National 5 Physics

This course is suited to students who have a strong background in science and mathematics.  It has three units which focus on:

  • Forces, energy, motion and the workings of the universe
  • Waves, and particles, radioactivity and the atom
  • Electricity and heat


There are lots of opportunities for students to apply problem solving skills and strategies, and there is the need for creativity and lateral thinking.

It is a challenging course, and requires a level of confidence in using maths techniques including algebra, graphs, Pythagoras’ theorem and trigonometry.

In addition, students need to be able to express themselves clearly, using appropriate terminology, when describing and explaining physics phenomena.

There are also requirements for students to interpret data in various forms, and to be able to apply physics knowledge to unfamiliar situations.


The assessment schedule is as follows:

  • First unit assessment in October
  • Assignment* in October
  • Second unit assessment in December
  • Prelim in January
  • Final unit assessment in March
  • Exam in May*

The assignment is worth 20% of the total course marks and concerns investigating an aspect of physics and its impact on society or the environment.  It is conducted under controlled conditions and takes about two weeks of lesson time.

The final exam contributes the other 80% of the marks.

It is essential for students to pass the prelim in order to be presented for the final exam.  Presentation at National 4 level is an option for those candidates who struggle with the final stages of the course.


Each student will be issued with a copy of the text book ‘National 5 Physics with answers’ by Arthur Baillie and published by Hodder Gibson.  Near to the exams, the students will also be issued with booklets of practice papers. 

Useful links:

 http://www.brightredbooks.net/subjects/n5physics/c04_05 (need to register - free)

Official SQA material: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/47430.html