Introduction to the Physics Dept

Welcome to National 5 Physics.

We hope you enjoy the experiences you will have learning Physics over the next year. We want you to have a clear idea of what you will need to complete during the course so we have produced this information.


1. The structure of the Course.

It may not have crossed your mind but the first thing to understand if you are to achieve the best that you can in Physics at National 5 is to have a clear understanding of how the course is run. The course is made up of several parts. These can be divided up in several ways.

There are six units and the Assignment (which changed for the session 2017-18):

  1. Waves
  2. Radiation
  3. Dynamics
  4. Space
  5. Electricity
  6. Properties of Matter
  7. Assignment (20% of the course covered in class but marked externally)

Dynamics – the topics covered are: vectors and scalars; velocity–time graphs; acceleration; Newton’s laws; energy; projectile motion.

Space – the topics covered are: space exploration; cosmology.

Electricity-the topics covered are: electrical charge carriers; potential difference (voltage); Ohm’s law; practical electrical and electronic circuits; electrical power.

Properties of matter –the topics covered are: specific heat capacity; specific latent heat; gas laws and the kinetic model.

Waves – the topics covered are: wave parameters and behaviours; electromagnetic spectrum; refraction of light.

Radiation – the topic covered is nuclear radiation.

Eventually, for each unit, you will have a set of Learning Outcome Questions to complete, these are what you have to know for the exam, and also give you a good grounding in Physics should you go on to study the subject further (which we hope you will). These questions will be uploaded to the website. When you have been given the chance to complete these, they have been corrected by your teacher, you will complete an end of section test. The tests will comprise knowledge, understanding, analysis, problem solving, skills etc.

The Assignment and Exam will test:

  • knowledge and understanding of physics by making accurate statements
  • knowledge and understanding of physics by describing information and providing explanations and integrating knowledge
  • applying physics knowledge to new situations, interpreting information and solving problems
  • planning or designing experiments to test given hypotheses or to illustrate particular effects, including safety measures
  • carrying out experimental procedures safely
  • selecting information from a variety of sources
  • presenting information appropriately in a variety of forms
  • processing information (using calculations and units, where appropriate)
  • making predictions based on evidence/information
  • drawing valid conclusions and giving explanations supported by evidence/justification
  • evaluating experimental procedures
  • suggesting improvements to experiments/practical investigations
  • communicating findings/information

In summary the course will be completed in the following order:

  • Maths and Intro
  • Waves
  • Dynamics
  • Radiation or Electricity
  • Electricity or Radiation
  • Assignment
  • Properties of Matter
  • Space
  • The exam

2. The Need to Know Booklet and organising you work.

Currently, all the information you need to pass the exam is highlighted in the Outcome Booklet (which really does need to be given a better name). You should be scrutinising this lesson by lesson to check your progress through the course and to ensure you understand what you are required to know and learn. Eventually, we hope to produce a set of Learning Outcome Questions, the answers to which will provide you with a perfect set of revision notes. The difficulty is that the course is changing more rapidly than we can keep up with the production of the questions.  You must make sure that these are answered clearly and concisely in your Notes section. Either copy out each question or print the questions and stick these in your notes. Then your friends and parents can use this to test you at the end of a section and close to exams. Alternatively, you can make these into flash cards, that can be slipped onto a keyring which you can have with you more readily!

Another hint is to make your work as colourful as possible. It must also be neat. This is going to form your most important work so take care of it. If it is bright, colourful, well presented and laid out it will be easy to revise from. If your notes section is scruffy and disorganised you will find it more difficult to revise, and when you do sit down to revise you will find alternative things to do as the process is so hard and unpleasant. Hand in your notes work regularly for checking.

At the back of the notes jotter keep a list of all of your quantities etc. in a table like the one below. Please note that the third column needs to be the widest, then followed by column one; column two and four can be very narrow.

QuantitySymbolUnitUnit Symbol

Your formulae should also be in the notes section. Keep the list up to date! Each time that you learn a new formula put this in your notes. Make sure you include units, symbols and the meaning of each letter. Check that you can rearrange the formula to find any missing quantity.

The work that you do in class should usually be written in your class work jotter. Date all work and record a title for each activity. Sometimes notes will go straight into your notes jotter, so you must have this with you every lesson.

You will also keep a profile of your performance in your profile section. This should start with your contract (see the end of this post), profile of you and an introduction About Yourself. This will help us to gain a good understanding of how you function. You will need to set targets each month on how you can improve your performance or maintain your performance at the current level, if it really is the best you can deliver. We will also try to tailor some of the tasks to items that interest you and assist you in meeting these targets. All progress that you make should be recorded in this jotter and it would be helpful to discuss these targets with folk at home. Include a progress bullseye chart each month like the one below, electronic copies can be downloaded from the links below too.



The main reason we use the pupil profile is to give you the chance to discuss with your teacher, at your leisure, any concerns, worries or problems you might have. This is not to prevent you from talking directly to your teacher, but it gives you the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with your teacher at a time that is convenient to you both. This will become part of your homework on a monthly basis. Your pupil profiles should be handed in on the first lesson of every month. Get into the routine of handing this in. Please mark in your student planners that this homework is due on the first Physics lesson of every month. Obviously, if you wish to hand this in more often you may do so, in fact hand this in whenever you have a concern. Your teacher will record and note any concerns and comments and deal with these as soon as possible. This may be in the form of additional work, additional help or additional resources.  But don’t forget your pupil profiles can also tell us when you’re really happy with the course, enjoying it and feel that you are making good progress. Don’t rush your response, but engage with how you can improve and what areas you feel are your weakest and strongest.

3. Follow the Rules & Routines & Bring Equipment

The five rules of the Physics Department are for pupils follow to ensure a pleasant and safe environment.

  1. Follow the teacher’s instructions.
  2. Raise your hand, and wait for permission before speaking.
  3. Allow people to get on with their work.
  4. Follow the laboratory rules
  5. No put downs. (or only say positive things about people).

Remember Science is about trial and error and looking for ways to fix mistakes, what a better example for life!


In addition to the core rules the following routines are expected of pupils during their time in this department. Pupils should:

  1. Enter the room quietly, calmly and on time;
  2. Come prepared for the work with jotters and pen or pencil etc.;
  3. Complete all homework and hand it in on time;
  4. Not deface jotters, desks folders, etc.;
  5. Pay attention;
  6. At the end of a lesson, when told to do so, pack away quietly, place stools under the desk and leave in an orderly manner.

3.  Homework and Review

You will be expected to complete all the homework set and hand it in on time. We will contact parents/carers if we think you are not completing this vital part of the course. We do not issue homework because we want you to spend all your life working, but because it gives you the opportunity to consolidate the work completed in class. It has been proved that students who complete homework do better in their exams.

 4. The Timeline

You will be issued with a timeline. This may be on a monthly, weekly or termly basis. This will show you what homework you will have to do, where on the course you are and when assessment dates are likely to be. We may have to update this through the year but it should be used to plan study and work. Don’t waste it, use it!

 5. ASK!

If you do not understand any aspect of the course or work and you have read through the material at home then ask. Both members of the Department (Mrs Physics and Ms Horn) are willing to help you with your work.

 6. Equipment

This is a list of the equipment you need to bring to Physics

  • Pen
  • Pencil
  • Ruler (30 cm)
  • Eraser
  • Protractor or angle measurer.
  • Scientific calculator, nothing fancy but it must be capable of doing scientific functions. Most pupils find it easier to use a Casio DAL, S-VPAM calculator, particularly the Casio FX83 or Casio FX85. With these calculators you enter the numbers into the calculator in the manner in which they are written. There is a post in the maths section giving you some example of how to work your calculator and I’ll add a few more hints later in the year.

Pupils will be issued with

  • A classwork jotter for practice and results
  • A notes jotter
  • A homework / profile jotter
  • An A5 Content booklet containing the Content Requirements, Relationships’ Sheet, Periodic Table and a few maths hints. This should be brought to every lesson and used every night to check content coverage and for revision and review. This can be kept at the end of the course as it will be covered in student writing.
  • Eventually students will receive Activity booklets with all their content and questions, these are currently being produced. These should be returned at the end of the course.

7. Take Responsibility for your Learning

Sometimes there may be a distraction in the classroom that is out of my control. Make sure that you use your time wisely if there is a distraction. Check and complete one or more of the activities listed below.

  • Finish off the work that has been set.
  • Complete Learning Outcome Questions/ Summary of content statements.
  • Check off the content covered in the Vital Booklet (good name needed)
  • Write out a summary of what you have been doing.
  • Read through the work that we have been covering.
  • Read through the next section of work to prepare.
  • Revise/ Learn your formulae
  • Produce a revision test for the class.

Your work is in your hands. This is time that can be used or abused. If you abuse your time now you will have to use your free time later. SPEND YOUR TIME WELL.

8. Layout for Tackling Mathematical Problems

Always set out maths problems using the structure given below. It may seem to take longer but it will save time in the long run as it makes the question clearer.


  1. Information– Summarise the question by writing down what you know from the information given. Use the letter that goes with the quantity and this will help you be able to work out the correct formula
  2. Equation – write down the equation as it occurs in the data sheet. Do not attempt to rearrange it before substituting.
  3. Substitution – put the numbers into the equation as they appear in the formula
  4. Solution – work out the answer. You are ALWAYS allowed to use a calculator
  5. Units– you will need to use the correct units so will need to learn these. No or wrong units no mark for the answer
  6. Underline – underline with 2 lines the answer to make it clear what is your final answer.

In short:

  1. (Information)- Summarise the question.
  2. Change any units that are not standard.
  3. (Equation) -Write out the formula.
  4. (Substitution) -Put the numbers in.
  5. Use the magic triangle to rearrange the formula, only if you must!
  6. (Solution)- Work out the answer.
  7. Write out the answer, but not to too many sig fig.
  8. (Units) -Add units to your answer.
  9. (Underline) Underline the answer.

9. Revising The Syllabus

REVISING- Here are some really important ideas to help you with your revision (which shouldn’t just take place the night before a test but should be an ongoing process).

Find out:

  • Make a Revision Calendar (I’ve made one for you Click Here! The instructions can be found in the Revision section)
  • Stick a large calendar next to where you study.
  • Mark in the dates and times of Exams (whether prelims or final exams). A counter has been added to the N5 Home Page.
  • Shade in the dates and times of other commitments.
  • Make a list of topics to cover for each subject.
  • Calculate how many hours you have available and how much time you will allocate to each subject.
  • Decide on the order in which to tackle your subjects. Don’t tackle the easy subjects first as you’ll never get on to the harder ones! It is best to start revising the hard subjects and topics as these will take you more time to learn
  • Draft your revision timetable.
  • Leave one or two revision slots free each week for extra revision or difficult topics.
Working in Revision Groups
This can be useful but:
  • Discipline is needed
  • Decide before you meet on the topic that you’ll cover e.g. prepare revision cards or answer past paper questions.
  • Teach each other a topic
  • Take an ACTIVE APPROACH to your Revision
  • Talking with others about what to revise can lessen the anxiety.
  • Before starting a Session decide HOW  and WHAT to revise 




10. Relax

Believe it or not we also expect you to make sure that you do have time to relax. Relaxation should be in proportion. Too much and you won=t finish the work, too little and you will not function properly. Balance is important. Make sure that your relaxation includes plenty of exercise and fresh air. Don’t just vegetate in front of something electrical.

Now that you have your survival guide to the course may I wish you all the best and hope that you go on to perform Physics to the best of your ability, whatever that standard is!

Remember we are a TEAM! It is not YOU ALONE! It will be most effective if YOU, ME and PEOPLE FROM HOME can all work together to support you through the next nine months. We each have a role to play. I need to explain what we need to do in the best way I can, and ensure you know the course content. Your role is to listen well in class, learn what you are taught, ask if you have not understood what you’ve been taught and review and revise little and often. Tell me if you are finding the work hard so that I can give you additional support. People at home are there to support and encourage you in your work and if possible test you on your learning, (provided you’ve laid it out as well as possible).

After a Test

It is important that you review your performance after a test. One way to do that is through a Thinking about Revising Sheet.

Thinking about revising  this is the pdf version

Thinking about revising this is the word version

Here is the link to the SQA N5 Physics website


Monthly Progress Chart

Each month, (handing in your jotter on the first Physics period of the month), give an update on how you feel you’re getting on in Physics, reassess your targets and check through your progress. You ought to be able to tackle new past paper questions every month. For the first Progress Chart answer the questions contained in the profile below and write out the expectations and sign these.

pupil profile jotter word

pupil profile jotter pdf



Date of Birth: 

Register Class:     

Registration Room:

Register Teacher: 

Pupil Support Teacher:


Previous Physics Grade: 

Maths Class: 

Maths Teacher:

Approx. level Maths: N3, N4, N5

English Class: 

English Teacher:

Approx. level English: N3, N4, N5.

Other subjects taken:







About myself

Tell us a little bit about yourself so that we can make the work as relevant to you as possible. Include things like

  •         where you live,
  •         the other people in your family,
  •         what your hobbies are,
  •         what you most like doing,
  •         how you spend your time outside school.

You could also include what kind of career you would like to have, what your goals are in life, and why you chose to take Physics.

Target Setting

During my time in Physics I want to achieve the following targets.


I …{insert your name}

will always do my best in N5 Physics

I will work hard in class, and follow the classroom code.

I will look over the work I have done each evening, and I complete each piece of homework and hand it in on time.

If I am absent I will catch up on the missed work and homework and ask if I am stuck.

I will ask my teacher for help when I am having difficulties, and will not give up.

I will show my homework to my parents when completed.

signed (you)

(and your parent/guardian to show that they have seen this)

Best Wishes for a lovely journey through N5 Physics