Changes in AH from 2019

Firstly from me

check out the prefixes you need. Notice anything different?

Yep, know your femto from you nano, and your Peta from your Tera!

I am grateful to Ms K Ward from George Heriot’s School for trawling through the new and old curriculum and recording the changes. Thanks also for allowing me to reproduce it here.


Old assessment: 100 mark question paper, 30 mark project, plus pass all the units

New assessment: 155 mark question paper, scaled to 120, 40 mark project (hence project is 25%)

Changes to content:

The content is no longer divided into ‘mandatory course key areas’, ‘suggested learning activities’, and ‘exemplification of key areas’.  There is simply a list of the course contents.

Where the wording has changed but I don’t see any real difference, I have said ‘no change’. 


Kinematic relationships – no change

Angular motion – derivation of centripetal acceleration equation is gone

Rotational dynamics – no change


–       ‘Conversion between astronomical units (AU) and metres and between light-years (ly) and metres’ – is new

–       ‘Consideration of the energy required by a satellite to move from one orbit to another’ – is gone

General Relativity

–       ‘Knowledge that the escape velocity from the event horizon of a black hole is equal to the speed of light’ – is new

Stellar physics
has changed to

Specific example of  a p-p chain is now given

Hertzprung-Russell section is rewritten more clearly.

Quanta and Waves

Introduction to quantum theory – no change

Particles from space

–       ‘Knowledge of the interaction of the solar wind with Earth’s magnetic field’ – is gone.  New document only mentions composition of solar wind.  Helical motion of charged particles is still there though, so it might not really matter.

Simple harmonic motion (SHM)– no change

Waves – no change


Relationship for interference due to division of amplitude is now specified, 
opd=mλ or (m+1/2) λ where m=0,1,2…

Polarisation – no change



–       ‘Knowledge of Millikan’s experimental method for determining the charge on an electron’ – this was in ‘exemplification’ before but is now specifically required knowledge

–       ‘Comparison of gravitational, electrostatic, magnetic, and nuclear forces in terms of their relative strength and range’ – the words in bold are new


–       ‘Knowledge that, in an RC circuit, an uncharged capacitor can be considered to be fully

charged after a time approximately equal to 5τ.  Knowledge that, in an RC circuit, a fully charged capacitor can be considered to be fully discharged after a time approximately equal to 5τ.’ – is new

Electromagnetic radiation– no change


Knowledge and use of appropriate units, prefixes and scientific notation
Data analysis

–       ‘Absolute uncertainty should normally be rounded to one significant figure. In some instances, a second significant figure may be retained.’ – the words in bold are new.  It does not specify the instances in which a second figure may be retained.

–       ‘Knowledge that, when uncertainties in a single measurement are combined, an uncertainty can be ignored if it is less than one third of one of the other uncertainties in the measurement’ – is new

–       ‘Knowledge that, when uncertainties in measured values are combined, a fractional/percentage uncertainty in a measured value can be ignored if it is less than one third of the fractional/percentage uncertainty in another measured value’ – is new

–       The equation for the uncertainty in a value raised to a power is now given:

Evaluation and significance of experimental uncertainties

–       This short section is new