In this webinar, experienced examiner and teacher Sarah will explore the theory aspect of one of the more difficult A-level topics: Nuclear Physics. You will be provided with extensive PowerPoints for students including notes and examples. Student activities and practicals and how best to develop skills for exam success will be discussed. Exam questions will be worked through. There will be opportunities for questions.


  • Take away teaching approaches and ideas on the most complex areas of this topic
  • Review successful methods for demonstrating and extending practical endorsement skills
  • Obtain examples of student answers to help teach to the national standard
  • Explore typical exam questions and what the examiners expect


4.00 – 4.30pm

  • Rutherford scattering – evidence for the discovery of the nucleus explained
  • Alpha beta and gamma – required practical to verify the inverse square law for gamma radiation
  • Radioactive decay – graphs, formulae, half-life, decay constant
  • Nuclear stability – the N-Z curve for stable isotopes and how unstable nuclei decay via alpha, beta and positron emissions to reach the curve. Gamma emission as a results of excited states of nuclear energy levels
  • Mathematical methods to find nuclear radius using distance of closest approach and electron diffraction

4.30 – 5.00pm

  • How nuclear radius depends on mass number, nuclear density is constant, calculation of nuclear density
  • Mass and energy- conversion between the two, calculating mass defect, binding energy and binding energy per nucleon
  • The graph of binding energy per nucleon and how atoms will undergo fission or and fusion to move to the peak of this graph
  • Induced fission – the process, critical mass, chain reactions, nuclear reactors; constituents and choice of materials, safety

Sarah Battams

Sarah has been teaching Physics at KS3, GCSE and A level for the last 20 years. She is an outstanding practitioner with consistently excellent examination results and value added at GCSE and A level. She delivers Physics lessons that are fun, varied and equip students with the skills necessary to confidently tackle examinations. This year she received outstanding feedback from the A-level Practical monitoring visit. Sarah is a Physics Examiner and Team Leader at A level and GCSE. She writes and edits for the online resource GCSE Pod and is an author of high-quality Physics resources on TES.