IB Diploma Physics
Course Overview
Physics Reference Books (Used for Notes preparation)
Tsokos (Cambridge) – reigns supreme. It’s absolutely fantastic and does well with it’s breakdown of concepts which are explained logically and mathematically. It does go beyond the syllabus quite often and if you are not into physics or are not too confident about it, you might get confused from time to time. Also the worked examples are a bit OTT too, but it’s better to be overprepared than to be underprepared.
Oxford – a great all around book, not fantastic like Tsokos by any means, but for the course content it is sufficient. If you find Tsokos difficult to follow, Oxford would be your best bet.
Pearson – for physics, its an average.
Oxford study guide – this is amazing for revision. Do not overlook this. Use the other books for studying, but this one for revision. You will not regret it. Kinda weak for unit 12, but otherwise its fantastic.
IB Physics SL and HL Core
Both IB Physics SL and HL consist of the same core requirements that consist of the same number of hours. Both classes will cover the same 8 topics (requiring 95 teaching hours) in the order listed below with the same subtopics listed below:
Topic #1: Measurements and Uncertainties—5 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Measurements in physics  1.1 

Uncertainties and errors  1.2 

Vectors and scalars  1.3 

Topic #2: Mechanics—22 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Motion  2.1 

Forces  2.2 

Work, energy and power  2.3 

Momentum and impulse  2.4 

Topic #3: Thermal Physics—11 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Thermal concepts  3.1 

Modelling a gas  3.2 

Topic #4: Waves—15 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Oscillations  4.1 

Travelling waves  4.2 

Wave characteristics  4.3 

Wave behaviour  4.4 

Standing waves  4.5 

Topic #5: Electricity and Magnetism—15 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Electric fields  5.1 

Heating effect of electric currents  5.2 

Electric cells  5.3 

Magnetic effects of electric currents  5.4 

Topic #6: Circular Motion and Gravitation—5 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Circular motion  6.1 

Newton’s law of gravitation  6.2 

Topic #7: Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics—14 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Discrete energy and radioactivity  7.1 

Nuclear reactions  7.2 

The structure of matter  7.3 

Topic #8: Energy Production—8 Hours for Both SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Energy sources  8.1 

Thermal energy transfer  8.2 

Additional Higher Level Topics
These 4 topics are only for IB Physics Higher Level students—60 hours total for HL only
Topic #9: Wave Phenomena—17 Hours for HL Only
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Simple harmonic motion (HL ONLY)  9.1 

Singleslit diffraction (HL ONLY)  9.2 

Interference (HL ONLY)  9.3 

Resolution (HL ONLY)  9.4 

Doppler effect (HL ONLY)  9.5 

Topic #10: Fields—11 Hours for HL only
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Describing fields (HL ONLY)  10.1 

Fields at work (HL ONLY)  10.2 

Topic #11: Electromagnetic Induction—16 Hours for HL Only
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Electromagnetic induction (HL ONLY)  11.1 

Power generation and transmission (HL ONLY)  11.2 

Capacitance (HL ONLY)  11.3 

Topic #12: Quantum and Nuclear Physics—16 Hours for HL Only
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
The interaction of matter with radiation (HL ONLY)  12.1 

Nuclear physics (HL ONLY)  12.2 

Options
As a part of the IB Physics course, you cover additional subjects of your choosing from the list below (typically you don’t choose, but rather your teacher does).
Whichever option(s) you or your teacher chooses you will cover 3 or 4 topics (15 hours total) for SL and an additional 2 or 3 topics (25 hours total) for HL.
Option A: Relativity—15 Hours for SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
The beginnings of relativity  A.1 

Lorentz transformations  A.2 

Spacetime diagrams  A.3 

Additional HL Relativity Topics—10 More Hours for HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Relativistic mechanics (HL ONLY)  A.4 

General Relativity (HL ONLY)  A.5 

Option B: Engineering Physics—15 Hours for SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Rigid bodies and rotational dynamics  B.1 

Thermodynamics  B.2 

Additional HL Engineering Physics Topics—10 More Hours for HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Fluids and fluid dynamics (HL ONLY)  B.3 

Forced vibrations and resonance (HL ONLY)  B.4 

Option C: Imaging—15 Hours for SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Introduction to imaging  C.1 

Imaging instrumentation  C.2 

Fibre optics  C.3 

Additional HL Imaging Topics—10 More Hours for HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Medical imaging (HL ONLY)  C.4 

Option D: Astrophysics—15 Hours for SL and HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Stellar quantities  D.1 

Stellar characteristics and stellar evolution  D.2 

Cosmology  D.3 

Additional HL Astrophysics Topics—10 More Hours for HL
Subtopic  Subtopic Number  IB Points to Understand 
Stellar processes (HL ONLY)  D.4 

Further cosmology (HL ONLY)  D.5 
