It is highly recommmended to take Unit 2 before Unit 3 & 4 but there is no prerequisite for Unit 3.

Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to Unit 4.

Students entering Unit 3 without Units 1 and/or 2 may be required to undertake additional preparation as prescribed by their teacher.

Physics is a natural science based on observations, experiments, measurements and mathematical analysis with the purpose of finding quantitative explanations for phenomena occurring from the subatomic scale through to the planets, stellar systems and galaxies in the Universe.

VCE Physics provides students with opportunities to explore questions related to the natural and constructed worl. The study provides a contextual approach to exploring selected areas within the discipline including atomic physics, electricity, fields, mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum physics  and waves. Students also have options for study related to astrophysics, bioelectricity, biomechanics, electronics, flight, medical physics, nuclear energy, nuclear physics, oprics, sound and sports science.

Students engage in a range of inquiry tasks that may be self-designed, enabling them to develop key skills and to interrogate the links between theory and practice.

Unit 1 What ideas explain the physical world?

In this unit students explore how physics explains phenomena, at various scales, which are not always visable to the unadided human eye. They examine some of the fundamental ideas and models used by physicists in an attempt to understand and explain the world. They consider thermal concepts by investigating heat, probe common analogies used to explain electricity and consider the orgins and formation of matter.


  • Be able to apply thermodynamic principles to analyse, interpret and explain changes in thermal eneergy in selected contexts, and describe the environmental impact of human activities with reference to thermal effects and climate science concepts.
  • Be able to investigate and apply a basic DC circuit model to simple battery-operated devices and household electrical systems, apply mathematical models to analyse circuits, and describe the safe and effective use of electricity by individuals and the community.
  • Be able to explain the origins of atoms, the nature of subatomic particles and how energy can be produced by atoms.

Unit 2 What do experiments reveal about the physical world?

In this unit students explore the power of experiments in developing models and theories.  They make direct observations of physics phenomena and examine the ways in which phenomena that may not be directly observsable can be explored through indirect observations.

In the core component of this unit students investigate ways in which forces are involved both in moving objects and in keeping objects stationary.

Under the guidance of the teacher, students choose one of twelve options related to astrobiology, astrophysics, bioelectricity, biomechanics, electronics, flight, medical physics, nuclear energy, nuclear physics, optics, sound and sports science.


  • Be able to investigate, analyse and mathematically model the motion of particles and bodies.
  • Be able to analyse and concepts specifically related to the option selected by the student
  • Be able to design and undertake an investigation of a physics question related to the scientific inquiry processes af data collection and analysis, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.

Unit 3 How do fields explain motion and electricity?

In this unit students explore the importance of energy in explaining and describing the physical world. They examine the production of electricity and its delivery to homes. Students consider the field model as a construct that has enabled an understanding of why objects move when they are not apparently in contact with other objects. Applications of concepts related to fields include the transmission of electricity over large distances and the design and operation of particle accelerators. They explore the interactions, effects and applications of gravitational, electric and magnetic fields. Students use Newton’s laws to investigate motion in one and two dimensions, and are introduced to Einstein’s theories to explain the motion of very fast objects. They consider how developing technologies can challenge existing explanations of the physical world, requiring a review of conceptual models and theories. Students design and undertake investigations involving at least two continuous independent variables.


  • Students should be able to analyse gravitational, electric and magnetic fields, and use these to explain the operation of motors and particle accelerators and the orbits of satellites.
  • Students should be able to analyse and evaluate an electricity generation and distribution system.
  • Students should be able to investigate motion and related energy transformations experimentally, analyse motion using Newton’s laws of motion in one and two dimensions, and explain the motion of objects moving at very large speeds using Einstein’s theory of special relativity.

Unit 4 How can two contradictory models explain both light and matter?

A complex interplay exists between theory and experiment in generating models to explain natural phenomena including light. Wave theory has classically been used to explain phenomena related to light; however, continued exploration of light and matter has revealed the particle-like properties of light. On very small scales, light and matter – which initially seem to be quite different – have been observed as having similar properties. In this unit, students explore the use of wave and particle theories to model the properties of light and matter. They examine how the concept of the wave is used to explain the nature of light and explore its limitations in describing light behaviour. Students further investigate light by using a particle model to explain its behaviour. A wave model is also used to explain the behaviour of matter which enables students to consider the relationship between light and matter. Students learn to think beyond the concepts experienced in everyday life to study the physical world from a new perspective. Students design and undertake investigations involving at least two continuous independent variables.


  • students should be able to apply wave concepts to analyse, interpret and explain the behaviour of light.
  • students should be able to provide evidence for the nature of light and matter, and analyse the data from experiments that supports this evidence.
  • students should be able to design and undertake a practical investigation related to waves or fields or motion, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.


Units 1 and 2

Procedures for the assessment of levels of achievement in Units 1 and 2 are a school decision. Assessment may come from tests, exam, investigations and practical reports or a combination of these.

Units 3 and 4

School assessed coursework and examination.

  • Unit 3 school assessed coursework: 21 %
  • Unit 4 school assessed coursework: 19 %
  • Unit 4 end of year examination: 60%

Contact Teacher - Andrew Budisa