Essentials

Here we'll take you through the need-to-know aspects of the DP Physics course.

Get a copy of the Subject Guide

The Subject Guide is a complete list of everything that you need to know, understand and be able to do by the end of the course. Your teacher or Head of Department will have an electronic version of this essential document.

This site is fully comprehensive for the Core topics, Astrophysics and Engineering but you'll need to ensure that you cover other Options and Additional Higher Level, if relevant, too. Use the Subject Guide as a final revision checklist for these extras. It also has some interesting pages on the nature of science (Physics is experimental, after all!).

Start with the basics

No prior knowledge is required before starting the DP Physics course, but having studied Physics at Middle Years Programme (or equivalent) beforehand will be an advantage. Start with, and return to, the following sections to get up to speed:

Know your enemy

Defined as a distinct discipline by the University of Cambridge in 1871 (Sturdy, 2017), Physics is an excellent subject and worthy of study by anyone at any stage of life. But we mustn't forget that you're here to earn some points towards your IB Diploma. Like it or not, this will involve some assessment. Want to know what your examiners are looking for?


  1. Knowing and understanding facts, concepts, key words, definitions, scientific methods, analytical techniques, and how scientists communicate with one another and the wider public. Think of this as "recall", stuff you can memorise.
  1. Being able to apply your knowledge and understanding of all of the above. This will be the bulk of what you're asked to do under pressure, so question practice is key.
     
  2. Learning to write, scrutinise and evaluate hypotheses, research questions, predictions, scientifc methods, analytical techniques, data and explanations. It's important to engage with practical physics and/or simulations during the course.
     
  3. Conducting an investigation with good skills in research and experimentation. Often referred to as the "IA" (Internal Assessment) or more formally as the "Individual Investigation", this is worth 20% of the course and is marked internally by your school.
Sturdy, G. (2017). Physics in "What Should Schools Teach?: Disciplines, subjects and the pursuit of truth". UCL IOE Press: London.

Good to go?

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