Chemistry

If you have ever wondered how a gecko can walk across a ceiling without falling off or just wanted to know which compound is behind the latest drugs in sport scandal, then Chemistry has the answers for you!

In the Chemistry Department we believe in a hands on approach to learning. Students have ample opportunity to carry out practical work and are taught to plan and carry out experiments in a safe and methodical fashion. Not only is this fun but it also supports and enhances their understanding of the theoretical concepts that are being taught.

In years 9 to 11, students follow the AQA Chemistry course (8462) with the expectation that all students will gain a GCSE in Chemistry.

In years 12 and 13, students follow the A level OCR Chemistry A course (H434). This is proving to be a highly popular course with around one hundred students currently enrolled in Year 12 and a further eighty students enrolled in Year 13.

Students in Key Stages 4 and 5 have the opportunity to participate in a number of research projects that are currently being run by staff in the department. These include the Beetles Project, the Vaping Project and the Ionic Liquids Project.

Additionally at Key Stage 4, a select group of students compete nationally in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Top of the Bench competition, where they complete a short test of factual chemical knowledge and a practical chemical problem solving team exercise.

In Key Stage 5 students are also encouraged to take part in the external Chemistry Olympiad and Cambridge Chemistry Challenge (C3L6) competitions, where they have been very successful in winning awards. These competitions aim to stretch and challenge students interested in chemistry, and are designed to extend students significantly beyond the syllabus and encourage them to think about science in the way they would at university.

Furthermore, a select group of Year 12 students take part in The Royal Society of Chemistry’s Analyst Competition, competing against students nationally by performing analytical chemistry in a university laboratory.

Further information can be found on the Science page HERE

Chemistry at KS5

The Royal Society of Chemistry state that a qualification in Chemistry opens doors to a wide range of careers. Chemistry is involved in our everyday lives and there is a vast range of jobs and careers open to those who have studied chemistry at any level; great career opportunities exist both inside and outside the lab. Nobody knows what the jobs of the future will look like, but many of them will be created in chemistry to solve global challenges such as human health, energy and the environment.

As well as practical knowledge of the subject, chemistry students develop many other skills prized by employers such as problem solving, numeracy, communication, creativity and data analysis. Gaining these skills means that you can have a future in not only science-related careers but all sorts of careers, from finance to public relations.

Students study the popular OCR A course. Chemistry A is a content-led approach where practical skills are integrated within the theoretical topics. The specification encourages students to develop an essential knowledge of the key chemical concepts in order to apply it to problem-solving and practical tasks, and to increase their awareness and understanding of the impact of chemistry on the success of the economy and society.

The A level course is split into six modules:

Module 1 Development of practical skills;

Module 2 Foundations in chemistry;

Module 3 Periodic table and energy;

Module 4 Core organic chemistry.

Where modules 1-4 are studied in Year 12, the additional modules:

5: Physical chemistry and transition elements and

6: Organic chemistry and analysis are studied in Year 13.

The internally assessed Practical Endorsement skills also form part of the full A level. Students are assessed via three written papers:

Paper 1 Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry, 37% of the total A level;

Paper 2 Synthesis and analytical techniques, 37% of the total A level;

Paper 3 Unified chemistry, 26% of the total A level (Practical Endorsement in chemistry is internally assessed).

In addition to their academic studies, students are offered unique opportunities to engage in genuine chemical research. Two projects are currently available: the Polymer Chemistry Research project which is a collaboration with the University of Kent at Canterbury and the Omega-3 oil Research project. These exclusive opportunities enable students to develop hugely beneficial transferral skills such as project management, mentoring and advanced data-handling and other in silico skills.

Chemistry is a rewarding and challenging subject. Students are expected to carry out independent consolidation and extension of their understanding between lessons. It is worth knowing that historically, students taking Mathematics alongside Chemistry perform better than those who do not, since there is a significant emphasis on mathematics in the context of chemistry (20% of the marks available within written examinations are for the assessment of mathematics).