IB Physics: Outline for Students and Parents

Physics Overview

Minimum word course summary:

Physics is the most fundamental of the experimental sciences, and it seeks to explain how things work, from the fundamental particles to the vast distances between galaxies. The language of physics is mathematics.

Main topics studied:

Common core SL/HL: Measurements and uncertainties, mechanics, rigid bodies and rotational dynamics, thermal physics, thermodynamics, waves, electricity and magnetism, circular motion and gravitation, atomic, nuclear and particle physics, and energy production, .
Additional HL: Wave phenomena, forced vibrations and resonance, fluids and fluid dynamics, fields, electromagnetic induction, and quantum and nuclear physics

Main differences between HL and SL:

Mainly the amount of material covered. Some of the topics are studied in more depth.

Skills most often seen in successful students:

Successful students usually have good mathematical skills, are perseverant, have a genuine interest in physics, and don’t do last minute studying. They usually like working and discussing concepts and problems with other students. Very little memorization skills required.
Maths: SL or HL maths for any IB physics course (No maths studies)

Relevant university courses:

Physical sciences, engineering, architecture, biotechnology, computer science

Other useful info for G10 students:

Many questions you may have about how things work will remain unsolved, either because you need further knowledge to understand them, or because they are not part of the IB syllabus and there is no time for us to cover them. Many physics teachers see frustration about this year after year…

Further reading/Websites:

Official IB course summary IB Physics Guide,  IB Physics Wiki IB Physics study guide

See also:

Holatutor guide to IB Biology,IB ChemistryIB Environmental Systems and Societies.


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