Chemistry A-level


Chemistry is everywhere, from the reactions happening in your body keeping you alive, to the shampoo you use to wash your hair, or even the fuel needed to heat your home or run your car! Studying Chemistry involves an exploration of matter at a molecular level, it is often seen as the ‘central’ science providing insights into a variety of interlinking physical and biological phenomena. Have you ever wondered: What makes perfume smell? How fireworks have so many different colours? How new drugs are discovered? These are just some of the questions you will be able to answer by studying Chemistry.

What will I study in Chemistry A-level?

The A-level course is divided into practical skills plus 10 compulsory chapters, called "Storylines". Each chapter deals with an area of the world and how Chemistry is used to understand it, so by Christmas you'll already be able to answer questions about the world around you.

Development of Practical Skills

  • Around 30 practicals
  • Improve your technical skills in the lab
  • Practise applying the ideas you learn elsewhere
  • Activities are distributed throughout the 2 year course

1. Elements of Life

  • What are elements and where do elements come from?
  • What elements are involved in our bodies?
  • How does the periodic table help us to predict the properties of elements?
  • What are salts, how are they made?

2. Developing fuels

  • What's in a car's fuel tank?
  • Why can we get energy from fuels?
  • How are plastics made?
  • What else could we use instead, to prevent climate change?

3. Elements from the sea

  • What are halogens and how do they behave?
  • How and why is chlorine useful?
  • How does the chemical industry approach problems with halogens?

4. The ozone story

  • What is the atmosphere made of?
  • Why is the ozone layer important, and what happened to it?
  • What steps are scientists taking to protect the atmosphere?

5. What's in a medicine?

  • How are medicines made?
  • How can we use spectroscopic techniques to know what we've made?
  • Making aspirin 3 week project

6. The chemical industry

  • Why is nitrogen important?
  • How are nitric and sulfuric acids made?
  • How are rates of reaction investigated and improved?

7. Polymers and life

  • What are the synthetic fibres in your clothes, and how are they made?
  • What are proteins and how are they structured?
  • How do enzymes work?
  • What does DNA do?

8. Oceans

  • How is the pH of the oceans maintained?
  • What role do oceans have in climate control?
  • What is entropy and why do chemical reactions happen?

9. Developing Metals

  • Why are transition metals special?
  • How do batteries work?
  • Why do metals work as catalysts?

10. Colour by Design

  • What features of chemicals make them coloured?
  • How can we modify those chemicals to change their colours?
  • How can you plan an organic synthesis?

Entry Requirements

At least five GCSEs at Grade 4 or above all from the basket subjects including Grade 6 in Maths and Grade 6 in Chemistry OR 66 in Combined Science.

How will I learn?

Learning will take place in many ways including:

  • Independent learning includes pre-reading to prepare for lessons and post lesson review and completion of booklets.
  • Practical work
  • Discussion with others
  • Collaborative learning
  • Problem solving
  • Building models for structures

All resources used in lessons are put on to the College Moodle site, enabling learners to access resources at any time.

How will I be assessed?

Informal Assessment:

Throughout the course we will make use of both summative assessment (e.g. end of topic tests) and formative assessment (e.g. answering questions in class) to review your progress.

Formal Assessment:

For A-level, there are three written exams in the summer of your second year:

  • Paper 1: Fundamentals of Chemistry 2h 15 min (41%)
  • Paper 2: Scientific Literacy in Chemistry 2h 15 min (37%)
  • Paper 3: Practical Skills in Chemistry 1h 30 min (22%)

Practical skills are assessed in both written exams and through the practical endorsement. The practical endorsement is assessed throughout the course and is awarded a pass or unclassified (separate from your final grade).

Any trips?

There are a range of trips and experiences organised throughout the course including:

  • Chemistry in Action A-level Chemistry Lectures at Warwick
  • Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
  • RSC Analyst Competition

Are there any costs involved?

During the course students will complete a work booklet for each topic including past paper questions. Students will be expected to pay for these at the start of the year. Purchasing booklets is a mandatory requirement of the course.

The total cost is approximately £15 per year.

We also ask that you pay a deposit for your course text books (£20) which will be returned to you when books are returned to the library at the end of the course.


This course looks quite different in structure to courses I've seen elsewhere, why?

This course is context-led, which means that you'll be able to start applying your knowledge to real chemical situations almost straight away. We've chosen this specification because it provides the best opportunities for you to develop wider skills that you'll need for the workplace or further study, without compromising on your chemical content knowledge. It also shows you how the concepts you're learning are used, which makes them easier to remember.

Some of the wider skills we'll be helping you to develop include: scientific literacy (reading and understanding science articles), numeracy and graphical skills, problem solving, digital skills, collaboration and communication.

What work experience opportunities are there?

We have links to a local pharmaceutical company and various online work experiences available to all students. We are also happy to support you in applications you might make outside of college.

We also encourage students to apply for Nuffield Research placements and other opportunities to gain essential experience in the work place.  It is a college expectation that all students not progressing to university should undertake work experience.

What jobs/degrees are there for which Chemistry would be a good A-level to have?

Chemistry is an important subject for many different careers including medicine, biology, environmental science, engineering, space exploration, developing perfumes and cosmetics. The skills developed are transferable and highly valued by many other professions including Business, Law and ICT.

Would studying Core Maths alongside A-Level Chemistry be helpful?

If you are not also studying A-Level Maths, taking L3 Mathematical Studies (Core Maths) can give you further practice at some of the maths you will do in A-Level Chemistry. This is a one-year course that you would take alongside your other 3 subjects, with exams at the end of your first year. The overlapped content will mostly be topics that you have seen at GCSE, such as fractions and percentages, and handling data, so Core Maths could give you an opportunity to further your work with these in a number of real-world contexts. Core Maths also looks at critical analysis, data handling and probability, and personal finance which can all be applied to life beyond your A-Level studies.

What enrichment opportunities are there?

There are a range of enrichment activities for you to participate in, including:

  • Attend the Chemistry in Action A-level Chemistry Lectures at the University of Warwick
  • Attend the Royal Society Summer Science Exhibition
  • Opportunity to take part in STEM enrichment programme
  • Participate in Chemistry Olympiad
  • Complete the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge
  • Nuffield Research Project (run externally)
  • Empowered Females in STEM (run externally)

Sixth form study sounds like it's very different from GCSE, will I be able to do it?

A-level is very different from GCSE, but we are aware of that and we will help you to develop the skills you'll need to become a great A-level student. We see ourselves as a stepping-stone from school to university or the workplace, and therefore our job is to help you get ready!

Here are some of the ways we support you:

- Study skills are explicitly taught as part of our lessons at the start of the course

- We build up concepts and skills slowly, so you know what's expected.

- We'll give you lots of guidance about what you can do with your minimum 4.5 hours of independent study per week, but as you progress through the course we'll also give you options as you learn what works for you.

- Revision is embedded throughout the course, not all at the end

- Drop-in sessions and interventions run weekly to support you if you have questions or get stuck during independent study time, and you can also contact your teacher on Teams or email between lessons

- We signpost to extra reading you can do if you're really interested in a topic


Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

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What can I do after I have taken this course?

Available As

A Level
[56 UCAS pts. available]

Add to Application

Recently Visited Courses

All Courses


Hear from some of our First year A-level Chemistry students!

What the students say

Lilia Chemistry

I’m genuinely enjoying learning all the content as the lecturer makes the lectures really engaging and they also support me when they can.