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Crafting reactions and cracking concepts

Chemistry holds a special place among the sciences, often referred to as the 'central science' for its pivotal role in connecting various disciplines. It serves as a bridge between the theoretical realms of Mathematics and Physics and the practical applications found in Biology, Medicine, and Engineering.

Ever wondered how the food on your plate or the threads on your back came to be? You guessed it—Chemistry's behind it all! From whipping up new medicines to keeping a watchful eye on what we munch on, chemists are the unsung heroes of our everyday lives.

And let's not forget about the super cool CSI stuff—Chemistry's like Sherlock Holmes in a lab coat, decoding mysteries and uncovering secrets hidden in the crime scene evidence.

For those eyeing competitive fields like Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Pharmacy, or Biomedical Sciences, A level Chemistry is a prerequisite. GCSE Chemistry is the foundation for this A level. 


Exam Specifications

Assessment methods

Grading is 100% by examination. Practical work must also be completed in College to a
satisfactory standard.
Length of exams: 3 papers at the end of the two years: two of 2 hr 15 min and one of 1 hr 30 min

Breakdown of units

Module 1 – Development of Practical Skills is taught throughout the course and internally assessed on a pass/fail basis. Understanding of the material will be required for the written papers.
Module 2 – Foundations in Chemistry covers the principles underpinning the subsequent units
Module 3 – Periodic Table and Energy explores the patterns and relationships between the chemical elements and the energy changes during reactions.
Module 4 – Core Organic Chemistry introduces the chemistry of simple carbon-based compounds and the analytical methods used to examine them.
Module 5 – Physical Chemistry and Transition Elements considers the factors affecting the rate of chemical change and calculations involving different types of chemical equilibrium. It also covers oxidation and reduction and the special properties of the transition elements.
Module 6 – Organic Chemistry and Analysis extends the concepts of module 3 with studies of the chemistry of benzene, the nature of polymers, approaches to the synthesis of particular molecules and more advanced analytical methods.

Modules 1 and 2 are taught throughout as appropriate to support the other units. The content of modules 3 and 4 would be covered in the first year of the course and is also common to the AS qualification. Modules 5 and 6 will be covered in the second year.


Chemistry is taught in progressively greater depth over the course of Key Stage 3 and Key Stage 4. GCSE outcomes may reflect or build upon subject content which is typically taught at Key Stage 3. There is no expectation that teaching of such content should be repeated during the GCSE course where it has already been covered at an earlier stage. GCSE study in chemistry provides the foundations for understanding the material world. Scientific understanding is changing our lives and is vital to the world’s future prosperity, and all students should be taught essential aspects of the knowledge, methods, processes and uses of science. They should be helped to appreciate how the complex and diverse phenomena of the natural world can be described in terms of a small number of key ideas relating to the sciences which are both inter-linked, and are of universal application. These key ideas include:

● the use of conceptual models and theories to make sense of the observed diversity of natural phenomena
● the assumption that every effect has one or more cause
● that change is driven by differences between different objects and systems when they interact
● that many such interactions occur over a distance without direct contact
● that science progresses through a cycle of hypothesis, practical experimentation, observation, theory
development and review
● that quantitative analysis is a central element both of many theories and of scientific methods of inquiry.
These key ideas are relevant in different ways and with different emphases in biology, chemistry and physics: examples of their relevance to chemistry are given below. The GCSE specification in chemistry should enable students to:
● develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through chemistry
● develop understanding of the nature, processes and methods of science through different types of
scientific enquiries that help them to answer scientific questions about the world around them
● develop and learn to apply observational, practical, modelling, enquiry and problem-solving skills, both in
the laboratory, in the field and in other learning environments
● develop their ability to evaluate claims based on chemistry through critical analysis of the methodology,
evidence and conclusions, both qualitatively and quantitatively.

Chemistry should be studied in ways that help students to develop curiosity about the natural world, insight into how science works, and appreciation of its relevance to their everyday lives. The scope and nature of such study should be broad, coherent, practical and satisfying, and thereby encourage students to be inspired, motivated and challenged by the subject and its achievements.


Two exams to be taken at the end of the course. Assessment will be focused on AQA’s three criteria:
AO1) Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific techniques and procedures
AO2) Apply knowledge and understanding of: scientific ideas, scientific techniques and procedures
AO3) Analyse information and ideas to: interpret and evaluate; make judgements and draw conclusions; develop and improve experimental procedures.

Curious about Chemistry?

  • 'The disappearing spoon' by Sam Kean - In this book, the author brings the periodic table to life, showcasing the curious properties and behaviours of the different elements that we find and use in our everyday life.
  • 'Napoleon’s button' by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson - This book tells of the fascinating account of seventeen groups of molecules that have greatly influenced the course of History.
  • 'The Poisoner’s Handbook' by Deborah Blum - A crime novel that tells the story of how a pair of forensic scientists used chemical detective work to end the use of untraceable poisons in crimes during the Jazz Age New York City era.

The Royal Society of Chemistry News and Articles about Chemistry and science related topics. - Blog that covers all the latest scientific discoveries on Earth and Climate Chemistry. It also covers new techniques and inventions used in Organic and Inorganic chemistry in the environment. - The reddit Chemistry page - Blog producing easy-to-understand graphics on a variety of chemistry topics, focusing particularly on the chemistry we come across on an everyday basis - Blog that helps students understand Organic Chemistry

Listen - The infinite Monkey Cage on BBC4. A series of podcasts presented by physicist Brian Cox and comedian robin Ince, which give a witty, irreverent look at the world through scientists’ eyes.

Watch – A series of videos covering all the topics covered at A Level Chemistry, offered by Khan Academy. - Science educator Dave Farina has developed an extensive library of educational videos, explaining the different concepts in a simple yet very thorough way.