Physics Syllabus




Scientific Method


Simple Pendulum


  • Express the result of a measurement or a calculation to an appropriate number of significant figures;
  • Discuss the possible types and sources of error in any measurement;
  • Use a variety of instruments to measure different quantities;
  • Assess the suitability of instruments on the basis of sensitivity, accuracy and range;
  • Apply the formula for density p=m/v.



Forces, F

  • Explain the effects of forces;
  • Identify types of forces;
  • Determine the weight of objects;
  • Show how derived quantities and their related units are produced;
  • Recall the special names given to the units for some derived quantities;
  • Express derived units using the index notation;
  • Identify situations in which the application of a force will result in a turning effect.

Turning Forces

  • Define the moment of a force T;
  • Apply the principle of moments;
  • Explain the action of common tools and devices as levers;
  • Determine the location of the centre of gravity of a body;
  • Relate the stability of an object to the position of its centre of gravity and its weight.


  •  Investigate the relationship between extension and force;
  • Solve problems using Hooke’s law.

Dynamics: Motion in a Straight Line

  • Define the terms: distance, displacement, speed, velocity, acceleration;
  • Apply displacement-time and velocity-time graphs.


  • Discuss Aristotle’s arguments in support of his “law of motion”, that is vαF.

Newton’s Laws

  • State Newton’s three laws of motion;
  • Use Newton’w laws to explain dynamic systems;
  • Define linear momentum;
  • Describe situations that demonstrate the law of conservation of linear momentum;
  • Apply the law of conservation of linear momentum.


Forms of energy

  • Define Energy;
  • Identify the various forms of energy;
  • Describe the energy transformations in a given situation;
  • Apply the relationship: work = force x displacement;
  • Discuss the use of energy from alternative sources, and its importance to the Caribbean.

Potential Energy, Ep

  • Define potential energy;
  • Calculate the change in graviational potential energy using: ΔEp = mgΔh.

Kinetic Energy, Ek

  • Define kinetic energy;
  • Calculate kinetic energies using the expression: Ek = ½ mv2.


  • Apply the law of conservation of energy.

Power, P

  • Define power and apply definition;
  • Explain the term efficiency;
  • Calculate efficiency in given situations.


  • Define pressure and apply definition;
  • Relate the pressure at a point in a fluid to its depth and the density;
  • Apply Archimedes’ principle to predict whether a body would float or sink in a given fluid.


Nature of Heat

  • Differentiate between caloric and kinetic theories of heat as they existed in the eighteenth century;
  • Discuss the role of Joule’s experiments in establishing the principle of conservation of energy.

Macroscopic Properties and Phenomena

Temperature, T

  • Relate temperature to the direction of net thermal energy transfer;
  • Identify physical properties which may vary with temperature and may be used as a basis for measuring temperature;
  • Relate the use of a thermometer to its design;
  • Define the fixed points on the Celsius scale;
  • Relate the temperature of a body to the kinetic energy of molecules.

Phases of Matter

  • Distinguish among solids, liquids and gases;
  • Use the kinetic theory to explain the different macroscopic properties of solids, liquids and gases.


  • Explain observations of the effects of thermal expansion.

Gas Laws

  • Relate graphs of pressure or volume against temperature to establishment of the Kelvin temperature scale;
  • Use the relationship between Kelvin and Celsius scale. T/K = 0 degrees C+ 273;
  • Apply the gas laws;
  • Give the qualitative explanations of the gas laws in terms of kinetic theory.

Thermal Measurements

Specific Heat Capacity, c

  • Distinguish between specific heat capacity, ‘c’ and heat capacity ‘C’;
  • Apply the relationship EH = mcθ or EH = mcΔT;
  • Determine the specific heat capacity of metals and liquids.

Specific Latent Heat, l

  • Demonstrate that temperature remains constant during a phase change;
  • Apply the relationship EH = ml;
  • Determine the specific latent heat of vaporization lv, and fusion, lf of water;
  • Distinguish between evaporation and boiling.

Transfer of Thermal Energy

  • Explain the transfer of thermal energy by conduction;
  • Explain the transfer of thermal energy by convection;
  • Explain the transfer of thermal energy by radiation;
  • Conduct experiments to investigate the factors on which absorption and emission of radiation depend;
  • Recall that good absorbers are good emitters;
  • Relate the principles of thermal energy transfer to the design of other devices.


Wave Motion

Types of Waves

  • Differentiate between types of waves.

Wave Parameters

  • Apply speed, frequency, wavelength, period and amplitude;
  • Represent transverse and longitudinal waves in displacement position and displacement-time graphs.


Production and Propagation

  • Describe how sound is produced and propagated in a medium;
  • Relate the terms ‘pitch’ and ‘loudness’ to wave parameters.

Speed of Sound

  • Apply the speed of sound to practical situations;
  • Cite evidence that sound waves reflect, refract, diffract and interfere;
  • Describe the use of ultrasound.

Electromagnetic Waves

  • State the properties of e.m. waves;
  • Differentiate between types of e.m.waves in terms of their wavelengths;
  • Identify a source and use of each type of e.m.wave.

Light Waves

Wave Particle Duality

  • Compare the rival theories of light held by scientists;
  • Conduct a Young’s double slit experiment to show that light is a wave.

Rays of Light

  • Explain why diffraction of light is not normally observed;
  • Apply the principle that light travels in straight lines.


  • Apply the laws of reflection;
  • Describe the formation of images in a plane mirror.


  • Give examples of observations which indicate that light can be refracted;
  • Describe the refraction of light rays;
  • Describe how a prism may be used to produce a spectrum;
  • Apply Snell’s Law.

Critical Angle and Total Internal Reflection

  • Explain ‘critical angle’ and ‘total internal reflection’;
  • Relate critical angles to total internal reflection;
  • Draw diagrams illustrating applications of total internal reflection.


Action of Lenses

  • Illustrate the effect of converging and diverging lenses on a beam of parallel rays;
  • Define the terms: principal axis, principal focus, focal length, focal plane, magnification.

Image Formation

  • Differentiate between real and virtual images;
  • Apply the equations for magnification;
  • Determine the focal length of a converging lens.



Electric Charge, Q

  • Explain the charging of objects;
  • Describe the forces that electric charges exert on each other;
  • Explain charging by induction.

Electric Fields

  • Define an electric field;
  • Describe one hazard and one useful application of static charge.

Current Electricity

  • Distinguish between conductors and insulators;
  • State than an electric current in a metal consists of a flow of electrons;
  • Differentiate between electron flow and conventional current;
  • State the unit of electrical current;
  • apply the relationship Q= It.

Alternating Current

  • Differentiate between direct and alternating currents;
  • Analyse current-time or voltage time graphs.

Electrical Quantities

Power, P and Energy, E

  • Cite examples of conversion of electrical energy to other forms and vice versa;
  • Apply the relationship V= E/Q;
  • Apply the relationship P= IV;
  • Discuss the importance of conserving electrical energy and the means of doing so.

Circuit and Components

Circuit Diagrams

  • Use symbols to construct circuit diagrams;
  • Differentiate between series and parallel circuits.


  • Explain the functions of the various parts of a zinc-carbon cell;
  • Distinguish between primary and secondary cells;
  • Draw a circuit diagram to show how a secondary cell can be recharged.

I-V Relationships

  • Investigate the relationship between current and potential difference.

Resistance, R

  • Explain the concept of resistance;
  • Apply the relationship R= V/I;
  • Explain why it is necessary for an ammeter to have a very low resistance;
  • Explain why it is necessary for a voltmeter to have very high resistance;
  • Solve problems involving series and parallel resistance;
  • Solve problems involving series, parallel and series parallel circuits.

Electricity in the Home

  • Discuss the reasons for using parallel connections of domestic appliances;
  • Explain the purpose of a fuse or circuit breaker and the earth wire;
  • Select a fuse or circuit breaker of a suitable current rating for a given appliance;
  • State the adverse effects of connecting electrical appliances to incorrect or fluctuating voltage supplies.


  • Describe how a semi-conductor dioxide can be used in half wave rectification;
  • Differentiate between direct current from batteries and rectified alternating current by a consideration of V-t graphs for both cases.

Logic Gates

  • Recall the symbols for AND, OR, NOT, NAND, NOR logic gates;
  • State the function of truth gates with the aid of truth tables;
  • Analyse the circuits involving the combinations of not more than three logic gates;
  • Discuss the impact of electronic and technological advances on society.


Permanent Magnets

  • Differentiate between magnetic and non-magnetic materials;
  • Explain how a magnet can attract an unmagnetised object;
  • Distinguish between materials used to make “permanent” and “temporary” magnets;
  • Identify the poles of a magnetic dipole.

Magnetic Forces

  • Investigate the forces between magnetic poles;
  • Define a magnetic field;
  • Map magnetic fields.


  • Conduct simple experiments to investigate the magnetic field pattern around current carrying conductors;
  • Apply suitable rules which relate the direction of current flow to the direction of the magnetic field;
  • Describe a commercial application of an electromagnet.

 Electromagnetic Force

  • Conduct an experiment which demonstrates the -existence of a force on a current-carrying conductor placed in a magnetic field;
  • Sketch the resultant magnetic flux pattern when a current carrying wire is placed perpendicular to a uniform magnetic field;
  • Apply Flemming’s left hand motor rule;
  • Identify factors that affect the force on a current-carrying conductor in a magnetic field.


  • Explain the action of a D.C motor.

Induced e.m.f

  • Describe simple activities which demonstrate an induced e.m.f;
  • Conduct simple experiments to show the magnitude of an induced e.m.f;
  • Predict the direction of induced current given the direction of motion of the conductor and that of the magnetic field;
  • Explain the action of the A.C. generator.


  • Explain the principle of transformation of a transformer;
  • State the advantages of using a.c. for transferring electrical energy;
  • Apply the ideal transformer formula Pout = Pin


Models of the Atom

  • Describe the work done in establishing the modern view of the atom;
  • Describe the Geiger-Marsden experiment.

Structure of the Atom

Particles in the Atom

  • Sketch the structure of simple atoms;
  • Compare the mass and charge of the electron with the mass and charge of the proton;
  • Explain why the atom is normally neutrally stable;
  • Apply the relationship: A = Z+N;
  • Explain what is meant by the term “isotope”;
  • Relate the shell model of the atom to the periodic table.


Radioactive Emissions

  • Describe Marie Curie’s work in the field of radioactivity;
  • State the nature of the three types of radioactive emissions;
  • Describe experiments to compare the ranges of α, β and γ emission;
  • Describe the appearance of the tracks of radioactive emissions in a cloud chamber;
  • Predict the effects of magnetic and electric fields on the motion of α and β particles and γ rays;
  • Interpret nuclear reactions in the standard form;
  • Conduct an activity to demonstrate the nature of radioactive decay;
  • Recall that the decay process is independent of the conditions external to the nucleus.


  • Use graphs of random decay to show that such processes have constant half-lives;
  • Solve problems involving half-life.


  • discuss the useful applications of radioisotopes.

Nuclear Energy

  • Relate the release of energy in a nuclear reaction to a change in mass;
  • Cite arguments for and against the utilisation of nuclear energy.


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