The course stresses practical applications, in the lab as well as elsewhere, in tandem with developing the key ideas. You do more experimental work than at GCSE and more on an individual basis. The A Level is taught in six modules, one of which is the development of practical skills. It is assessed by 3 written papers, the last of which is synoptic in style.
Chemistry is an A Level subject that will challenge the brightest students. Hard work will be rewarded by intellectual stimulation, the excitement of discovery and the satisfaction of going deep into the workings of the world. We study some topics that explain why the materials which make up the world and beyond behave the way they do, why changes happen or do not happen and how to use thinking tools and calculations to understand and predict changes. In other topics, we examine the ‘nuts and bolts’ of substances, from a detailed look at atoms and electrons through to more complex structures to develop a sound working knowledge of how to make what we want and manipulate things. Some of the engineering of living things is examined. We also learn ways of finding out what materials are and how much we have.
Many topics build upon GCSE knowledge, going to greater depth and getting out of it much more useful information. Other topics are entirely new, such as entropy and instrumental analysis. Organic chemistry is studied in much more detail and covers not just more reactions but how and why they occur. Inorganic and physical chemistry are also examined in much greater depth and breadth, examining the principles, laws and patterns that underpin all chemical and physical behaviour.
Module 1 is the development of practical skills and is integrated into the whole course.
Module 2 includes the fundamentals of measurements, acid theory, redox reactions, electrons in atoms, bonding and structure.
Module 3 covers patterns of behaviour in the Periodic Table, some analysis and introduces reaction rates and equilibrium.
Module 4 is where we will introduce the principles of organic chemistry and investigate some families of compounds. We will also investigate how to synthesise new compounds and start looking at instrumental analytical techniques.
Module 5 goes into the physical principles of behaviour in depth, covering rates, equilibrium, pH, energetics, redox and electrode potentials. We find that principles across the whole course interlink to develop an all-round understanding of why all materials behave as they do. Inorganic chemistry examines the interesting and surprising behaviour of the transition elements.
Module 6 looks at a wider range of organic chemistry families than Module 4, paying close attention to mechanisms, building up to long chain molecules and biological molecules. More advanced analytical techniques are studied and it includes a more detailed study of synthesis.
At the end, students must have demonstrated a fair level of general lab competence.
Throughout the A Level, students are expected to understand how Chemistry works and appreciate its significance in “the real world” as well as develop scientific method and practice. It involves substantial amounts of calculations. As well as being an essential course for Chemistry and related degrees, it is a must for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science. It is also highly valued for other Physical Sciences, Biological Sciences and Engineering courses.
To study this course, you are expected to achieve a Grade 7 or higher in GCSE/IGCSE Chemistry, or Grade 7 in Double Science with a Grade 7 in the Chemistry components. Also, at least Grade 6 in GCSE Maths and English.
You could take this course to complement other Advanced Level courses such as Biology, which could lead onto Higher Education in Science related subjects or more general Hhigher Education courses. With further training, you could go into a job related to Chemistry or one of the other Sciences such as a Doctor, Nurse, Scientist or Pharmacist. You could take this course with other Advanced Level courses, which overlap with Chemistry such as Biology, Applied Science, Physics, Geography, Geology or more general subjects that may not relate to the Sciences, to prepare for Higher Education.