SQA National 5 Physics (Secondary Year 4) 

Dynamics Space Electricity Properties of Matter Waves Radiation 

Forces, energy and power 

Definition of vector and scalar quantities. 
Mechanics 2 for comparing accurate drawing and calculation 
Mechanics 1 
Identification of force, speed, velocity, distance, displacement, acceleration, mass, time and energy as vector or scalar quantities. 
Mechanics 1  
Calculation of the resultant of two vector quantities in one dimension or at right angles. 
Mechanics 1  
Determination of displacement and/or distance using scale diagram or calculation. 
Mechanics 1  
Use of appropriate
relationships to solve problems involving velocity, speed 
Mechanics 6  
Description of experiments to measure average and instantaneous speed. 
Mechanics 6  
Velocity–time graphs 

Drawing or sketching of velocity–time or speed–time graphs from data. 
Equations of motion not expected 

Interpretation of a velocity–time graph to describe the motion of an object. 

Determination of displacement from a velocity–time graph. 

s = area under vt graph. 

Acceleration 

Definition of acceleration in terms of initial velocity, final velocity and time. 
Equations of motion not expected 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving acceleration, initial velocity (or speed), final velocity (or speed) and time. 

Determination of acceleration from a velocity–time graph. 

a = gradient of the line on a vt graph. 

Description of an experiment to measure acceleration. 

Newton's Laws 

Application of Newton’s laws and balanced forces to explain constant velocity (orspeed), making reference to frictional forces. 
F = ma
W = mg
Derivation for Newton II not expected 
Mechanics 10 
Application of Newton’s laws and unbalanced forces to explain and/or determine acceleration for situations where more than one force is acting. 
Mechanics 10  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving unbalanced force, mass and acceleration for situations where one or more forces are acting in one dimension or at right angles. 
Mechanics 10  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving weight, mass and gravitational field strength. 
Mechanics 7  
Explanation of motion resulting from a ‘reaction’ force in terms of Newton’s third law. 
Mechanics 10  
Explanation of freefall and terminal velocity in terms of Newton’s laws. 
Mechanics 7  
Energy 

Explanation of energy conservation and of energy conversion and transfer. 
Forces are not an angle

Mechanics 13 
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving work done, unbalanced force and distance/displacement. 
Mechanics 13  
Definition of gravitational potential energy. 
Mechanics 15  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving gravitational potential energy, mass, gravitational field strength and height. 
Mechanics 15  
Definition of kinetic energy. 
Mechanics 15  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving kinetic energy, mass and speed. 
Mechanics 15  
Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving conservation of energy. 
Mechanics 15  
Projectile motion 

Explanation of projectile motion in terms of constant vertical acceleration and constant horizontal velocity. 
Projectiles thrown in horizontal and vertical directions only, not at an angle. Centripetal Force from the GCSE AQA triple award gives a context for satellite motion. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving projectile motion from a horizontal launch, including the use of motion graphs. 

Explanation of satellite orbits in terms of projectile motion, horizontal velocity and weight. 

Space exploration 

Basic awareness of our current understanding of the universe. 

Use of the following terms correctly and in context: planet, dwarf planet, moon, Sun, asteroid, solar system, star, exoplanet, galaxy, universe. 
Introduction only 

Awareness of the benefits of satellites: GPS, weather forecasting, communications, scientific discovery and space exploration (for example Hubble telescope, ISS). 
Description only is required  
Knowledge that geostationary satellites have a period of 24 hours and orbit at an altitude of 36 000 km. 
Description only is required  
Knowledge that the period of a satellite in a high altitude orbit is greater than the period of a satellite in a lower altitude orbit. 
Description only is required  
Awareness of the challenges of space travel: 

Awareness of the risks associated with manned space exploration: 

Knowledge of Newton’s second and third laws and their application to space travel, rocket launch and landing. 
Rocket Science  description only  
Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving weight, mass and gravitational field strength, in different locations in the universe. 
W = mg Action of gravity fields only. 

Cosmology 

Use of the term ‘light year’ and conversion between light years and metres. 
Ignore the Parsec and Magnitude 

Basic description of the ‘Big Bang’ theory of the origin of the universe. 
Description only  
Knowledge of the approximate estimated age of the universe. 
Description only  
Awareness of the use of the whole electromagnetic spectrum in obtaining information about astronomical objects. 

Identification of continuous and line spectra. 
Absorption and Emission spectra only  
Use of spectral data for known elements, to identify the elements present in stars. 
Description only  
Electrical Charge Carriers 

Definition of electrical current as the electric charge transferred per unit time. 
Q = It See also Electricity 1 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving charge, current and time. 

Knowledge of the difference between alternating and direct current. 

Identification of a source (as a.c. or d.c.) based on oscilloscope trace or image from data logging software. 

Potential difference (voltage) 

Knowledge that a charged particle experiences a force in an electric field. 
Fields 4 Representing Electric Fields  description only See also Additional GCSE 8 

Knowledge of the path a charged particle follows: between two oppositely charged parallel plates; near a single point charge; between two oppositely charged points; between two like charged points. 

Knowledge that the potential difference (voltage) of the supply is a measure of the energy given to the charge carriers in a circuit. 

Ohm’s law 

Calculation of the gradient of the line of best fit on a VI graph to determine resistance. 
Use of
is NOT expected.
Ohm's law verification for resistor only 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving potential difference (voltage), current and resistance. 
Electricity 6 (Potential Divider) 

Knowledge of the qualitative relationship between the temperature and resistance of a conductor. 

Description of an experiment to verify Ohm’s law. 

Practical electrical and electronic circuits 

Measurement of current, potential difference (voltage) and resistance, using appropriate meters in simple and complex circuits. 
Calculation of shunts and multipliers is NOT expected 

Knowledge of the circuit symbol, function and application of standard electrical and electronic components: cell, battery, lamp, switch, resistor, voltmeter, ammeter, LED, motor, microphone, loudspeaker, photovoltaic cell, fuse, diode, capacitor, thermistor, LDR, relay, transistor. 
Download this .pdf file and use it regularly 

For transistors, knowledge of the symbols for an npn transistor and an nchannel enhancement mode MOSFET. Explanation of their function as a switch in transistor switching circuits. 
See also my website on Electricity, Electronics, and Electrical Engineering for Bipolar Transistors and MOSFETS. Link HERE 

Application of the rules for current and potential difference (voltage) in series and parallel circuits. 


Knowledge of the effect on the total resistance of a circuit of adding further resistance in series or in parallel. 
Kirchhoff's Laws not expected. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving the total resistance of resistors in series and in parallel circuits, and in circuits with a combination of series and parallel resistors. 


Electrical power 

Definition of electrical power in terms of electrical energy and time. 


Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving energy, power and time. 

Knowledge of the effect of potential difference (voltage) and resistance on the current in and power developed across components in a circuit. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving power, potential difference (voltage), current and resistance in electrical circuits. 

Selection of an appropriate fuse rating given the power rating of an electrical appliance. A 3 A fuse should be selected for most appliances rated up to 720 W, a 13 A fuse for appliances rated over 720 W. 

Properties of matter 

Specific heat capacity 

Knowledge that different materials require different quantities of heat to raise the temperature of unit mass by one degree Celsius. 
In the notes the physics code is written: E = mcDq 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving mass, heat energy, temperature change and specific heat capacity. 

Knowledge that the temperature of a substance is a measure of the mean kinetic energy of its particles. 

Use of the principle of conservation of energy to determine heat transfer. 

Specific latent heat 

Knowledge that different materials require different quantities of heat to change the state of unit mass. 


Knowledge that the same material requires different quantities of heat to change the state of unit mass from solid to liquid (fusion) and to change the state of unit mass from liquid to gas (vaporisation). 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving mass, heat energy and specific latent heat. 

Gas laws and the kinetic model 

Definition of pressure in terms of force and area. 
The notes describe a hydraulic system, but the equation is applicable to gases as well 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving pressure, force and area. 

Description of how the kinetic model accounts for the pressure of a gas. 


Knowledge of the relationship between Kelvin and degrees Celsius and the absolute zero of temperature. 

Explanation of the pressure–volume, pressure–temperature and volume–temperature laws qualitatively in terms of a kinetic model. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving the volume, pressure and temperature of a fixed mass of gas. 

Description of experiments to verify the pressure–volume law (Boyle’s law), the pressure–temperature law (GayLussac’s law) and the volume–temperature law (Charles’ law). 

Wave parameters and behaviours 

Knowledge that waves transfer energy. 
See also Waves 1 for Terms used with waves. 

Definition of transverse and longitudinal waves. 

Knowledge that sound is an example of a longitudinal wave and electromagnetic radiation and water waves are examples of transverse waves. 

Determination of the frequency, period, wavelength, amplitude and wave speed for longitudinal and transverse waves. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving wave speed, frequency, period, wavelength, distance, number of waves and time. 

Knowledge that diffraction occurs when waves pass through a gap or around an object. 

Comparison of long wave and short wave diffraction. 

Draw diagrams using wavefronts to show diffraction when waves pass through a gap or around an object. 

Electromagnetic spectrum 

Knowledge of the relative frequency and wavelength of bands of the electromagnetic spectrum. 
See also Waves 2 and Particles 3 

Knowledge of typical
sources, detectors and applications for each band in the 

Knowledge that all radiations in the electromagnetic spectrum are transverse and travel at the speed of light. 

Electrical sources and internal resistance 

Knowledge of the nature of alpha (α), beta (β) and gamma (γ) radiation. 
See also Particles 2 for radioactive decay


Knowledge of the term ‘ionisation’ and the effect of ionisation on neutral atoms. 

Knowledge of the relative ionising effect and penetration of alpha, beta and gamma radiation. 

Definition of activity in terms of the number of nuclear disintegrations and time. 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving activity, number of nuclear disintegrations and time. 

Knowledge of sources of background radiation. 

Knowledge of the dangers of ionising radiation to living cells and of the need to measure exposure to radiation. 

Use of appropriate relationships to solve problems involving absorbed dose, equivalent dose, energy, mass and weighting factor. 

Use of an appropriate relationship to solve problems involving equivalent dose rate, equivalent dose and time. 

Comparison of equivalent dose due to a variety of natural and artificial sources. 

Knowledge of
equivalent dose rate and exposure safety limits for the public and
for 

Awareness of applications of nuclear radiation: electricity generation, cancer treatment and other industrial and medical uses. 

Definition of halflife. 

Use of graphical or numerical data to determine the halflife of a radioactive material. 

Description of an experiment to measure the halflife of a radioactive material. 

Qualitative description of fission, chain reactions, and their role in the generation of energy. 

Qualitative description of fusion, plasma containment, and their role in the generation of energy. 

Units, prefixes and uncertainties 

Units, prefixes and scientific notation 

Appropriate use of units and prefixes. 
You will be expected to use these 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  
That is it. 
