Course title: AS/A Level Chemistry
Exam board detail: AQA
Type of qualification: A Level (to be studied in conjunction with two other A Level subjects)
Delivery hours per week: 6 hours (1.5-hour lessons)
Section 1: Subject Overview
As well as developing excellent laboratory techniques, you'll gain specific knowledge in the traditional fields of organic and inorganic chemistry. As chemistry overlaps with other subjects, you'll pick up skills that are useful in biology and medicine, physics and engineering. Chemistry is also studied in an environmental and social context, so you'll gain awareness of its ethical implications and issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability.
Chemists find work in the chemical and related industries, such as pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, petrochemicals, toiletries, plastics and polymers. However, those who have studied chemistry may enter many different sectors including the food and drink industry, utilities management, medical manufacturing and scientific research.
The three main branches of Chemistry: Physical, Inorganic and Organic which are assessed through two 1.5 hour exams at AS Level and three 2 hour exams at A Level. Each branch will build upon the knowledge gained at GCSE, often correcting the more simplified approach taken before delving further into the chemistry and applying it to more complex scenarios.
Some of the main topics that will be studied during the first year are:
Amount of Substance
Plus a range of organic topics
Chemistry is the study of all chemical substances and how to change one chemical into another. The food you eat, the air you breathe, your own body, your mobile phone, the plants and streets around you are made of chemicals. As you want inexpensive products, chemistry helps to decrease economic costs, and as you want a safe environment, chemistry helps to decrease pollution by detecting the toxins, and by destroying them. Gone are the days that poisonous red lead oxide is used to colour cheese, or to sweeten cider; and now we do not put toxic arsenic in cosmetics; nor do we use lead in white paint, or make CFCs that destroy the ozone layer. These chemicals were used mostly out of ignorance, so with the development of new understanding in chemistry, a safer world is built.
If you like logical problems, and thinking hard – really using your brain – then Chemistry is for you. If you want to know what makes up the world around you, you are a natural chemist. Principally, you’ll develop strong mathematical/numerical skills, with at least 20% of the exam paper marks requiring the use of mathematical skills. You'll also develop skills in analysis and problem-solving; time management and organisation; recording and monitoring data; and teamwork.
It is like seeing with new eyes all that is before you, within your food, on product labels, in cosmetics, in fuels, in the atmosphere, in the chemistry of life, and in the chemistry of the newest products. Mobile phones are small because chemists developed more efficient batteries, and new pigments for the screens. Clothes are more light weight and colourful (or a darker black!) than those of our ancestors. Cars go more kilometres on a litre of fuel due to the study of chemical combustion.
Chemistry is also always helping us to develop new products and processes. In the car industry, for example, companies are working on fuel cells to power your car more efficiently, new fuels from plant material and new alloys to make vehicles lighter.
Section 2: Assessment Overview
Assessment methods include:
Frequent Topic Tests
External assessments (exams) will take place in the summer term – May/June.
Section 3: What do other students study alongside Chemistry at A Level?
Chemistry is a concise subject that makes you think. Studying Chemistry would complement A Levels which are essay based, or that have a particularly heavy reading load, like Biology, Psychology, Geography, English and Modern Languages. Studying more mathematical A Level subjects like Mathematics or Physics will also be hugely beneficial in coping with the mathematical content in Chemistry. If you study A Level Chemistry then you should be able to ask 'Why?' and get a good answer.
Section 4: What are the possible career opportunities after successful completion of this course?
Each year more students are studying science subjects as they realise that science degrees generally lead on to higher incomes. More students are studying pure chemistry, or chemistry based subjects like pharmacy, medical chemistry, or environmental chemistry. If you want to join them then you must study chemistry at A Level, preferably with mathematics. A number of our own students have studied chemistry at university and went to gain PhDs.
AS or A Level Chemistry is particularly important if you want to study Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry or Biochemistry at university. It is also appreciated by admissions tutors in many other subjects, including Law, due to its logical discipline. It is useful if you want to go on and study subjects such as Geology, Physical Geography, Engineering, or Material Science. Many chemistry graduates are also recruited by the financial companies in the City of London, and so start with high starting salaries.
Studying Chemistry will also help you with the pyrotechnics in Theatre Studies and if you want to train in Art Conservation, knowledge of Chemistry is necessary.
Section 5: How can I find out more if I have a question?
Chemistry Teacher – firstname.lastname@example.org
Curriculum Operations Manager - email@example.com