Chemistry

Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry is interesting! It is a challenge, but a rewarding one. You will understand a lot about the world from the knowledge you gain during the course. After studying A-Level Chemistry you will pick up a tube of toothpaste, a food packet or a cosmetic and realise you know what all those long names on the ingredient list mean. It helps you answer questions about the world that you never realised you had asked, and helps you notice when news articles are based on fact or if their science just makes no sense. If you enjoy using logical thinking and patterns to make predictions, it is for you.  The course is all about understanding, then applying information to new situations.

Chemistry is a well-respected subject that opens doors to many future courses and careers, not just in the sciences. It is a required subject for degree courses in Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. It is also required for most Biomedical Science, Psychology, Pharmacy and Pharmacology degrees. The range of skills involved in Chemistry mean it is looked upon favourably by employers many other fields including accountancy and law.

What will I study?

The A-Level course covers areas of Organic, Inorganic and Physical Chemistry. In Year 12 we initially build on the knowledge you have learned at GCSE with key ideas including electronic structure, moles and rates of reaction being covered in much more depth as well as some new topics including shapes of molecules, periodicity and organic reactions. In Year 13 you will use more complex ideas such as entropy to explain why reactions happen. 

Some questions you will answer:

  • How does an iceberg float?
  • How does a DNA molecule actually stay together?
  • Why doesn’t a pondskater sink?
  • Why is my desk always messy?
  • Will global warming make the ocean more salty?
  • How can a potato power a clock?
  • What is haemoglobin and how is it able to transport oxygen round the body?

How will I study?

You will be asked to think and challenge your understanding rather than just learn by rote. There is fact learning to do, but students who perform best are those who really engage with the concepts and make the effort to understand what is happening. You will carry out practicals like synthesising asprin. These practicals show you the connection between the chemical theory and its real life application. We often use teamwork and you will develop your research, problem solving, communication and analytical skills.

How will my work be assessed?

There are three written exams at the end of the course. Each is composed of a mixture of multiple choice, short answer and 6-mark questions. The third written exam is based on applying theory to practical situations. You will also gain a certificate of practical competence if you carry out twelve required practicals and complete your lab book to an appropriate standard.   

Entry requirements: to study Chemistry at A-Level, you need to have achieved a grade 6 in two Science GCSE (Chemistry plus Biology/Physics, or two grade 6s in Combine Science) and a grade 6 at Maths GCSE.