Chemistry A Level

Board: OCR Chemistry A
Specification: A Level (H432)

About the subject

Chemistry is a subject of huge importance nationally and globally. In the UK alone the chemical industry contributes 21% to GDP and supports over 6 million jobs. Chemistry is an exciting and dynamic discipline that aims to provide solutions at the atomic level. Advanced chemical knowledge and skills are required to meet the demands of a vast range of challenges facing mankind. The development of new therapeutic drugs, diagnostic medical tests, forensic methods and specialised materials called for by new technologies all require chemists. Arguably the greatest challenge of the modern world is meeting our growing energy needs, chemistry will undoubtedly play a key role in finding a solution.

During the Autumn term of first year of study students will tackle the essentials of formulae writing, equation construction and a range of chemistry calculations. During the Spring and Summer terms students will explore concepts in organic chemistry, physical chemistry and green chemistry. By the end of their first year students will have amassed sufficient chemical understanding to synthesise and analyse their own organic compounds.

In their second year students will spend the Autumn term building on physical chemistry concepts and inorganic chemistry learned during their first year, followed by more advanced concepts and in organic chemistry in the Spring terms.

Various trips take place throughout the course including: days at both Surrey and Sussex University Chemistry departments, UCL X-ray crystallography department and the Diamond Light Source in Oxfordshire. In addition during the summer term of the first year, all students are invited to take part in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge.

Learning styles

Chemistry is the in depth study of atoms and molecules. It includes descriptive material, calculations and problem solving exercises. Some concepts can prove challenging to grasp so a willingness to persevere is key.  Homework and tests are set on a regular basis to ensure that effective learning is taking place.  Practical work is a regular part of the course with weekly sessions.

Subject Combinations and Progression

Chemistry A level is usually essential for further study in Chemistry, Biology, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy and other related subjects.  It combines well with Biology, Maths, Physics, Geology, and Environmental Science and can also be studied with non-science subjects. Chemists are highly valued for their problem solving skills and logical approach and also find employment in non-science fields including finance.

Subject Modules and Assessment

The A-level is comprised of six modules:

Year 1:
Module 1:?Development of practical skills in chemistry (Practical Endorsement)
Module 2:?Foundations in chemistry
Module 3:?Periodic table and energy
Module 4:?Core organic chemistry

Year 2:
Module 1: Development of practical skills in chemistry cont. (Practical Endorsement)
Module 5:?Physical chemistry and transition elements
Module 6:?Organic chemistry and analysis
Students sit an internally set and marked 2 hour exam at the end of Year 1 in which a pass is required to transfer to the second year of the course.
The final A-level grade is assessed via three public exams sat at the end of the year 2:?

Paper 1: Periodic Table, elements and physical chemistry:?15 marks multiple choice + 85 marks structured questions = 100 marks total and contributes 37% to final grade.

2 hours 15 mins exam.

Paper 2: Synthesis and analytical techniques:?15 marks multiple choice + 85 marks structured questions = 100 marks total and contributes 37% to final grade. 2 hours 15 mins exam

Paper 3: Unified Chemistry:?70 marks split between structured questions + longer response questions. Contributes 26% to final grade. 1 hour 30 mins exam.

Students practical skills will be assessed via 12 assessed practicals sat during the two year course. A practical grade (“pass” of “fail”) will be recorded separately to the main final grade. Practical knowledge is also assessed within the three written papers.

Entry Requirements

Two grade 6’s from three Single Award GCSE Sciences with a 6 in Chemistry / 6,6 for Double Award GCSE Science and a 6 for GCSE Maths