Curriculum – Chemistry

Why study A Level Chemistry?

A-level Chemistry builds on your GCSE knowledge and explores concepts in greater depth. It attempts to answer the big question ‘what is the world made of’ and it is the search for this answer that makes this subject so fascinating.  From researching a new wonder drug to save millions of lives, a new lighter and cheaper battery or a carbon dioxide capture material to slow global warming there are many different paths that the study of Chemistry can lead you down.

Possible degree options:  According to, the top five degree courses taken by students who have an A-level in Chemistry are:

  • Chemistry • Biology • Pre-clinical medicine   • Mathematics   • Pharmacology.

Possible career options:  Studying an A-level Chemistry related degree at university gives you all sorts of exciting career options, including:

  • Analytical chemist • Chemical engineer • Clinical biochemist
  • Pharmacologist • Doctor • Research scientist (physical sciences)
  • Toxicologist • Patent attorney • Higher education lecturer
  • Environmental consultant • Science writer • Secondary school teacher.
  • Chartered certified accountant


A Level AQA Course Content

AS Chemistry lasts one year, with exams at the end.  A-level Chemistry lasts two years, with exams at the end of the second year. In AS Chemistry, you will learn:

Physical chemistry: Including atomic structure, amount of substance, bonding, energetics, kinetics, chemical equilibrium and Le Chatelier’s principle.

Inorganic chemistry:  Including Periodicity, Group 2 the alkaline, earth metals, Group 7 the halogens.

Organic chemistry:  Including introduction to organic chemistry, alkanes, halogen alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, organic analysis.

Practical work:  Chemistry, like all sciences, is a practical subject.  Throughout the course you will carry out practical activities including:

  • measuring energy changes in chemical reactions
  • tests for identifying different types of compound
  • different methods for measuring rates of reaction
  • studying electrochemical cells
  • preparation of organic solids and liquids
  • an advanced form of chromatography for more accurate results.

In Year 2 Chemistry, you will learn:

Physical chemistry: Including thermodynamics, rates equations, electrochemistry and acids and bases.

Inorganic chemistry:  Including period 3 elements and transition metals.

Organic chemistry:  Including isomerism, carbonyl compounds, aromatics, amines, polymers, amino acids, DNA and analysis.

Practicals:  Throughout year 2 you will carry out practical activities including:

  • Measuring the rate of reaction by an initial rate method and a continuous rate method
  • Measuring the EMF of an electrochemical cell
  • Investigate how pH changes when a weak acid reacts with a strong base and when a strong acid reacts with a weak base
  • Preparation of an organic solid and a test of its purity
  • Carry out simple test-tube reactions to identify transition metal ions in aqueous solution
  • Separation of species by thin-layer chromatography

Exams:  There is no coursework on this course. However, your performance during practical activities will be assessed. There are three exams at the end of the two years for A-level, all of which are two hours long. At least 15% of the marks for A-level Chemistry are based on what you learned in your practical activities.


NCS Chemistry Enrichment

International Chemistry Olympiad

The Cambridge Chemistry Challenge

The Uk-Japan Young Scientist Workshops in Japan and Cambridge

UCL tutorials

The Island of Stability – Discovering new elements Super Curriculum


Further reading 

A Short History of Chemistry by J. R. Parrington

Absolute Zero by John Shachtman

Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers by Michael White

Chemical History Tour by Art Greenberg

Chemistry Imagined by Bernard Jaffe

Mendeleev’s Dream by Paul Strathern



Examination Board: AQA

Disclaimer: The information on this page is to be used as guidance only. The course availability and content is subject to change based on demand and time-tabling.

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