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Chemistry is a fascinating, challenging and useful qualification. It supports studies in other sciences and psychology and is essential for anyone wishing to follow a career in medicine, veterinary science, chemical engineering, pharmacy or pharmacology. It is also a valuable preparation for engineering and science degree courses or work in areas such as health, the food industry, textiles and design and technology.

Summary of course content

Practical work is an integral part of the course. During the two years, students will complete a minimum of twelve required practicals. Students may be awarded a practical endorsement attached to their A Level if these practicals are completed to the appropriate standard. The skills gained during the practical work will be assessed as part of the examination papers.

Topics covered

Physical chemistry
• Equilibria
• Atomic structure and chemical bonding
• Amount of substance
• Oxidation and reduction
• Acids and bases
• Thermodynamics

Organic chemistry
• Introduction to organic chemistry
• Organic functional groups and their reactions
• Biochemical molecules

Inorganic chemistry
• Patterns down groups and across periods
• The transition metals
• Ions in solution


A Level students will complete three examination papers at the end of the course.
Paper 1: Inorganic and physical chemistry – 105 marks, 2 hours.
Paper 2: Organic and physical chemistry – 105 marks, 2 hours.
Paper 3: Synoptic – 90 marks, 2 hours.
20% of the papers will contain mathematical skills equivalent to Level 2 or above.

How the course differs from GCSE

The content is a development of the ideas introduced at GCSE. The importance of chemical structure and bonding in order to explain the properties of elements and compounds is considered for many situations. Organic chemistry is developed and includes a wider range of compounds. There is a much greater emphasis on chemical calculations, with students required to apply these skills in virtually every topic. There is also a greater emphasis on the ability to study independently and to read around the subject.

Skills acquired

• Data analysis and the application of ideas to solve problems
• Practical skills, working with greater precision and accuracy than at GCSE
• Recording and communicating experimental data
• Assessing the reliability and validity of data
• A body of knowledge which will support sciences and many other subjects

Where the course leads

Medicine, veterinary science, chemical engineering and pharmacy or pharmacology will require chemistry. Work or training in science, health, agriculture, the food industry, textiles, engineering, design and technology will benefit from a knowledge of chemistry. A qualification in chemistry is highly valued by many universities.

Special entry requirements

Students will be required to achieve a grade 6 in GCSE chemistry or a grade 6 in combined science. In addition, a grade 5 is required in mathematics.