FET Physical Sciences


Physical Sciences investigate physical and chemical phenomena. This is done through scientific inquiry, application of scientific models, theories and laws in order to explain and predict events in the physical environment.

This subject also deals with society’s need to understand how the physical environment works in order to benefit from it and responsibly care for it. All scientific and technological knowledge, including Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS), is used to address challenges facing society. Indigenous knowledge is knowledge that communities have held, used or are still using; this knowledge has been passed on through generations and has been a source of many innovations and developments including scientific developments. Some concepts found in Indigenous Knowledge Systems lend themselves to explanation using the scientific method while other concepts do not; this is still knowledge however.



The purpose of Physical Sciences is to make learners aware of their environment and to equip learners with investigating skills relating to physical and chemical phenomena, for example, lightning and solubility. Examples of some of the skills that are relevant for the study of Physical Sciences are classifying, communicating, measuring, designing an investigation, drawing and evaluating conclusions, formulating models, hypothesising, identifying and controlling variables, inferring, observing and comparing, interpreting, predicting, problem-solving and reflective skills.

Physical Sciences promotes knowledge and skills in scientific inquiry and problem solving; the construction and application of scientific and technological knowledge; an understanding of the nature of science and its relationships to technology, society and the environment.

Physical Sciences prepares learners for future learning, specialist learning, employment, citizenship, holistic development, socio-economic development, and environmental management. Learners choosing Physical Sciences as a subject in Grades 10-12, including those with barriers to learning, can have improved access to: academic courses in Higher Education; professional career paths related to applied science courses and vocational career paths. Physical Sciences plays an increasingly important role in the lives of all South Africans owing to their influence on scientific and technological development, which are necessary for the country’s economic growth and the social wellbeing of its people.

Six main knowledge areas inform the subject Physical Sciences. These are:

  • Matter and Materials
  • Chemical Systems
  • Chemical Change
  • Mechanics
  • Waves, Sound and Light
  • Electricity and Magnetism

Assessment Taxonomy

Application exercises should be done at all cognitive levels in all knowledge areas. Refer to Appendix 1 for the assessment taxonomy at cognitive levels one to four. Recommended Informal Assessment

  • Give learners at least two problem-solving exercises on a frequent basis (every day as far as possible). These should collectively cover all cognitive levels and could be done as homework and/or class work.
  • Learners should do at least ONE practical activity per term.
  • Learners should be given at least ONE informal test per term.


  • Informal assessment tasks are homework, class work, practical investigations, experiments and informal tests.
  • Informal assessment tasks will assess structured problem solving involving calculations, practical investigations, experiments, projects, scientific arguments, ability to predict, observe and explain. Informal assessment tasks should also include problem-solving exercises that do not involve calculations.
  • Formal assessment tasks are control tests, examinations, experiments and projects.
  • Practical activities” as used in this document will refer to practical demonstrations, experiments or projects used to strengthen the concepts being taught.
  • “Experiment” will refer to a set of outlined instructions for learners to follow in order to obtain results to verify established theory.