Curriculum – Chemistry

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Curriculum – Chemistry

Why study A Level Chemistry?

A-level Chemistry goes into much more detail than GCSE. It attempts to answer the big question ‘what is the world made of’ and it is the search for this answer that makes this subject so fascinating. From investigating how one substance can be changed drastically into another, to researching a new wonder drug to save millions of lives, the opportunities that chemistry provides are endless.

Possible degree options:  According to, the top five degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Chemistry are:

  • Chemistry • Biology • Pre-clinical medicine   • Mathematics   • Pharmacology.

Possible career options:  Studying an A-level Chemistry related degree at university gives you all sorts of exciting career options, including:

  • Analytical chemist • Chemical engineer • Clinical biochemist
  • Pharmacologist • Doctor • Research scientist (physical sciences)
  • Toxicologist • Patent attorney • Higher education lecturer
  • Environmental consultant • Science writer • Secondary school teacher.
  • Chartered certified accountant


A Level AQQ Course Content

AS Chemistry lasts one year, with exams at the end.  A-level Chemistry lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year. In AS Chemistry, you will learn:

Physical chemistry: Including atomic structure, amount of substance, bonding, energetics, kinetics, chemical equilibrium and Le Chatelier’s principle.

Inorganic chemistry:  Including Periodicity, Group 2 the alkaline, earth metals, Group 7 the halogens.

Organic chemistry:  Including introduction to organic chemistry, alkanes, halogen alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, organic analysis.

Practicals:  Chemistry, like all sciences, is a practical subject.  Throughout the course you will carry out practical activities including:

  • measuring energy changes in chemical reactions
  • tests for identifying different types of compound
  • different methods for measuring rates of reaction
  • studying electrochemical cells
  • preparation of organic solids and liquids
  • an advanced form of chromatography for more accurate results.

In A Level Chemistry, you will learn:

Physical chemistry: Including thermodynamics, rates equations, electrochemistry and acids and bases.

Inorganic chemistry:  Including period 3 elements and transition metals.

Organic chemistry:  Including isomerism, carbonyl compounds, aromatics, amines, polymers, amino acids, DNA and analysis.

Practicals:  Throughout the A2 year you will carry out practical activities including:

  • Measuring the rate of reaction by an initial rate method
  • Measuring the EMF of an electrochemical cell
  • Investigate how pH changes when a weak acid reacts with a strong base and when a strong acid reacts with a weak base
  • Preparation of an organic solid and a test of its purity
  • Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify transition metal ions in aqueous solution
  • Separation of species by thin-layer chromatography

Exams:  There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practicals will be assessed. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Chemistry are based on what you learned in your practicals. The AS has two exams at the end of the year. Both are 1 hour 30 minutes long.


NCS Chemistry Enrichment

International Chemistry Olympiad

Kings College taster courses and Christmas lectures

Year 12 Imperial STEM Enrichment Programme

Visits to Glaxo Pharmaceuticals

UCL Spectroscopy Lab workshops

Lectures by academics and undergraduates from

Warwick University


Further reading 

A Short History of Chemistry by J. R. Parrington

Absolute Zero by John Shachtman

Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers by Michael White

Chemical History Tour by Art Greenberg

Chemistry Imagined by Bernard Jaffe

Mendeleev’s Dream by Paul Strathern



Examination Board: AQA

Disclaimer: The information on this page is to be used as guidance only. The course availability and content is subject to change based on demand and time-tabling.

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