The Complete IB Physics Syllabus: SL & HL
The complete IB Physics syllabus: SL & HL
In this article, I am going to discuss every topic covered in IB Physics Standard level and IB Physics higher level along with the number of hours dedicated to each topic, and what IB expects you to know for each topic.
Both IB Physics SL & HL core consist of the same requirement that consists of a total of 95 hours.
Both classes SL and HL will cover the same 8 topics in the order listed below along with the same subtopics and dedicated hours listed below:
Topic 1: Measurements and Uncertainties SL & HL combined for 5 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Measurements in physics 
1.1 

Uncertainties and errors 
1.2 

Vectors and scalars 
1.3 

Topic 2: Mechanics  SL & HL combined for 22 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Motion 
2.1 

Forces 
2.2 

Work, energy and power 
2.3 

Momentum and impulse 
2.4 

Topic 3: Thermal Physics  SL & HL combined for 11 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Thermal concepts 
3.1 

Modelling a gas 
3.2


Topic 4: Waves  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Oscillations 
4.1 

Travelling waves 
4.2 

Wave characteristics 
4.3 

Wave behaviour 
4.4 

Standing waves 
4.5 

Topic 5: Electricity and Magnetism  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
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  SL & HL combined for 5 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Circular motion 
6.1 

Newton’s law of gravitation 
6.2 

Topic 7: Atomic, Nuclear and Particle Physics SL & HL combined for 14 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Discrete energy and radioactivity 
7.1 

Nuclear reactions 
7.2 

The structure of matter 
7.3 

Topic 8: Energy Production  SL & HL combined for 8 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Energy sources 
8.1 

Thermal energy transfer 
8.2 

Additional Higher Level Topics
These 4 topics are assigned for Higher Level students only with a total of 60 hours.
Topic 9: Wave Phenomena  HL Only17 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Simple harmonic motion 
9.1 

Singleslit diffraction 
9.2 

Interference 
9.3 

Resolution 
9.4 

Doppler effect 
9.5 

Topic 10: Fields  HL only 11 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Describing fields 
10.1 

Fields at work 
10.2 

Topic 11: Electromagnetic Induction  HL Only16 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Electromagnetic induction 
11.1 

Power generation and transmission 
11.2 

Capacitance 
11.3 

Topic 12: Quantum and Nuclear Physics  HL Only16 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
The interaction of matter with radiation 
12.1 

Nuclear physics 
12.2 

Options
In the context of the IB Physics class you also cover an additional subject of your choice from the list below( generally you don’t choose, but instead your teacher does). According to the choice 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  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic
number 
Interpretations 
The beginnings of relativity 
A.1 

Lorentz transformations 
A.2 

Spacetime diagrams 
A.3 

Additional HL Relativity Topics  10 extra hours for HL
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Relativistic mechanics 
A.4 

General Relativity 
A.5 

Option B: Engineering Physics  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Rigid bodies and rotational dynamics 
B.1 

Thermodynamics 
B.2 

Additional HL Engineering Physics Topics  10 extra Hours for HL
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Fluids and fluid dynamics (HL ONLY) 
B.3 

Forced vibrations and resonance (HL ONLY) 
B.4 

Option C: Imaging  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Introduction to imaging 
C.1 

Imaging instrumentation 
C.2 

Fibre optics 
C.3 

Additional HL Imaging Topics  10 extra hours for HL
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Medical imaging 
C.4 

Option D: Astrophysics  SL & HL combined for 15 hours
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Stellar quantities 
D.1 

Stellar characteristics and stellar evolution 
D.2 

Cosmology 
D.3 

Additional HL Astrophysics Topics  10 extra hours for HL
Subtopic 
Subtopic number 
Interpretations 
Stellar processes 
D.4 

Further cosmology 
D.5 

Practical project of work
As a part of any IB Science course, you also need to complete experiments and experimental reports. There is 40 hours of material for SL and there is 60 hours of material for HL.
Activities are listed below:
1.Practical activities  20 hours for SL and 40 hours for HL
 Lab work in class counts towards these hours
2.Individual investigation (internal assessmentIA)  SL and HL combined for 10 hours.

A lab project along with a report that counts as 20% of your IB exam scores (written exam counts for the other 80%)
3.Group 4 Project  SL & HL combined for 10 hours

Students are separated into groups and must conduct an experiment and write a report.