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What will I study in A Level Chemistry?

The OCR Chemistry A specification is followed, providing a smooth transition from GCSE. There are six teaching modules and each module is further divided into key topics. Practical activities are embedded throughout the course and contribute to the achievement of the Practical Endorsement as well as enhancing learners’ understanding of chemical theory and practical skills.

Module 1

Chemistry is a practical subject and the development of practical skills is fundamental to understanding the nature of chemistry. This module gives learners many opportunities to develop the fundamental skills needed to collect and analyse empirical data. Skills in planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating will be assessed in the written examinations and also through the Practical Endorsement.

Module 2

This module acts as an important bridge into A Level Chemistry from the study of chemistry within science courses at GCSE level. This module provides learners with a knowledge and understanding of the important chemical ideas that underpin the study of A Level Chemistry: • atomic structure • quantitative chemistry: formulae, equations, amount of substance and the mole • reactions of acids • oxidation number and redox reactions • bonding and structure. The importance of these basic chemical concepts is seen as a prerequisite for all further chemistry modules. This module allows learners to develop important quantitative techniques involved in measuring masses, gas and solution volumes, including use of volumetric apparatus. Learners are also able to develop their mathematical skills during their study of amount of substance and when carrying out quantitative practical work.

Module 3

The focus of this module is inorganic and physical chemistry, the applications of energy use to everyday life and industrial processes, and current environmental concerns associated with sustainability. The content within this module assumes knowledge and understanding of the chemical concepts developed in Module 2: Foundations in chemistry. This module provides learners with a knowledge and understanding of the important chemical ideas that underpin the study of inorganic and physical chemistry:

  • the periodic table: periodic and group properties
  • enthalpy changes and their determination
  • rates of reaction
  • reversible reactions and chemical equilibrium
  • consideration of energy and yield in improving sustainability.

This module allows learners to develop important qualitative practical skills, especially observational skills required for analysis, and accurate quantitative techniques involved in determination of energy changes and reaction rates. There are opportunities for developing mathematical skills when studying enthalpy changes and reaction rates and when carrying out quantitative practical work.

Module 4

This module introduces organic chemistry and its important applications to everyday life, including current environmental concerns associated with sustainability. The module assumes knowledge and understanding of the chemical concepts developed in Module 2: Foundations in chemistry. The module provides learners with a knowledge and understanding of the important chemical ideas that underpin the study of organic chemistry:

  • nomenclature and formula representation, functional groups, organic reactions and isomerism
  • aliphatic hydrocarbons
  • alcohols and haloalkanes
  • organic practical skills and organic synthesis
  • instrumental analytical techniques to provide evidence of structural features in molecules.

This module also provides learners with an opportunity to develop important organic practical skills, including use of Quickfit apparatus for distillation, heating under reflux and purification of organic liquids. In the context of this module, it is important that learners should appreciate the need to consider responsible use of organic chemicals in the environment. Current trends in this context include reducing demand for hydrocarbon fuels, processing plastic waste productively, and preventing use of ozone-depleting chemicals.

Module 5

The content within this module assumes knowledge and understanding of the chemical concepts developed in Module 2: Foundations in chemistry and Module 3: Periodic table and energy. This module extends the study of energy, reaction rates and equilibria, and the periodic table. The main areas of physical chemistry studied include:

  • rate equations, orders of reaction, the rate-determining step
  • equilibrium constants, Kc and Kp
  • acid–base equilibria including pH, Ka and buffer solutions
  • lattice enthalpy and Born–Haber cycles
  • entropy and free energy
  • electrochemical cells. The main areas of inorganic chemistry studied include:
  • redox chemistry
  • transition elements.

Module 6

The content within this module assumes knowledge and understanding of the chemical concepts developed in Module 2: Foundations in chemistry and Module 4: Core organic chemistry. This module introduces several new functional groups and emphasises the importance of organic synthesis. This module also adds NMR spectroscopy to the instrumentation techniques used in organic and forensic analysis. The main areas of organic chemistry studied include:

  • aromatic compounds
  • carboxylic acids and esters
  • organic nitrogen compounds: amines and amino acids
  • polymerisation: addition polymers and condensation polymers • synthetic organic chemistry and further development of practical skills
  • the importance of modern analytical techniques in organic analysis.

Where does A Level Chemistry lead?

A Level Chemistry is an essential course for medicine, dentistry and veterinary science. It is also an excellent basis for further study of chemistry, physics and engineering.