Physics International Baccalaureate Course Overview

Physics is ambitious, it seeks to explain the universe, from far off galaxies and extra-terrestrial phenomena to minute particles and invisible forces that govern life itself.

It is a subject that deals with the extraordinary and students on this course will develop a firm appreciation for the importance of observation and what we might understand or be able to theorise from that which we observe. Through topics such as mechanics, waves, energy production, electricity and magnetism, the course helps students develop a different understanding of the natural world and the forces and phenomena at play than that that of Biology or Chemistry.

DP Physics students come to understand this and interrogate how Physicists work and communicate, including the scientific method and experimental work so central to the sciences. Students on their course will design investigations, collect data, develop manipulative skills, analyse results and evaluate their findings, working effectively with peers to do so.

Course themes

As with other DP science courses the theme of the nature of science is fundamental. The aims of the DP Physics course include enabling students to appreciate scientific study and creativity within a global context, whilst acquiring and using a body of knowledge, methods and techniques that characterise science and technology. The value of effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities is emphasised alongside experimental and investigative scientific skills. Equally, wider considerations such as the ethics of scientific study, the role of science globally, its interplay with other subject disciplines and its limitations are of great import on the DP Physics course.

Students also undertake the group 4 project – a collaborative cross discipline project where students examine the environmental, social and ethical implications of science and technology.

Example course units:


  • Measurements and uncertainties
  • Mechanics
  • Thermal physics
  • Waves
  • Electricity and magnetism
  • Circular motion and gravitation
  • Atomic, nuclear and particle physics
  • Energy production
  • Wave phenomena (Higher Level)
  • Fields (Higher Level)
  • Electromagnetic induction (Higher Level)
  • Quantum and nuclear physics (Higher Level)

Option (Choice of one)

  • Relativity
  • Engineering physics
  • Imaging
  • Astrophysics

Practical scheme of work

  • Prescribed and other practical activities
  • Individual investigation (internally assessed)

Assessment Overview

The course is made up of both externally assessed examinations and an internally assessed portfolio. King’s InterHigh will support with guidance around where external exams may be sat. These exams are sat at the end of the two year programme.

Internal Portfolio:

  • Individual investigation and write-up

External Exams:

  • Paper 1: 30 multiple-choice questions (40 questions Higher Level)
  • Paper 2: Short answer and extended response questions (Core) (plus AHL Higher Level)
  • Paper 3: Data- and practical-based questions plus, short answer and extended response questions on the option
    Sample questions:
    Standard Level
    • “There is a suggestion that the temperature of the Earth may increase if the use of fossil fuels is not reduced over the coming years. Explain, with reference to the enhanced greenhouse effect, why this temperature increase may occur.”
    Higher Level
    • The streamlines above the airfoil are closer to each other than the streamlines below the airfoil. Suggest why this implies that the speed of the air above the airfoil is greater than the speed of air below the airfoil.”

    Studying online

    Learning IB Physics online allows students to enjoy the following features:

    • Virtual Reality (VR) learning opportunities to immerse student in diagrams, models and other subject matter.
    • Live, responsive teaching and feedback in small classes.
    • 24/7 access to course resources and lessons, recorded and catalogued.
    • High academic standards and levels of support.
    • Positive learning culture and systems for communication.
    • A flexible, international, high energy learning experience.
    • Experienced, subject specialist teachers to both Standard and Higher level.
    International Baccalaureate
    Online, real-time classrooms, 24/7 access to curriculum

    Know more about your course fees

    We have several fee packages and options, with differing levels of commitment to suit most circumstances. In most cases parents have the option to pay in instalments, spreading the cost of the investment.

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