A Level – Chemistry

Chemistry is an excellent preparation for students looking to extend their understanding of a key physical science. It is a central science which opens up the possibility of a huge range of science related university courses and jobs. These include medicine and health related professions such as dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary sciences, as well as chemical engineering, optometry and courses that overlap with maths and physics.

  • Who Is This Course For?

    Chemistry is an excellent preparation for students looking to extend their understanding of a key physical science. It is a central science which opens up the possibility of a huge range of science related university courses and jobs. These include medicine and health related professions such as dentistry, pharmacy and veterinary sciences, as well as chemical engineering, optometry and courses that overlap with maths and physics.

    A Level Chemistry blends particularly well with other science subjects such as physics and biology. Some students also take it as a complementary course alongside their other choices. If you are interested in how things work and why materials behave as they do then Chemistry is for you.

  • Course Details:

    Exam Board


    The course is assessed by 70% Examination, 30% Investigative and Practical Skills.

    The examinations will take place at the end of the two year course.

    A Level Chemistry

    Year 1

    Physical chemistry

    Atomic structure: Fundamental particles, isotopes, mass spectroscopy, electron arrangements.

    Amount of substance: The mole concept, calculations about gases, solutions and solids.

    Bonding: Ionic, covalent, metallic. Polar bonds, Van der Waals forces, Shapes of molecules.

    Energetics: Enthalpy changes, Hess’s law, Bond enthalpies.

    Chemical equilibria: Qualitative equilibria, finding the Equilibrium constant, Kc, and related calculations.

    Oxidation, reduction and redox equations: Oxidation and reduction.

    Amount of substance, Bonding, Energetics and Chemical equilibria

    Kinetics: collision theory and rate of reaction.

    Inorganic chemistry

    Periodicity: The blocks in the Periodic table, the trends in properties of the elements across Period 3.

    Group 2, the alkaline earth metals: Their properties and reactions.

    Group 7(17), the halogens: Their properties and reactions.

    Organic chemistry

    Introduction to organic chemistry: Organic formulae & nomenclature, structural isomerism.

    Alkanes; Halogenoalkanes; Alkenes; Alcohols: Structure, synthesis and reactions.

    Organic analysis: Mass spectrometry and IR spectroscopy.


    Year 2

    Physical Chemistry

    Thermodynamics: Enthalpy change (ΔH), Free-energy change (ΔG) and entropy change (ΔS).

    Equilibrium constant Kp for homogeneous systems: Kp, and related calculations.

    Electrode potentials and electrochemical cells: Electrode potentials, series and cells.

    Acids and bases: Strong and weak acids, calculation of pH, the theory and use of buffers.

    Rate equations: Simple rate equations Determination of rate equation.

    Inorganic Chemistry

    Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides: Study of the reactions of Period 3 elements

    Transition metals: Complex formation, Variable oxidation states, Catalysis

    Reactions of ions in aqueous solution: Colour change, ligand substitution, chelation.

    Organic chemistry

    Optical isomerism: Chirality and polarisation.

    Aldehydes and ketones; Carboxylic acids and derivatives; Aromatic chemistry; Amines; Amino acids, proteins and DNA: Structure, synthesis and reactions.

    Polymers: Structure and synthesis.

    Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy: Structure identification.

    Chromatography: Techniques and uses.

    Investigative and Practical Skills

    These skills are also assessed throughout the year. Here are some examples:

    Titration based practical skills – Making up a standard solution, Acid – base and  redox titrations

    Wet analysis – Tests for alcohols, ketones and aldehydes. Testing for anions and metal cations.

    Organic Synthesis – Synthesising and testing purity of an organic product


    How the course is delivered

    Most of our courses are led by a single teacher. Occasionally we split groups but this is not common. Each of the four lessons in the week is 70 mins long and are built around a mixture of theory and practical sessions. Our teaching is structured around the usual pattern of a starter, main content and then a plenary.

    We help you check your learning through regular tests and use feedback to help guide improvements and to stretch and challenge all. We have a very active support programme too. This means that you will find a group of chemistry students in the labs at lunch time for extra support or challenge with one or two of our staff, please come and join them once you start your course.

    We supply you with text books and some revision guides for the duration of the course. We use AQA Chemistry by Ted Lister and Janet Renshaw (ISBN 978074878280). You will also be provided with past exam paper booklets during the year.

    Departmental Enrichment

    The department provides focussed lunchtime exam clinics as well as intensive revision days during holidays. (Actually, although you might not think it, these are very popular with students!) You will find all the staff approachable and you will get plenty of help, both inside and outside lessons.

    We also take part in university master-classes and science competitions.

    The Chemistry Department at Wyke Sixth Form College

    We have two specialist laboratories: both are equipped with fume cupboards and interactive whiteboards and the sort of glassware and equipment that you would expect to find in new, purpose built, laboratories. The course will develop your practical skills. These are an essential, and an assessed, part of the course. There is also a well-equipped central computer area that is shared across the science department.

    You will be helped in your studies by a team of experienced teaching staff who have many successful years of experience of A Level teaching, and a technician team who know how to handle the demands of practical work.

    The Chemistry staff team consists of:

    • Brenda Corr (BSc)
    • Laura Rigau-Roca (PhD)
    • Paul Yardley (PhD)
    • Rachel Hitchenor (Head of Faculty)
    • Jeanette Kitteringham (Head of Science Technician Team)


    What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?

    Chemistry is an academically challenging course and most students do find the start of their A Level study demanding. The key to success is, as ever, good preparation. How can you prepare? You need to be comfortable with the basic Chemistry from your GCSE course, most importantly: ‘Bonding and Structure’, ‘Periodicity’, ‘Chemical Formulae’, ‘Moles and Chemistry Calculations’ and ‘Balancing Equations’. When you come to our WykeStart sessions in the summer we will give you some induction materials to help prepare you but you should also take time to a look at these websites (particularly Chemguide).

    http://www.gcsechemistry.co.ukSome good free resources here
     http://www.misterguch.brinkster.net/eqnbalance.htmlTutorials on chemical formulae and balancingequations – essential basics for A Level Students
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/chemistryGood basic material see GCSE AQA core and additional.
    http://www.docbrown.info/page19/AQAchemistryAS.htmExcellent revision material for all levels‘Dr Brown’s site’ (but you have to rummage a bit)
    Useful sources of information on each of the elements.Nice videos of explosions etc.
    http://www.s-cool.co.ukExcellent revision source for both GCSE and A Level.
    http://www.chemguide.co.ukThe best A Level site very thorough and quite easy to navigate
    http://www.mp-docker.demon.co.ukIncludes revision quizzes specific to A Level

    There are also many revision guides on the market. They all offer similar help, their efficacy is probably determined by what works for you.

    Your first few weeks of the course are very important and we will carefully monitor your progress and offer support and advice where necessary. Above all, you must be honest with yourself and undertake additional work/ come to support sessions as appropriate.

  • Progression:

    What does this course lead to?

    In the past our students have joined university courses in Aerospace Engineering, Biology, Biomedical Science, Bio-Veterinary Science, Chemical Engineering, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, English, Geography, Pharmacy, Mathematics, Medical science, Medicine, Midwifery, Optometry, Physics and Zoology. To name but some!

    Student Success

    The department is proud of the success of its students. We regularly achieve 100% pass-rate at A Level (and excellent value added, as recorded by ALIS and ALPS). Many students progress onto the most demanding of university courses, but we pride ourselves on helping all our students achieve the best they can and so move on to their next step with confidence. We also hope they enjoy their study of chemistry!

    Former Driffield School student Peter achieved an A* grade in Chemistry and is now studying Dental Surgery at The University of Leeds.

    Former South Holderness School student Hannah achieved an A grade in Chemistry and is now studying Veterinary Medicine at The University of Glasgow.