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The syllabus develops a set of transferable skills including handling data, practical problem solving and applying the scientific method. Students learn the core principles and concepts that are fundamental to biology, chemistry and physics with a strong focus on practical skills.
The emphasis throughout is on developing an understanding of the science relevant to everyday life, and the associated scientific attitudes such as concern for accuracy and precision, objectivity, integrity, enquiry, initiative and inventiveness. Learners develop the scientific knowledge and associated transferrable skills that give a firm foundation for progression to further studies in science or vocational careers.
The syllabus year refers to the year in which the examination will be taken.
We revise our qualifications regularly to make sure that they continue to meet the needs of learners, schools and higher education institutions around the world and reflect current thinking. We have updated this syllabus and all assessment materials so they are clearer and more consistent with the separate science syllabuses - Cambridge O Level Biology (5090) Cambridge O Level Chemistry (5070) and Cambridge O Level Physics (5054). This is helpful for teachers who are teaching more than one science syllabus. Please see the 2023-2025 syllabus document for full details on the changes.
The updated syllabus is for examination from June 2023 onwards. Please see the 2023–2025 syllabus above for full details.
We are developing a comprehensive range of materials to help you teach the updated syllabus. These resources will be available from June 2021 onwards before first teaching through our School Support Hub and include:
Face-to-face and online training will be available. For up-to-date information, visit our Events and training calendar.
We are withdrawing Cambridge O Level Combined Science (5129) from the June exam series, with the exception of Brunei (see below). The last June exam series for this syllabus will be June 2025.
From 2026, we will only offer this syllabus in the November exam series.
We communicated this series withdrawal decision to schools in August 2023.
We support the work of the national education authorities in Brunei to provide national assessments for their learners in secondary schools. Cambridge International O Level Combined Science (5129) will continue to be available in the June exam series for schools in Brunei only.
Find out more about our competition for Cambridge IGCSE students aged 14-16.
For some subjects, the syllabus states that grade descriptions will be made available after first assessment in 2020, 2021 or 2022.
Publication of grade descriptions was paused in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary changes to the grading standard that have been in place for 2020, 2021 and 2022. We are currently working on producing these grade descriptions. This work will make sure that grade descriptions reflect examination outcomes appropriately and are based on the more stable grading standard that we expect to have in place for June 2023 onwards.
We provide a wide range of support so that teachers can give their learners the best possible preparation for Cambridge programmes and qualifications. For teachers at registered Cambridge schools, support materials for specific syllabuses are available from the School Support Hub (username and password required).
Sign up for updates about changes to the syllabuses you teach