Sixth Form: Chemistry

Subject Overview

A level Chemistry builds on the knowledge and understanding developed at GCSE level. The course aims to stimulate interest in and enjoyment of chemistry, to foster logical critical thinking and demonstrate the wider application of chemical knowledge. It integrates theory and experimental work, developing investigative and manipulative skills. Students are encouraged to develop their scientific communication through research, discussion and written work. Students who study chemistry at A level have various career opportunities open to them. These include research chemistry, pharmacy, biochemistry, environmental science, medicine, chemical engineering, radiography and careers in the finance sector.

Entry Requirements

Grade B in Chemistry or BB in Science and Additional Science, and grade 5 in Mathematics.

Historically, students who achieve at the highest level are well motivated towards independent study

Syllabus (Course Outline and Structure)

OCR Advanced GCE Chemistry. Specification Chemistry A, H432

  • Module 1: Development of practical skills in chemistry. This unit develops the practical skills fundamental to understanding the nature of chemistry.
  • Module 2: Foundations in chemistry. This module includes: atomic structure, quantitative chemistry based on the mole, reactions of acids, redox reactions, bonding and structure.
  • Module 3: Periodic table and energy. This module covers: The Periodic Table, enthalpy changes, rates of reaction, yield and sustainability.
  • Module 4: Core organic chemistry. This module is fundamental to the study of organic chemistry and provides learners with an understanding of: nomenclature, aliphatic hydrocarbons, alcohols and haloalkanes, organic synthesis and instrumental analytical techniques.
  • Module 5: Physical chemistry and transition elements. This module builds on the concepts covered in module 3 and includes: rate equations, equilibrium constants, acid-base equilibria, Born-Haber cycles, entropy and free energy, electrochemical cells, redox chemistry and transition elements.
  • Module 6: Organic chemistry and analysis. This module builds on concepts covered in module 4 and introduces new functional groups. The main area of study include: aromatic compounds, carboxylic acids and esters, organic nitrogen compounds, polymerisation, synthesis and modern analytic techniques.

Activities and trips

The practical components of the course are delivered during one lesson per fortnight in a dedicated Laboratory Session. During these sessions skills will be introduced, practised and assessed. These Practical Skills activities are subject to external moderation by the OCR examination board and are assessed in the written examination paper.  This is reported on the student's A level certificate as a Practical Endorsement.

Throughout Year 12 and 13 students have the opportunities to attend twilight lectures delivered at the University of Birmingham targeting topical applications of Chemistry.
During Year 13 a workshop covering the application of spectroscopy in chemical analysis is delivered in school by the University of Leicester.

Expected Costs

Students are expected to purchase textbooks for the course. Laboratory coats and safety glasses are supplied. Students may wish to purchase their own revision books from a commercial publisher.

Complementary Subject Combinations and Enrichment Activities

Chemistry links well with Biology, physics and Mathematics. Historically a significant proportion of students successfully studied chemistry alongside a variety of different A levels to achieve a broad balanced curriculum

Subject Resources

Past Papers

Questions from past papers are used extensively during the delivery of the course and are adapted to augment homework tasks. In addition to this, pupils will complete whole past papers towards the end of the teaching for each unit, in order to prepare pupils for the overall structure of each paper, and the time restrictions associated with them. We fully encourage all pupils to work independently, and the following URL can be followed to locate all of the past papers for the course except the most recent paper, and their mark schemes.

Course references

  • Specification

Useful Links 

  • Chem Guide: an excellent site for helping out with the more difficult concepts at A level
  • S-Cool: a great site for revision or clarification of most concepts at AS & A2
  • Doc Brown's Chemistry: Doc Brown site -off putting at first, but you can find anything here
  • Aus-E-Tute: Tutorials on this Australian site can provide students with 'back up' use links to free tutorials