Edexcel Level 1/Level 2 GCSE (9 - 1) Physics (1PH0) Paper 2 & Edexcel GCSE Combined Science (1SC0) Paper 6 Physics 2

Syllabus-specification CONTENT INDEX (NEW for Y10 starting September 2016, first exams from 2018 onwards)

'Old' Edexcel GCSE science courses for Y11 finishing Y11 2016-2017

INDEX for all links

Everything below is based on the NEW 2016 official syllabus-specifications for Y10 2016-17 onwards AND NOTE ...

(HT only) means higher tier only (NOT FT), (Edexcel GCSE physics only) means NOT for Combined Science physics

Note: a P after the learning objective indicates it is for Edexcel GCSE Physics ONLY, NOT for Combined Science

 The Google [SEARCH] box at the bottom of the page should also prove useful


Revision summaries for Paper 1 Edexcel GCSE Physics & Combined Science Paper 5 Physics 1 (separate page)

What's assessed in this paper?

SUMMARY Topic 1 – Key concepts of physics (Topic 1 Combined Science Physics 1)

SUMMARY Topic 2 –Motion and Forces  (Topic 2 Combined Science Physics 1)

SUMMARY Topic 3 – Conservation of energy  (Topic 3 Combined Science Physics 1)  

SUMMARY Topic 4 – Waves   (Topic 4 Combined Science Physics 1)

SUMMARY Topic 5 – Light and the electromagnetic spectrum  (Topic 5 Combined Science Physics 1)  

SUMMARY Topic 6 – Radioactivity  (Topic 6 Combined Science Physics 1)

SUMMARY Topic 7 – Astronomy  (GCSE Physics only, NOT Combined Science Physics 1)


Revision summaries for Paper 2 Edexcel GCSE Physics & Combined Science Paper 6 Physics 2 (this page)

What's assessed in this paper?

SUMMARY Topic 1 – Key concepts in physics

SUMMARY Topic 8 – Energy - Forces doing work (Topic 8 Combined Science Physics 2)

SUMMARY Topic 9 – Forces and their effects  (Topic 9 Combined Science Physics 2)

SUMMARY Topic 10 – Electricity and circuits (Topic 10 Combined Science Physics 2)

SUMMARY Topic 11 – Static electricity (GCSE Physics 2 only, NOT Combined Science) 

SUMMARY Topic 12 – Magnetism and the motor effect (Topic 12 Combined Science Physics 2) 

SUMMARY Topic 13 – Electromagnetic induction (Topic 13 Combined Science Physics 2)  

SUMMARY Topic 14 – Particle model (Topic 14 Combined Science Physics 2) 

SUMMARY Topic 15 – Forces and matter (Topic 15 Combined Science Physics 2)


TOPICS for Paper 2 Edexcel GCSE Physics & Combined Science Paper 6 Physics 2

Note: a P after the learning objective indicates it is for Edexcel GCSE Physics ONLY, NOT for Combined Science

Topic 1 is common to all Physics Papers


Topic 1 Key concepts in physics

1.1 Be able to recall and use the following SI units:

metre, unit symbol: m;   kilogram unit symbol: kg;   second unit symbol: s

ampere unit symbol: A;  kelvin unit symbol: K;   mole unit symbol: mol;

AND some derived units with special names: name unit abbreviation:

Frequency hertz Hz,  Force newton N, Energy joule J, Power watt W, Pressure pascal Pa, Electric charge coulomb C

Electric potential difference volt V,  Electric resistance ohm Ω,  Magnetic flux density tesla T

1.2 Be able to recall and use multiples and sub-multiples of units, including:

giga (G),  mega (M),  kilo (k), centi  (c),  milli (m),  micro (μ)  and  nano (n)

1.3 Be able to convert between different units, including hours to seconds.

1.4 Be able to use significant figures and standard form where appropriate


Topics for Edexcel GCSE Physics paper 2 and Combined Science Paper 6 Physics 2 only


Topics for paper 2 only

Topic 8 Energy – forces doing work

8.1 Be able to describe the changes involved in the way energy is stored when systems change

8.2 Be able to draw and interpret diagrams to represent energy transfers

8.3 Be able to explain that where there are energy transfers in a closed system there is no net change to the total energy in that system

8.4 Be able to identify the different ways that the energy of a system can be changed

(a) through work done by forces

(b) in electrical equipment

(c) in heating

8.5 Be able to describe how to measure the work done by a force and understand that energy transferred (joule, J) is equal to work done (joule, J)

8.6 Be able to recall and use the equation:

work done (joule, J) = force (newton, N) × distance moved in the direction of the force (metre, m)

E = F x d

8.7 Be able to describe and calculate the changes in energy involved when a system is changed by work done by forces

8.8 Recall and use the equation to calculate the change in gravitational PE when an object is raised above the ground:

change in gravitational potential energy (joule, J) = mass (kilogram, kg) × gravitational field strength (newton per kilogram, N/kg) × change in vertical height (metre, m)

ΔGPE = m × g × Δh

8.9 Be able to recall and use the equation to calculate the amounts of energy associated with a moving object:

kinetic energy (joule, J) = ˝ × mass (kilogram, kg) × (speed)2 ((metre/second)2, (m/s)2)

KE = ˝ × m × v2

8.10 Be able to explain, using examples, how in all system changes energy is dissipated so that it is stored in less useful ways

8.11 Be able to explain that mechanical processes become wasteful when they cause a rise in temperature so dissipating energy in heating the surroundings

8.12 Be able to define power as the rate at which energy is transferred and use examples to explain this definition

8.13 Be able to recall and use the equation:

power (watt, W) = work done (joule, J) ÷ time taken (second, s),   P = E / t

8.14 Be able to recall that one watt is equal to one joule per second, J/s

8.15 Be able to recall and use the equation:

efficiency = (useful energy transferred by the device) / (total energy supplied to the device)

Suggested practicals

 Investigating power by moving up the stairs, step-ups onto a low platform or lifting objects of different weights


Topic 9 – Forces and their effects

You should be able to ....

9.1 Be able to describe, with examples, how objects can interact

(a) at a distance without contact, linking these to the gravitational, electrostatic and magnetic fields involved

(b) by contact, including normal contact force and friction

(c) producing pairs of forces which can be represented as vectors

9.2 Be able to explain the difference between vector and scalar quantities using examples

9.3 (HT only) Be able to use vector diagrams to illustrate resolution of forces, a net force, and equilibrium situations (scale drawings only)

9.4 (HT only) Be able to draw and use free body force diagrams

9.5 (HT only) Be able to explain examples of the forces acting on an isolated solid object or a system where several forces lead to a resultant force on an object and the special case of balanced forces when the resultant force is zero

9.6P Be able to identify situations where forces can cause rotation

9.7P Be able to recall and use the equation:

moment of a force (newton metre, Nm) = force (newton, N) × distance normal to the direction of the force (metre, m)

moment = F x d

9.8P Be able to recall and use the principle of moments in situations where rotational forces are in equilibrium:

the sum of clockwise moments = the sum of anti-clockwise moments

... for rotational forces in equilibrium

9.9P Be able to explain how levers and gears transmit the rotational effects of forces

9.10 Be able to explain ways of reducing unwanted energy transfer through lubrication

Practical - investigating gears and levers.


Topic 10 Electricity and circuits

You should be able to ....

10.1 Be able to describe the structure of the atom, limited to the position, mass and charge of protons, neutrons and electrons

10.2 Be able to draw and use electric circuit diagrams representing them with the conventions of positive and negative terminals, and the symbols that represent cells, including batteries, switches, voltmeters, ammeters, resistors, variable resistors, lamps, motors, diodes, thermistors, LDRs and LEDs

10.3 Be able to describe the differences between series and parallel circuits

10.4 Be able to recall that a voltmeter is connected in parallel with a component to measure the potential difference (voltage), in volts, across it

10.5 Be able to explain that potential difference (voltage) is the energy transferred per unit charge passed and hence that the volt is a joule per coulomb

10.6 Be able to recall and use the equation:

energy transferred (joule, J) = charge moved (coulomb, C) × potential difference (volt, V)

E = Q × V

10.7 Be able to recall that an ammeter is connected in series with a component to measure the current, in amps, in the component

10.8 Be able to explain that an electric current as the rate of flow of charge and the current in metals is a flow of electrons

10.9 Be able to recall and use the equation:

charge (coulomb, C) = current (ampere, A) × time (second, s)

Q = I x t

10.10 Be able to describe that when a closed circuit includes a source of potential difference there will be a current in the circuit

10.11 Be able to recall that current is conserved at a junction in a circuit

10.12 Be able to explain how changing the resistance in a circuit changes the current and how this can be achieved using a variable resistor

10.13 Be able to recall and use the equation:

potential difference (volt, V) = current (ampere, A) × resistance (ohm, Ω)

V = I x R

10.14 Be able to explain why, if two resistors are in series, the net resistance is increased, whereas with two in parallel the net resistance is decreased

10.15 Be able to calculate the currents, potential differences and resistances in series circuits

10.16 Be able to explain the design and construction of series circuits for testing and measuring

10.17 Core Practical: Construct electrical circuits to:

(a) investigate the relationship between potential difference, current and resistance for a resistor and a filament lamp

(b) test series and parallel circuits using resistors and filament lamps

10.18 Be able to explain how current varies with potential difference for the following devices and how this relates to resistance

(a) filament lamps

(b) diodes

(c) fixed resistors

10.19 Be able to describe how the resistance of a light-dependent resistor (LDR) varies with light intensity and how this relates to typical uses of the LDR

10.20 Be able to describe how the resistance of a thermistor varies with change of temperature (negative temperature coefficient thermistors only) and how this relates to typical uses of the thermistor

10.21 Be able to explain how the design and use of circuits can be used to explore the variation of resistance in the following devices:

(a) filament lamps,    (b) diodes,   (c) thermistors,   (d) LDRs

10.22 Be able to recall that, when there is an electric current in a resistor, there is an energy transfer which heats the resistor

10.23 Be able to explain that electrical energy is dissipated as thermal energy in the surroundings when an electrical current does work against electrical resistance

10.24 Be able to explain the energy transfer (in 10.22 above) as the result of collisions between electrons and the ions in the lattice

10.25 Be able to explain ways of reducing unwanted energy transfer through low resistance wires

10.26 Be able to describe the advantages and disadvantages of the heating effect of an electric current

10.27 Be able to use the equation:

energy transferred (joule, J) = current (ampere, A) × potential difference (volt, V) × time (second, s)

E = I x V x t

10.28 Be able to describe power as the energy transferred per second and recall that it is measured in watts

10.29 Be able to recall and use the equation:

power (watt, W) = energy transferred (joule, J) ÷ time taken (second, s)

P = E / t

10.30 Be able to explain how the power transfer in any circuit device is related to the potential difference across it and the current in it

10.31 Be able to recall and use the equations:

electrical power (watt, W) = current (ampere, A) × potential difference (volt, V)

P = I x V

electrical power (watt, W) = current squared (ampere2, A2) × resistance (ohms, Ω)

P = I2 x R

10.32 Be able to describe how, in different domestic devices, energy is transferred from batteries and the a.c. mains to the energy of motors and heating devices

10.33 Be able to explain the difference between direct and alternating voltage

10.34 Be able to describe direct current (d.c.) as movement of charge in one direction only and recall that cells and batteries supply direct current (d.c.)

10.35 Be able to describe that in alternating current (a.c.) the movement of charge changes direction

10.36 Be able to recall that in the UK the domestic supply is a.c., at a frequency of 50 Hz and a voltage of about 230 V

(appliances are often marked as 240 V, I presume we are talking 230-240 V for the mains supply?))

10.37 Be able to explain the difference in function between the live and the neutral mains input wires

10.38 Be able to explain the function of an earth wire and of fuses or circuit breakers in ensuring safety

10.39 Be able to explain why switches and fuses should be connected in the live wire of a domestic circuit

10.40 Be able to recall the potential differences between the live, neutral and earth mains wires

10.41 Be able to explain the dangers of providing any connection between the live wire and earth

9.39 Be able to describe, with examples, the relationship between the power ratings for domestic electrical appliances and the changes in stored energy when they are in use

Suggested practicals

Investigate the power consumption of low-voltage electrical items.


Topic 11 Static electricity (Edexcel GCSE Physics only, NOT combined science)

You should be able to ....

11.1P Be able to explain how an insulator can be charged by friction, through the transfer of electrons

11.2P Be able to explain how the material gaining electrons becomes negatively charged and the material losing electrons is left with an equal positive charge

11.3P Be able to recall that like charges repel and unlike charges attract

11.4P Be able to explain common electrostatic phenomena in terms of movement of electrons, including

(a) shocks from everyday objects

(b) lightning

(c) attraction by induction such as a charged balloon attracted to a wall and a charged comb picking up small pieces of paper

11.5P Be able to explain how earthing removes excess charge by movement of electrons

11.6P Be able to explain some of the uses of electrostatic charges in everyday situations, including insecticide sprayers

11.7P Be able to describe some of the dangers of sparking in everyday situations, including fuelling cars, and explain the use of earthing to prevent dangerous build-up of charge

11.8P Define an electric field as the region where an electric charge experiences a force

11.9P Be able to describe the shape and direction of the electric field around a point charge and between parallel plates and relate the strength of the field to the concentration of lines

11.10P Be able to explain how the concept of an electric field helps to explain the phenomena of static electricity

Suggested practicals

Investigate the forces of attraction and repulsion between charged objects.


Topic 12 Magnetism and the motor effect

You should be able to ....

12.1 Be able to recall that unlike magnetic poles attract and like magnetic poles repel

12.2 Be able to describe the uses of permanent and temporary magnetic materials including cobalt, steel, iron, nickel

12.3 Be able to explain the difference between permanent and induced magnets

12.4 Be able to describe the shape and direction of the magnetic field around bar magnets and for a uniform field, and relate the strength of the field to the concentration of lines

12.5 Be able to describe the use of plotting compasses to show the shape and direction of the field of a magnet and the Earth’s magnetic field

12.6 Be able to explain how the behaviour of a magnetic compass is related to evidence that the core of the Earth must be magnetic

12.7 Be able to describe how to show that a current can create a magnetic effect around a long straight conductor, describing the shape of the magnetic field produced and relating the direction of the magnetic field to the direction of the current

12.8 Be able to recall that the strength of the field depends on the size of the current and the distance from the long straight conductor

12.9P Be able to explain how inside a solenoid (an example of an electromagnet) the fields from individual coils

(a) add together to form a very strong almost uniform field along the centre of the solenoid

(b) cancel to give a weaker field outside the solenoid

12.10 (HT only) Be able to recall that a current carrying conductor placed near a magnet experiences a force and that an equal and opposite force acts on the magnet

12.11 (HT only) Be able to explain that magnetic forces are due to interactions between magnetic fields

12.12 Be able to recall and use Fleming’s left-hand rule to represent the relative directions of the force, the current and the magnetic field for cases where they are mutually perpendicular

12.13 (HT only) Be able to use the equation:

force on a conductor at right angles to a magnetic field carrying a current (newton, N) = magnetic flux density (tesla, t OR newton per amp metre, N/A m) × current (ampere, A) × length (metre, m)

F = B × I × l

12.14P (HT only) Be able to explain how the force on a conductor in a magnetic field is used to cause rotation in electric motors

Suggested practicals

Construct an electric motor


Topic 13 Electromagnetic induction

You should be able to ....

13.1P (HT only) Be able to explain how to produce an electric current by the relative movement of a magnet and a conductor

(a) on a small scale in the laboratory

(b) in the large-scale generation of electrical energy

13.2 (HT only) Be able to recall the factors that affect the size and direction of an induced potential difference, and describe how the magnetic field produced opposes the original charge

13.3P (HT only) Be able to explain how electromagnetic induction is used in alternators to generate current which alternates in direction (a.c.) and in dynamos to generate direct current (d.c.)

13.4P Be able to explain the action of the microphone in converting the pressure variations in sound waves into variations in current in electrical circuits, and the reverse effect as used in loudspeakers and headphones

13.5 (HT only) Be able to explain how an alternating current in one circuit can induce a current in another circuit in a transformer

13.6 (HT only) Be able to recall that a transformer can change the size of an alternating voltage

13.7P (HT only) Be able to use the turns ratio equation for transformers to calculate either the missing voltage or the missing number of turns: (p.d. = potential difference in volts)

p.d. across primary coil      number of turns in primary coil
--------------------------------------- = ----------------------------------------------------
p.d. across secondary coil      number of turns in secondary call

Vp / Vs = Np / Ns

13.8 Be able to explain why, in the national grid, electrical energy is transferred at high voltages from power stations, and then transferred at lower voltages in each locality for domestic uses as it improves the efficiency by reducing heat loss in transmission lines

13.9 Be able to explain where and why step-up and step-down transformers are used in the transmission of electricity in the national grid

13.10 Be able to use the power equation (for transformers with100% efficiency): (remember P = I x V)

potential difference across primary coil (volt, V) × current in primary coil (ampere, A) = potential difference across secondary coil (volt, V) × current in secondary coil (ampere, A)

Vp × Ip = Vs × Is   or   Vp / Vs = Is / Ip

12.10P (HT only) Be able to explain the advantages of power transmission in high voltage cables, using the equations in 10.29, 10.31, 13.7P and 13.10

Suggested practicals

Investigate factors affecting the generation of electric current by induction.


Topic 14 Particle model

You should be able to ....

14.1 Be able to use a simple kinetic theory model to explain the different states of matter (solids, liquids and gases) in terms of the movement and arrangement of particles

14.2 Be able to recall and use the equation:

density (kilograms per cubic metre, kg/m3) = mass (kilograms, kg) ÷ volume (cubic metres, m3)

ρ = m / v

14.3 Investigate the densities of solid and liquids (such as an investigation that uses irregularly shaped objects and a density bottle)

14.4 Be able to explain the differences in density between the different states of matter in terms of the arrangements of the atoms or molecules

14.5 Be able to describe that when substances melt, freeze, evaporate, boil, condense or sublimate mass is conserved and that these physical changes differ from some chemical changes because the material recovers its original properties if the change is reversed 

14.6 Be able to explain how heating a system will change the energy stored within the system and raise its temperature or produce changes of state

14.7 Be able to define the terms specific heat capacity and specific latent heat and explain the differences between them

14.8 Be able to use the equation:

change in thermal energy (joules, J) = mass (kilogram, kg) × specific heat capacity (joules per kilogram degree Celsius, J/kg °C) × change in temperature (degree Celsius, °C)

ΔQ = m × c × Δθ

14.9 Be able to use the equation:

thermal energy for a change of state (joules , J) = mass (kilogram, kg) × specific latent heat (joules per kilogram, J/kg)

 Q = m × L

14.10 Be able to explain ways of reducing unwanted energy transfer through thermal insulation

14.11 Core Practical: Investigating the properties of water by determining the specific heat capacity of water and obtaining a temperature-time graph for melting ice

14.12 Be able to explain the pressure of a gas in terms of the motion of its particles

14.13 Be able to explain the effect of changing the temperature of a gas on the velocity of its particles and hence on the pressure produced by a fixed mass of gas at constant volume (qualitative only)

14.14 Be able to describe the term absolute zero, −273 °C, in terms of the lack of movement of particles

14.15 Be able to convert between the kelvin and Celsius scales

14.16P Be able to explain that gases can be compressed or expanded by pressure changes

14.17P Be able to explain that the pressure of a gas produces a net force at right angles to any surface

14.18P Be able to explain the effect of changing the volume of a gas on the rate at which its particles collide with the walls of its container and hence on the pressure produced by a fixed mass of gas at constant temperature

14.19 Be able to use the equation: P1 V1 = P2 V2

to calculate pressure or volume for gases of fixed mass at constant temperature

14.20P (HT only) Be able to explain why doing work on a gas can increase its temperature, including a bicycle pump

Suggested practicals

Investigating the temperature and volume relationship for a gas.

Investigating the volume and pressure relationship for a gas.

Investigating latent heat of vaporisation.


Topic 15 Forces and matter

You should be able to ....

15.1 Be able to explain, using springs and other elastic objects, that stretching, bending or compressing an object requires more than one force

15.2 Be able to describe the difference between elastic and inelastic distortion

15.3 Be able to recall and use the equation for linear elastic distortion including calculating the spring constant:

force exerted on a spring (newton, N) = spring constant (newton per metre, N/m) × extension (metres, m)

F = k × x

15.4 Be able to use the equation to calculate the work done in stretching a spring:

energy transferred in stretching (joules, J) = 0.5 × spring constant (newton per metre, N/m) × (extension (metres, m))2

E = ˝ × k × x2

15.5 Be able to describe the difference between linear and non-linear relationships between force and extension

15.6 Core Practical: Investigating the extension and work done when applying forces to a spring

15.7P Be able to explain why atmospheric pressure varies with height above the Earth’s surface with reference to a simple model of the Earth’s atmosphere

15.8P Be able to describe the pressure in a fluid as being due to the fluid and atmospheric pressure

15.9P Be able to recall that the pressure in fluids causes a force normal to any surface

15.10P Be able to explain how pressure is related to force and area, using appropriate examples

15.11P Be able to recall and use the equation:

pressure (pascal, Pa) = force normal to surface (newton, N) ÷ area of surface (metres squared, m2)

P = F / A

15.12P Be able to describe how pressure in fluids increases with depth and density

15.13P (HT only) Be able to explain why the pressure in liquids varies with density and depth

15.14P (HT only) Be able to use the equation to calculate the magnitude of the pressure in liquids and calculate the differences in pressure at different depths in a liquid

pressure due to a column of liquid (pascal, Pa) = height of column (metre, m) × density of liquid (kilograms per cubic metre, kg/m3) × gravitational field strength (newton per kilogram, N/kg)

P = h × ρ × g

15.15P (HT only) Be able to explain why an object in a fluid is subject to an upwards force (upthrust) and relate this to examples including objects that are fully immersed in a fluid (liquid or gas) or partially immersed in a liquid

15.16P (HT only) Be able to recall that the upthrust is equal to the weight of fluid displaced

15.17P (HT only) Be able to explain how the factors (upthrust, weight, density of fluid) influence whether an object will float or sink

Practicals you hopefully encountered

Investigating the upthrust on objects in different liquids.

Investigating the stretching of rubber bands.


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