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.

This unit is delivered in Year 12.

Unit details

Study level:
Vocational and further education (TAFE)
Unit code:


PH033 - Physics 3


Assessment tasks will be designed to reinforce and extend knowledge in accordance with each unit's learning outcomes, including the setting of practical application tasks designed to provide evidence of competence outcomes, within periodic and scheduled timelines. Students will be expected to demonstrate the following knowledge: Outcome 1 On completion of this unit the student should be able to apply wave concepts to analyse, interpret and explain the behaviour of light. Outcome 2 On completion of this unit the student should be able to provide evidence for the nature of light and matter, and analyse the data from experiments that supports this evidence. Outcome 3 On completion of this unit the student 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.Assessment will follow the requirements set out in the VCE Physics Study Guide: SCHOOL-BASED ASSESSMENT 1. Satisfactory completion The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on whether the student has demonstrated the set of outcomes specified for the unit. A variety of assessment tasks will provide a range of opportunities for students to demonstrate the key knowledge and key skills in the outcomes. 2. Assessment of levels of achievement The student's level of achievement in Unit 4 will be determined by School-assessed Coursework (SAC). SAC will be completed mainly in class and within a limited time-frame. SAC for Unit 3 will contribute 21 per cent to the study score (PH033 Physics 3). SAC for Unit 4 will contribute 19 per cent to the study score. Practical work is a central component of learning and assessment. As a guide, between 3½ and 5 hours of class time should be devoted to student practical work and investigations for each of Areas of Study 1, 2 and 3. EXTERNAL ASSESSMENT The level of achievement for Units 3 and 4 is also assessed by an end-of-year examination, which will contribute 60 per cent to the study score.

Where to next?

VU takes care to ensure the accuracy of this unit information, but reserves the right to change or withdraw courses offered at any time. Please check that unit information is current with the Student Contact Centre.