PhysicsPhysics is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. Among the experimental sciences it is perhaps the most fundamental, as it seeks to explain the universe itself, from the very smallest particles—quarks, which may be truly fundamental—to the vast distances between galaxies. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, physics is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine and most branches of engineering.
Nature of the group 4 subjectsGroup 4 students at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) undertake a common core syllabus, a common internal assessment (IA) scheme and have some overlapping elements in the options studied. They are presented with a syllabus that encourages the development of certain skills, attributes and attitudes.
While the skills and activities of group 4 science subjects are common to students at both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, to study additional topics and to study extension material of a more demanding nature in the common options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.
Practical/investigative work is a compulsory component of the group 4 subjects. SL students are required to take part in 40 hours and HL students 60 hours of laboratory-related activities. Participation in a 10-hour interdisciplinary project involving all students from biology, chemistry and physics is a required part of the practical programme.
Prior learningPast experience shows that students will be able to study a group 4 science subject at SL successfully with no background in, or previous knowledge of, science. Their approach to study, characterized by the specific IB learner profile attributes—inquirers, thinkers and communicators—will be significant here.
However, for most students considering the study of a group 4 subject at HL, while there is no intention to restrict access to group 4 subjects, some previous exposure to the specific group 4 subject would be necessary. Specific topic details are not specified but students who have undertaken the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) or studied an international GCSE science subject would be well prepared. Other national science qualifications (such as Naturfag Vg1 SSP in the Norwegian curriculum) would also be suitable preparation for study of a group 4 subject at HL.