Group 4


Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles to the vast distances between galaxies. Despite the exciting and extraordinary development of ideas throughout the history of physics, observations remain essential to the very core of the subject. Models are developed to try to understand observations, and these themselves can become theories that attempt to explain the observations.

Besides helping us better understand the natural world, physics gives us the ability to alter our environments. This raises the issue of the impact of physics on society, the moral and ethical dilemmas, and the social, economic and environmental implications of the work of physicists.

By studying physics students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. While the scientific method may take on a wide variety of forms, it is the emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work that characterizes the subject.

Physics provides students with opportunities to develop manipulative skills, design investigations, collect data, analyse results and evaluate and communicate their findings.

Through the overarching theme of the nature of science, the aims of the DP physics course are to enable students to:

  1. appreciate scientific study and creativity within a global context through stimulating and challenging opportunities
  2. acquire a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
  3. apply and use a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterize science and technology
  4. develop an ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesize scientific information
  5. develop a critical awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities
  6. develop experimental and investigative scientific skills including the use of current technologies
  7. develop and apply 21st century communication skills in the study of science
  8. become critically aware, as global citizens, of the ethical implications of using science and technology
  9. develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of science and technology
  10. develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge.

Distinction between SL and HL

Group 4 students at SL and HL undertake a common core syllabus, a common internal assessment (IA) scheme and have some overlapping elements in the option studied. They are presented with a syllabus that encourages the development of certain skills, attributes and attitudes.

While the skills and activities of group 4 science subjects are common to students at both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, in the additional higher level material and in the common options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.

Group 4 Project

All Diploma Course candidates must participate in an interdisciplinary investigation into the nature and process of science. This is a collaborative investigation including students from all three disciplines.

Course Structure

Core (SL and HL) Additional higher level Option (choice of 1 out of 4)
1. Measurements and uncertainties 9. Wave phenomena A. Relativity
2. Mechanics 10. Fields B. Engineering physics
3. Thermal physics 11. Electromagnetic induction C. Imaging
4. Waves 12. Quantum and nuclear physics D. Astrophysics
5. Electricity and magnetism
6. Circular motion and gravitation
7. Atomic, nuclear and particle physics
8. Energy production

Assessment at Standard Level

Assessment component Weighting
External assessment
Paper 1 MCQ (45 minutes) 20%
Paper 2 (1 hour and 15 minutes) 40%
Paper 3 (1 hour) 20%
Internal assessment
Research project (10 hours) 20%

Assessment at Higher Level

Assessment component Weighting
External assessment
Paper 1 MCQ (1 hour) 20%
Paper 2 (2 hour and 15 minutes) 36%
Paper 3 (1 hour and 15 minutes) 24%
Internal assessment
Research project (10 hours) 20%