Pitlochry High School

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For pupils and parents alike please find the Physics main webpage here which has study resources as well as lessons that are used in class. These "lesson" pages can also be used for interested pupils to look ahead or for pupils to catch up on work missed. Please note that this site is a work in progress and as such not all content is available.

 National 4/5 Physics

Aims of the Course

The National 4/5 course builds on the Physics content of the Level 3 Science outcomes covered during S1 and S2.

The main aims of this Course are for learners to:

  • develop scientific and analytical thinking skills in a Physics context

  • develop an understanding of the role of physics in scientific issues

  • acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of concepts in physics

  • develop understanding of relevant applications of physics in society


Course Content

Pupils will study the following topics:

Waves - pupils will focus mainly on sound and electromagnetic waves and their characteristics. Pupils will get an opportunity to record and edit their own sounds, creating a ringtone for their phone if desired.

Electricity - pupils will look at different components of circuits and how they are connected together. There will be a focus on what different components are used for and on how the total electronic resistance of a circuit is calculated

Mechanics - pupils will study movement and Newton's laws of motion. This will include studying Forces and analysis of velocity/time graphs.

Astrophysics - pupils will be encouraged to develop a sense for the vast scale of the universe and the risks and benefits of space travel will be explored. The Big Bang theory and the evidence for it will be examined.

Radiation - pupils will study different types of radiation and their characteristics. They will research safe working levels of radiation and study how nuclear power plants operate. This topic will also include the study of Half-Life.

Thermodynamics - pupils will study how heat is transferred between different objects and learn about Specific Heat Capacity. Pupils will also study the macroscopic properties of gases and how the heat, temperature and volume of a fixed mass of gas are related.

Energy - pupils will study the Conservation of Energy and the relationship between energy changes with particular emphasis on the relationship between Gravitational Potential Energy and Kinetic Energy.


Course Assessment

 National 4 pupils: Assessed internally by the Centre with no external examination at the end of the Course. Pupils who have successfully completed the Course will be awarded a pass.

National 5 pupils: Assessed externally by the SQA. The Course is graded A – D.

 The assessment format for National 5 pupils is outlined below:

 Component 1: Question paper                                                                                            80% of total mark

This question paper will assess the breadth of knowledge from across the course, depth of understanding and application of this knowledge and understanding to solve problems. The question paper will give the learners the opportunity to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Integrate and apply Physics knowledge and understanding

  • Apply scientific inquiry skills

  • Apply scientific analytical thinking skills

  • Explain the impact of applications to society/ the environment.

 Component 2: Assignment                                                                                                   20% of total mark 

This assignment will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills:

  • Investigate/ research an appropriate Physics topic/ issue.

  • Process the information gathered, using scientific investigative/ research skills

  • Apply knowledge and understanding related to the topic/ issue.

  • Present a reasoned and well-developed conclusion, supported by evidence.



Pupils successful at achieving a National 4 qualification in Physics can progress to any of the discrete sciences at National 5 Level.

Those successful in achieving a National 5 qualification in Physics can progress to Higher Physics.