2015 Oct

Varying Syllabi in Physics Education

October 23, 2015

Physics tuition syllabus

Although basic physics is universal, its educational policies and syllabi are not. This causes a problem for students or graduates, in the field of physics, who decide to emigrate from one system to another. Physics degrees are accepted in most countries, after “translation”, but some of the content differs – as with most academic disciplines. The main reason for this is geographic boundaries (both natural and legal), where various population groups are geographically dissimilar. There are two major focuses involved when considering geographic separation: national and international.

National separation is separation by provinces or states. One province/state will not have the same syllabi as the other. International separation is where different countries have different syllabi – the extent of the differences of syllabi between countries is much more apparent than national separation. Let’s consider two examples and identify to what extent their syllabi vary from each other:


A Level H2 Physics, which is one of our JC Physics tuition programs, includes the following topics in its curriculum:

Mechanics (Measurement, Kinematics, Dynamics, Forces, Work Energy Power, Motion in a Circle, Gravitation)
Thermal Physics, Wave, Oscillations, Superposition
Electric Field, Electric Current, D.C. Circuits, Electromagnetism, Electromagnetic Induction, Alternating Current
Modern Physics (Quantum Physics, Lasers and Semiconductors, Nuclear Physics)
Practical Assignment

United States

At the same level of education as H2 Physics, the New York Department of Education includes the following topics in its curriculum for Physics:

Kinematics, Forces, Dynamics, Work, Energy and Power, Conservation of Energy
Internal Energy and Heat, Waves, Light,
Static Electricity, Electric Current, Magnetism, Electromagnetic Induction, Electromagnetic Radiation
Dual Nature of Light, The Quantum Theory, Models of the Atom, Atomic Spectra, The Nucleus, Nuclear Reactions

The differences between the syllabus of Singapore and that of the United States (New York) is that Singapore has greater quality introductory components, such as measurement, and has more subtopics listed apart from the main topics; the US has little introductory topics, less emphasis on circular motion but more on energy conservation, and no practical assignment. Less introductory topics can indirectly result in a lower pass rate, as less pupils understand the basic concepts of the work.

Another example is the comparison of the general syllabus of South African physics, compared to that of the US and Singapore. It is more closely related to that of the US, than Singapore, and also has no practical assignment. However, the South African general syllabus does not include nuclear reactions and has less focus on thermal physics.

Therefore, it is clear that there are differences between the syllabi of different nations and regions. This may cause slight problems for those whose syllabi omitted certain components, such as the practical components, when emigrating to find work in another country. Despite these variations, it is definitely possible to further one’s education or to find employment in the field of physics in a foreign country – it will merely require more effort to familiarize oneself with those neglected components.

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