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IP Physics Syllabus (Adapted from Hwa Chong Institution SIO)

Integrated Programme (IP) Physics Syllabus



The Sec 3 and 4 physics syllabus provides students with a coherent understanding of energy, matter, and their interrelationships. It focuses on investigating natural phenomena and then applying patterns, models (including mathematical ones), principles, theories and laws to explain the physical behaviour of the universe. Classical physics theories and concepts are presented in this syllabus. Modern physics, developed to explain the quantum properties at the atomic and sub-atomic level, is built on knowledge of these classical theories and concepts.


Students should think of physics in terms of scales. Whereas the classical theories such as Newton’s laws of motion apply to common physical systems that are larger than the size of atoms, a more comprehensive theory, quantum theory, is needed to describe systems at the atomic and sub-atomic scales. It is at these scales that physicists are currently making new discoveries and inventing new applications.


It is envisaged that teaching and learning programmes based on this syllabus would feature a wide variety of learning experiences designed to promote acquisition of scientific expertise and understanding, and to develop values and attitudes relevant to science. Teachers are encouraged to use a combination of appropriate strategies to effectively engage and challenge their students in higher order thinking. It is expected that students will apply investigative and problem-solving skills, effectively communicate the theoretical concepts covered in this course and appreciate the contribution physics makes to our understanding of the physical world.


Aims of Syllabus


These are not listed in order of priority.


The aims of a course based on this syllabus are to:

1.   provide, through well-designed studies of experimental and practical Physics, a worthwhile educational experience for all students, whether or not they go on to study Physics beyond Sec 4 and, in particular, to enable them to acquire sufficient understanding and knowledge to:

      1.1 become confident citizens in a technological world and able to take or develop an
      informed interest in matters of scientific import;

            (* become confident and active citizens in a technological world, able to       
           participate or take a lead in matters of scientific importance (SMTP))

1.2 recognise the usefulness, and limitations, of scientific method and to appreciate
      its applicability in other disciplines and in everyday life;

      1.3 be suitably and adequately prepared to take up H2 Physics at “A” level.


2.   develop abilities and skills that:

      2.1 are relevant to the study and practice of science;

      2.2 are useful in everyday life;

      2.3 encourage efficient and safe practice;

2.4 encourage effective communication.

(* facilitate effective communication of scientific ideas (SMTP) e.g. oral defense)


3.   develop attitudes relevant to science such as:

  1. concern for accuracy and precision

  2. objectivity

  3. integrity

  4. initiative

  5. imaginative

  6. perseverance

  7. inquiry with critical thinking

  8. inventiveness with creative thinking

  9. humility

  10. risk-taking

  11. responsibility with caring thinking

  12. open-mindedness


4.   stimulate interest in and care for the local and global environment


5.   promote an awareness (*demonstrate an awareness (SMTP)):

      5.1 that the study and practice of Physics are co-operative and cumulative activities,
      and are subject to social, economic, technological, ethical and cultural influences        
      and limitations;

      5.2 that the implications of Physics may be both beneficial and detrimental to the
       individual, the community and the environment;

      5.3 of the importance of the use of IT for communications, as an aid to experiments
      and as a tool for the interpretation of experimental and theoretical results;

      5.4 that Physics transcends national boundaries and that the language of science,
      correctly and rigorously applied, is universal.


6.  stimulate students and create a sustained interest in Physics so that the study of the subject is enjoyable, satisfying and relevant.


Assessment Objectives


The assessment objectives listed below reflect those parts of the aims that will be assessed in the examination.


A         Knowledge with understanding


Students should be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in relation to:

1.   scientific phenomena, facts, laws, definitions, concepts, theories;

2.   scientific vocabulary, terminology, conventions (including symbols, quantities and units);

3.   scientific instruments and apparatus, including techniques of operation and aspects of safety;

4.   scientific quantities and their determination;

5.   scientific and technological applications with their social, economic and environmental implications.


The syllabus content defines the factual knowledge that candidates may be required to recall and explain. Questions testing these objectives will often begin with one of the following words: define, state, describe or explain. (See the glossary of terms).


B         Handling, applying and evaluating information


Students should be able – in words or by using written, symbolic, graphical and numerical forms of presentation – to:


1.   locate, select, organize and present information from a variety of sources;

2.   translate information from one form to another;

3.   manipulate numerical and other data;

4.   use information to identify patterns, report trends, draw inferences and report conclusions;

5.   present reasoned explanations for phenomena, patterns and relationships;

6.   make predictions and put forward hypotheses;

7.   apply knowledge, including principles, to novel situations;

8.   evaluate and synthesize information using higher order thinking skills;


These assessment objectives cannot be precisely specified in the syllabus content because questions testing such skills may be based on information that is unfamiliar to the candidate. In answering such questions, candidates are required to use principles and concepts that are within the syllabus and apply them in a logical, reasoned or deductive manner to a novel situation. Questions testing these objectives will often begin with one of the following words: predict, suggest, deduce, calculate or determine.

(See the glossary of terms).


C         Experimental skills and investigations


Candidates should be able to:

  1. follow a detailed set or sequence of instructions

  2. use techniques, apparatus and materials safely and effectively;

  3. make observations and measurements with due regard for precision and accuracy;

  4. interpret and evaluate observations and experimental data;

  5. identify a problem, design and plan investigations, evaluate methods and techniques, and suggest possible improvement;

  6.   record observations, measurements, methods and techniques with due regard for precision, accuracy and units.


Weighting of Assessment Objectives


Theory Papers (For Common Tests and End of Year Examinations)


  • Knowledge with Understanding

    • 15% allocated to recall of knowledge,

    • 25% allocated to comprehension of physics concepts.


  • Handling Information and Solving Problems

    • 25% allocated to application of concepts,

    • 35% of analysis, synthesis and evaluation of data provided.


School-Based Science Practical Assessment (SPA)

  • Experimental Skills and Investigations, 100% of the marks.


Scheme of Assessment


Formative tests may include pop quizzes, mini-projects, assignments and / or authentic tasks e.g. Problem-based learning. This type of assessment is meant to encourage students to be more active in their learning and they will be continually guided on what they are expected to learn.


Theory Papers


 Students are required to sit for 3 tests in each year of the course:


Section A (15 min, 10 marks), consisting of 10 compulsory multiple choice items.

Section B (45 min, 30 marks), consisting of a variable number of compulsory structured or restricted response questions.


Students are required to sit for 2 Papers for End of Year (EOY) Examination


  • Paper 1 (45 min, 30 marks), consisting of 30 compulsory multiple choice items.


  • Paper 2 (1 h 45 min, 70 marks), consisting of two sections.


Section A will carry 40 marks and will consist of a variable number of compulsory structured or restricted response questions.


Section B will carry 30 marks and will consist of three questions. The first two questions are compulsory questions, one of which will be a data-based question requiring students to interpret, evaluate or solve problems using a stem of information.


The last question will be presented in an either/or form and will carry 10 marks.


Higher Physics Paper for Science & Math Talent Programme (SMTP)


SMTP students are also required to sit for an additional Higher Physics Paper.


Section A will carry 20 marks and will consist of a two compulsory structured or restricted response questions. The context of one of the questions in section A will be unfamiliar to students.


Section B will carry 20 marks and will consist of three questions. Students are expected to choose two out of the three questions. All questions in Section A and B are data-based questions that require students to interpret, evaluate or solve problems using a stem of information.  Each question carries 10 marks.


School-based Science Practical Assessment (SPA)


Students are required to sit for 3 assessments for SPA


The School-based Science Practical Assessment (SPA) will be conducted to assess appropriate aspects of objectives C1 to C5. SPA will take place over two years. The assessment of science practical skills is grouped into 3 skill sets:


Skill set 1 – Performing

Skill set 2 – Observing and Analyzing

Skill set 3 – Planning


Each student is to be assessed only twice for each of skill sets 1 and 2 and only once for skill set 3.


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