Branches of Science

Learning Objective

In this lesson we will learn about the five branches of science that are studied in high school.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this lesson you will be able to:

  • Give a general description of the types of topics studied in chemistry, physics, biology, earth science and space science.

  • Give some examples of scientific sub-disciplines as well as interdisciplinary sciences.

 

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Introduction

  • Science covers a lot of things. In fact, it covers so many things that it can be divided into several branches, also called disciplines or fields.
  • In high school science, we cover the following five disciplines:
    • Chemistry
    • Physics
    • Biology
    • Earth Science
    • Space Science
    The following sections will provide a brief overview of each of these areas of science.

 

branches of science chemistry physics biology earth space

 

Chemistry

  • Chemistry is the study of the composition of substances and how they interact with each other.
    It covers topics such as:
    • How the chemical and physical properties of substances are determined by their structure at an atomic scale.
    • How substances can change form, such as between solid, liquid and gas, as well as through processes such as dissolving.
    • How substances can interact and their particles rearrange to form new substances.
    • Energy changes involved in physical and chemical processes.
    • The classification of matter into groups such as elements, compounds and mixtures.

 

laboratory glassware    atom structure    laboratory chemistry experiment

Chemistry is the study of substances.

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Physics

  • Physics is the study of natural phenomena from the smallest sub-atomic particles to entire galaxies.
    It covers topics such as:
    • The motion and interaction of moving objects.
    • Forces such as magnetism, gravity and electrostatic forces.
    • Waves, including light, sound and electromagnetic radiation.
    • Energy and heat, and how they can be transferred and transformed.
    • Electricity and electrical circuits.

 

physics newtons pendulum    physics magnetic field    physics electricity

Physics is the study of natural phenomena.

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Biology

  • Biology is the study of living things.
    It covers topics such as:
    • How a range of living things have evolved on Earth over millions of years.
    • The diversity of living things, including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms.
    • How the features of living things are related to the functions that their body systems perform.
    • How living things are interdependent and interact with each other and their environment.
    • The life cycles, adaptations and behaviours of living things, and how these features aid survival.
    • The structure of cells, and the vital life processes they perform.
    • How characteristics are inherited from one generation to the next.

 

beetle plant biology living things    dna molecule biology genetics    cells microscope biology

Biology is the study of living things.

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Earth Science

  • Earth science is the study of Earth, including its oceans and atmosphere, as a system.
    It covers topics such as:
    • The formation of the earth.
    • The structure of the earth, including the different types of rocks.
    • The processes involved in shaping the earth, such as plate tectonics, weathering and erosion.
    • The resources of the earth and the influence of human activity.

 

grand canyon earth science landscape    earth science globe    ocean wave earth science

Earth science is the study of the earth, its oceans and atmosphere.

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Space Science

  • Space science is the study of our solar system, stars, galaxies and the universe.
    It covers topics such as:
    • The Big Bang and the formation of the universe.
    • The formation of our solar system.
    • How the relative positions and movement of Earth, the moon and the sun interact to create day and night, seasons and other events such as eclipses.
    • How the moon affects the earth, such as in the formation of tides.
    • Other planets and moons within our solar system and beyond.
    • The sun and the life cycle of stars.

 

jupiter planet moon solar system    sun solar flare    star cluster milky way galaxy

Space science is the study of planets, stars and galaxies.

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Sub-Branches of Science

  • The branches of science can be further subdivided into sub-branches or sub-disciplines.
    The following sections will give some example of the different sub-branches of each of the five branches of science described above.

 

Sub-Branches of Chemistry

Examples:

Acid-Base Chemistry • Analytical Chemistry • Environmental Chemistry • Inorganic Chemistry • Nuclear Chemistry • Organic Chemistry • Physical Chemistry • Solid State Chemistry • Theoretical Chemistry • Astrochemistry • Biological Chemistry • Crystallography • Geochemistry • Materials Science • Photochemistry • Radiochemistry • Stereochemistry • Surface Science

 
word cloud chemistry

 

Sub-Branches of Physics

Examples:

Molecular Physics • Classical Physics • Modern Physics • Applied Physics • Experimental Physics • Theoretical Physics • Computational Physics • Atomic Physics • Condensed Matter Physics • Mechanics • Nuclear Physics • Particle Physics • Plasma Physics • Quantum Field Theory • Quantum Mechanics • Special Relativity • General Relativity • Rheology • String Theory • Thermodynamics

 
word cloud physics

 

Sub-Branches of Biology

Examples:

Botany • Zoology • Microbiology • Ecology • Genetics • Molecular Biology • Medicine • Conservation Biology • Cell Biology • Anatomy • Physiology • Biochemistry • Biotechnology • Developmental Biology • Marine Biology • Parasitology • Taxonomy • Nursing • Dentistry • Evolutionary Biology • Toxicology • Mycology • Phycology • Radiobiology • Virology

 
word cloud biology

 

Sub-Branches of Earth Science

Examples:

Environmental Science • Climatology • Geophysics • Physical Geography • Geology bull; Oceanography • Geomorphology • Meteorology • Glaciology • Geodesy • Hydrology • Volcanology • Seismology • Limnology • Palynology • Edaphology • Paleoclimatology • Paleoecology •

 
word cloud earth science

 

Sub-Branches of Space Science

Examples:

Astronomy • Cosmology • Astrophysics • Planetary Science • Stellar Astronomy • Galactic Astronomy • Planetary Geology • Radio Astronomy • Microwave Astronomy • Infrared Astronomy

 
word cloud space science

 

Interdisciplinary Sciences

  • Science isn’t always easily divided into branches as there is much overlap between them.
    For example, astrobiology, geophysics and biochemistry don’t fit neatly into any of the five main science disciplines, but rather overlap between them.
    Such areas of science are known as interdisciplinary sciences.
  • Branches of science may also overlap with subjects outside of the science field, such as mathematics, social sciences and philosophy.
    Examples of such interdisciplnary fields include engineering, psychology and bioethics.

 
word cloud interdisciplinary science

 

Summary

  • The five major branches (disciplines) of science covered in high school are:
    Chemistry – the study of the composition of substances and how they interact with each other.
    Physics – the study of natural phenomena from the smallest sub-atomic particles to entire galaxies.
    Biology – the study of living things.
    Earth science – the study of Earth, including its oceans and atmosphere, as a system.
    Space science – the study of our solar system, stars, galaxies and the universe.
  • Each branch of science can be further subdivided into sub-branches or sub-disciplines.
  • Branches of science can overlap with each other (and with non-science disciplines), forming interdisciplinary sciences.

 

scientists greenhouse    scientists greenhouse    scientists space mirror telescope

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