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Physics is the study of matter and energy and how they interact. It deals with scales from the sub-atomic to galaxies and the cosmos and everything in-between. Courses delivered in the Physics department have the aim of developing pupils’ problem-solving and analytical-thinking skills to produce adaptable and versatile young learners. 

A qualification in Physics can lead to a huge range of careers; from designing electric super-cars, to predicting climate change or modelling global financial markets. The Institute of Physics (IoP) website has a useful page highlighting careers in, and using, Physics.

Staff in the Physics department support delivery of science in the Junior School. Physics and Junior School staff share expertise to provide challenging and stimulating lessons which complement the Junior School course. Pupils learn in Physics labs giving them opportunities to work with specialized equipment before they move into the Senior School.

The F1 and F2 course introduces pupils to vital skills such as taking measurements, planning investigations and working with equations in the contexts of Forces, Electrical Circuits, Heat, Light and Sound. The F1 and F2 course includes practical work in every lesson. In F3 and F4 pupils study towards the National 5 Physics qualification, building on their practical and problem-solving skills in the contexts of Waves, Radiations, Electricity, Energy, Dynamics and Space. In F5 and F6, pupils enjoy being challenged by the depth of content. They develop investigative skills through Researching Physics units and through an individual project at Advanced Higher. At all levels, pupils have opportunities to make effective use of ICT, including the interfacing of experiments through computers.

Pupils are taught in 5 labs all of which are very well equipped with state-of-the-art apparatus. One lab, including a dark room, is assigned for use by Advanced Higher pupils allowing them space and specialized equipment – such as a Michelson interferometer, a wind tunnel, Milikan’s Oil Drop apparatus and the Cavendish Boys apparatus for measuring G – to perform their investigative research.

Department staff are also involved in co-curricular activities including Science clubs and a “Physics Geeks” club (in which pupils discuss issues such as ‘what is 0 ¸ 0?’ or ‘what would happen if the Moon instantaneously turned into a black hole?’). Pupils are encouraged to take part in (and they regularly win!) Institute of Physics national poster and essay competitions. The department organizes activities to help pupils of all ages across the school engage with current events in Physics, such as eclipses and the 2016 Transit of Mercury. The department also organizes trips locally and further afield, including, in recent times, to the Science Discovered event in London and to hear Brian Cox lecture on cosmology in Edinburgh.