Irish Board Syllabus Leaving Certificate at Higher Level 

Mechanics Thermal Properties Waves Optics Electricity Electromagnetism Modern Physics 

This syllabus has the same content as the Ordinary Level syllabus, but requires study at greater depth. The Ordinary Level content is in maroon text. The additional content is in black text. 

In the exam, you are expected to be know about and apply: 

Motion 

Content 
Depth of Treatment 
Activities / STS 
Link 
1. Linear Motion 
Units of mass, length and time – definition of units not required. 


Displacement, velocity, acceleration: definitions and units. 
Measurement of velocity and
Sports, e.g. athletics. 

Equations of motion. 
Measurement of g. Appropriate calculations. 

Derivation 


2. Vectors and Scalars 
Distinction between vector and scalar quantities. 
Vector nature of physical 

Composition of perpendicular vectors. 
Find resultants using
newton 

Resolution of coplanar vectors. 
Appropriate calculations. 

Forces 

1. Newton's Laws of Motion 
Statement of the three laws. 
Demonstration of the laws using air track or tickertape timer or powder track timer, etc.
Applications 

Force and momentum, definitions and units. Vector nature of forces to be stressed. 


F = ma as a special case of Newton’s second law. 
Appropriate calculations. 

Friction: a force opposing motion. 
Importance of friction in 

2. Conservation of Momentum 
Principle of conservation of momentum. 
Demonstration by any one
Collisions (ball games), acceleration of spacecraft, jet aircraft. 

3. Circular Motion 
Centripetal force required to maintain uniform motion in a circle. 
Demonstration of circular motion. 

Definition of angular velocity ω. 


Derivation of v = r ω 


Use of a = r ω ^{2}, F = m r ω ^{2} Examples can be found in Further Mechanics Tutorial 2 
Appropriate calculations. 

4. Gravity 
Newton’s law of universal gravitation. 
Compare gravitational forces between Earth and Sun and between Earth and Moon. 

(Term r^{ 2} is used in the notes) 
Solar system. 

Variation of g, and hence W, with distance from centre of Earth (effect of centripetal acceleration not required). 
Appropriate calculations.
“Weightlessness” and artificial 

Value of acceleration due to gravity on other bodies in space, e.g. Moon. 
Calculation of weight on different planets.
Presence of atmosphere. 

Circular satellite orbits – derivation of the relationship between the period, the mass of the central body and the radius of the orbit. 
Appropriate calculations. Satellites and communications. 

5. Density and Pressure 
Definitions and units. 


Pressure in liquids and gases. Boyle’s law. 
Demonstration of atmospheric
Atmospheric pressure and weather. The “bends” in diving, etc. 

Archimedes’ principle. Law of flotation. 
Demonstration only. Calculations not required.
Hydrometers. 

6. Moments 
Definition. 
Simple experiments with a
Torque, e.g. taps, doors. 

7. Conditions for Equilibrium 
The sum of the forces in any direction equals the sum of the The sum of the moments about any point is zero. 
Appropriate calculations.
Static and dynamic equilibrium. 

8. Simple Harmonics Motion and Hooke's Law 
Hooke’s law: restoring force ∝ displacement.

Demonstration of SHM,
e.g.
Appropriate calculations. Everyday examples. 

Systems that obey
Hooke’s law e.g. simple pendulum, execute
Analysis of specific SHM systems is found in Further Mechanics 5 
Appropriate calculations. 

Energy 

1. Work 
Definition and unit. 
Simple experiments. Appropriate calculations involving force and displacement in the same direction only.
Lifts, escalators 

2. Energy

Energy as the ability to do work. 


Different forms of energy. 
Demonstrations of different energy conversions.
Sources of energy: renewable and nonrenewable. 


Appropriate calculations. 

Mass as a form of energy E = mc ^{2} 
Mass transformed to other forms of energy in the Sun. 

Conversions from one form of energy to another. 


Principle of conservation of energy. 
Efficient use of energy in the 

3. Power 
Power as the rate of doing work or rate of energy conversion. Unit. 
Estimation of average power
Power of devices, e.g. light 


Appropriate Calculations 

Temperature 

1. Concept of Temperature 
Measure of hotness or coldness of a body. 


The SI unit of temperature is the kelvin (definition of unit in
terms 


Celsius scale is the practical temperature scale 


(Instead of t , θ is used in the notes for temperature in Celsius.) 


2. Thermometric Properties 
A physical property that changes measurably with temperature. 
Demonstration of some 

3. Thermometers 
Thermometers measure temperature. 
Graduate two thermometers at ice and steam points. Compare values obtained for an unknown temperature, using a straightline graph between reference points 

Two thermometers do not necessarily give the same reading at the same temperature. 
Practical thermometers, e.g. 

The need for standard thermometers – use any commercial laboratory thermometer as school standard. 


Heat 

1. Concept of Heat 
Heat as a form of
energy that causes a rise in temperature 


Quantity of Heat 

1. Heat Capacity, Specific Heat Capacity 
Definitions and units. 
Appropriate calculations.
Storage heaters. 

2. Latent Heat, Specific Latent Heat 
Definitions and units. 
Appropriate calculations.
Heat pump, e.g. refrigerator. 

Heat Transfer 

1. Conduction 
Qualitative comparison of rates of conduction through solids. 
Simple experiments.
Uvalues: use in domestic 

2. Convection 
Description 
Simple experiments. Domestic hotwater and heating systems. 

3. Radiation 
Radiation from the Sun. Solar constant (also called solar irradiance). 
Simple experiments.
Everyday examples. 

Wave Properties 

1. Properties of Waves 
Longitudinal and transverse waves:



Relationship c = f λ. 
Appropriate calculations 

2. Wave Phenomena 

Simple demonstrations using slinky, ripple tank, microwaves, or other suitable method.
Everyday examples, e.g. 

Stationary waves; relationship between internode distance and wavelength. 


Diffraction effects: 


3. Doppler Effect 
Qualitative treatment. 
Sound from a moving source.
Red shift of stars. 


Simple quantitative treatment for moving source and stationary observer. 
Appropriate calculations without deriving formula. 

Vibrations and Sound 

1. Wave Nature of Sound 
Reflection, refraction, diffraction, interference. 
Demonstration of interference, e.g. two loudspeakers and a signal generator. Acoustics. Reduction of noise using destructive interference. Noise pollution. 

Speed of sound in various media. 
Demonstration that sound requires a medium. 

2. Characteristics of Notes 
Amplitude and
loudness, frequency and pitch, quality and overtones. 


Frequency limits of audibility. 
Dog whistle 

3. Resonance 
Natural frequency. Fundamental frequency. 
Demonstration using tuning forks or other suitable method. Vocal cords (folds). 

Definition of resonance, and examples. 


4. Vibrations in strings and pipes 
Stationary waves in strings and pipes. 
Use string and wind instruments, e.g. guitar, tin whistle. 

Relationship between frequency and length. 
String section and woodwind 

Harmonics in strings and pipes.
for a stretched string. 
Appropriate Calculations 

5. Sound intensity 
Sound intensity: definition and unit. 


Threshold of hearing and frequency response of the ear. 
Use of soundlevel meter. 

Sound intensity level, measured in decibels. 
Examples of sound intensity 

Doubling the sound intensity increases the sound intensity level by 3 dB. 


The dB(A) scale is used because it is adapted to the ear’s frequency response. 
Hearing impairment. 

Reflection 

1. Laws of Reflection 
Demonstration using ray box or laser or other suitable method. 

2. Mirrors 
Images formed by plane and spherical mirrors. 
Simple exercises on
mirrors by 

Knowledge that:
and . 
Realispositive sign convention.
Practical uses of spherical 

Refraction 

1. Laws of Refraction 
Refractive index. 
Demonstration using
ray box or laser or other suitable method. Practical examples, e.g. real and apparent depth of fish in water. 

Refractive index in terms of relative speeds. 
Appropriate calculations 

2. Total internal reflection 
Critical angle. 
Demonstration. 

Relationship between critical angle and refractive index. 
Appropriate calculations. 

Transmission of light through optical fibres. 
Reflective road signs. 


3. Lenses 
Images formed by single thin lenses. 
Simple exercises on lenses by ray tracing or use of formula. 

Knowledge that:
and:

Uses of lenses 

Power of lens:



Two lenses in contact: P = P _{1} + P _{2} 


The eye: optical structure; short sight, long sight, and corrections. 
Spectacles 

Wave Nature of Light 

1. Diffraction and interference 
Use of diffraction grating formula.

Suitable method of
demonstrating the wave nature of light.
Interference colours 

Derivation of formula. Follow the link to the derivation 


2. Light as a
transverse 
Polarisation. 
Demonstration of
polarisation 

3. Dispersion 
Dispersion by a prism
and a diffraction grating. 
Demonstration. 

Recombination by a prism. 
Rainbows, polished gemstones. 

4. Colours 
Primary, secondary and complementary colours. 
Demonstration. 

Addition of colours. Pigment colours need not be considered. 
Stage lighting, television. 

5. Electromagnetic 
Relative positions of radiations in terms of wavelength and frequency. 
Infrared cameras: 

Detection of UV and IR radiation. 
Demonstration. Ultraviolet and ozone layer. Greenhouse effect. 


6. Spectroscopy 
The spectrometer and the function of its parts. 
Demonstration. 

Charges 

1. Electrification by contact

Charging by rubbing together dissimilar materials. 
Demonstration of forces between charges. 

Types of charge: positive, negative. 
Domestic applications: 

Conductors and insulators. 
Industrial hazards 

Unit of charge: coulomb. 


2. Electrification by 
Demonstration using an insulated conductor and a nearby charged object. 

3. Distribution of charge on conductors 
Total charge resides on outside of a metal object. 
Van de Graaff generator can be used to demonstrate these phenomena. 

Charges tend to accumulate at points. 
Lightning. 

Point discharge. 


4. Electroscope 
Structure 
Uses 

Electric Fields 

1. Force between charges 
Coulomb’s law:
an example of an inverse square law. (Term r ^{2} used in the notes) 


Forces between collinear charges. 
Appropriate calculations. 

2. Electric Fields 
Idea of lines of force. Vector nature of electric field to be stressed. 
Demonstration of
field patterns
Precipitators. 

Definition of electric field strength. 
Appropriate calculations  collinear charges only. 

3. Potential difference. 
Definition of
potential difference: work done per unit charge to 
Appropriate calculations. 

Definition of volt. 


Concept of zero potential. 


Capacitors 

1. Capacitors and capacitance 
Definition: C =
Q/V 
Appropriate calculations. 

Parallel plate capacitor. 
Common uses of capacitors: 

Use of:

Demonstration that
capacitance 

Energy stored in a capacitor. 
Charge capacitor –
discharge 

Use of:

Appropriate calculations 

Capacitors – conduct a.c. but not d.c. 
Demonstration. 

Electric Current 

1. Electric current 
Description of electric current as flow of charge. 1 A = 1 C s^{– 1} 


2. Sources of emf and 
Pd and voltage are
the same thing; they are measured in volts. 
Sources of emf: mains, simple 

3. Conduction in materials 
Conduction in: 
Interpretation of I–V graphs.
Neon lamps, street lights. 

Conduction in semiconductors: the distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic conduction; ptype and ntype semiconductors. 
Electronic devices. LED, computers, integrated circuits. 

The pn junction:
basic principles underlying current flow across a 
Demonstration of
current flow Rectification of a.c. 

4. Resistance 
Definition of resistance, unit. Ohm's law. 
Appropriate calculations 

Resistance varies
with length, crosssectional area, and Resistivity. 
Use of ohmmeter, and metre bridge. 


Resistors in series and parallel. 
Appropriate calculations 

Derivation of formulas. 


Wheatstone bridge. 
Appropriate calculations.
Practical uses of Wheatstone 

LDR – lightdependent resistor. Thermistor. 
Demonstration of LDR
and 

5. Potential 
Potential divider. 
Demonstration.
Potentiometer as a variable 

6. Effects of electric current 
Heating: W = I ^{2}Rt 
Demonstration of
effect.
Everyday examples. 

Chemical: an electric current can cause a chemical reaction. 
Demonstration of effect.
Use of the chemical effect. 

Magnetic effect of an electric current. 
Demonstration of effect. 

7. Domestic circuits 
Plugs, fuses, MCBs (miniature circuit breakers). 
Wiring a plug.
Electricity at home: 

Ring and radial circuits, bonding, earthing, and general safety precautions. (No drawing of ring circuits required.) 
Electrical safety. 

RCDs (residual current devices). 


The kilowatthour. Uses. 
Appropriate calculations. 

Magnetism 

1. Magnetism 
Magnetic poles exist in pairs. 
Demonstration using
magnets, 

Magnetic effect of an electric current. 
Electromagnets and their uses. 

2. Magnetic fields 
Magnetic field due
to: 
Demonstrations.
Earth’s magnetic field. 

Vector nature of magnetic field to be stressed. 
Using Earth’s magnetic field in 

3. Current in a 
Currentcarrying conductor experiences a force in a magnetic field. 
Demonstration of the force on a conductor and coil in a magnetic field. 

Direction of the force. 


Force depends on 


Magnetic flux density:
(In the notes, F = BIl) 
Appropriate calculations. 

Derivation of F = qvB. 
Appropriate calculations. 

Forces between currents (nonmathematical treatment). 


Definition of the ampere. 


4. Electromagnetic 
Magnetic flux: Φ = BA 


Faraday’s law and Lenz’s law. 
Demonstration of the
principle Appropriate calculations. 

Change of mechanical energy to electrical energy. 
Application in generators. 

5. Alternating current 
Variation of voltage
and current with time, i.e. alternating voltages 
Use oscilloscope to show a.c. National grid and a.c. 

Peak and rms values of alternating currents and voltages. 


6. Concepts of mutual 
Mutual induction (two
adjacent coils): when the magnetic field in 
Demonstration 

Selfinduction: a changing magnetic field in a coil induces an emf in the coil itself, e.g. inductor. 
Demonstration 

Structure and principle of operation of a transformer. 
Demonstration. Uses of transformers. 


Effects of inductors on a.c. (no mathematics or phase relations). 
Demonstration.
Dimmer switches in stage 

The Electron 

1. The electron 
The electron as the indivisible quantity of charge. 
Electron named by G. J. Stoney. 

Reference to mass and location in the atom. 
Quantity of charge measured by R. A. Millikan. 

Units of energy: eV, keV, MeV, GeV. 


2. Thermionic emission 
Principle of thermionic emission and its application to the production of a beam of electrons. 
Use of cathode ray tube to demonstrate the production of a beam of electrons – deflection in electric and magnetic fields. 

Cathode ray tube,
consisting of heated filament, cathode, anode, 
Applications 


3. Photoelectric emission 
Photoelectric effect. 
Demonstration, e.g.
using zinc 

The photon as a packet of energy: E = hf 


Effect of intensity and frequency of incident light. 


Photocell (vacuum tube): structure and operation. 
Demonstration of a photocell.
Applications of photoelectric 

Threshold frequency. 


Einstein's photoelectric law. 


4. Xrays 
Xrays produced when highenergy electrons collide with target. 
Uses of Xrays in medicine and 

Principles of the hotcathode 


Xray tube. Xray production as inverse of photoelectric effect. 


Mention of properties
of Xrays: 
Hazards 

The Nucleus 

1. Structure of the atom 
Principle of Rutherford’s experiment. 
Experiment may be
simulated 

Bohr model, descriptive treatment only. 


Energy levels. 


Emission line
spectra: 
Demonstration of line spectra and continuous spectra.
Lasers. 

2. Structure of the nucleus 
Atomic nucleus as protons plus neutrons. 


Mass number A, atomic number Z, , isotopes. 


3. Radioactivity 
Experimental evidence for three kinds of radiation: by deflection in electric or magnetic fields or ionisation or penetration. 
Demonstration of ionisation and penetration by the radiations using any suitable method, e.g. electroscope, GM tube. 

Nature and properties of alpha, beta and gamma emissions. 
Uses of radioisotopes: 


Change in mass number and atomic number because of radioactive decay. 


Principle of operation of a detector of ionising radiation. 
Demonstration of GM
tube or 

Definition of becquerel (Bq) as one disintegration per second. 
Interpretation of
nuclear 

Law of radioactive decay. 


Concept of halflife: T _{1/2} 


Concept of decay constant 


rate of decay = λ N 
Appropriate
calculations 


Appropriate
calculations 

4. Nuclear energy 
Principles of fission and fusion. 
Interpretation of nuclear reactions. 

Massenergy conservation in nuclear reactions: E = mc ^{2} 
Fusion: source of Sun’s energy. 

Nuclear reactor
(fuel, moderator, control rods, shielding, and heat 
Audiovisual resource material.
Environmental impact of fission 


5. Ionising radiation and health hazards. 
General health
hazards in use of ionising radiations, e.g. Xrays, 
Measurement of
background
Health hazards of ionising 

Environmental radiation: the effect of ionising radiation on humans depends on the type of radiation, the activity of the source (in Bq), the time of exposure, and the type of tissue irradiated. 
Audiovisual resource material.
Disposal of nuclear waste. 

Option 1  Particle Physics 

1. Conservation of energy and momentum in nuclear reactions 
Radioactive decay resulting in two particles. 
Appropriate calculations to convey sizes and magnitudes and relations between units. 

If momentum is not
conserved, a third particle (neutrino) must be (I think this statement has a typo. The neutrino's presence is explained by the conservation of momentum.) 


2. Acceleration of protons 
Cockcroft and Walton – proton energy approximately 1 MeV: outline of experiment. 
Appropriate calculations.
First artificial splitting of 

3. Converting mass into other forms of energy 
“Splitting the nucleus” 
Appropriate calculations. 

Fusion:

Appropriate calculations. 


Note energy gain. Consistent with E = mc ^{2} 
Appropriate calculations. 

4. Converting other forms of energy into mass 
Reference to circular
accelerators progressively increasing energy 
Audiovisual resource material. 

protonproton
collisions: 
History of search for basic building blocks of nature: 

5. Fundamental forces 
Strong nuclear force: 


Weak nuclear force: 


Electromagnetic
force: 


Gravitational force: inverse square law. 


6. Families of particles 
Mass of particles comes from energy of the reactions –

Appropriate calculations 

The larger the energy
the greater the variety of particles. These 
Pioneering work to investigate 

Leptons: indivisible
point objects, not subject to strong force, e.g. 


Baryons: subject to
all forces, e.g. protons, neutrons, and heavier 


Mesons: subject to all forces, mass between electron and proton. 


7. Antimatter 
e+ positron, e– electron. 
Paul Dirac predicted antimatter 

Each particle has its own antiparticle. 


Pair production: two
particles produced from energy. (Needs to be near a nucleus) 


Annihilation: Two γ
rays from annihilation of particles. 


8. Quark model 
Quark: fundamental building block of baryons and mesons. 
James Joyce: “Three quarks for 

Six quarks – called up, down, strange, charmed, top, and bottom. 


Charges: u +2/3 , d 1/3 , s 1/3 


Antiquark has opposite charge to quark and same mass. 


Baryons composed of three quarks: p = uud, n = udd, other baryons any three quarks. 
Identify the nature and charge of a particle given a combination of quarks. 

Mesons composed of any quark and an antiquark. 


Option 2  Applied Electricity 

Some links are to my other website on Electricity, Electronics, and Electrical Engineering, at www.jirvine.co.uk. The notes are intended for first year students at university, so may go into more detail than you need. If in doubt, check with your tutor. 

1. Current in a solenoid 
Electromagnetic relay. (Description only  Electromagnetism Tutorial 4B) 
Demonstration. Uses 

2. Current in a magnetic field 
Simple d.c. motor. 
Demonstration. 

Principle of operation of movingcoil loudspeaker. (Description only  Electromagnetism Tutorial 4B) 


Principle of movingcoil galvanometer. (Description only  Electromagnetism Tutorial 4A) 


Conversion of a
galvanometer to: 
Appropriate
calculations for 

3. Electromagnetic 
Induction coil. (Electromagnetism Tutorial 10 A) 
Demonstration. Callan. Electric fences. 

4. Alternating current 
Structure and principle of operation of simple a.c. generator. 
Demonstration. 

Factors affecting efficiency of transformers. 
Uses of generator and transformer. 

Principle of induction motor. (Electromagnetism Tutorial 4B  this describes the linear induction motor, but the principle is the same.) 
Demonstration. 

Rectification – use of bridge rectifier. (Electronics Tutorial 14A) 


5. Applications of diode 
Pn diode used as halfwave rectifier. (Electronics Tutorial 14B) 
Use of a bridge
rectifier and a
Conversion of a.c. to d.c. 

Lightemitting diode (LED); principle of operation. (Electronics Tutorial 4) 
Use of LED. LED: optical display. 

Photodiode. 
Fibre optic receiver. 

6. The transistor 
Basic structure of bipolar transistor. (Electronics Tutorial 6) 
Demonstration. 

The transistor as a voltage amplifier – purpose of bias and load resistors. (Electronics Tutorial 15) 
Applications of the transistor as 

The transistor as a voltage inverter. 
Demonstration. 

7. Logic gates 
AND, OR and NOT gates. 
Establish truth tables for AND, OR and NOT gates. Use of IC in demonstrating circuits.
Relate NOT to transistor. 

And that's it. 