Physics in S5-S6

Purpose and Aims of the Course

The purpose of the Course is to develop learners’ curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for physics in a range of contexts. The skills of scientific inquiry and investigation are developed throughout the Course. The relevance of physics is highlighted by the study of the applications of physics in everyday contexts. This will enable learners to become scientifically literate citizens, able to review the science-based claims they will meet. 

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of science, learners benefit from studying Physics along with other subjects from the sciences, technologies, and mathematics curriculum areas. The Course develops scientific understanding of issues relating to physics. It will enable learners to gain an in-depth knowledge of concepts in physics, and to develop confidence in the skills of scientific inquiry. Learners will develop ability in describing and interpreting physical phenomena using mathematical skills, and will practice scientific methods of investigation from which general relationships are derived and explored.

The main aims of this Course are for learners to:  

  • §develop and apply knowledge and understanding of physics
  • §  develop an understanding of the role of physics in scientific issues and relevant applications of physics, including the impact these could make in society and the environment
  • §  develop scientific inquiry and investigative skills
  • §  develop scientific analytical thinking skills, including scientific evaluation, in a physics context
  • §  develop the use of technology, equipment and materials, safely, in practical scientific activities
  • §  develop planning skills
  • §  develop problem solving skills in a physics context
  • §  use and understand scientific literacy to communicate ideas and issues and to make scientifically informed choices
  • §  develop the knowledge and skills for more advanced learning in physics
  • §  develop skills of independent working 

Is physics for me? 

You will enjoy this subject if: 

    • You ask questions about what the world around us is really like, for example, what is light made of?
    • You wonder where the evidence is that supports the claims made by physicists, for example how do we know the Universe is expanding?
    • You like to communicate in a concise and logical way.  
    • You would like a deeper understanding of how technology can be used to solve the many problems that exist in our world, for example, reducing energy poverty.

‘I particularly enjoyed learning about space and studying physics really expanded my mind to the universe.’

Rowan Gibb 6St

The Course gives learners a deeper insight into the structure of the subject, and aims to reinforce and extend the learner’s knowledge and understanding of the concepts of physics. It also aims to develop the learner’s skills in making critical and evaluative comment.

Advances in physics mean that our view of what is possible is continually being updated. This Course allows learners to deepen their understanding of the processes behind scientific advances, and thus promotes awareness that physics involves interaction between theory and practice.

The Course will therefore enable learners to become scientifically literate citizens who will recognise the impact physics makes on their lives, the environment and society, and be able to appreciate topical scientific debate. Learners will develop skills for learning beyond Higher and for employment.

Classes will involve a blend of teacher-led lessons, tutorial work and both individual and group-based activities. Students will have access to SCHOLAR material on line which they can work on from both home and school, they will also be issued with a textbook. Students will also take part in a practical investigation into an aspect of the physics course.

Teaching approaches that help students bridge the gap from secondary education to tertiary education are used at Advanced Higher levels. Lecture style lessons cover theory and tutorial lessons allow students to work both individually and in groups help consolidate their learning. Students will also attend practical labs here they carry out the experimental work that compliments the theory. Students will have access to SCHOLAR material on line which they can work on from both home and school.

Students are also encouraged to look outside the school to enhance their physics education, they may be able to carry out some of the practical work from their report at university. Other opportunities to visit universities are available including Glasgow University for the Particle Physics Master Class and Strathclyde University for the Advanced Higher days. The department also organises a trip to visit the Large Hadron Collider at CERN in Geneva.


This will consist of additional practice on examples introduced in class, formal ink exercises at key stages of the course and whatever personal study the pupil requires to develop a thorough grasp of the subject. Pupils can also get additional help by attending the Physics Clinic which runs throughout the year.

Advanced Higher

Students are expected to work independently at this stage of their education. Some tutorials are given as formal homework to be handed in, others as resources for private study and revision. SCHOLAR is an excellent resource for independent study. Students will also be expected to analyse results and write up experiments they have completed in their practical labs.

  • You will learn the scientific method and how to apply it to discover physical laws.
  • You will develop skills in critical thinking.
  • You learn the skills need to be an effective problem solver in a range everyday contexts.
  • You develop your skills in numeracy and literacy,
  • You learn to solve problems in a variety of real-life situations in an engaging and enjoyable way. 

Influential Physicists

  • Sir Peter Higgs –  Theoretical physicist, emeritus professor in the University of Edinburgh, and Nobel Prize laureate for his work on the mass of subatomic particles.
  • Fabiola Gianotti  – Particle Physicist,  Director General at CERN.
  • Victoria Drummond – Marine Engineer, God-daughter of Queen Victoria, who became Chief Engineer on merchant ships and the first British woman member of the Institute of Marine Engineers, MBE and Lloyds War Medal for bravery at sea (WWII).
  • Williamina Fleming – Astronomer who devised the Pickering Fleming system of classification and discovered the horse-head Nebula.