As the central science, Chemistry at A-level is an ideal companion for either (or both) of the other sciences.
It can also be taken to complement subjects such as Mathematics, French, German, English, History, Geography, etc. It is required for higher study in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Polymer Science, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Forensic Science, Food Science, Pharmacy, Chemical Engineering, and Genetics. It is very useful towards further study in Earth Science, Metallurgy, Materials Science, Horticulture, Forestry, Agriculture, Environmental Science, Electronics, and other areas.
In addition, success in Chemistry demonstrates to admissions tutors and potential employers that you have a rigorous yet flexible approach to learning and that you are likely to be intellectually astute with an enquiring and logical frame of mind. In an increasingly competitive world, success at A-level Chemistry is a very strong indicator of future potential.
A-level Chemistry develops concepts you have encountered at GCSE so that you can describe not only what happens during chemical reactions, but also why these chemical changes occur, how far they will proceed and how fast they will produce the required products. It involves study of the three major branches of the subject: organic, inorganic and physical chemistry, all of which you have met at GCSE. You will have the opportunity to carry out a wide range of practical work during the course and a range of practical skills will be assessed internally.
In Year 1 the course covers topics such as atomic structure, bonding, trends in the Periodic Table, with more detailed study of Groups 2 and 7, and an introduction to redox chemistry. It includes study of the qualitative features of energetics, kinetics and equilibria. It also provides a comprehensive basis to the study of organic chemistry, including some reaction mechanisms and the modern analytical techniques of mass spectrometry and infrared spectroscopy.
In Year 2 the course takes the topics met in Year 1 further and adds quantitative aspects to them. A study of transition metals and redox equilibria is made and the knowledge of organic reactions is applied to synthesis. The study of modern analytical techniques is extended to high resolution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, gas chromatography and high performance liquid chromatography.
Overall, chemistry at this level will provide you with an interesting and challenging course in an area of science which affects us all. You will have the opportunity to enhance your study by attending lectures by eminent scientists and by taking part in competitions such as the Cambridge Chemistry challenge, the Chemistry Olympiad and those organised by the Royal Society of Chemistry.
The Edexcel syllabus is followed and the final examination, after two years, comprises three papers. Practical skills are assessed internally as you progress through the course.
Throughout, A-level Chemistry is far more quantitative than at GCSE and you must have an adequate mathematical background from which to develop the required skills; it is highly recommended that you have attained at least a Grade 7 in GCSE mathematics. It is expected that you will have attained at least Grade 7 in Chemistry at GCSE or at least Grade 77 in the Double Award Science course, with an equivalent to a Grade 7 in the chemistry component.