Interactive Syllabus

Specifications are updated over time.... so although you may find this interactive syllabus extract useful, you must regularly check the AQA site for any amendments before you sit the examination.

This resource links syllabus extracts to pages in my site that may help you understand the context and see the kind of examination questions that are set at GCSE Level.

Learners in England who are beginning a GCSE (9–1) course are likely to have followed a Key Stage 3 programme of study. Therefore familiarity with basic knowledge and terminology from KS3 is assumed.

Studying science is like building a wall - you need sturdy foundation levels to build upon. Where I think it is helpful I have linked suitable KS3 material, but ensure you are rigorous in your recall of units, their correct abbreviations and the prefixes commonly used with them.

You also need to know how to explain scientific terms precisely. The syllabus 'defines' certain terms - I suggest you learn these by heart - so that in an examination you can include all of the words that the examiner will think matter! I have included an icon to help you pick these 'definitions' out.

I have also written some 'help' pages to enhance your skills and enable your successful study of science. Take a look at them - there are several topics that will help you improve your general skills.... such as the meaning of 'examination words'.

Do bother to take a look!

There are lots of interesting pages.... and they might well improve your grade.

Units you should know:

In solving quantitative problems, students are expected to be able to recall and apply the following equations, using standard SI units. That means you have to learn them - they will not be given to you!

Equations required for Higher Tier papers only are indicated by HT in the left hand column.

The following equations will be given to you on a data sheet - but you still need to know the abbreviation symbol/letter used for physical properties and the unit they need to be expressed in.


4.1 Energy

4.1.1 Energy changes in a system, and the ways energy is stored before and after such changes Energy stores and systems Changes in energy Energy changes in systems Power
4.1.2 Conservation and dissipation of energy Energy transfers in a system Efficiency
4.1.3 National and global energy resources

4.2 Electricity

4.2.1 Current, potential difference and resistance Standard circuit diagram symbols Electrical charge and current Current, resistance and potential difference Resistors
4.2.2 Series and parallel circuits
4.2.3 Domestic uses and safety Direct and alternating potential difference Mains electricity
4.2.4 Energy transfers Power Energy transfers in everyday appliances The National Grid
4.2.5 Static electricity Static charge Electric fields

4.3 Particle model of matter

4.3.1 Changes of state and the particle model Density of materials Changes of state
4.3.2 Internal energy and energy transfers Internal energy Temperature changes in a system and specific heat capacity Changes of state and specific latent heat
4.3.3 Particle model and pressure Particle motion in gases Pressure in gases Increasing the pressure of a gas (HT only)

4.4 Atomic structure

4.4.1 Atoms and isotopes The structure of an atom Mass number, atomic number and isotopes The development of the model of the atom
4.4.2 Atoms and nuclear radiation Radioactive decay and nuclear radiation Nuclear equations Half-lives and the random nature of radioactive decay Radioactive contamination
4.4.3 Hazards and uses of radioactive emissions and of background radiation Background radiation Different half-lives of radioactive isotopes Uses of nuclear radiation
4.4.4 Nuclear fission and fusion Nuclear fission Nuclear fusion

4.5 Forces

4.5.1 Forces and their interactions Scalar and vector quantities Contact and non-contact forces Gravity Resultant forces
4.5.2 Work done and energy transfer
4.5.3 Forces and elasticity
4.5.4 Moments, levers and gears
4.5.5 Pressure and pressure differences in fluids Pressure in a fluid Atmospheric pressure
4.5.6 Forces and motion Describing motion along a line Distance and displacement Speed Velocity The distance–time relationship Acceleration Forces, accelerations and Newton's Laws of motion Newton's First Law Newton's Second Law Newton's Third Law Forces and braking Stopping distance Reaction time Factors affecting braking distance
4.5.7 Momentum Momentum is a property of moving objects Conservation of momentum Changes in momentum

4.6 Waves

4.6.1 Waves in air, fluids and solids Transverse and longitudinal waves Properties of waves Reflection of waves Sound waves Waves for detection and exploration
4.6.2 Electromagnetic waves Types of electromagnetic waves Properties of electromagnetic waves 1 Properties of electromagnetic waves 2 Uses and applications of electromagnetic waves Lenses Visible light
4.6.3 Black body radiation Emission and absorption of infrared radiation Perfect black bodies and radiation

4.7 Magnetism and electromagnetism

4.7.1 Permanent and induced magnetism, magnetic forces and fields Poles of a magnet Magnetic fields
4.7.2 The motor effect Electromagnetism Fleming's left-hand rule Electric motors Loudspeakers
4.7.3 Induced potential, transformers and the National Grid (physics only) (HT only) Induced potential Uses of the generator effect Microphones Transformers

4.8 Space physics

4.8.1 Solar system; stability of orbital motions; satellites Our solar system The life cycle of a star Orbital motion, natural and artificial satellites
4.8.2 Redshift

4.9 Key ideas

The complex and diverse phenomena of the natural and man-made world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas in physics.

These key ideas are of universal application, and we have embedded them throughout the subject content. They underpin many aspects of the science assessment and will therefore be assessed across all papers. This means you should mention these key ideas in all of your answers wherever possible!

Key ideas in physics include:

the use of models, as in the particle model of matter or the wave models of light and of sound

the concept of cause and effect in explaining such links as those between force and acceleration, or between changes in atomic nuclei and radioactive emissions

the phenomena of 'action at a distance' and the related concept of the field as the key to analysing electrical, magnetic and gravitational effects

that differences, for example between pressures or temperatures or electrical potentials, are the drivers of change

that proportionality, for example between weight and mass of an object or between force and extension in a spring, is an important aspect of many models in science

that physical laws and models are expressed in mathematical form.