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THERMAL PHYSICS – Thermal Properties of Matter

To study smart and ace your exams, you should study with the understanding of what you would be specifically tested on, and what are the expected learning outcomes as set by the GCE O-level Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board.

Below is some key information about “Thermal Properties of Matter” as an O-level Physics exam topic, and the desired learning outcomes.


THERMAL PHYSICS – Thermal Properties of Matter

In the 1840s, James Prescott Joule used a falling weight to drive an electrical generator that heated a wire immersed in water. This experiment demonstrated that work done by a falling object could be converted to heat. Many energy conversion processes which involve friction will have heat as a product. The kinetic model of matter is used to explain and predict the physical properties and changes of matter at the molecular level in relation to heat or thermal energy transfer.



  • Internal energy
  • Specific heat capacity
  • Melting, boiling and evaporation
  • Specific latent heat


Learning Outcomes

O-level Physics candidates should be able to:

  • describe a rise in temperature of a body in terms of an increase in its internal energy (random thermal energy)
  • define the terms heat capacity and specific heat capacity
  • recall and apply the relationship thermal energy = mass × specific heat capacity × change in temperature to new situations or to solve related problems
  • describe melting / solidification and boiling / condensation as processes of energy transfer without a change in temperature
  • explain the difference between boiling and evaporation
  • define the terms latent heat and specific latent heat
  • recall and apply the relationship thermal energy = mass × specific latent heat to new situations or to solve related problems
  • explain latent heat in terms of molecular behaviour
  • sketch and interpret a cooling curve

[Source: Above information is extracted from the Singapore Examinations & Assessment Board Singapore-Cambridge O-level Physics Syllabus 6091 for the Year 2022 – ]


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