Chemistry is a popular subject with approximately 40-50% of Sixth Form applicants choosing to study Chemistry at A Level.
Studying A Level Chemistry will give you insight into the physical universe. Chemistry touches every aspect of our lives from the bodily functions within us to the atmosphere around us.
We follow the OCR Chemistry A specification which has a flexible content-led approach where the specification is divided into topics, each covering different key concepts of chemistry. The teaching of practical skills is integrated with the theoretical topics and they’re assessed both through written papers and required practical’s which make up the Practical Endorsement. This course will give you a strong foundation for further study of Chemistry, or related subjects such as medicine, at university. Notably Chemistry is seen as a tough option choice (a facilitating subject) by UK Universities and a strong grade is viewed very highly by all top institutions.
There are some important differences between GCSE and A-level Chemistry. Topics that are studied in a descriptive, qualitative way at GCSE are, at A level, studied in a quantitative manner, with equations being applied. This means there is a greater mathematical content. For this reason the entry requirement for A-level Chemistry is a grade 7 in both Mathematics and Chemistry (or 7-7 in Dual award Science).
We typically have around 80 students studying A-level Chemistry in each year of the A-level course, and the department has a strong track record of success.
The course textbook is below and will be available to purchase from the school at a discount in September. There is no need to purchase this book in advance (unless you wish to...).
Structure of the course and assessment
Module Module title When taught
1 Development of practical skills throughout
2 Foundations in Chemistry Y12
3 Periodic table and energy Y12
4 Core Organic Chemistry Y12
5 Physical Chemistry and Transition elements Y12 / Y13
6 Organic chemistry and analysis Y13
These modules are assessed in three external papers:
• Paper 1 ‘Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry’ will include multiple choice and structured questions covering practical skills and theory and carries a 37% weighting.
• Paper 2 ‘Synthesis and analytical techniques’ includes structured questions and extended response questions covering practical skills and theory and carries a 37% weighting.
• Paper 3 ‘Unified chemistry’ includes structured questions covering theory and practical skills and carries a 26% weighting.
Chemistry has an extensive enrichment programme which we feel is important in supporting our students with their studies but also their wider thinking with respect to their future career.
Chemistry Olympiad and Chemistry Challenge Competitions We run after school preparation sessions for the Chemistry Olympiad competition which is entered by a large number of our A Level Chemists in both Yr12 and Yr13. Last year we had over 60 entries and there were 10 Gold, 19 Silver and 20 Bronze awards achieved, including a Gold award for 4 of our year 12 students.
Yr12students also have the opportunity to enter the Cambridge University Chemistry Challenge and for the past two years we have had a student achieve the top Roentgenium award which placed them in the top 0.05% nationally with 11 other students achieving Gold, 14 Silver and 5 Bronze awards.
The questions are usually interesting and challenging on real and relevant chemistry, raising awareness of what the subject is all about. Tackling the paper provides a good opportunity to develop some of the skills required for success in the linear examination and support those students who wish to study at university and beyond.
Chemistry Olympiad Competition (past papers and support booklet)
Visits to University Chemistry departments We run trips to Southampton University to take part in twilight practical sessions, for example, extracting trimyristin from nutmeg. This gives students the opportunity to use a range of organic practical and analytical techniques not available in school, and experience life in an undergraduate chemistry lab.
Students interested in studying Chemistry have had the opportunity to apply for a day of work shadowing a PhD student at a Southampton University chemistry lab.
The BAYS programme (British Association of Young Scientists) last year provided the students with fortnightly after school talks on a wide range of Scientific topics. In previous years these sessions have included presentations entitled ‘Cell division’, ‘The Exploration of the Geology of the Earth’, ‘Structural Engineering’, ‘Nanospace Chemistry’, ’Computational Chemistry’, ‘The Grand Challenges in Medicine’, ‘Critical Care Medicine’ and ‘Respiratory Diseases’. Each of these talks was delivered by academics and professionals active in these fields.
Beyond A level Chemistry
If you continue your journey after A level Chemistry you could find yourself in a rewarding career such as:
• Analytical, Formulation, Medicinal or Process Chemist
• Chemical Engineer
• Drug Discovery and Chemical Industries
• Environmental, Forensic or Materials Scientist
• Food Technologist
• Geochemical Engineer
• Science Writer
• Scientific Laboratory Technician
These job roles stretch across multiple industries and can have you working on some ground-breaking areas of science and technology.
Cambridge Chemistry Challenge
Many Year 12’s enter this competition in the June of year 12 with most students achieving a medal position.