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Chemistry is considered to be one of the most difficult A-level subjects, however if a student is hard-working and self-motivated, it will prove to be a stimulating and very rewarding course. Some students choose to study Chemistry because they are interested in a Chemistry-related career or it is a pre-requisite for other careers e.g. Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry and Pharmacy. Some choose it because it’s a valuable support subject for A-level Biology and can complement aspects of A-level Physics. Others simply choose it because they enjoy practical work, problem-solving and making sense of the material world around them. 

Please note, chemistry students who are not studying A-level Mathematics are strongly recommended to study mathematics beyond GCSE Level, for example Core Maths, in order to develop further the mathematical skills required for this course.

Course content

The A-level course is divided into 3 areas of Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry.

Physical Chemistry

Year 1

Year 2

  • Atomic structure
  • Amount of substance
  • Bonding
  • Energetics
  • Kinetics
  • Chemical equilibria, Le Chatelier’s principle and Kc
  • Oxidation, reduction and redox equations
  • Thermodynamics
  • Rate equations
  • Equilibrium constant Kp for homogeneous systems
  • Electrode potentials and electrochemical cells
  • Acids and bases

Inorganic Chemistry

Year 1

Year 2

  • Periodicity
  • Group 2, the alkaline earth metals
  • Group 7(17), the halogens
  • Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides
  • Transition metals
  • Reactions of ions in aqueous solution

Organic Chemistry

Year 1

Year 2

  • Introduction to organic chemistry
  • Alkanes
  • Halogenoalkanes
  • Alkenes
  • Alcohols
  • Organic analysis
  • Optical isomerism
  • Aldehydes and ketones
  • Carboxylic acids and derivatives
  • Aromatic chemistry
  • Amines
  • Polymers
  • Amino acids, proteins and DNA
  • Organic synthesis
  • Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • Chromatography

Methods of Teaching and Learning

The course is tutored by well-qualified Chemistry specialists who aim to stimulate interest in and enjoyment of Chemistry and to foster imaginative, logical and critical thinking. The course integrates theory and experimental work, developing analytical and manipulative skills. Students are encouraged to develop scientific communication skills through research, discussion and written work.

Methods of Assessment

Students will sit three written exam papers at the end of the course each lasting 2 hours. During the course students will complete a range of practical activities. Some skills will be assessed by teacher observation in class and teacher marked practical reports. The remaining skills will be assessed within the written exams.


Students are advised to take part in college-run STEM activities and belong to the college BioMed group. They are encouraged to apply for Access to Bristol and to enter the international RSC Chemistry Olympiad and the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. Visits have also been organised to the Universities of Bristol and Bath Departments of Chemistry, for talks and demonstrations.

Practical Skills Endorsement

Alongside the exam grade, student certificates will also show if they have earned the Practical Endorsement. This is a pass/fail mark generated from their practical skills and portfolio of practical work.


Chemistry is taught in modern, well-equipped laboratories. The Chemistry tutors have developed a comprehensive range of resources that students can access out of lessons. The college Learning Resource Centre has a large number of computers for student use and is well stocked with printed and electronic resources to support independent study.


A-level Chemistry provides a sound basis for students who wish to proceed to higher education. A wide range of careers opportunities are open to them, such as: Analytical Chemistry, Archaeology, Art Restoration, Biochemistry, Conservation, Dentistry, Dietetics, Education, Engineering, Food Technology, Forensic Science, Forestry, Geology, Horticulture, Information Technology, Science Journalism, Material Science, Medicine, Museums, Nursing, Oceanography, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Social Work, Sports & Fitness and Veterinary Science.

What Next?

Students have progressed to university to study courses such as Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, Natural Sciences, Pharmacology, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Engineering and Education.

Where can this course lead?

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