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VCE Physics


Physics seeks to understand and explain the physical world, both natural and constructed. It examines models and ideas used to make sense of the world and which are sometimes challenged as new knowledge develops.

In VCE Physics students develop their inquiry, analytical and communication skills. They apply critical and creative thinking to analyse contemporary physics-related issues, and communicate their views from an informed position.

Prior Learning: No prerequisites for Units 1, 2 and 3; but students must undertake Unit 3 prior to Unit 4.

The study design is available as a Word document. Please click the link below to download.


Units 1 and 2: A combination of practical reports, topic tests, field reports, examination, assignments, multimedia, web page presentation or response to media article oral presentation.

Units 3 and 4: 

Unit 3 School assessed coursework (16%)

Unit 4 School assessed coursework (24%)

End-of-year examination (60%)

UNIT 1: How is energy useful to society? 

UNIT 2: How does physics help us understand the world? 

In this unit students examine some of the fundamental ideas and models used by physicists in an attempt to understand and explain energy. Models used to understand light, thermal energy, radioactivity, nuclear processes and electricity are explored. Students apply these physics ideas to contemporary societal issues: communication, climate change and global warming, medical treatment, electrical home safety and Australian energy needs.  


In this unit students explore the power of experiments in developing models and theories. Students investigate the ways in which forces are involved both in moving objects and in keeping objects stationary and apply these concepts to a chosen case study of motion. In the second outcome, students choose one of eighteen options related to climate science, nuclear energy, flight, structural engineering, biomechanics, medical physics, bioelectricity, optics, photography, music, sports science, electronics, astrophysics, astrobiology, Australian traditional artefacts and techniques, particle physics, cosmology and local physics research.  

UNIT 3: How do fields explain motion and electricity?  

UNIT 4: How have creative ideas and investigation revolutionised thinking  in physics? 

In this unit students use Newton’s laws to investigate motion in one and two dimensions. They explore the concept of the field as a model used by physicists to explain observations of motion of objects not in apparent contact. Students compare and contrast three fundamental fields gravitational, magnetic and electric and how they relate to one another. They consider the importance of the field to the motion of particles within the field. Students examine the production of electricity and its delivery to homes. They explore fields in relation to the transmission of electricity over large distances and in the design and operation of particle accelerators.  


In this unit, students explore some monumental changes in thinking in Physics that have changed the course of how physicists understand and investigate the Universe. They examine the limitations of the wave model in describing light behaviour and use a particle model to better explain some observations of light. Students are challenged to think beyond how they experience the physical world of their everyday lives to thinking from a new perspective, as they imagine the relativistic world of length contraction and time dilation when motion approaches the speed of light. They are invited to wonder about how Einstein’s revolutionary thinking allowed the development of modern-day devices such as the GPS. 

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