SQA Higher Physics (Secondary Year 5) 

Home National 5 Advanced Higher 

Our Dynamic Universe Particles and Waves Electricity Units, Prefixes, and Uncertainties 

Our Dynamic Universe 

Forces, energy and power 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving
displacement, velocity and acceleration for objects moving with
constant acceleration in a 
All graphs restricted to constant acceleration in one dimension, inclusive of change of direction. 
Mechanics 6 
Interpretation and drawing of motiontime graphs for motion with constant acceleration in a straight line, including graphs for bouncing objects and objects thrown vertically upwards. 
Mechanics 9  
Awareness of the interrelationship of displacement, velocity and accelerationtime graphs. 
Mechanics 6  
Calculation of displacement, velocity and acceleration from appropriate graphs. 
Mechanics 6  
Collisions, explosions and impulse 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems, involving balanced and unbalanced forces, mass, acceleration, and gravitational field strength. 


Awareness of the effects of friction on a moving object (no reference to static and dynamic friction.) 

Explanation, in terms of forces, of an object moving with terminal velocity. 

Interpretation of velocitytime graphs for a falling object when air resistance is taken into account. 

Use on Newton’s first and second laws to explain the motion of an object. 

Use of free body diagrams and appropriate relationships to solve problems involving friction and tension (as a pulling force exerted by a string or cable). 

Resolution of a force into two perpendicular components, including the resolution of the weight of an object on a slope into component forces parallel and normal to the surface of the slope. 

Use of the principle of conservation of energy and appropriate relationships to solve problems involving work done, potential energy, kinetic energy and power. 

Collisions, explosions and impulse 

Use of the principle of conservation of momentum and an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the momentum, mass and velocity of objects interacting in one dimension. 


Knowledge of energy interactions involving the total kinetic energy of systems of objects undergoing inelastic collisions, elastic collisions and explosions. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving the total kinetic energy of systems of interacting objects. 

Use of Newton’s third law to explain the motion of objects involved in interactions. 

Interpretation of forcetime graphs during contact of interacting objects. 

Knowledge that the impulse of a force is equal to the area under a forcetime graph and is equal to the change in momentum of an object involved in the interaction. 

Use data from a forcetime graph to solve problems involving the impulse of a force, the average force and its duration. 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the mass, change in velocity, average acting force and the duration of the force for an object involved in an interaction. 

Gravitation 

Knowledge that satellites are in free fall around a planet/star. 


Resolution of the initial velocity of a projectile into horizontal and vertical components and their use in calculations 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving projectiles 

Knowledge that the horizontal motion and vertical motion of a projectile are independent of each other. 

Use of Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation to solve problems involving, force, masses and their separation. 

Special relativity 

Knowledge that the speed of light in a vacuum is the same for all observers. 


Knowledge that measurements of space and timefor a moving observer are changed relative to those for a stationary observer, giving rise to time dilation. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving length contraction, time dilation and speed. 

The Expanding Universe 

Knowledge that the Doppler effect causes shifts in wavelengths of sound and light. 
Doppler Effect
Hubble's Law
Doppler Effect examples include use of the Ultrasound scanner for measuring the speed of blood:
Material on Stellar Distances can be found in Astrophysics 4.
Qualitative discussion only needed. 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the observed frequency, source frequency, source speed and wave speed. 

Knowledge that the light from objects moving away from us is shifted to longer (more red) wavelengths. 

Knowledge that the redshift of a galaxy is the change in wavelength divided by the emitted wavelength. For slowly moving galaxies, redshift is the ratio of the velocity of the galaxy to the velocity of light. 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the Hubble constant, the recession velocity of a galaxy and its distance from us. 

Knowledge that Hubble’s law allows us to estimate the age of the Universe. 

Awareness of evidence supporting the expanding Universe theory. 

Knowledge that the mass of a galaxy can be estimated by the orbital speed of stars within it. 

Knowledge that evidence supporting the existence of dark matter comes from estimations of the mass of galaxies. 

Knowledge that evidence supporting the existence of dark energy comes from the accelerating rate of expansion of the Universe. 

Knowledge that the temperature of stellar objects is related to the distribution of emitted radiation over a wide range of wavelengths. 

Knowledge that the wavelength of the peak wavelength of this distribution is shorter for hotter objects than for cooler objects. 

Awareness of the qualitative relationship between radiation emitted per unit surface area per unit time and the temperature of a star. 

Awareness of evidence supporting the big bang theory and subsequent expansion of the universe, for example cosmic microwave background radiation, the abundance of the elements hydrogen and helium, the darkness of the sky (Olbers’ paradox) and the large number of galaxies showing redshift, rather than blueshift. 

Particles and Waves 

The Standard Model 

Use of orders of magnitude and awareness of the range of orders of magnitude of length from the very small (subnuclear) to the very large (distance to furthest known celestial objects). 
Particle Physics Tutorials 1  4 will be useful to set the context.
Includes the PET scanner  
Induction 8 
Knowledge of the standard model of fundamental particles and interactions. 
Particles 5  
Awareness of evidence supporting the existence of subnuclear particles and the existence of antimatter. 
Particles 6  
Knowledge that fermions, the matter particles, consist of quarks (six types) and leptons (electron, muon and tau, together with their neutrinos). 
Particles 7 (Leptons) Particles 8 (Quarks) 

Knowledge that hadrons are composite particles made of quarks that baryons are made of three quarks, and that mesons are made of quarkantiquark pairs. 
Particles 9 (Mesons) Particles 10 (Baryons) 

Knowledge that the forcemediating particles are bosons (photons, W and Zbosons, and gluons). 
Particles 12  
Description of beta decay as the first evidence for the neutrino. 
Particles 11  
Forces on charged particles 

Awareness that charged particles experience a force in an electric field. 

Fields 4 
Knowledge that fields exist around charged particles and between charged parallel plates. 
Fields 4  
Sketch of electric field patterns for singlepoint charges, systems of twopoint charges and between two charged parallel plates. 
Fields 4  
Knowledge of the direction of movement of charged particles in an electric field. 
Fields 4  
Knowledge that the relationship between potential difference, work and charge gives the definition of the volt. 
Electricity 8 (Circuits) Fields 5 (Electric Fields) 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving the charge, mass, speed and energy of a charged particle in an electric field and the potential difference through which it moves. 
Fields 5  
Knowledge that a moving charge produces a magnetic field. 
Magnetism 3  
Determination of the direction of the force on a charged particle moving in a magnetic field for negative and positive charges (for example, by using the righthand rule for negative charges) 
Magnetism 1  
Awareness of the basic operation of particle accelerators in terms of acceleration, deflection and collision of charged particles. 
Particles 4 Magnetism 3 (Cyclotron) 

Nuclear reactions 

Use of nuclear equations to describe radioactive decay, fission and fusion reactions with reference to mass and energy equivalence. 

Nuclear Physics 7 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the mass loss and the energy released by a nuclear reaction. 
Nuclear Physics 7  
Awareness of coolant and containment issues in nuclear fusion reactors. 
Nuclear Physics 8  
Waveparticle duality 

Awareness of the photoelectric effect as evidence supporting the particulate model of light. 

Quantum 1 
Knowledge that photons of sufficient energy can eject electrons from the surface of materials. 
Quantum 2  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the frequency and energy of a photon. 
Quantum 2  
Knowledge that the threshold frequency is the minimum frequency of a photon required for photoemission. 
Quantum 2  
Knowledge that the work function of a material is the minimum energy required to cause photoemission. 
Quantum 2  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the maximum kinetic energy of photoelectrons, the threshold frequency of the material and the frequency of the photon. 
Quantum 2  
Interference and diffraction 

Knowledge that coherent waves have a constant phase relationship and have the same frequency, wavelength and velocity. 
Note that n, not m, is used as the physics code for number in the notes. 
Waves 7 
Description of the conditions for constructive and destructive interference in terms of the phase difference between two waves. 
Waves 7  
Knowledge that maxima and minima are produced when the path difference between waves is a whole number of wavelengths or an odd number of halfwavelengths respectively. 
Waves 7  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the path difference between waves, wavelength and order number. 
Waves 8  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving grating spacing, wavelength, order number and angle to the maximum. 
Waves 8  
Refraction of light 

Definition of absolute refractive index of a medium as the ratio of the speed of light in a vacuum to the speed of light in the medium. 

Waves 6 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving absolute refractive index, the angle of incidence and the angle of refraction. 
Waves 6  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving the angles of incidence and refraction, the wavelength of radiation in each medium and the speed of the radiation in each medium. (Including situations where light is travelling from a more dense to a less dense medium.) 
Waves 6  
Awareness of the variation of refractive index with frequency. 
Waves 6  
Knowledge of critical angle and of total internal reflection. 
Waves 6  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving critical angle and refractive index. 
Waves 6  
Spectra 

Knowledge that irradiance is the power per unit area incident on a surface. 
Note that irradiance is referred to as intensity in the notes.

Waves 1 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving irradiance, the power of radiation incident on a surface and the area of the surface. 
Waves 1  
Knowledge that irradiance is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from a point source. 
Waves 1  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving irradiance and distance from a point light source. 
Waves 1  
Knowledge of the Bohr model of the atom. 
Particles 1  
Awareness of the terms ground state, energy levels, ionisation and zero potential energy in relation to the Bohr model of the atom. 
Quantum 4  
Knowledge of the mechanism of production of line emission spectra, continuous emission spectra and absorption spectra in terms of electron energy level transitions. 
Quantum 3  
Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving energy levels and the frequency of the radiation emitted/absorbed. 
Quantum 4  
Awareness that the absorption lines in the spectrum of sunlight provide evidence for the composition of the Sun’s upper atmosphere. 
Quantum 3  
Monitoring and measuring a.c. 

Knowledge that a.c. is a current which changes direction and instantaneous value with time. 

Electricity 9 
Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving peak and r.m.s. values. 
Electricity 9  
Determination of frequency, peak voltage and r.m.s. values from graphical data. 
Electricity 9  
Use of the oscilloscope. 
Electricity 10  
Current, potential difference, power and resistance 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving potential difference, current, resistance and power. Solutions may involve several steps. 

Electricity 1 (Basics) Electricity 2 (Ohm's Law) Electricity 3 (VI characteristics) Electricity 4 (Resistivity) Electricity 5 (Energy and Power) 
Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving potential divider circuits. 
Electricity 6 (Passive Devices) Electricity 7 (Circuits) 

Electrical sources and internal resistance 

Knowledge of the terms electromotive force (e.m.f.), internal resistance and terminal potential difference (t.p.d.), ideal supplies, short circuit and open circuit. 

Electricity 8 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving e.m.f., t.p.d., current and internal resistance. 
Electricity 8  
Determination of internal resistance and e.m.f. using graphical analysis. 
Electricity 8  
Capacitors 

Definition of capacitance. 

Capacitors 1 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving capacitance, charge and potential difference. 
Capacitors 1  
Knowledge that the total energy stored in a charged capacitor is the area under the charge against potential difference graph. 
Capacitors 1  
Use of data from a charge against potential difference graph. 
Capacitors 1  
Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving energy, charge, capacitance and potential difference. 
Capacitors 1  
Awareness of the variation of current and potential difference with time for both charging and discharging cycles of a capacitor in a CR circuit (charging and discharging curves). 
Capacitors 2  
Awareness of the effect of resistance and capacitance on charging and discharging curves in a CR circuit. 
Capacitors 2  
Conductors, semiconductors and insulators 

Knowledge that solids can be categorised into conductors, semiconductors or insulators by their ability to conduct electricity. 

Electricity 6 
Awareness of the terms conduction band and valance band. 
Electricity 6  
Qualitative explanation of the electrical properties of conductors, insulators and semiconductors using the electron population of the conduction and valance bands and the energy difference between the conduction and valance bands. 
Electricity 4 (Metallic conduction)  
PN Junctions 

Awareness that, during manufacture, the conductivity of semiconductors can be controlled, resulting in two types: ptype and ntype. 

Electricity 6 
Knowledge that, when ptype and ntype materials are joined, a layer is formed at the junction. The electrical properties of this layer are used in a number of devices. 
Electricity 6  
Knowledge that solar cells are pn junctions designed so that a potential difference is produced when photons enter the layer. (This is known as the photovoltaic effect.) 
Electronics 3  
Knowledge that LEDs are forward biased pn junction diodes that emit photons when electrons ‘fall’ from the conduction band into the valence band of the ptype semiconductor. 
Electronics 3  
Units, prefixes and uncertainties 

Units, prefixes and scientific notation 

Appropriate use of units and prefixes. 
You should read all the induction notes as you will be expected to use the skills as a matter of course. 
Induction 1 
Use of the appropriate number of significant figures in final answers. 
Induction 2  
Appropriate use of scientific notation. 
Induction 2  
Uncertainties 

Awareness of random and systematic uncertainties in a measured quantity. 
Use Tutorials 5  7 to learn about graphical skills and presentation.
Tutorial 9 covers the use of ICT.

Induction 4 
Use of an appropriate relationship to determine the random uncertainty in a value using repeated measurements. 
Induction 4  
Appropriate use of uncertainties in data analysis. 
Induction 4  
That is it. 
