Skip to content ↓


Physics is an intellectually demanding subject at IB and is a big step up from the low level demands of GCSE.

We require students to have obtained at GCSE level a grade 7, 7 in the Combined Science Award or ‘7’ in the Physics Separate Science Award. The main distinction between IB and GCSE, apart from the difficulty of the material in terms of the underlying concepts involved, is the emphasis which is placed on your own role in the learning process. As much as anything else, the IB course is trying to prepare you for University life, both academically and in terms of the learning process.

In the Sixth Form you are encouraged, indeed required, to take a large responsibility for your own learning for without this skill you will surely find success very difficult to achieve at university. You are not working just to keep the teacher happy; you are working for your own improvement and development as a student and in particular for your future.

Students following the IB, who achieve a grade 7 in their GCSE physics, can opt to study Physics at Higher Level. The Higher level course feature coursework and internal assessment which represents 24% of the final mark. Higher Level Physics students would benefit from completing IB Mathematics to a Higher Level.

Course Structure

IB Physics falls within group 4.

You will be externally assessed at the end of the course on the following theory topics: 

  • Topic 1: Measurements & uncertainties 
  • Topic 2: Mechanics 
  • Topic 3: Thermal physics
  • Topic 4: Waves
  • Topic 5: Electric & Magnetism
  • Topic 6: Circular motion & gravitation
  • Topic 7: Atomic, nuclear and particle physics
  • Topic 8: Energy production
  • Topic 9: Wave phenomena
  • Topic 10: Fields
  • Topic 11: Electromagnetic Induction 
  • Topic 12: Quantum & Nuclear physics

In addition to these students take one option subjects.

The assessment of these topics will consist of three written papers


Weighting (%)


Paper 1


40 Multiple choice questions

Paper 2

40 (36 higher)

Short and extended response questions

Paper 3

20 (24 higher)

Section A: data based and short answer questions on experimental work

Section B: Short and extended response questions from one option

Throughout the course students are internally assessed on practical tasks. It is worth 20% of the course. Students are required to spend 60 hours, on practical activities. These times include 10 hours for the Group 4 project and 10 hours for the student’s individual internal assessment.

The group 4 project is an interdisciplinary activity in which all Diploma Programme science students must participate. The intention is that students from the different group 4 subjects analyse a common topic or problem. The exercise should be a collaborative experience where the emphasis is on the processes involved in scientific investigation rather than the products of such investigation.

Careers & Physics

Studying physics opens up a range of opportunities in further education and in career paths in the following: engineering, medicine, law, banking, TV production, architect, computer programming.N.B. this list is by no means exhaustive and further information should be obtained from the School’s Careers Advisers.

The mathematical content, as well as the key communication and problem solving skills, developed during IB & degree level usually make it highly regarded by most university admissions officers and employers.