Cambridge International Examinations A level Syllabus

Home    AS    A-level

1. Physical Quantities and Units   2. Measurement Techniques   3. Kinematics   4. Dynamics   5 Forces, Density, and Pressure

6. Work, energy, and power   7 Motion in a Circle   8 Gravitational Fields   9 Deformation of Solids   10 Ideal Gases  

11 Temperature   12 Thermal Properties of Materials   13 Oscillations   14 Waves   15 Superposition

16 Communication   17 Electric Fields   18 Capacitance   19 Current of Electricity   20 DC Circuits

21 Electronics   22 Magnetic Fields   23 Electromagnetic Induction   24 Alternating Currents   25 Quantum Physics   

26 Particle and Nuclear Physics

Syllabus statements in bold are for A-level only.  They will not be examined in the AS examination.

Equations are written in italics .

When you see the word recall (underlined), you have to remember what it applies to, e.g. an equation.  It will not be given on the data sheet.

In the exam, you are expected to be able to:

1. Physical Quantities and Units

1.1 Physical Quantities

1.1 a

Understand that all physical quantities consist of a numerical magnitude and a unit;

Induction 1

1.1 b

make reasonable estimates of physical quantities included within the syllabus.

Induction 8

1.2  SI Units

1.2 a

Recall the following SI base quantities and their units: mass (kg), length (m), time (s), current (A), temperature (K), amount of substance (mol);

Induction 1

1.2 b

express derived units as products or quotients of the SI base units and use the named units listed in this syllabus as appropriate;

Induction 1

1.2 c

use SI base units to check the homogeneity of physical equations;

Induction 1

1.2 d

use the following prefixes and their symbols to indicate decimal submultiples or multiples of both base and derived units: pico (p), nano (n), micro (μ), milli (m), centi (c), deci (d), kilo (k), mega (M), giga (G), tera (T);

Induction 1

1.2 e

understand and use the conventions for labelling graph axes and table columns.

Induction 5

1.3  The Avogadro Constant

1.3 a

Understand that the Avogadro constant NA is the number of atoms in 0.012 kg of carbon-12;

Thermal 2

1.3 b

use molar quantities where one mole of any substance is the amount containing a number of particles equal to the Avogadro constant NA.

Thermal 2

1.4  Scalars and Vectors

1.4 a

Distinguish between scalar and vector quantities and give examples of each;

Mechanics 1

1.4 b

add and subtract coplanar vectors;

Mechanics 2

1.4 c

represent a vector as two perpendicular components.

Mechanics 1


2.   Measurement Techniques

2.1 Measurements

2.1 a

use techniques for the measurement of length, volume, angle, mass, time, temperature and electrical quantities appropriate to the ranges of magnitude implied by the relevant parts of the syllabus. In particular, candidates should be able to:

  • measure lengths using rulers, calipers and micrometers;

  • measure weight and hence mass using balances;

  • measure an angle using a protractor;

  • measure time intervals using clocks, stopwatches and the calibrated time-base of a cathode-ray oscilloscope (c.r.o.)

  • measure temperature using a thermometer;

  • use ammeters and voltmeters with appropriate scales;

  • use a galvanometer in null methods;

  • use a cathode-ray oscilloscope (c.r.o.);

  • use a calibrated Hall probe.

Much of this will be covered in your practical work.  Specific topics are found in these links:




Hall Probe


2.1 b

use both analogue scales and digital displays

Induction 7

2.1 c

use calibration curves.

Electricity 6

2.2 Errors and Uncertainties

2.2 a

understand and explain the effects of systematic errors (including zero errors) and random errors in measurements

Induction 4

2.2 b

understand the distinction between precision and accuracy;

Induction 4

2.2 c

assess the uncertainty in a derived quantity by simple addition of absolute, fractional or percentage uncertainties (a rigorous statistical treatment is not required).

Induction 4


3.  Kinematics

3.1  Equations of Motion

3.1 a

Define and use distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration;

Mechanics 6

3.1 b

use graphical methods to represent distance, displacement, speed, velocity and acceleration;

Mechanics 6

3.1 c

determine displacement from the area under a velocity-time graph;

Mechanics 6

3.1 d

determine velocity using the gradient of a displacement-time graph;

Mechanics 6

3.1 e

determine acceleration using the gradient of a velocity-time graph;

Mechanics 6

3.1 f

derive, from the definitions of velocity and acceleration, equations that represent uniformly accelerated motion in a straight line;

Mechanics 6

3.1 g

solve problems using equations that represent uniformly accelerated motion in a straight line, including the motion of bodies falling in a uniform gravitational field without air resistance

Mechanics 7

3.1 h

describe an experiment to determine the acceleration of free fall using a falling body

Mechanics 7

3.1 i

describe and explain motion due to a uniform velocity in one direction and a uniform acceleration in a perpendicular direction.

Mechanics 9


4.  Dynamics

4.1  Momentum and Newton's Laws

4.1 a

Understand that mass is the property of a body that resists change in motion;

Mechanics 10

4.1 b

recall the relationship F = ma and solve problems using it, appreciating that acceleration and resultant force are always in the same direction;

Mechanics 10

4.1 c

define and use linear momentum as the product of mass and velocity;

Mechanics 11

4.1 d

define and use force as rate of change of momentum;

Mechanics 10

4.1 e

state and apply each of Newton’s laws of motion.

Mechanics 10

4.2  Non-Uniform Motion

4.2 a

Describe and use the concept of weight as the effect of a gravitational field on a mass and recall that the weight of a body is equal to the product of its mass and the acceleration of free fall;

Mechanics 7

4.2 b

describe qualitatively the motion of bodies falling in a uniform gravitational field with air resistance.

Mechanics 7

4.3  Linear Momentum and its Conservation

4.3 a

State the principle of conservation of momentum;

Mechanics 12

4.3 b

apply the principle of conservation of momentum to solve simple problems, including elastic and inelastic interactions between bodies in both one and two dimensions (knowledge of the concept of coefficient of restitution is not required);

Mechanics 12

4.3 c

recognise that, for a perfectly elastic collision, the relative speed of approach is equal to the relative speed of separation;

Mechanics 12


understand that, while momentum of a system is always conserved in interactions between bodies, some change in kinetic energy may take place.

Mechanics 12


Forces, Density, and Pressure

5.1  Types of Force

5.1 a

Describe the force on a mass in a uniform gravitational field and on a charge in a uniform electric field;

(Quantitative Treatment in Topics 8 and 17)

Fields 1

Fields 4

5.1 b

understand the origin of the upthrust acting on a body in a fluid;

Materials 4

5.1 c

show a qualitative understanding of frictional forces and viscous forces including air resistance (no treatment of the coefficients of friction and viscosity is required);

Mechanics 8

5.1 d

understand that the weight of a body may be taken as acting at a single point known as its centre of gravity.

Mechanics 3

5.2 Turning Effects of Forces

5.2 a

Define and apply the moment of a force;

Mechanics 3

5.2 b

understand that a couple is a pair of forces that tends to produce rotation only;

Mechanics 3

5.2 c

define and apply the torque of a couple.

Mechanics 3

5.3  Equilibrium of Forces

5.3 a

State and apply the principle of moments;

Mechanics 2

5.3 b

understand that, when there is no resultant force and no resultant torque, a system is in equilibrium;

Mechanics 2

5.3 c

use a vector triangle to represent coplanar forces in equilibrium.

Mechanics 2

5.4  Density and Pressure

5.4 a

Define and use density;

Materials 4

5.4 b

define and use pressure;

Materials 4

5.4 c

derive, from the definitions of pressure and density, the equation Δp = ρgΔh ;

Materials 4

5.4 d

use the equation Δp = ρgΔh .

Materials 4


6.  Work, energy, and power

6.1  Energy conversion and conservation

6.1 a

Give examples of energy in different forms, its conversion and conservation, and apply the principle of conservation of energy to simple examples.

Mechanics 15

6.2  Work and Efficiency

6.2 a

Understand the concept of work in terms of the product of a force and displacement in the direction of the force;

Mechanics 13

6.2 b

calculate the work done in a number of situations including the work done by a gas that is expanding against a constant external pressure: W = pΔV ;

Engineering Physics 3

6.2 c

recall and understand that the efficiency of a system is the ratio of useful energy output from the system to the total energy input;

Mechanics 14

6.2 d

show an appreciation for the implications of energy losses in practical devices and use the concept of efficiency to solve problems.

Mechanics 14

6.3  Kinetic and Potential Energy

6.3 a

Derive, from the equations of motion, the formula for kinetic energy:

Ek = 1/2 mv 2;

Mechanics 13

6.3 b

recall and apply the formula:

Ek = 1/2 mv 2;

Mechanics 13

6.3 c

distinguish between gravitational potential energy and elastic potential energy;

Mechanics 15

6.3 d

understand and use the relationship between force and potential energy in a uniform field to solve problems;

Mechanics 15

6.3 e

derive, from the defining equation W = Fs, the formula ΔEp = mgΔh for potential energy changes near the Earth’s surface;

Mechanics 15

6.3 f

recall and use the formula ΔEp = mgΔh for potential energy changes near the Earth’s surface.

Mechanics 15

6.4 Power

6.4 a

Define power as work done per unit time and derive power as the product of force and velocity

Mechanics 13

6.4 b

solve problems using the relationships P = W/t  and P = Fv .

Mechanics 13


Motion in a Circle

7.1  Kinematics of Motion in a Circle

7.1 a

Define the radian and express angular displacement in radians;

Further Mechanics 1

7.1 b

understand and use the concept of angular speed to solve problems;

Further Mechanics 1

7.1 c

recall and use v = rω to solve problems.

Further Mechanics 1

7.2  Centripetal Acceleration and Centripetal Force

7.2 a

Describe qualitatively motion in a curved path due to a perpendicular force, and understand the centripetal acceleration in the case of uniform motion in a circle;

Further Mechanics 1

7.2 b

recall and use centripetal acceleration equations a = rω 2 and a = v 2/r ;

Further Mechanics 1

7.3 c

recall and use centripetal force equations F = mrω 2 and


Further examples about application of Circular Motion can be found in Further Mechanics Tutorial 2

Further Mechanics 1


Gravitational Fields

8.1  Gravitational Fields

8.1 a

Understand the concept of a gravitational field as an example of a field of force and define gravitational field strength as force per unit mass;

Fields 1

8.2  Gravitational Force between two Point Objects

8.2 a

Understand that, for a point outside a uniform sphere, the mass of the sphere may be considered to be a point mass at its centre;

Fields 1

8.2 b

recall and use Newton’s law of gravitation in the form:

Fields 1

8.2 c

analyse circular orbits in inverse square law fields, including geostationary orbits, by relating the gravitational force to the centripetal acceleration it causes.

Fields 3

8.3  Gravitational Field of a Point Mass

8.3 a

Derive, from Newton’s law of gravitation and the definition of gravitational field strength, the equation:

for the gravitational field strength of a point mass;

Fields 1

8.3 b

recall and solve problems using the equation:

for the gravitational field strength of a point mass;

Fields 1

8.3 c

show an appreciation that on the surface of the Earth g is approximately constant.

Fields 1

8.4  Gravitational Potential

8.4 a

Define potential at a point as the work done per unit mass in bringing a small test mass from infinity to the point;

Fields 2

8.4 b

solve problems using the equation:

for the potential in the field of a point mass.

In the notes, the potential is written as V g, not f.

Fields 2


9  Deformation of Solids

9.1  Stress and Strain

9.1 a

Appreciate that deformation is caused by a force and that, in one dimension, the deformation can be tensile or compressive;

Materials 2

9.1 b

describe the behaviour of springs in terms of load, extension, elastic limit, Hooke’s law and the spring constant (i.e. force per unit extension);

Materials 2

9.1 c

define and use the terms stress, strain and the Young modulus;

Materials 3

9.1 d

describe an experiment to determine the Young modulus of a metal in the form of a wire.

Materials 3

9.2  Elastic and Plastic Behaviour

9.2 a

Distinguish between elastic and plastic deformation of a material;

Materials 3

9.2 b

understand that the area under the force-extension graph represents the work done;

Materials 2

9.2 c

deduce the strain energy in a deformed material from the area under the force-extension graph.

Materials 2


10  Ideal Gases

10.1  Equation of State

10.1 a

Recall and solve problems using the equation of state for an ideal gas expressed as pV = nRT, where n = amount of substance (number of moles).

Thermal Physics 2

10.2  Kinetic Theory of Gases

10.2 a

Infer from a Brownian motion experiment the evidence for the movement of molecules;

Thermal Physics 3

10.2 b

state the basic assumptions of the kinetic theory of gases;

Thermal Physics 3

10.2 c

explain how molecular movement causes the pressure exerted by a gas and hence deduce the relationship pV  = 1/3 Nm <c 2> , where N = number of molecules.

[A simple model considering one-dimensional collisions and then extending to three dimensions using 1/3 <c 2> = <cx2>  is sufficient.]

Thermal Physics 3

10.3  Kinetic Energy of a Molecule

10.3 a

Recall that the Boltzmann constant k is given by the expression:

Thermal Physics 3

10.3 b

compare pV = 1/3 Nm <c 2>  with pV = NkT and hence deduce that the average translational kinetic energy of a molecule is proportional to T.

Thermal Physics 3


11  Temperature

11.1  Thermal Equilibrium

11.1 a

Appreciate that (thermal) energy is transferred from a region of higher temperature to a region of lower temperature;

Thermal Physics 1

11.1. b

understand that regions of equal temperature are in thermal equilibrium.

Thermal Physics 1

11.2  Temperature Scales

11.2 a

Understand that a physical property that varies with temperature may be used for the measurement of temperature and state examples of such properties

Thermal Physics 1

11.2 b

understand that there is an absolute scale of temperature that does not depend on the property of any particular substance (i.e. the thermodynamic scale and the concept of absolute zero)

Thermal Physics 1

11.2 c

convert temperatures measured in kelvin to degrees Celsius and recall that T / K = T / °C + 273.15

Thermal Physics 1

11.3  Practical Thermometers

11.3 a

Compare the relative advantages and disadvantages of thermistor and thermocouple thermometers as previously calibrated instruments.

Thermal Physics 1


12  Thermal Properties of Materials

12.1  Specific Heat Capacity and Specific Latent Heat

12.1 a

Explain using a simple kinetic model for matter:
• the structure of solids, liquids and gases
• why melting and boiling take place without a change in temperature
• why the specific latent heat of vaporisation is higher than specific latent heat of fusion for the same substance
• why a cooling effect accompanies evaporation;

Thermal Physics 1

12.1 b

define and use the concept of specific heat capacity, and identify the main principles of its determination by electrical methods;

Thermal Physics 1

12.1 c

define and use the concept of specific latent heat, and identify the main principles of its determination by electrical methods.

Thermal Physics 1

12.2  Internal Energy and the First Law of Thermodynamics

12.2 a

Understand that internal energy is determined by the state of the system and that it can be expressed as the sum of a random distribution of kinetic and potential energies associated with the
molecules of a system;

Thermal Physics 1

12.2 b

relate a rise in temperature of a body to an increase in its internal energy;

Thermal Physics 3

12.2 c

recall and use the first law of thermodynamics ΔU = q + w expressed in terms of the increase in internal energy, the heating of the system (energy transferred to the system by heating) and the
work done on the system.

Engineering Physics 3


13  Oscillations

13.1  Simple Harmonic Oscillations

13.1 a

Describe simple examples of free oscillations;

Further Mechanics 4

13.1 b

investigate the motion of an oscillator using experimental and graphical methods;

Further Mechanics 4

13.1 c

understand and use the terms amplitude, period, frequency, angular frequency and phase difference and express the period in terms of both frequency and angular frequency;

Further Mechanics 4

13.1 d

recognise and use the equation a = –ω2x as the defining equation of simple harmonic motion;

Further Mechanics 4

13.1 e

recall and use x = x0 sin ωt as a solution to the equation a = –ω2x ;

Further Mechanics 4

13.1 f

recognise and use the equations v = v0 cos ωt and:


Further Mechanics 4

13.1 g

describe, with graphical illustrations, the changes in displacement, velocity and acceleration during simple harmonic motion.

More about simple harmonic oscillators can be found in Further Mechanics Tutorial 5

Further Mechanics 4

13.2  Energy in Simple Harmonic Motions

13.2 a

Describe the interchange between kinetic and potential energy during simple harmonic motion.

Further Mechanics 6

13.3  Damped and Forced Oscillations, Resonance

13.3 a

Describe practical examples of damped oscillations with particular reference to the effects of the degree of damping and the importance of critical damping;

Further Mechanics 3

13.3 b

describe practical examples of forced oscillations and resonance;

Further Mechanics 3

13.3 c

describe graphically how the amplitude of a forced oscillation changes with frequency near to the natural frequency of the system, and understand qualitatively the factors that determine the frequency response and sharpness of the resonance;

Further Mechanics 3

13.3 d

appreciate that there are some circumstances in which resonance is useful and other circumstances in which resonance should be avoided.

Further Mechanics 3


14  Waves

14.1  Progressive Waves

14.1 a

Describe what is meant by wave motion as illustrated by vibration in ropes, springs and ripple tanks;

Waves 1

14.1 b

understand and use the terms displacement, amplitude, phase difference, period, frequency, wavelength and speed;

Waves 1

14.1 c

deduce, from the definitions of speed, frequency and wavelength, the wave equation v = f λ;

Waves 1

14.1 d

recall and use the equation v = f λ;

Waves 1

14.1 e

understand that energy is transferred by a progressive wave;

Waves 1

14.1 f

recall and use the relationship intensity ∝ (amplitude)2.

Waves 1

14.2  Transverse and Longitudinal Waves

14.2 a

Compare transverse and longitudinal waves;

Waves 2

14.2 b

analyse and interpret graphical representations of transverse and longitudinal waves.

Waves 2

14.3  Determination of Frequency and Wavelength of Sound Waves

14.3 a

Determine the frequency of sound using a calibrated cathode-ray oscilloscope (c.r.o.);

Waves 2

14.3 b

determine the wavelength of sound using stationary waves.

Waves 5

14.4  Doppler Effect

14.4 a

Understand that when a source of waves moves relative to a stationary observer, there is a change in observed frequency;

Astrophysics 7

14.4 b

use the expression:

for the observed frequency;

Astrophysics 7

14.4 c

appreciate that Doppler shift is observed with all waves, including sound and light.

Astrophysics 7

14.5  Electromagnetic Spectrum

14.5 a

State that all electromagnetic waves travel with the same speed in free space and recall the orders of magnitude of the wavelengths of the principal radiations from radio waves to γ-rays.

Waves 2

14.6  Production and Use of Ultrasound in Diagnosis

14.6 a

Explain the principles of the generation and detection of ultrasonic waves using piezo-electric transducers;

Medical Physics 5

14.6 b

explain the main principles behind the use of ultrasound to obtain diagnostic information about internal structures;

Medical Physics 5

14.6 c

understand the meaning of specific acoustic impedance and its importance to the intensity reflection coefficient at a boundary;

Medical Physics 5

14.6 d

recall and solve problems by using the equation I = I0e–μx for the attenuation of ultrasound in matter.

Attenuation is discussed in terms of X-rays, but the principles are the same for Ultrasound.

Medical Physics 7


15  Superposition

15.1  Stationary Waves

15.1 a

Explain and use the principle of superposition in simple applications;

Waves 4

15.1 b

show an understanding of experiments that demonstrate stationary waves using microwaves, stretched strings and air columns;

Waves 4

Waves 5

15.1 c

explain the formation of a stationary wave using a graphical method, and identify nodes and antinodes.

Waves 4

15.2  Diffraction

15.2 a

Explain the meaning of the term diffraction;

Waves 8

15.2 b

show an understanding of experiments that demonstrate diffraction including the diffraction of water waves in a ripple tank with both a wide gap and a narrow gap.

Waves 8

15.3  Interference, Two Source Interference

15.3 a

Understand the terms interference and coherence;

Waves 7

15.3 b

show an understanding of experiments that demonstrate two-source interference using water ripples, light and microwaves;

Waves 7

15.3 c

understand the conditions required if two-source interference fringes are to be observed;

Waves 7

15.3 d

recall and solve problems using the equation:

for double-slit interference using light.

In the notes, the code w  is used for a , and s  is used for x .

A more detailed discussion can be found in Physics 6 Tutorial 7.

Waves 7

15.4  Diffraction Gratings

15.4 a

Recall and solve problems using the formula d sin θ= nλ;

Waves 8

15.4 b

describe the use of a diffraction grating to determine the wavelength of light (the structure and use of the spectrometer are not included)

Waves 8


16  Communication

16.1  Communication Channels

16.1 a

Appreciate that information may be carried by a number of different channels, including wire-pairs, coaxial cables, radio and microwave links, optic fibres;

Electronics 12

16.2  Modulation

16.2 a

Understand the term modulation and be able to distinguish between amplitude modulation (AM) and frequency modulation (FM);

Electronics 14

16.2 b

recall that a carrier wave, amplitude modulated by a single audio frequency, is equivalent to the carrier wave frequency together with two sideband frequencies;

Electronics 14

16.2 c

understand the term bandwidth;

Electronics 14

16.2 d

recall the frequencies and wavelengths used in different channels of communication;

Electronics 14

16.2 e

demonstrate an awareness of the relative advantages of AM and FM transmissions

Electronics 14

16.3  Digital Communication

16.3 a

Recall the advantages of the transmission of data in digital form, compared with the transmission of data in analogue form;

Electronics 5

16.3 b

understand that the digital transmission of speech or music involves analogue-to-digital conversion (ADC) before transmission and digital-to-analogue conversion (DAC) after reception;

Electronics 8C

16.3 c

understand the effect of the sampling rate and the number of bits in each sample on the reproduction of an input signal.

Electronics 5

16.4 Relative merits of channels of communication

16.4 a

Discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of channels of communication in terms of available bandwidth, noise, crosslinking, security, signal attenuation, repeaters and regeneration;

Electronics 12

16.4 b

recall the relative merits of both geostationary and polar orbiting satellites for communicating information.

Electronics 12

16.5  Attenuation

16.5 a

Understand and use signal attenuation expressed in dB and dB per unit length

Electronics 12

16.5 b

recall and use the expression:

for the ratio of two powers.

Electronics 12


17  Electric Fields

17.1  Concept of an Electric Field

17.1 a

Understand the concept of an electric field as an example of a field of force and define electric field strength as force per unit positive charge acting on a stationary point charge;

Fields 4

17.1 b

represent an electric field by means of field lines.

Fields 4

17.2  Uniform Electric Fields

17.2 a

Recall and use:

to calculate the field strength of the uniform field between charged parallel plates in terms of potential difference and separation

Fields 4

17.2 b

calculate the forces on charges in uniform electric fields;

Fields 4

17.2 c

describe the effect of a uniform electric field on the motion of charged particles.

Fields 4

17.3  Electric Forces between Point Charges

17.3 a

Understand that, for any point outside a spherical conductor, the charge on the sphere may be considered to act as a point charge at its centre;

Fields 4

17.3 b

recall and use Coulomb’s law in the form:

for the force between two point charges in free space or air.

Fields 4

17.4  Electric Field of a Single Point Charge

17.4 a

Recall and use:

for the field strength of a point charge in free space or air.

Fields 4

17.5  Electric Potential

17.5 a

Define potential at a point as the work done per unit positive charge in bringing a small test charge from infinity to the point;

Fields 5

17.5 b

state that the field strength of the field at a point is equal to the negative of potential gradient at that point;

Fields 5

17.5 c

use the equation:

for the potential in the field of a point charge;

Fields 5

17.5 d

recognise the analogy between certain qualitative and quantitative aspects of electric fields and gravitational fields.

Fields 5


18  Capacitance

18.1  Capacitors and Capacitance

18.1 a

Define capacitance and the farad, as applied to both isolated conductors and to parallel plate capacitors;

Capacitors 1

Capacitors 3

18.1 b

recall and use:


Capacitors 1

18.1 c

derive, using the formula:

conservation of charge and the addition of potential differences, formulae for combined capacitance for capacitors in series and in parallel;

Capacitors 1


18.1 d

solve problems using the capacitance formulae for capacitors in series and in parallel.

Capacitors 4

18.2  Energy Stored in a Capacitor

18.2 a

Deduce, from the area under a potential-charge graph, the equation:

and hence:

Capacitors 1

18.2 b

show an understanding of the functions of capacitors in simple circuits.

Capacitors 1


19  Current of Electricity

19.1  Electric Current

19.1 a

Understand that electric current is a flow of charge carriers;

Electricity 1

19.1 b

understand that the charge on charge carriers is quantised;

Electricity 1

19.1 c

define the coulomb;

Electricity 1

19.1 d

recall and use Q = It ;

Electricity 1

19.1 e

derive and use, for a current-carrying conductor, the expression I = Anvq , where n is the number density of charge carriers.

Electricity 4

19.2   Potential Difference and Power

19.2 a

Define potential difference and the volt;

Electricity 1

19.2 b

recall and use:

Electricity 1

19.2 c

recall and use P = VI  and P = I 2 R ;

Electricity 5

19.3  Resistance and Resistivity

19.3 a

Define resistance and the ohm;

Electricity 2

19.3 b

recall and use V = IR ;

Electricity 2

19.3 c

sketch and discuss the I–V characteristics of a metallic conductor at constant temperature, a semiconductor diode and a filament lamp;

Electricity 3

19.3 d

state Ohm’s law;

Electricity 2

19.3 e

recall and use:


Electricity 4

19.4  Sensing Devices

19.4 a

Show an understanding of the change in resistance with light intensity of a light-dependent resistor (LDR);

Electricity 6

19.4 b

sketch the temperature characteristic of a negative temperature coefficient thermistor;

Electricity 6

19.4 c

show an understanding of the action of a piezo-electric transducer and its application in a simple microphone;

Electricity 6

19.4 d

describe the structure of a metal-wire strain gauge;

Electricity 6

19.4 e

relate extension of a strain gauge to change in resistance of the gauge.

Electricity 6


 20  DC Circuits

 20.1  Practical Circuits

20.1 a

Recall and use appropriate circuit symbols as set out in the ASE publication Signs, Symbols and Systematics;

PDF file


20.1 b

draw and interpret circuit diagrams containing sources, switches, resistors, ammeters, voltmeters, and/or any other type of component referred to in the syllabus;

Electricity 1

20.1 c

define electromotive force (e.m.f.) in terms of the energy transferred by a source in driving unit charge round a complete circuit;

Electricity 8

20.1 d

distinguish between e.m.f. and potential difference (p.d.) in terms of energy considerations

Electricity 8

20.1 e

understand the effects of the internal resistance of a source of e.m.f. on the terminal potential difference

Electricity 8

20.2  Kirchhoff's Laws

20.2 a

Recall Kirchhoff’s first law and appreciate the link to conservation of charge;

Electricity 7

20.2 b

recall Kirchhoff’s second law and appreciate the link to conservation of energy;

Electricity 7

20.2 c

derive, using Kirchhoff’s laws, a formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in series;

Electricity 7

20.2 d

solve problems using the formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in series;

Electricity 7

20.2 e

derive, using Kirchhoff’s laws, a formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in parallel;

Electricity 7

20.2 f

solve problems using the formula for the combined resistance of two or more resistors in parallel;

Electricity 7

20.2 g

apply Kirchhoff’s laws to solve simple circuit problems.

Electricity 7

20.3  Potential Dividers

20.3 a

Understand the principle of a potential divider circuit as a source of variable p.d.;

Electricity 6

20.3 b

recall and solve problems using the principle of the potentiometer as a means of comparing potential differences;

Electricity 6

20.3 c

understand that an electronic sensor consists of a sensing device and a circuit that provides an output that can be registered as a voltage;

Electricity 6

20.3 d

explain the use of thermistors, light-dependent resistors and strain gauges in potential dividers to provide a potential difference that is dependent on temperature, illumination and strain respectively.

Electricity 6


21  Electronics

21.1  The Ideal Operational Amplifier

21.1 a

Recall the main properties of the ideal operational amplifier (op-amp).

Electronics 7

21.2  Operational Amplifier Circuits

21.2 a

Deduce, from the properties of an ideal operational amplifier, the use of an operational amplifier as a comparator;

Electronics 7

21.2 b

understand the effects of negative feedback on the gain of an operational amplifier;

Electronics 7

21.2 c

recall the circuit diagrams for both the inverting and the non-inverting amplifier for single signal input;

Electronics 8

21.2 d

understand the virtual earth approximation and derive an expression for the gain of inverting amplifiers;

Electronics 8A

21.2 e

recall and use expressions for the voltage gain of inverting and of non-inverting amplifiers.

Electronics 8B

21.3  Output Devices

21.3 a

Understand that an output device may be required to monitor the output of an op-amp circuit;

Link to my other website


21.3 b

understand the use of relays in electronic circuits;

Link to my other website


21.3 c

understand the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) as devices to indicate the state of the output of electronic circuits;

Link to my other website


21.3 d

understand the need for calibration where digital or analogue meters are used as output devices

Electricity 1


22  Magnetic Fields

22.1  Magnetic Field Concepts

22.1 a

Understand that a magnetic field is an example of a field of force produced either by current-carrying conductors or by permanent magnets;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.1 b

represent a magnetic field by field lines.

Magnetic Fields 1

22.2  Force on a Current-Carrying Conductor

22.2 a

Appreciate that a force might act on a current-carrying conductor placed in a magnetic field;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.2 b

recall and solve problems using the equation F = BIL sin θ , with directions as interpreted by Fleming’s left-hand rule;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.2 c

define magnetic flux density and the tesla;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.2 d

understand how the force on a current-carrying conductor can be used to measure the flux density of a magnetic field using a current balance.

Magnetic Fields 1

22.3  Force on a Moving Charge

22.3 a

Predict the direction of the force on a charge moving in a magnetic field;

Magnetic Fields 3

22.3 b

recall and solve problems using F = BQv sin θ ;

Magnetic Fields 3

22.3 c

derive the expression:

for the Hall voltage, where t = thickness;

Magnetic Fields 3B

22.3 d

describe and analyse qualitatively the deflection of beams of charged particles by uniform electric and uniform magnetic fields;

Magnetic Fields 3

22.3 e

explain how electric and magnetic fields can be used in velocity selection;

Magnetic Fields 3

22.3 f

explain the main principles of one method for the determination of v and  e/me for electrons.

Magnetic Fields 3

22.4  Magnetic Fields due to Currents

22.4 a

Sketch flux patterns due to a long straight wire, a flat circular coil and a long solenoid;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.4 b

understand that the field due to a solenoid is influenced by the presence of a ferrous core;

Magnetic Fields 1

22.4 c

explain the forces between current-carrying conductors and predict the direction of the forces

Magnetic Fields 1

22.4 d

describe and compare the forces on mass, charge and current in gravitational, electric and magnetic fields, as appropriate.

Magnetic Fields 1

22. 5  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Imaging

22.5 a

Explain the main principles behind the use of nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMRI) to obtain diagnostic information about internal structures;

Medical Physics 6

22.5 b

understand the function of the non-uniform magnetic field, superimposed on the large constant magnetic field, in diagnosis using NMRI.

Medical Physics 6


23  Electromagnetic Induction

23.1  Laws of Electromagnetic Induction

23.1 a

Define magnetic flux and the weber;

Magnetic Fields 4

23.1 b

recall and use Φ = BA ;

Magnetic Fields 4

23.1 c

define magnetic flux linkage;

Magnetic Fields 4

23.1 d

infer from appropriate experiments on electromagnetic induction:
• that a changing magnetic flux can induce an e.m.f. in a circuit
• that the direction of the induced e.m.f. opposes the change producing it
• the factors affecting the magnitude of the induced e.m.f. ;

Magnetic Fields 5

23.1 e

recall and solve problems using Faraday’s law of electromagnetic induction and Lenz’s law

Magnetic Fields 5

23.1 f

explain simple applications of electromagnetic induction.

Magnetic Fields 5


24  Alternating Currents

24.1  Characteristics of Alternating Currents

24.1 a

Understand and use the terms period, frequency, peak value and root-mean-square value as applied to an alternating current or voltage;

Electricity 9

24.1 b

deduce that the mean power in a resistive load is half the maximum power for a sinusoidal alternating current;

Electricity 9

24.1 c

represent a sinusoidally alternating current or voltage by an equation of the form x = x0 sin ωt ;

Link to my other website.  Sine waves only.


24.1. d

distinguish between r.m.s. and peak values and recall and solve problems using the relationship:

for the sinusoidal case.

Electricity 9

24.2  The Transformer

24.2 a

Understand the principle of operation of a simple laminated iron-cored transformer and recall and solve problems using:

for an ideal transformer;

Magnetic Fields 7

24.2 b

understand the sources of energy loss in a practical transformer.

Magnetic Fields 7

24.3  Transmission of Electrical Energy

24.3 a

Appreciate the practical and economic advantages of alternating current and of high voltages for the transmission of electrical energy.

Magnetic Fields 8

24.4  Rectification

24.4 a

Distinguish graphically between half-wave and full-wave rectification;

Link to my other website


24.4 b

explain the use of a single diode for the half-wave rectification of an alternating current;

Link to my other website


24.4 c

explain the use of four diodes (bridge rectifier) for the full-wave rectification of an alternating current;

Link to my other website


24.4 d

analyse the effect of a single capacitor in smoothing, including the effect of the value of capacitance in relation to the load resistance.

Link to my other website (Voltage regulator not needed)



25  Quantum Physics

25.1  Energy of a Photon

25.1 a

Appreciate the particulate nature of electromagnetic radiation;

Quantum 1

25.1 b

recall and use E = hf .

Quantum 1

25.2  Photoelectric Emission of Photons

25.2 a

Understand that the photoelectric effect provides evidence for a particulate nature of electromagnetic radiation while phenomena such as interference and diffraction provide evidence for a wave nature;

Quantum 2

25.2 b

recall the significance of threshold frequency;

Quantum 2

25.2 c

explain photoelectric phenomena in terms of photon energy and work function energy;

Quantum 2

25.2 d

explain why the maximum photoelectric energy is independent of intensity, whereas the photoelectric current is proportional to intensity;

Quantum 2

25.2 e

recall, use and explain the significance of:

Quantum 2

25.3  Wave Particle Duality

25.3 a

Describe and interpret qualitatively the evidence provided by electron diffraction for the wave nature of particles;

Quantum 6

25.3 b

recall and use the relation for the de Broglie wavelength:

Quantum 6

25.4 Energy levels in atoms and line spectra

25.4 a

Show an understanding of the existence of discrete electron energy levels in isolated atoms (e.g. atomic hydrogen) and deduce how this leads to spectral lines;

See also Quantum 5 for application of this in fluorescence

Quantum 4

25.4 b

distinguish between emission and absorption line spectra;

Quantum 3

25.4 c

recall and solve problems using the relation hf = E1 – E2 .

This is dealt with in greater depth in Physics 6 Tutorial 2

Quantum 4

25.5  Band theory

25.5 a

Appreciate that, in a simple model of band theory, there are energy bands in solids;

Electricity 6

25.5 b

understand the terms valence band, conduction band and forbidden band (band gap);

Electricity 6

25.5 c

use simple band theory to explain the temperature dependence of the resistance of metals and of intrinsic semiconductors;

Electricity 2

25.5 d

use simple band theory to explain the dependence on light intensity of the resistance of an LDR.

Electricity 6

25. 6  Production and use of X-rays

25.6 a

Explain the principles of the production of X-rays by electron bombardment of a metal target;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 b

describe the main features of a modern X-ray tube, including control of the intensity and hardness of the X-ray beam;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 c

understand the use of X-rays in imaging internal body structures, including a simple analysis of the causes of sharpness and contrast in X-ray imaging;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 d

recall and solve problems by using the equation I = I0e–μx for the attenuation of X-rays in matter;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 e

understand the purpose of computed tomography or CT scanning;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 f

understand the principles of CT scanning;

Medical Physics 7

25.6 g

understand how the image of an 8-voxel cube can be developed using CT scanning.

Medical Physics 7


26  Particle and Nuclear Physics

26.1 Atoms, nuclei and radiation

26.1 a

Infer from the results of the α-particle scattering experiment the existence and small size of the nucleus;

A more detailed treatment in Nuclear Physics 2

Particle Physics 1

26.1 b

describe a simple model for the nuclear atom to include protons, neutrons and orbital electrons;

Particle Physics 1

26.1 c

distinguish between nucleon number and proton number;

Particle Physics 1

26.1 d

understand that an element can exist in various isotopic forms, each with a different number of neutrons;

Particle Physics 1

26.1 e

use the usual notation for the representation of nuclides;

Particle Physics 1

26.1 f

appreciate that nucleon number, proton number, and mass-energy are all conserved in nuclear processes;

Particle Physics 2

26.1 g

show an understanding of the nature and properties of α-, β- and γ-radiations (both β– and β+ are included);

Particle Physics 2

26.1 h

state that (electron) antineutrinos and (electron) neutrinos are produced during β– and β+ decay.

Particle Physics 2

26.2  Fundamental Particles

26.2 a

Appreciate that protons and neutrons are not fundamental particles since they consist of quarks;

Particle Physics 10

26.2 b

describe a simple quark model of hadrons in terms of up, down and strange quarks and their respective antiquarks;

Particle Physics 10

26.2 c

describe protons and neutrons in terms of a simple quark model;

Particle Physics 10

26.2 d

appreciate that there is a weak interaction between quarks, giving rise to β decay;

Particle Physics 11

26.2 e

describe β– and β+ decay in terms of a simple quark model;

Particle Physics 11

26.2 f

appreciate that electrons and neutrinos are leptons.

Particle Physics 7

26.3 Mass defect and nuclear binding energy

26.3 a

Show an appreciation of the association between energy and mass as represented by E = mc 2 and recall and use this relationship;

Nuclear Physics 7

26.3 b

understand the significance of the terms mass defect and mass excess in nuclear reactions;

Nuclear Physics 7

26.3 c

represent simple nuclear reactions by nuclear equations of the form:


Nuclear Physics 3

26.3 d

define and understand the terms mass defect and binding energy;

Nuclear Physics 7

26.3 e

sketch the variation of binding energy per nucleon with nucleon number

Nuclear Physics 7

26.3 f

explain what is meant by nuclear fusion and nuclear fission;

Nuclear Physics 7

26.3 g

explain the relevance of binding energy per nucleon to nuclear fusion and to nuclear fission.

Nuclear Physics 7

26.4 Radioactive decay

26.4 a

Infer the random nature of radioactive decay from the fluctuations in count rate;

Nuclear Physics 5

26.4 b

show an appreciation of the spontaneous and random nature of nuclear decay;

Nuclear Physics 5

26.4 c

define the terms activity and decay constant and recall and solve problems using A = λN ;

Nuclear Physics 5

26.4 d

infer and sketch the exponential nature of radioactive decay and solve problems using the relationship x = x0e–λt, where x could represent activity, number of undecayed nuclei or received count rate;

Nuclear Physics 5

26.4 e

define half-life;

Nuclear Physics 5

26.4 f

solve problems using the relation:

Nuclear Physics 5


And that's it.