Completing Practical Work

Before you complete your assignment you’ll need to be familiar with how to complete a practical and write up. CLICK ON THE DOWNLOAD button to download a Guide to the Practical Skills Booklet. Hopefully it will be useful to everyone doing HIGHER ASSIGNMENTS.

Many think this has too much on Excel but it can be removed from the word document if you are going to hand plot your graph.

I’d be grateful for feedback on this document and how it can be improved. Thanks.

My thanks to my colleagues at Dumfries High School, Mr Belford and Mr Viola for allowing me to add this flipchart which I have converted into a pdf file (hence the apparent pages of not many changes- it works well on a flipchart) for you to see how to go about an assignment.


Assignments from 2018

In the next few months I’ll be adding details of the new Higher Physics Assignment with starter sheets.

February 2020

Well that didn’t happen did it? I’m on to it now! Until I can get properly up to date how about trying the experimental sheets in the document below which I’ve taken from Outcome 3s of the old Higher Course, for those who remember.

TopicStarter SheetAdditional Help
'g' AH 'g' a 2018
'g' BH 'g' b 2018
SlopesH g from slope 2020
RefractionH Refraction A 2018
Critical AngleH Refraction B 2018
PlanckH h 2018
1/d2H 1over d^2 2018
Half value thicknessH Half Value Thickness 2020
A.C. D.C. aH ACDC a 2018
A.C. D.C. bH ACDC b 2018
Internal Resistance & EMF A
Internal Resistance & EMF B
Capacitors A
Capacitors B
Capacitors C
Capacitors D
Wheatstone BridgeH Wheatstone 2018Wheatstone
Op AmpsOp amps

This summary is based on the updated information from the SQA. The first two links are for the candidate guide which is produced by the SQA and contains the information that students can access. This can be taken into the reporting stage of your assignment. It is important to check off what you have done at the end of your assignment with the marking instructions. Prior to this it would be a good idea to have gone through the Practical Skills Booklet.

The link below takes you to the full information document which is produced by the SQA. It is a current document. This cannot be taken into the Reporting stage of your assignment, although the document above can.

SQA Higher Physics Assignment.pdf


This assignment is worth 20 marks, contributing 20% to the overall marks for the course assessment. t applies to the assignment for Higher Physics.

Title and structureAn informative title and a structure that can easily be followed.1
AimA description of the purpose of your investigation.1
Underlying physicsA description of the physics relevant to your aim, which shows your understanding.3
Data collection and handlingA brief description of an approach used to collect experimental data.1
Sufficient raw data from your experiment.1
Data from your experiment, including any mean and/or other derived values, presented in a table with headings and units.1
Numerical or graphical data relevant to your experiment obtained from an internet/literature source, or raw data relevant to your aim obtained from your second experiment.1
A citation for an internet/literature source and the reference listed later in the report.1
Graphical presentationThe axes have suitable scales.1
Suitable labels and units on the axes.1
All data points plotted accurately and, where appropriate, line or curve of best fit drawn.1
UncertaintiesScale reading uncertainties shown for all measurements and random uncertainty in measurements calculated.2
AnalysisAnalysis Discussion of experimental data.1
ConclusionA conclusion relating to your aim based on all the data in your report.1
EvaluationThree evaluative statements supported by justifications.3

Special Relativity & Web-based Research

Communicating Scientific Results

Here is a chance for you to practice some of the skills required for your Investigation. This task gives you some practice to help with your Researching Physics topic. It is to help you look at ways of communicating and think who you are communicating to.Log all the work that you do for this section in your Researching Physics Log Book.


You will look at the various ways in which findings can be presented, and appreciate the possibility of using other media such as video clips, articles, papers, posters etc.

Learning outcome

You will be more informed about the different ways in which one topic can be presented. You will begin to think about how to present your own work.

Learning activity

You can work independently or in groups. There are three different resources:

  1. A video clip entitled ‘Two postulates’ (

    If you can’t read the file above it has been uploaded here as an MP4 file.

  2. A physicsworld article entitled ‘Slowed Light Breaks Record’


3. The paper

‘On Velocities Beyond the Speed of Light c’ (On Velocities beyond the speed of light c.pdf) On Velocities beyond the Speed of Light

You should examine and discuss the three resources. Teachers should point out that even though the physics content may not all be at the students’ level of understanding, it is still possible to take information from it with their level of knowledge. This is emphasised by you completing the work below.

‘Two Postulates’

This clip discusses how to tell if an object is moving or not by way of an animation.

‘Slowed Light Breaks Record’

This is an article published in physicsworld in December 2009. It is not particularly long, although does contain a lot of information.

‘On Velocities Beyond the Speed of Light c’

This paper was published in 1998 from CERN. It has the more traditional scientific report structure and is a good example for you.

After completing the table on the sheet, you should find that all boxes are ticked – highlighting that even though the information is presented in different ways, all the resources contain what the students will have to put into their own reports.

There are many ways to present scientific findings. You might have written a report in the past but universities may ask you to present a poster of your work.

Here we will look at three different ways of presenting findings on special relativity.

On your own or in groups/pairs, have a look at the three examples of how findings on special relativity have been presented.

Copy and complete the table, either with a few notes or a tick or cross, to show if the example meets the criteria.

‘Two Postulates’ ‘Slowed Light Breaks Record’ ‘On Velocities Beyond the Speed of Light’
Is there mention of the objective for the investigation/experiment?
Is there information given on the experiment/s conducted?
Is there mention of the data (perhaps not all) and any analysis of the findings?
Does the article discuss the conclusion for the experiment/investigation?

Now you have looked at the three examples, ask yourself the following questions.

First impressions
  1. Was one resource more eye-catching than the others?
  2. Does one look like it will be easier to read/understand than the others?
  3. Which one looks most credible?
Down to the nitty gritty
  1. Which resource was the most interesting?
  2. Which one was the best presented?
  3. Which gave the most information?
  4. Did you need to understand everything mentioned to gain an understanding of the experiment?

Which format might you consider for your Communicating Physics investigation?

More information on Web-Based Research

Web-Based Research HApr16 A powerpoint presentation showing how to help you find viable websites

Web-Based Research Student Materials Some materials to give you advice on using websites.

Physics Web-Based Research Worksheets Material that you can work through to give you practice at completing web-based tasks.