Physics is the most fundamental of the sciences: From the smallest constituents of the atom to the largest structures in the universe, Physics has something to say about it all.

Physics is not just a collection of theories and facts, however: it is a way of thinking about the world. The skills acquired through the study of Physics are highly sought after and, as a result, Physicists can be found in a broad range of careers – from industry to finance and beyond.

From the moment we are born, we yearn to learn about the world. Through the process of play, children quickly discover how the environment around them operates and develop an understanding of the physical world. We are all, at heart, inquisitive; what science does is to formalise and develop this process, through the exploration and development of theories.

Physics challenges pupils to think critically about the subject in a variety of contexts: from the demands of classical mechanics to the evolving uncertainty of particle physics. Through experiments, demonstrations and open-ended discussions pupils develop many important skills, including analysis, evaluation, problem-solving, teamwork and ICT. These skills involve the development of higher-level thinking and, therefore, Physics is commonly regarded as one of the most prestigious subjects offered within schools: It is hardly surprising that Physics is such a highly sought after qualification.

At Marlborough, we believe in returning to the basics. Just as children love to explore, we believe in helping our pupils rekindle the joys of discovery. Through this process, science becomes more than just a subject – it becomes a journey, along which our pupils grow and develop. By challenging pupils to confront their own perceptions, we prepare them for a world that is constantly changing, and doing so at an increasing pace. Physics, in short, is about the future.



The Physics department follows the Edexcel International GCSE for the Lower School years, and the Eduqas A level in the Upper School. A flavour, but by no means an exhaustive list, of our curriculum is provided below.

Shell pupils are quickly introduced to the most fundamental ideas in Physics, those of energy conservation and forces, before being enthralled by the wonder of image making in the optics topic. Shell pupils are also shown the wonder of our universe through the study of astrophysics in the Lent Term, a topic which the majority of pupils find truly fascinating and enthralling.

The Remove year sees the introduction of radioactivity, thermal physics and cosmology, along with further development of the key ideas in mechanics, optics and electrical circuits.

In the Hundred pupils consolidate their understanding of the core topics, and are additionally introduced to electromagnetism and thermodynamics.

The Sixth Form course follows a very traditional Physics path, as we feel that the rigour and attention to detail required by such a course serves two purposes. On the one hand, pupils enjoy the requirement for rigour and the challenge presented by such a course and on the other, pupils get what we consider to be the best grounding in Physics we can give them, developing them into excellent critical thinkers and problem-solvers.

Our curriculum places a firm emphasis on practical skills alongside academic rigour, and, by the end of the course, all pupils are well versed in the scientific method. All Sixth Form pupils have become very competent data handlers and understand the importance of stating precisely what confidence they have in their experimental results.



In the Physics department, learning does not stop when pupils leave the classroom, and we provide a multitude of extra activities for interested pupils to get involved with. We believe that it is vital that pupil enthusiasm be fuelled, and that some of the best learning happens outside of the classroom when pupils are passionate about the subject they are learning.

The Physics department runs:

  • An annual trip to CERN for Upper School pupils (and those in the Hundred who are considering the study of Physics in Sixth Form).
  • “Further Physics” discussion groups for the Remove and Hundred, where pupils come to learn about some of the slightly weirder, and therefore more interesting, aspects of Physics.
  • Five-week ‘elective’ courses on each of: Special Relativity, Rocket Science, the History of Physics through Experiments, and the Ten Greatest Discoveries in Physics.
  • An annual trip to the National Space Centre for Shell pupils.
  • Sixth Form extension problem-solving classes.

This list is always expanding, and we encourage interested pupils to start their own Physics-based activities, further enhancing their leadership capabilities, as well as their presentation skills and subject knowledge.


C J Wheatland MPhys (Head of Department)
B Allen MA
J M Barot MA MSc (Deputy Head, Academic)
C E Barclay BSc FRAS FRSA (Head of Astronomy)
Mrs J E Lane BSc
G J McSkimming BSc
Dr D G Roberts MSc PhD
J Wright BSc