Considered to be one of the more challenging A Levels, Chemistry is a problem-solving subject. Students will study the role Chemists play in a variety of relevant and current technologies, such as the development of new medicines and materials, climate change and alternative fuels.
Students will enjoy developing their expertise in a wide range of experimental techniques. Practical experiments are a key feature of the course.
A Level Chemistry is essential for a variety of different degree courses, including: Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science. It is a preferred A Level for most science degree level courses such as: Forensics, Environmental Science and any Biomedical Sciences, and for many other university courses including Sports Science. A Level Chemistry is well regarded by employers as it demonstrates ability to analyse information, make reasoned judgements and think creatively.
This course covers:
- Atomic structure, the way atoms bond together to make all the materials in the universe
- Industrial processes to produce everyday chemical products, such as fuels and polymers
- Developments in Chemistry which brought together the Periodic Table as we know it today
- The synthesis of pharmaceutical chemicals including practical methods of reflux, distillation and thin layer chromatography (TLC)
- The qualitative analysis of chemicals using precipitation reactions and other chemical tests
- The quantitative analysis of substances using titrations and melting point analysis
- Infrared spectroscopy, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy and mass spectroscopy to elucidate structures of chemicals
Course Specific Trips, Visits & Experiences
Chemistry A Level students have the opportunity to take part in a variety of course related experiences. In recent years, these have included:
- The opportunity to apply for a Nuffield Science student placement
- A visit to Sussex University to work in the laboratories, experience university life and learn about advanced analytical techniques
- A visit to the Chemistry Live or Chemistry in Action Conference
- The opportunity to compete in the RSC Chemistry Olympiad
In addition to course specific experiences, students also have the opportunity to get involved in the College’s Activities Programme.
All students need to gain an experience of the work place during their time at College and for students studying vocational courses it should ideally be linked to one of their subject areas.
This course is 100% assessed by written examinations covering theory and practical knowledge. Practical competency is also assessed as part of the A Level course.
The exam board for this A Level is OCR B (Salters).
All students need to have at least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above (and a satisfactory school reference) in order to be accepted on an A Level/BTEC Level 3 Programme.
In addition, students should meet the following minimum GCSE requirements:
- Grade 6 in Maths, and either 6 in Chemistry or 6,6 in Combined Science
Students will do well on this course if they:
- Are interested in the Chemistry of the world around them
- Can work independently and to deadlines
- Can solve and rearrange mathematical equations and use graphs
- Can extract information from new sources
- Are organised, hard working and want to solve problems rather than be given all the answers
Mathematics is a core part of the course, so students should be confident working with numbers and using formulae in calculations.
How is A Level Chemistry assessed?
A Level Chemistry is 100% examination based, with the following exams in May/June of the Upper Sixth:
A-level Paper 1: Fundamentals of Chemistry (2 hr 15 – 110 marks)
A-level Paper 2: Scientific Literacy in Chemistry (2 hr 15 – 100 marks)
A-level Paper 3: Practical Skills in Chemistry (1 hr 30 – 60 marks)
A-level Practical Endorsement – pass/fail
How will the theory be taught?
We follow a context led, spiral curriculum where topics are covered and then revisited throughout the course. This builds up knowledge, encourages students to make links between topics and gives greater depth of understanding than a traditional linear curriculum.
Will I do practical work?
Yes, we complete a practical task most weeks, in either pairs or individually. We believe practical work underpins theory and allows students to better understand the chemistry covered. You will also learn essential practical skills if you wish to study science at a higher level beyond A Level.
Is A Level Chemistry hard? Is there a big jump from GCSE?
A Level Chemistry is considered to be challenging and there is a sizeable jump from GCSE. However, we are very supportive and providing you follow the deadlines and advice given by your teacher, you will be successful on the course.
How many students are usually in a class?
No more than 20, and usually fewer.
What were the College’s Chemistry results last year?
In 2020, the Chemistry Department had a 100% pass rate. 62% of students achieved high grades of B to A*.
How much contact time will I have in lessons? How much homework should I expect?
You will have four hours of Chemistry lessons a week, and should expect to receive around five hours of Chemistry homework per week (consisting of note taking, recap tasks, homework sheets, consolidation of content covered, and revision).