What does the course involve?

Studying chemistry is about trying to understand the universe.  Chemists want to know what makes the world work and to take familiar substances apart and put them back together in new and different ways. Studying chemistry at A level can be hard work but it can also be lots of fun.  There is quite a lot of new material to learn and also much which is familiar but covered in greater depth.

We follow the AQA course which allows you to study the theoretical aspects of chemistry and test them against experiments you can carry out in the school laboratories. 

The course is split into the traditional three branches of chemistry:

  • Physical  – the numerical and theoretical aspects of chemistry
  • Inorganic – chemistry of the elements of the Periodic Table
  • Organic – a huge and ever-expanding field about the limitless compounds based on carbon.

What qualifications do I need?

This course is suitable for students who have enjoyed and achieved a grade ‘5’ in double science or the separate sciences. You will also need to be very competent at Mathematics as you will have to perform calculations that are of a high level. Throughout the course.


The course will be assessed at the end of Year 12 with a standalone AS qualification (2 written papers) and  at the end of Year 13 with the A level examinations (3 written papers).   The A level examinations will test all the material you have met during the two years of the course.  

There will also be an on-going assessment of your competence at carrying out practical experiments.

General Comments

Chemists conduct experiments to study how elements work in different conditions, test how they mix, and work out what they are made up of right down to the tiniest particle. The results can be ground-breaking, colourful, explosive, or almost impossible to see.

Chemists use their experiments and knowledge to develop medicines, foods, fabrics and other materials, from neon lights to shatterproof glass.

Chemistry helps you to develop research, problem solving and analytical skills.  It helps to you challenge ideas and show how you worked things out through logic and step-by-step reasoning.  Chemistry often requires teamwork and communication skills too, which is great for project management.

Future Prospects

Chemistry is sometimes known as the ‘central science’ because it helps to connect physical sciences, like maths and physics, with applied sciences, like biology, medicine and engineering.

Chemistry is an important subject for careers in: medicine, environmental science, engineering, toxicology, developing consumer products, metallurgy (studying how metals behave), space exploration, developing perfumes and cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, software development and research.

Videos from the Department

Miss Wilson talks about A-Level chemistry with a class of her students, what the course involves and even why she took Chemistry herself.