Levelling Up: Physics is a support programme for A-level students from groups currently under-represented in physics who are aiming to study physics and related subjects at university.
The programme runs alongside students’ A-level studies and gives them access to a dedicated tutor and peer mentor from a university local to them.
Sixth-form students take part in regular, guided tutorials, mentoring sessions, guest lectures, and activities designed to make sure they are ready to apply for, and succeed, at university.
The programme, in 2023-24 taking place at the University of Birmingham (the Hub), Durham University, Imperial College London and the University of Nottingham, is an encouraging and intellectually stimulating introduction to studying at university whilst directly supporting A-level studies.
The IOP worked with the project’s co-founder, Tony Hill, to develop and initiate the Levelling up: Physics programme in 2020. We hosted the pilot phase of the programme that was successfully completed in 2022.
Now that the Hub role sits with the University of Birmingham, the IOP continues to support the project via its Steering Group. We are proud to champion the Levelling Up: Physics programme and to encourage A-level students, teachers and potential university partners to take part.
Levelling Up: Physics is part of a wider initiative and there are parallel programmes running in other subjects. More information about the wider programme can be found on the Levelling Up: STEM website.
Physics students at Durham University
How does the programme work?
There are three main aspects of the programme:
- Academic tuition and support to stretch and challenge students in their physics studies;
- Mentoring and support to develop the skills required to successfully apply for and succeed in higher education; and
- Finding out more about the academic community at university so students know what to expect when they begin post-A-level study.
The Bramall Music Building at the University of Birmingham. Copyright: the University of Birmingham
Academic tuition and support
Students receive high-quality materials and take part in a structured study programme consisting of self-study problems followed by a tutorial. Tutorials are informal and students discuss topics with a small group of other students, led by a tutor.
The programme runs across years 12 and 13 and covers a range of different topics designed to align with (but not replace) A-level courses. Students also discuss real-life applications of the science and links to research.
Imperial College London. Credit: Thomas Angus, ICL
Mentoring and support
Participating students also take part in and are given:
- Small group mentoring sessions, which provide opportunities to discuss university life and university applications in a supportive environment where they can address any concerns about their studies;
- Online guest lectures, given by renowned academics, in a range of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects to provide information about many different aspects and applications of a wide range of STEM careers; and
- The opportunity to get to know and work with members of the university community including their mentors and guest lecturers.
Who can apply?
The project is open to year-12 students who are studying physics AND maths at A-level (or equivalent), are considering studying physics at university and meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.
All applicants should be interested in finding out more about studying a STEM subject at university and finding out about what the university has to offer.
As places are limited and highly sought-after, each partner university will use eligibility and selection criteria to help identify those applicants who they feel will benefit the most from the programme.
You can find more information about each partner university’s programme on the following pages.
Levelling Up: Physics participants at the University of Birmingham
Find out more