Uncovered: New Syllabus for IBDP Physics for 2023

Learning or teaching a brand-new syllabus can be nerve-hacking. It raises a lot of questions, doubts, mix feelings.

International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum undergoes a periodic review every seven years, which results in changes to the syllabus for various subjects. As we approach the year 2023, the revised syllabus for IBDP Physics is set to be introduced. For students and teachers alike, a new syllabus can be daunting and may lead to a host of questions and concerns.

That’s why Blen has put together all the information you need to know about the new IBDP Physics syllabus for 2023, so that you can feel confident and well-prepared.

When it will be first assessed?

The updated IB Diploma Programme (IBDP) Physics curriculum is set to be introduced for the first time in either August or September of 2023. The assessment for this revised course is scheduled for May of 2025.

This revamped curriculum has been meticulously crafted through an extensive series of consultations, formulation stages, and collaborative efforts, aligning with the IB's fundamental mission of offering students a demanding and robust education.

What is changing in the course content?

Overall, the new syllabus for IBDP Physics is not a complete overhaul of the existing content, but rather a more crisp and critical version of it.

It represents a shift towards more modernized and practical content, as well as an emphasis on the development of practical and critical thinking skills.

Five themes, as “Space, time and motion”, “The Particular Nature of Matter”, “ Wave Behaviour”, “ Fields” and “ Nuclear and Quantum Physics”  make up the physics curriculum that are further broken down into a number of sections.

You can explore the official subject guide for IBDP Physics FE2025 here.

What concepts are no more there?

Topic 1 Moved to Tool 3: Mathematics

  • Measurements in physics*

  • Uncertainties and errors*

  • Vectors and scalars*

Topic 4

  • Polarization and Malus’s law

Topic 5

  • Kirchhoff’s circuit laws

  • Secondary cells

  • Terminal potential difference

Topic 7

  • Quarks, leptons and their antiparticles

  • Hadrons, baryons and mesons

  • The conservation laws of baryon number, lepton number and strangeness

  • The nature and range of the weak nuclear force

  • Exchange particles

  • Feynman diagrams

  • Confinement

  • The Higgs boson

Topic 8

  • Specific energy of fuel sources

  • Primary energy sources

  • Electricity as a secondary and versatile form of energy

  • Renewable and non-renewable energy sources

  • Fossil fuel power stations

  • Wind generators

  • Pumped storage hydroelectric systems

 Topic 9

  • Thin film interference

  • Resolution

Topic 11

  • Power generation and transmission

  • Capacitance

Topic 12

  • Pair production and pair annihilation

  • The wave function

  • The uncertainty principle

  • Tunnelling

All Option Topics

  • Some Option content has been added to the new syllabus

What are some new concepts that are introduced here?


A. Space, time and motion

 A.4 Rigid body mechanics 

  •  Angular impulse
  • The kinetic energy of rotational motion

A.5 Galilean and special relativity

  • Reference Frames
  • Newton’s laws and Galilean relativity
  • Galilean transformation equations
  • The two postulates of special relativity
  • The Lorentz transformation equations
  • Relativistic velocity addition equation
  • Invariant quantities
  • Time dilation
  • Length contraction
  • The relativity of simultaneity
  • Space-time diagrams
  • World line of a moving particle
  • Muon decay experiments

B. The Particular Nature of Matter 

Β.1 Thermal energy transfers

  • Quantitative analysis of rate of thermal energy transfer by conduction
  • Apparent brightness
  • Luminosity 

Β.2 Greenhouse Effect

  • Mean intensity value of incoming radiation
  • Awareness of the resonance model for the greenhouse effect
  • Awareness of the enhanced greenhouse effect

Β.3 Gas Laws

  • Pressure in gases related to the average translational speed of molecules
  • The relationship between the total internal energy of a gas and the number of gas molecules 

Β.4 Thermodynamics

  • The first law of thermodynamics
  • Τhe work done by or on a closed system
  • Change in internal energy in terms of temperature change
  • Entropy in terms of macroscopic quantities
  • Entropy in terms of the properties of individual particles
  • Τhe second law of thermodynamics
  • The entropy of a real isolated system
  • The entropy of a non-isolated system
  • Isovolumetric, isobaric, isothermal and adiabatic processes
  • Adiabatic processes in monatomic ideal gases
  • Cyclic gas processes used to run heat engines
  • Heat engine efficiency
  • The Carnot cycle

C. Wave Behaviour

C.4 Standing waves and resonance

  • The nature of resonance, natural frequency, driving frequency
  • The effects of damping
  • Light, critical and heavy damping

 D. Fields

D.1 Gravitational fields

  • Kepler's three laws of orbital motion
  • Definition of the gravitational potential energy of a system
  • Drag force on an orbiting body (qualitative description)

D.2 Electric and magnetic fields

  • Millikan's experiment
  • Electric charge transfer between bodies
  • Electric field strength between parallel plates
  • Definition of the electric potential energy of a system

D.3 Motion in electromagnetic fields

  • The motion of a charged particle in a uniform magnetic field
  • The force per unit length between parallel wires

 E. Nuclear and Quantum Physics

E.1 Structure of the atom

  • Emission and absorption spectra as information about chemical composition

E.2 Quantum physics

  • Compton scattering of light by electrons
  • The shift in photon wavelength after scattering off an electron

E.4 Fission

  • The properties of the products of nuclear fission and their management

E.5 Fusion and stars

  • The stability of stars
  • Fusion as a source of energy in stars
  • The conditions leading to fusion in stars in terms of density and temperature
  • The effect of stellar mass on the evolution of a star
  • The Hertzsprung–Russell diagram
  • Stellar parallax
  • Determining stellar radii

What is changing in the assessment pattern?

There will only be two external exams given to all students. Here are the subject briefs, SL and HL.

Paper 1:

  • In Paper 1A, there are multiple-choice questions from the curriculum

  • In Paper 1B, there are questions about data analysis. These publications offer the chance to evaluate some of the experimental methods and methods.

Paper 2:

  • Paper 2 has both short-answer and extended-response questions that integrate knowledge, concepts, and skills into a relevant chemistry environment.

  • The choice subjects have also been removed, among other adjustments (materials, biochemistry, energy and medicinal chemistry). Some of the content from the four available options was included to the course at either a standard or higher level. Hence, no more Paper 3.

Internal Assessment

  • The "scientific investigation" (internal assessment) will change as well, giving students the chance to work together and help one another in small groups. If the independent or dependent variables are different and the data acquired is specific to each student, then students may share similar approaches when appropriate.

  • The number of words in each student's report will remain at a maximum of 3,000.

  • With 50% of the marks allotted for Conclusion and Evaluation, the revised criteria will place a stronger focus on higher-order thinking abilities.

And finally…

At Blen, we understand that a new syllabus can be intimidating, but we're here to help. We offer comprehensive content, concepts, questions and mock tests to help you prepare for your IBDP Physics exams. We wish you all the best for tackling the new IBDP Physics syllabus in 2023!

Don't let the stress of exams get you down. Get started with Blen and practice real exam-like questions before you sit for your IB exam.