Chemistry is the central science of the A Level sciences. An understanding of Chemistry is fundamental in order to explore disciplines as diverse as Astronomy, Medicine, Veterinary Science and Zoology. Studying A-Level Chemistry teaches and encourages you to think logically. During the learning of the A Level Chemistry you will learn both to use the specialist language adopted by chemists and to link experimental work with theoretical concepts – essential skills in the scientific world.
Chemistry is often studied in combination with the obviously congruent subjects such as Mathematics, Physics, Biology, Geography and Economics, but is also useful as a stand-alone subject through the emphasis it places on development of logical thought; a much sought-after skill in careers such as management and accountancy.
Lower School (IGCSE)
The Edexcel International IGCSE Chemistry course is taught over the three years of the Lower School. It is a linear course which is examined in the summer of the Upper Fifth Form.
There are two available courses:
1.Triple Award Science – Biology, Chemistry and Physics are studied and examined separately leading to three GCSE’s, one in each of the scientific disciplines.
2. Double Science – Biology, Chemistry and Physics are studied and are examined separately, but the marks are combined to give two GCSEs. This course gives a good grounding in each of the three sciences but covers some material in lesser detail.
Both are linear courses which are examined in the summer of the Upper Fifth Form.
The decision whether to take Double Science (DAS) or Triple Award Science (TAS) is made by the pupils at the end of the Fourth Form.
The International GCSE courses, whether double award or triple award, provide an excellent foundation for those pupils wishing to study Chemistry at A Level.
The first year of A Level
The first year of the A Level aims to provide you with an understanding of the main concepts, which can be applied to the rest of A Level Chemistry and, in essence, to chemistry far beyond this level. It covers atomic structure, bonding (in some detail) and all the main mathematical applications of this subject. You will look at the energetics associated with many reactions and look at how enthalpy changes in a chemical reaction can be measured accurately.
The inorganic chemistry covers Periodicity, the Group 2 and Group 7 elements. Particular attention is paid to the trends which exist within these Groups in terms of atomic radius, first ionisation energy and melting point. You will also look at redox reactions in detail. There is a large amount of organic chemistry which includes looking in detail at the following homologous series: alkanes; halogenoalkanes; alkenes; and alcohols. You will study reaction mechanisms and the industrial importance of these organic compounds. In addition there is an introduction to organic analysis and structure determination.
The second year of the A Level
The energetics and kinetics studied in the first year are extended to include Born-Haber cycles and the energetics of solution-based Chemistry. We also look at the entropy changes associated with a wide range of chemical reactions. The other part of the module deals with advanced redox reactions and electrochemical cells. We will look at acids and bases in detail and cover different types of titration and buffer solutions. The inorganic chemistry covers the transition metals and the reactions of ions in aqueous solution. The second year also includes a large amount of advanced organic chemistry to study; in particular nitrogen-based chemistry and aromatic chemistry are studied in great detail. This module also involves advanced calculations based on many of the industrial processes studied throughout the course.
Two papers are used to examine the material detailed above, with a third paper examining all practical skills and this third paper is synoptic across the whole of the two-year course.
Practical work is extensive and closely integrated with the course material and although laboratory work is not formally examined you are expected to complete 12 compulsory practicals that will equip you with the skills to perform a variety of practical techniques. There will be exam questions based upon these practicals.