International Baccalaureate

Additional Higher Level Syllabus

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Wave Phenomena   Fields  

Electromagnetic Induction   Quantum and Nuclear Physics

The Advanced Higher Syllabus has topics in each of the four options.  You take one of the options.  If you are lucky enough to be in a centre with four physics groups, you may have the opportunity to choose the option you do.  In most schools and colleges,  the tutor will choose it for you.

Note:  The syllabus statements about the following have been omitted for space reasons:

  • Nature of Science;

  • International mindedness;

  • Theory of knowledge;

  • Utilisation;

  • Aims.

You can find these statements in the syllabus.

Guidance shown like this is extra guidance from me, not the syllabus.

In the exam, you are expected to understand:

Topic 9 - Wave Phenomena

9.1  Simple Harmonic Motion




Equations Link

The defining equation of SHM;


Energy changes.

Solving problems involving acceleration, velocity and displacement during
simple harmonic motion, both graphically and algebraically;


Describing the interchange of kinetic and potential energy during simple
harmonic motion;


Solving problems involving energy transfer during simple harmonic motion, both graphically and algebraically.

Contexts for this sub-topic include the simple pendulum and a mass-spring


You are advised to review Oscillations and Resonance as well.


We can link SHM with Circular Motion.  This is discussed in Further Mechanics 7.


Fourier analysis is discussed in Physics 6 Tutorial 6.

Further Mechanics 3

(Oscillations and Resonance)


Further Mechanics 4



Further Mechanics 5

(Spring and Pendulum)


Further Mechanics 6

(Energy in SHM)

9.2  Single Slit Diffraction

The nature of single-slit diffraction.

Describing the effect of slit width on the diffraction pattern;

Determining the position of first interference minimum;


Qualitatively describing single-slit diffraction patterns produced from white light and from a range of monochromatic light frequencies.

Only rectangular slits need to be considered;


Diffraction around an object (rather than through a slit) does not need to be
considered in this sub-topic;


Students will be expected to be aware of the approximate ratios of successive
intensity maxima for single-slit interference patterns;


Calculations will be limited to a determination of the position of the first
minimum for single-slit interference patterns using the approximation

Waves 8




9.3  Interference 

Young’s double-slit experiment;


Modulation of two-slit interference pattern by one-slit diffraction effect;


Multiple slit and diffraction grating interference patterns;


Thin film interference.

Qualitatively describing two-slit interference patterns, including modulation by one-slit diffraction effect;

Investigating Young’s double-slit experimentally;


Sketching and interpreting intensity graphs of double-slit interference


Solving problems involving the diffraction grating equation;


Describing conditions necessary for constructive and destructive interference from thin films, including phase change at interface and effect of refractive index;


Solving problems involving interference from thin films.

Students should be introduced to interference patterns from a variety of
coherent sources such as (but not limited to) electromagnetic waves, sound and simulated demonstrations;

Diffraction grating patterns are restricted to those formed at normal incidence;

The treatment of thin film interference is confined to parallel-sided films at
normal incidence;

The constructive interference and destructive interference formulae listed
below and in the data booklet apply to specific cases of phase changes at
interfaces and are not generally true.


Normal incidence means that the ray is perpendicular to the slits.

Waves 7

(Young's Slits)


Waves 8



Physics 6 Tutorial 7

(Interference and Fringes)

9.4  Resolution 

The size of a diffracting aperture;


The resolution of simple monochromatic two-source systems.

Solving problems involving the Rayleigh criterion for light emitted by two sources diffracted at a single slit;


Resolvance of diffraction gratings.

Proof of the diffraction grating resolvance equation is not required

Waves 8

(Resolution and Resolvance)

9.5  Doppler Effect

The Doppler effect for sound waves and light waves.

Sketching and interpreting the Doppler effect when there is relative motion between source and observer;

Describing situations where the Doppler effect can be utilized;

Solving problems involving the change in frequency or wavelength observed due to the Doppler effect to determine the velocity of the source/observer.

For electromagnetic waves, the approximate equation should be used for all calculations;

Situations to be discussed should include the use of Doppler effect in radars and in medical physics, and its significance for the red-shift in the light spectra of receding galaxies

Astrophysics 7

(Doppler Effect)


Medical Physics 5

(Blood Flow)


Topic 10  Fields

10.1  Describing Fields




Equations Link

Gravitational fields;


Electrostatic fields;


Electric potential and gravitational potential;


Field lines;


Equipotential surfaces.

Representing sources of mass and charge, lines of electric and gravitational force, and field patterns using an appropriate symbolism;

Mapping fields using potential;

Describing the connection between equipotential surfaces and field lines.

Electrostatic fields are restricted to the radial fields around point or spherical
charges, the field between two point charges and the uniform fields between
charged parallel plates;


Gravitational fields are restricted to the radial fields around point or spherical
masses and the (assumed) uniform field close to the surface of massive celestial bodies and planetary bodies;

Students should recognize that no work is done in moving charge or mass on
an equipotential surface.

Fields 1

(Force and Gravity Fields)


Fields 2

(Energy and Gravity Fields)


Fields 4

(Force and Electric Fields)


Fields 5

(Energy and Electric Fields)

10.2  Fields at Work

Potential and potential energy;


Potential gradient;


Potential difference;


Escape speed;


Orbital motion, orbital speed and orbital energy;


Forces and inverse-square law behaviour

Determining the potential energy of a point mass and the potential energy of a point charge;


Solving problems involving potential energy;


Determining the potential inside a charged sphere;


Solving problems involving the speed required for an object to go into orbit around a planet and for an object to escape the gravitational field of a planet;


Solving problems involving orbital energy of charged particles in circular orbital motion and masses in circular orbital motion;


Solving problems involving forces on charges and masses in radial and
uniform fields

Orbital motion of a satellite around a planet is restricted to a consideration of
circular orbits (links to 6.1 and 6.2);


Both uniform and radial fields need to be considered;


Students should recognize that lines of force can be two-dimensional
representations of three-dimensional fields;


Students should assume that the electric field everywhere between parallel
plates is uniform with edge effects occurring beyond the limits of the plates.

Fields 1

(Force and Gravity Fields)


Fields 2

(Energy and Gravity Fields)


Fields 3



Fields 4

(Force and Electric Fields)


Fields 5

(Energy and Electric Fields)



Topic 11  Electromagnetic Induction

11.1  Electromagnetic Induction




Equations Link

Electromotive force (emf);


Magnetic flux and magnetic flux linkage;


Faraday’s law of induction;


Lenz’s law.

Describing the production of an induced emf by a changing magnetic flux and within a uniform magnetic field;


Solving problems involving magnetic flux, magnetic flux linkage and
Faraday’s law;


Explaining Lenz’s law through the conservation of energy.

Quantitative treatments will be expected for straight conductors moving at
right angles to magnetic fields and rectangular coils moving in and out of
fields and rotating in fields;


Qualitative treatments only will be expected for fixed coils in a changing
magnetic field and ac generators.


In the notes, the width is given the physics code w , rather than l  here.

Magnetism 1

(Magnetic Fields)


Magnetism 2

(Coils in Magnetic Fields)


Magnetism 4



Magnetism 5

(Electromagnetic Induction)



11.2  Power Generation and Transmission

Alternating current (ac) generators;


Average power and root mean square (rms) values of current and voltage;




Diode bridges;


Half-wave and full-wave rectification.

Explaining the operation of a basic ac generator, including the effect of
changing the generator frequency;


Solving problems involving the average power in an ac circuit;


Solving problems involving step-up and step-down transformers;


Describing the use of transformers in ac electrical power distribution;


Investigating a diode bridge rectification circuit experimentally;


Qualitatively describing the effect of adding a capacitor to a diode bridge
rectification circuit.

Calculations will be restricted to ideal transformers but students should be aware of some of the reasons why real transformers are not ideal (for example: flux leakage, joule heating, eddy current heating, magnetic hysteresis);

Proof of the relationship between the peak and rms values will not be expected.


For diode bridges and rectification, the links are to my sister website,  Voltage regulators not expected.


Electricity 9



Electricity 10



Magnetism 6

(Simple AC Generators)


Magnetism 7



Magnetism 8

(Electricity Transmission)








11.3  Capacitance



Dielectric materials;


Capacitors in series and parallel;


Resistor-capacitor (RC) series circuits;


Time constant.

Describing the effect of different dielectric materials on capacitance;


Solving problems involving parallel-plate capacitors;


Investigating combinations of capacitors in series or parallel circuits;


Determining the energy stored in a charged capacitor;


Describing the nature of the exponential discharge of a capacitor;

Solving problems involving the discharge of a capacitor through a fixed resistor;

Solving problems involving the time constant of an RC circuit for charge,
voltage and current.

Only single parallel-plate capacitors providing a uniform electric field, in series with a load, need to be considered (edge effect will be neglected);


Problems involving the discharge of capacitors through fixed resistors need to be treated both graphically and algebraically;

Problems involving the charging of a capacitor will only be treated graphically;

Derivation of the charge, voltage and current equations as a function of time
is not required.

Capacitors 1



Capacitors 2

(Charge and Discharge)


Capacitors 3

(Physics of Capacitors)


Capacitors 4

(Capacitor Circuits)


Capacitors 4B



Topic 12  Quantum and Nuclear Physics

12.1  Interaction of Matter with Radiation




Equations Link



The photoelectric effect;


Matter waves;


Pair production and pair annihilation;


Quantization of angular momentum in the Bohr model for hydrogen;

The wave function;

The uncertainty principle for energy and time and position and momentum;

Tunnelling, potential barrier and factors affecting tunnelling probability.

Discussing the photoelectric effect experiment and explaining which features of the experiment cannot be explained by the classical wave theory of light;

Solving photoelectric problems both graphically and algebraically;

Discussing experimental evidence for matter waves, including an experiment in which the wave nature of electrons is evident;

Stating order of magnitude estimates from the uncertainty principle

The order of magnitude estimates from the uncertainty principle may include
(but is not limited to) estimates of the energy of the ground state of an atom,
the impossibility of an electron existing within a nucleus, and the lifetime of
an electron in an excited energy state;

Tunnelling to be treated qualitatively using the idea of continuity of wave

Particles 6

(Annihilation and Pair Production)


Quantum 1



Quantum 2

(Photo-electric Equation)


Physics 6 Tutorial 2

(Bohr Model)


Physics 6 Tutorial 3

(Heisenberg Uncertainty)


Physics 6 Tutorial 16

(Bohr Model again)


Physics 6 Tutorial 17

(Wave Function)

12.2  Nuclear Physics

Rutherford scattering and nuclear radius;

Nuclear energy levels;

The neutrino;

The law of radioactive decay and the decay constant.

Describing a scattering experiment including location of minimum intensity for the diffracted particles based on their de Broglie wavelength;

Explaining deviations from Rutherford scattering in high energy experiments;

Describing experimental evidence for nuclear energy levels;

Solving problems involving the radioactive decay law for arbitrary time intervals;

Explaining the methods for measuring short and long half-lives.

Students should be aware that nuclear densities are approximately the same
for all nuclei and that the only macroscopic objects with the same density as nuclei are neutron stars;

The small angle approximation is usually not appropriate to use to determine
the location of the minimum intensity.

Particles 7



Quantum 6

(de Broglie)


Nuclear 2

(Rutherford Scattering)


Nuclear 3

(Instability and Excited Nuclei)


Nuclear 4

(Inverse Square Law)


Nuclear 5

(Exponential Decay)


Nuclear 6

(Nuclear radius)


Now go on to the Options