Specific Heat Capacity Coursework Physics Gcse Formula

The specific heat capacity of a substance is the amount of heat required to raise one gram of the substance by one degree Celsius. Water, for example, has a specific heat capacity of 4.18 . This means to heat one gram of water by one degree Celsius, it would require 4.18 joules of energy.

s = specific heat capacity (sometimes represented by the letter c, or Cs)

q = heat

m = mass

Δ T = change in temperature

Specific Heat Capacity Formula Questions:

1. What is the specific heat capacity of iron if it takes 125 J of heat to raise 111 grams by 2.5 degrees Celsius?


2. What is the specific heat capacity of aluminum if it takes 2500 J to raise 150 grams from 10°C to 28.5°C?


In this problem the change in temperature must be determined by taking the final temperature (Tf) minus the initial temperature (Ti).

Δ T = Tf - Ti

Δ T = 28.5°C – 10°C

Δ T = 18.5°C

Continue by solving the equation for specific heat capacity.

When the temperature of an object increases it has gained energy. The amount of energy depends on:

  • The temperature change, θ
  • The mass of the object, m
  • The specific heat capacity, c

The specific heat capacity is different for different materials. It is the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 kg of the material by 1°C and is measured in J/kg °C.

Energy = mass × specific heat capacity × temperature change
E = m × c × θ

Build Your Understanding - This is how to measure the specific heat capacity of a metal block:

  • Measure the temperature and the mass of the block, m.
  • Use an electric heater to raise the temperature of a metal block. Energy supplied, E = power × time.
  • Measure the temperature of the block at the end of the heating time and calculate the increase in temperature θ.
  • Calculate the specific heat capacity of the metal,

c =   E  
    m × θ

The video below explains more about specific heat capacity

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