Category: A Level Physics Chapters

4 Waves

This topic a meaty one with plenty of learnt facts and calculations to build on the facts. You must write notes to help you remember the key points. Also try out the virtual links and further reading. However, don’t get too carried away with all the music stuff which can go pretty deep.


04 Waves Student Booklet

4.1 Waves and vibrations

04.1 Waves and Vibration

12_1_Polarisation_Further Reading (Word)

SHM Examples from IOP

4.2 Measuring waves

04.2 Measuring Waves

12_2_Practical_Speed_of_sound_Dual_Beam (Word)

12_2_Dual_Beam_Results (Excel)

12_2_Practical_Speed_of_sound_In_Solid (Word)

12_2_Practical_Speed_of_sound_Lisajou_Fig (Word)


4.3 Wave Properties 1

04.3 Wave Props1

12_3_Reflection_Refraction_Diffraction_Int_TIR Notes (Word)

Riple Tank Simulation (Private Study – must do)

4.4 Wave Properties 2

04.4 Wave Props2

12_4_HSW_interference_using_microwaves (Practical or Data Exercise)

12_4_Two_Point_Interference_Notes (Word – Extra reading)

12_4_Superposition (Excel – Interactive addition of waves)

4.5 Stationary and Progressive Waves

04.5 Stat and Progressive

12_5_Practical_Stationary_Waves_Worksheet (Word)

12_5_standing_waves_extension (Word)


4.6 More about stationary waves on strings

04.6 Strings waves

12.6 Beats Extension Reading (Word)

12_6_Deeper_Reading_Scales_and_Tuning (Word)

12_6_Guitar_Scales_Freq (XLS)

12_6_Extension_Understanding_stationary_waves Worksheet (Word)

Instrument_Frequencies (Html Table of Instruments)

12_6_String_Nodes_Results (Excel)

12_6_musical_scale (Excel – frequencies from Wiki)

4.7 Using an Oscilloscope

04.7 Using an Oscilloscope

Polarisation of Waves - A Level Physics

In the video I explain the polarisation of waves (including the polarisation of light) for A Level Physics.

Only transverse waves can be polarised, this video explains why. It also shows ...
why sunglasses are known as 'polaroids' and how you can test this yourself on a sunny day.

Update - Please note that the reflected light waves from water are actually horizontally polarised:

Thanks for watching,


This video is recommended for anyone studying A Level Physics in the following exam boards:
Edexcel IAL


Find even more videos organised by exam board and topic at:

GCSE Physics Online
A Level Physics Online

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#waves #alevelphysics #physicsonline
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1 of 2 Next
TitleWhat to doSite
A longitudinal waveLongitudinal wavesBoston Uni
A longitudinal wave on a springLongitudinal wavesBoston Uni
A transverse waveTransverse wavesBoston Uni
A wave movie and a graphTime trace vs snapshotBoston Uni
Longitudinal and transverse waves basicsWave propertiesGeobra
Longitudinal wavesWave propertiesGeobra
Simple wave generatorInvestigate speed, frequency wavelength, soundPhysics Classroom
Slinky LabMake waves on a slinky, add tension, density, dragPhysics Classroom
Wave reflection: free/fixed endsWave propertiesGeobra
Wavelength LabWave propertiesPhysAviary
Waves basics: TutorialWave propertiesGeobra
Waves properties TutorialWave propertiesGeobra
Polarization of lightPolarizationGeobra
Three polarizers (unpolarized incident light)PolarizationBoston Uni

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5 Optics

This section has some quite tricky concepts and really you need to look at the animations and play with the settings to get a feel for what happens to x when I change y etc..  You also need to learn the key diagrams as this will help your explanations. Finally look carefully at the derivations as they also will help you explain the tricky stuff.



05 Optics Student Booklet


5.1 Refraction of light

05.1 Refraction

13_1_Refraction_Practical (refractive index of a glass or a perspex block)

13_1_snells_law (practical results)

Refraction of Light (Java Applet)

Reflection and Refraction of Light Waves (Explanation by Huygens’ Principle) (Java Applet)

Refraction Animation Shows Snell’s Law (Really Good)


5.2 More about refraction

05.2 More about Refraction

13_2_Refractive_Index_Water_Prac (Refractive Index of Water)


5.3 Total internal reflection

13_3_Fiber_Optics_HTML (HTML summary)

05.3 TIR


5.4 Double slit interference

05.4 Double Slit Interference

13_4_Youngs_Slits_Practical (Hard to make this practical work but interesting method)

Diffraction of Light by a Single Slit (Java Applet)

Interference of Light at a Double Slit (Java Applet)


5.5 More about interference/ 5.6 Diffraction/ 5.7 The diffraction grating

05.6 and 5.7 Diffraction

136_Practical_Properties_of_micro (Practical investigation of properties of transverse waves

13_7_Diff_grate_prac (Investigation into diffraction 1,2,3rd order for laser beam)

13_7_Laser_Diffraction_Results (example results for red neon laser)

13.7 Spectrometer setup (Instructions)


Extra Reading…

resolving power of eye (extension for interest)

Image Formation by Converging Lenses (Java Applet)

Refracting Astronomical Telescope (Java Applet)


Amazing Refraction Magic Trick - The Appearing Beaker

Works on refraction and refractive index being matched.

When the refractive index is the same it reverses the changes in the light pathway and it goes!


What to do


Converging Mirror Lab

Image in concave mirror


Image formation in curved mirrors

Images in mirrors


Image formation in curved mirrors

Images in mirrors


Image formation in plane mirrors

Images in mirrors


Images in mirrors


Sim bucket



Boston Uni

Mirrors and time

Least time

Boston Uni

Name That Image

Figure out image location/type of mirror

Physics Classroom

Optics Bench – Mirrors

 Use the bench to investigate images

Physics Classroom

Plane Mirror – How Tall?


Boston Uni

Reflection and the Role of Time

Least time

Boston Uni

Who Can See Who

Game to use mirrors

Physics Classroom

Reflection, Time, and the Law of Reflection

Least time

Boston Uni

Refracting astronomical telescope



Total Internal Reflection


Boston Uni

The Way a Mirror Works Lab (Concave)

Curved mirrors – concave


The Way a Mirror Works Lab (Concave)

Curved mirrors – convex


The Way a Mirror Works Lab (Plane)

Reflection analogy


Reflection and refraction



Reflection and refraction of light

Reflection and refraction


Least Time Principle

Drowned swimmer analogy

Physics Classroom


Investigate effect of angle, media

Physics Classroom

Rainbow formation



Rainbow formation 3D




Snell’s Law

Boston Uni

Refraction and the Role of Time

Least time

Boston Uni

Refraction in a Block

Snell’s Law

Boston Uni

Refraction Lab



Refraction, the Role of Time, and Snell’s law

Least time

Boston Uni


What to do


Diffraction of Light by a Single Slit



Diffraction Lab

Diffraction of Light


EM Spectrum Lab

Diffraction gratings


RGB Color Addition

Add different colours, explore uploaded image

Physics Classroom

Painting with CMY

Change uniform colors and see effect

Physics Classroom

Color pigment mixing



Color vision

Color vision


Dispersion of light



Light mixing



Coloured Shadows

Make coloured shadows

Physics Classroom

Color Filters

See effect of filters

Physics Classroom

Hit the Lights

See effect of stage lighting

Physics Classroom

Double slit diffraction/interference



Double slit interference



Interference of light double slit



Thin film interference



Young’s Experiment

Make measurements for double slit interference

Physics Classroom

Double slit interference with photons


Open Source Physics

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1 Matter Radiation

This is a topic which introduces the detail of the atom, the idea of stability, the photon model E = hf, antiparticles and the interactions of particles. There is quite a lot of wordy detail and basic facts to learn with a small number of calculations such as specific charge or E = hf to cover. Also make sure you know what an electron volt is and how to derive it from first principals. Energies may also be expressed in Joules or MeV so be sure on that one as well. Also you must visit to read around the first three topics. If you don’t you will fail the exam! But a word of caution you will not need to know everything on the site. The AS Physics Exam does not cover every particle in the universe so check the specs!

Main Resources….

01 Matter and Radiation

01 Matter and Rad Student Booklet

Inside the atom

1.1 Dream Journey Inside The Atom  (cartoon on the atom)

Stable and unstable nuclei

1.2 More on Neutrinos  (information sheet)


1.3 Lasers Extension (if you want to think more deeply about lasers)

Particles and antiparticles

 1.4 Antimatter (cartoon on Antimatter)

1_4_Chronology of particle physics

How particles interact

1.5 Feynman Diagrams Worksheet (problems & solutions for Feynman Diagrams)

1.5 The Big Bang (Cartoon on Big Bang Theories)

1.5 Higgs Boson (some detail on what is the Higgs Boson)

What Causes the Northern Lights? | Twig Secondary

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AS Chapter 1 Matter and Radiation

This is a test designed to check if you understand Chapter 1 of the work you have completed. Only attempt this quiz when you have revised or you will not get a top score. When you get a score you are happy with let you teacher know so they can put it in their markbook.
Congratulations - you have completed AS Chapter 1 Matter and Radiation. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Shaded items are complete.

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2 Quarks and leptons

 This topic is about learning what is inside a nucleus and essentially how does that make an atom behave. You really need to learn a lot of basic facts.  You can also find loads of youtube movies, just search for the key terms and you will learn lots of things.

Main Resources

02 Quarks and Leptons

02 Quarks and Leptons Student Booklet

2.1 The particle zoo

Particle Physics Reference Booklet (Particle reference sheet)

2.2 Particle Sorting

2.2 ParticleAccelerators  (Information sheet from Cern on Accelerators)

2.2 LHC (Information sheet from Cern on Accelerators)

2.5 Conservation rules

Strangeness (Strangeness Summary)


Cloud Chamber Cosmic Rays

Pb210 Source showing background alpha and neutrino, muons and other cosmic rays in a cloud chamber.

AS Chapter 2 Quarks and Leptons

This is a test designed to check if you understand Chapter 2 of the work you have completed. Only attempt this quiz when you have revised or you will not get a top score. When you get a score you are happy with let you teacher know so they can put it in their markbook.
Congratulations - you have completed AS Chapter 2 Quarks and Leptons. You scored %%SCORE%% out of %%TOTAL%%. Your performance has been rated as %%RATING%%
Your answers are highlighted below.
Shaded items are complete.

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3 Quantum phenomena

This chapter covers the quantum phenomena of the photoelectric effect, excitation, fluorescence and line spectra. What is most important is to learn the ideas of photoelectric effect so you can construct a wordy answer to a 6-7 mark written question. Also make sure you know your Joules from your eV’s. Finally there are a lot of computer models to look at which help you visualise this topic make sure you spend the time looking through them

03 Quantum Phenomena Part A

03 Quantum Phenomena Part B




AS Physics Unit 3 Exam Questions

Planck's Constant - Experiment to Estimate the Value of Planck's Constant

In this video a range of seven LEDs are used to investigate the relationship between photon energy and frequency so that a value for Planck's constant can be estimated.

There is ...
a worksheet that accompanies this experiment so you can attempt the analysis yourself.
Get it here:

In the follow up video ( I analyse the results and calculate the value of Planck's constant yielded by the data. The spreadsheet used for analysis is available here:

* Heads up: the value of Planck's constant obtained in this experiment is an estimate and as you will find my value is very different to the data book value. It's quite bad on one level, but on another it may be useful for evaluation! *

Experiments about quantum concepts, like this one, are mandatory practicals for many physics specifications. So this is good practice for OCR physics A, AQA A-Level physics, Edexcel A-Level physics, CPAC, PAG, practical endorsement.

Relevant concepts: Planck's constant, quantum physics, LEDs, photons, electrons and potential difference.
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TitleWhat to doSiteType
Different excited states for different elementsInvestigate exciting electrons by collisions – many atomsMolecular WorkbenchSim
Emission Spectra LabViewing spectra for different elements through grating, measuring position of linesPhysAviaryLab
Energy Level LabSelect electron energy level, view frequency of photon emittedPhysAviaryLab
Energy levels in hydrogenView shapes of orbitals of electrons in HMolecular WorkbenchSim
Excited electronsInvestigate exciting electrons by collisions – 2 atomsMolecular WorkbenchSim
Photoelectric Effect LabAdjust wavelength of radiation to emit electronsPhysAviaryLab
Photoelectric Effect LabAdjust wavelength of radiation to emit electronsI Want to StudyLab
Photoelectric Effect LabSimple simulation of effect, vary wavelength, p.d., metalKings CenterLab

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12 Electric Current

This is the basic introduction to current flow and circuits. Really this unit is just an extension of GCSE Electricity with some harder problems using the same rules. Also you will need to remember how each component works and be able to interpret a VI graph. Always remember to check your gradient. Since V=IR a graph of V – y-axis and I – x-axis shows R as gradient. The other way around which is how we tend to do exp shows 1/R it does matter.

Circuit Construction Kit (phet animation)

12 Electric Current (lesson PPT)

12 Electric Current Student Booklet (lesson notes for section)

12.1 Current and charge

aluminium (Electrolysis of Aluminium Animation)

fluid_electrolysis (Electrolysis of Copper Chloride E=VIt)

4_1_ Flow of Charge Worksheet  (word)

Animation/Model of inside a battery (phet)

12.2 Potential difference and power

Electron Speeds Worksheet (extension – challenge!)

Electricity Calculations & Sig Figures….. I would advise all of you to look at this tutorial this week before you do the unit homework… . An example is V = 12V, Resistance = 62Ω. If you work out the current through the resistor as V = IR changes to V/R = I = 12V/62 Ω = 0.193548A.  The original data is 2 sig figures so you should quote the answer to this as well. Hence…

0.2A  – Wrong                0.19A – Correct          0.193548A  – Wrong

 12.3 Resistance

resistivity (animation) Use this to think about how atoms actually look inside a metal. Then imagine a drift of electrons through this.

4_3_Investigation (Practical Investigation & Worksheet)

4_3_Resistance Worksheet 1 (problems)

4_3_Resistance Worksheet 2(problems)

4.3 Resistance Networks Worksheet (problems)

Resistivity example data (this is a spreadsheet from practical with example graph)

Model (phet – resistivity of a wire)

Ohm’s Law Model (phet)

12.4 Components and their characteristics

 4_4_Graphs Worksheet (graphing problems)

LED Forwards Bias Data (Excel) Data and graph from logger of diode in forwards bias with resistor inline.

oven temp sensor (How Science Works information sheet on thermistor at work)

Thermistors (extension reading)

Diode Problem (extra problem to look at) This one is often used in the AS exam when looking at diodes


Youtube Video Tutorials “Electricity” – Steve4Physics

E01 Charge and Current. Part 1 of 2
E02 Charge and Current. Part 2 of 2
E03 Emf and voltage. Part 1 of 2
E04 Emf and voltage. Part 2 of 2
E05 IV (Characteristic) Curves Part 1 of 2
E06 IV (Characteristic) Curves Diodes Part 2 of 2 (diodes)
E07 Resistance. Part 1 of 2
E08 Resistance. Part 2 of 2
E09 Ohm’s Law
E12 Resistors in series
E13 Resistors in parallel
E14 The resistance of series and parallel resistor combinations
E23 Resistivity Part 1 of 2
E24 Resistivity Part 2 of 2
E25 Resistance and Temperature 1 of 3
E26 Resistance and Temperature 2 of 3. Semiconductors
E27 Resistance and Temperature 3 of 3 Superconductors

Van De Graaf Electrical Current

This quick demo shows the idea of sparking and how fast the spark can move between the electrodes and also how to the frequency of spark changes due to lower ...air resistance as you get closer to to he dome.[+] Show More

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13 Direct current circuits

This section is about applying some more advanced rules to circuits that build on your GCSE skills. The trick is to realise that you must be 100% logical and treat it as a mathematical exercise. If you set up the problems correctly then you cannot go wrong. Take note of these things that you must be able to do…

  1. Make sure you treat current and pd as having a direction.
  2. Learn how to apply reciprocal equations for 1/R for resistors in parallel
  3. Learn what the gradient and intercept mean on an Internal Resistance circuit graph
  4. Remember that a power source is a “real source” and will get warm so lose energy! A 3V cell does not output 3V!
  5. When thinking about potential dividers the trick is to realise that current is the same through each resistor. So setup two equations for V for each then I is the same for both!

13 DC Circuits (Main PPT)

13 DC Circuits Student Booklet (student booklet notes)

Donkey_Model  (Think about how a model might help you?)

13.1 Circuit rules

 5_1_kirchoffs laws (problem sheet)

13.2 More about resistance

5_2_Practical_investigating_resistors (Practical on Resistors)

 5_2_practical_cons_energy (Practical sheet proving Kirchhoff’s laws)

resistor_cube_problem (Extension – 3D resistor cube problem – for fun!)

13.3 Emf and internal resistance

Internal Resistance Calculator (Hyper Physics)

5_3_EHT_Practical_Demo (teacher demo with results to graph)

5_3_Internal_Resistance Problems (probkems sheet)

5_3_IR_of_Battery variable current method (practical method 1)

5_3_IR_of_Cell adding bulbs method (practical method 2)   Results 3 Cells (excel results)


 5_3_IOP_notes  (extra reading from IOP)

13.4 More circuit calculations

5_4_Investigation_cell_combinations (Crucial practical which explores how PD behaves for series & parallel)

13.5 The potential divider

5_4_Potential_Dividers Worksheet


Youtube Video Tutorials “Electricity” – Steve4Physics
E10 Kirchhoff’s First Law
E11 Kirchhoff’s Second Law
E12 Resistors in series
E13 Resistors in parallel
E14 The resistance of series and parallel resistor combinations
E15 Internal Resistance 1 of 4
E16 Internal Resistance 2 of 4
E17 Internal Resistance 3 of 4
E18 Internal Resistance 4 of 4
E19 Potential (Voltage) Dividers
E20 Potentiometers
E21 Power in Electrical Circuits – Part 1 of 2
E22 Power in Electrical Circuits – Part 2 of 2
E25 Resistance and Temperature 1 of 3
E26 Resistance and Temperature 2 of 3. Semiconductors
E27 Resistance and Temperature 3 of 3 Superconductors
E28 Circuits – Problem Solving

Kirchhoff's Laws - A-level Physics
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00:00 Kirchhoff's 1st & 2nd laws
02:11 2nd law worked example
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6 Alternating currents

This section is partly about learning to use and oscilloscope and partly about working out RMS currents and converting between A.C. and D.C. You must learn how to do both.

AS Physics Unit 1_6 (main notes / PDF)

6.1 Alternating current and power

Rectification (extension)

6_1_AC_worldwide (wider reading)

6.2 Using an oscilloscope

6_2 Practical Using OSC  (you need this to help you work the osc)

6_2_Oscilloscope Handbook (information for using OSC)

6.2 Oscilloscope Problems (worksheet)

6_2 Using an Osc (extension)

virtual osc (Very good virtual Oscilloscope – download, unzip and run in Internet Explorer. Use for 6.2 lesson)


Youtube Video Tutorials “Electricity” – Steve4Physics

E29 The Oscilloscope
E30 Alternating Current (AC) Part 1 of 2
E31 Alternating Current (AC) Part 2 of 2

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