Chemistry is the study of materials and their properties. This subject aims to teach students about the world around them, from the tiny atoms which act as the building blocks of matter to macromolecules such as proteins, polymers and plastics. Students learn about specialised laboratory preparation methods and industrial-scale manufacturing processes and will be asked to solve problems using theoretical concepts and laboratory-based practical work.
A qualification in Chemistry could lead to the study of Chemistry, another science or related subjects, or work in a science-based industry such as chemical engineering, materials science or biotechnology. It is essential for the medical field, veterinary science, pharmacy and environmental science. Potential employers value the analytical and conceptual skills that are developed during the study of Chemistry. Such skills, coupled with an ability to work in an meticulous and accurate manner, enable chemistry students to pursue careers within, or outside the vast arena of science.
The AS course begins by re-examining the structure of the atom to introduce a more developed model than that encountered at GCSE. This leads onto a study of structure and bonding which can be used to explain patterns and trends in the properties of the elements of the periodic table. Students consider more complex situations and ideas including organic nomenclature and reactions, factors affecting rate and equilibria and how ‘green’ certain chemical processes are. Coursework comprises a series of controlled assessment tasks that are often based around practical tasks and the critical analysis of data.
The A2 course builds upon the content of the AS specification to further refine and develop the ideas taught, often using more quantitative methods. The first A2 unit involves the study of advanced organic concepts, together with polymerization reactions and an overview of analytical methods. The final unit involves the use of mathematics and formulae to solve problems relating to rate, equilibria and elements. Both of the A2 papers are synoptic and the coursework component again comprises of lab-based practical work and the analysis of data.
This is through written examinations and practical coursework.