Higher Physics

Higher Physics is an important qualification for entry into a wide range of scientific, engineering and medical courses at university. The qualification is also valued in other fields of study, eg. financial because it demonstrates the student’s ability to solve problems, use analytical thinking, work with numbers, understand abstract ideas and carry out experimental work including uncertainties. Higher Physics is a mixture of theory, problem solving and experiments.

In the new curriculum for excellence there is increased coverage of up to date physics, in particular space (astrophysics) and particle physics. This includes the current experimental search for phenomena such as dark matter, dark energy and the Higgs boson and evidence to support the Big bang theory of the universe. The hope is that this shift in coverage will let students see that much in physics is as yet undiscovered and that they can become involved in this ever changing and fascinating subject. In so doing it is hoped that students will choose to study physics after school and fill the well paid employment opportunities available to such students. ‘The Brightest Minds Go Further’ states the Institute of Physics in a drive to increase physics uptake – in particular of girls. The university of Dundee uses the phrase ‘Think for yourself – we’ll show you how’ to advertise Physics. It is a skill we aim to foster in the physics department at Queen Anne through teaching students how to develop systematic problem solving skills, thinking skills, open mindedness and experimental inquiry skills.

Course content :

Unit 1   Our Dynamic Universe

  • Motion – equations and graphs
  • Forces, energy and power
  • Collisions, explosions and impulse
  • Gravitation
  • Gravity and mass
  • Special relativity
  • Doppler effect
  • Hubble’s law
  • Expansion of the universe
  • Big bang theory
Unit 2   Particles and Waves
  • The standard model
  • Forces on charged particles
  • Nuclear reactions
  • Wave particle duality
  • Interference and diffraction
  • Refraction of light
  • Spectra
Unit 3   Electricity 
  • Monitoring and measuring a.c.
  • Current, potential difference, power and resistance
  • Electrical sources and internal resistance
  • Capacitors
  • Conductors, semiconductors and insulators
  • p-n junctions
4. Higher Physics Assignment


Structure and coverage of the Course assessment
The Course assessment will consist of two Components: a question paper and an assignment. The question paper will have two Sections. The assignment will have one Section.
Component 1 — question paper
The purpose of the question paper is to assess breadth and depth of knowledge and understanding from across the Units.
The paper will assess scientific inquiry skills, analytical thinking skills and the impact of applications on society and the environment.
The question paper will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding by:
 demonstrating knowledge and understanding of physics by making statements, describing information, providing explanations and integrating knowledge
 applying knowledge of physics to new situations, interpreting information and solving problems
 planning or designing experiments/investigations to test given hypotheses or to illustrate particular effects, applying safety measures
 selecting and presenting information appropriately in a variety of forms
 processing information (using calculations and units, where appropriate)
 making predictions and generalisations based on evidence/information
 drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification
 identifying a source of error and suggesting improvements to experiments
The mandatory skills and knowledge are specified in the ‘Further Mandatory Information on Course Coverage’ section at the end of this Course Assessment Specification.
The question paper will have 100 marks (77% of the total mark).
The question paper will have two Sections.
Section 1, titled ‘Objective Test’, will have 20 marks.
Section 2, titled ‘Paper 2’ will contain restricted and extended response questions and will have 80 marks.
Marks will be distributed approximately proportionately across the Units. The majority of the marks will be awarded for applying knowledge and understanding. The other marks will be awarded for applying scientific inquiry, scientific analytical thinking and problem solving skills.
A data booklet containing relevant data and formulae will be provided.
Component 2 — assignment
The purpose of the assignment is to allow the learners to carry out an in-depth study of a physics topic. The topic will be chosen by the learner, who will investigate/research the underlying physics and the impact on society/the environment.

The assignment will assess the application of skills of scientific inquiry and related physics knowledge and understanding.
The assignment will have 30 marks (23% of the total marks).
The majority of the marks will be awarded for applying scientific inquiry and analytical thinking skills. The other marks will be awarded for applying related knowledge and understanding.
In preparation for the controlled assessment, the learner will carry out an investigation stage:
 select an appropriate physic topic within the set guidelines provided by SQA
 investigate/research the topic, focusing on applications and the impact on society/the environment
 process the information/data collected
In the controlled assessment stage, the learner will present evidence of:
 the process they have undertaken
 physics knowledge and understanding related to the topic investigated/researched

the application of the topic
 a balanced evaluation of the impact on society/the environment
 a reasoned conclusion


Support materials

All Higher Physics students are supplied with a Bright Red revision textbook, ring binder and ruler, A4 work jotters, homework jotter, past paper pack with solutions, A4 past paper jotter, student handbook and a comprehensive pack of homework to practise problem solving.

Study support classes are run at lunchtime and one after school for Higher Physics. These classes are well used by Higher Physics students. Students working together at these classes, with the teacher for support, is an effective way to improve learning in physics.