IBDP Physics HL/SL Handbook

Table of contents


The course enables students, through the overarching theme of the NOS, to:

1. develop conceptual understanding that allows connections to be made between different areas of the subject, and to other DP sciences subjects

2. acquire and apply a body of knowledge, methods, tools and techniques that characterize science

3. develop the ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesize scientific information and claims

4. develop the ability to approach unfamiliar situations with creativity and resilience

5. design and model solutions to local and global problems in a scientific context

6. develop an appreciation of the possibilities and limitations of science

7. develop technology skills in a scientific context

8. develop the ability to communicate and collaborate effectively

9. develop awareness of the ethical, environmental, economic, cultural and social impact of science.

Assessment objectives

The assessment objectives for physics reflect those parts of the aims that will be formally assessed either internally or externally. 

It is the intention of this course that students are able to fulfil the following assessment objectives.

1. Demonstrate knowledge of:

a. terminology, facts and concepts

b. skills, techniques and methodologies.

2. Understand and apply knowledge of:

a. terminology and concepts

b. skills, techniques and methodologies.

3. Analyse, evaluate, and synthesize:

a. experimental procedures

b. primary and secondary data

c. trends, patterns and predictions.

4. Demonstrate the application of skills necessary to carry out insightful and ethical investigations.

Syllabus outline

Syllabus content


Physics Course companion

David Homer, MaciejPietka, William Heathcote

Oxford University Press

Assessment outline—SL

Assessment outline—HL

External Assessment Details - SL

The method used to assess students is the use of detailed markschemes specific to each examination paper.

The method used to assess students is the use of detailed markschemes specific to each examination paper.

External Assessment Details - HL

Internal Assessment-IA

Internal assessment is an integral part of the course and is compulsory for both SL and HL students. It enables students to demonstrate the application of their skills and knowledge, and to pursue their personal interests, without the time limitations and other constraints that are associated with written examinations.

The internal assessment should, as far as possible, be woven into normal classroom teaching and not be a separate activity conducted after a course has been taught.

The internal assessment requirements at SL and at HL are the same. This internal assessment section of the guide should be read in conjunction with the internal assessment section of the teacher support materials.

The work submitted for internal assessment must be the student’s own work. However, it is not the intention that students should decide upon a title or topic and be left to work on the internal assessment component without any further support from the teacher. The teacher should play an important role during both the planning stage and the period when the student is working on the internally assessed work. It is the responsibility of the teacher to ensure that students are familiar with:

• the requirements of the type of work to be internally assessed

• the IB animal experimentation policy

• the assessment criteria—students must understand that the work submitted for assessment must address these criteria effectively.

Teachers and students must discuss the internally assessed work. Students should be encouraged to initiate discussions with the teacher to obtain advice and information, and students must not be penalized for seeking guidance. As part of the learning process, teachers should read and give advice to students on one draft of the work. The teacher should provide oral or written advice on how the work could be improved, but not edit the draft. The next version handed to the teacher must be the final version for submission.

It is the responsibility of teachers to ensure that all students understand the basic meaning and significance of concepts that relate to academic honesty, especially authenticity and intellectual property. Teachers must ensure that all student work for assessment is prepared according to the requirements and must explain clearly to students that the internally assessed work must be entirely their own. Where collaboration between students is permitted, it must be clear to all students what the difference is between collaboration and collusion.

All work submitted to the IB for moderation or assessment must be authenticated by a teacher, and must not include any known instances of suspected or confirmed academic misconduct. Each student must confirm that the work is his or her authentic work and constitutes the final version of that work. Once a student has officially submitted the final version of the work it cannot be retracted. The requirement to confirm the authenticity of work applies to the work of all students, not just the sample work that will be submitted to the IB for the purpose of moderation.

Internal assessment details

The internal assessment requirements are the same for biology, chemistry and physics. The internal assessment, worth 20% of the final assessment, consists of one scientific investigation. The individual investigation should cover a topic that is commensurate with the level of the course of study.

 Student work is internally assessed by the teacher and externally moderated by the IB. The performance in internal assessment at both SL and HL is marked against common assessment criteria, with a total mark out of 24.

The internal assessment task will be one scientific investigation taking about 10 hours and the writeup should be about 6 to 12 pages long. Investigations exceeding this length will be penalized in the communications criterion as lacking in conciseness.

The task will have the same assessment criteria for SL and HL. The five assessment criteria are research design, data analysis, conclusion and evaluation.

The group 4 project

The group 4 project is an interdisciplinary activity in which all Diploma Programme science students must participate. The intention is that students from the different group 4 subjects analyse a common topic or problem. The exercise should be a collaborative experience where the emphasis is on the processes involved in, rather than the products of, such an activity.

In most cases students in a school would be involved in the investigation of the same topic. Where there are large numbers of students, it is possible to divide them into several smaller groups containing representatives from each of the science subjects. Each group may investigate the same topic or different topics—that is, there may be several group 4 projects in the same school.

Students studying environmental systems and societies are not required to undertake the group 4 project.

The group 4 project is a collaborative activity where students from different group 4 subjects work together on a scientific or technological topic, allowing for concepts and perceptions from across the disciplines to be shared in line with aim 10—that is, to “develop an understanding of the relationships between scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge”. The project can be practically or theoretically based. Collaboration between schools in different regions is encouraged.

The group 4 project allows students to appreciate the environmental, social and ethical implications of science and technology. It may also allow them to understand the limitations of scientific study, for example, the shortage of appropriate data and/or the lack of resources. The emphasis is on interdisciplinary cooperation and the processes involved in scientific investigation, rather than the products of such investigation.

The choice of scientific or technological topic is open but the project should clearly address aims 7, 8 and 10 of the group 4 subject guides.

The 10 hours that the IB recommends be allocated to the project may be spread over a number of weeks. The distribution of these hours needs to be taken into account when selecting the optimum time to carry out the project.

Students may choose the topic or propose possible topics and the teacher then decides which one is the most viable based on resources, staff availability and so on. Alternatively, the teacher selects the topic or proposes several topics from which students make a choice.

A reflective statement written by each student on their involvement in the group 4 project must be included on the cover sheet for each internal assessment investigation.

Specimen papers with markscheme

Specimen Papers_QP+MS.pdf

Sample IA

Physics IA sample.pdf

Extended Essay_Sample _Grade A

Physics HL_EE_Grade A.pdf