreciate the equivalence between mass. E. Appreciate that one mole is 6. absolute zero is the temperature at which all substances have a minimum internal energy. m. where c is the speed of light.

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