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Chemistry A level at Paston Sixth Form College

Course description

Chemistry looks at how and why substances react together and the use that can be made of this to enhance our lives - from fighting disease to conducting electricity. It is the core science requiring descriptive and analytical skills.

Course content

First year Chemistry

In first year Chemistry you study.

  • Atomic structure: electron shells and how they are divided into orbitals, the mass spectrometer and the ‘masses’ of atoms
  • Chemistry calculations: how to find the amounts of substances formed in reactions and how to find the concentrations of unknown solutions
  • Structure and bonding: different structures explain the huge variety of properties of common substances e.g. graphite and common salt
  • Chemical reaction rates and ‘equilibria’: how far and fast do chemical reactions go?
  • Oxidation and reduction: how metals such as iron, aluminium and titanium are extracted and why these methods are used
  • Patterns and trends in the Periodic Table: how Group 2 elements (metals such as magnesium) and Group 7 elements (non-metals such as chlorine) react
  • Organic Chemistry: many drugs are carbon compounds. We see how and why these can be converted into other useful substances.  

Second year Chemistry

In second year Chemistry you build on and develop skills and understanding gained in the first year and study: 

  • How reaction rates depend on concentrations and how to investigate how reactions occur
  • Calculating the amount of product formed in a reversible chemical reaction
  • How we calculate the pH of solutions of acids and alkalis and how indicators work
  • Organic compounds – we study more organic molecules particularly those leading to important drugs such as aspirin and paracetamol; how we make polymers e.g. polyesters used in textiles and polyamides used in bullet-proof vests
  • Organic molecules - finding their structure using modern spectroscopic techniques such as nuclear magnetic resonance - similar to MRI scanning
  • The fundamental laws of energy change - why some things react and others do not
  • Detailed study of the Chemistry of the elements sodium to sulphur in the periodic table and their oxides
  • How chemical reactions can be used to give electrical energy and the design of cells 
  • Transition metals including why they are good catalysts and have coloured compounds

Entry requirements

BBCCC at GCSE including English Language and Mathematics and a B in Additional Science or Chemistry. You must study Chemistry alongside AS Mathematics or Use of Maths and a second science or Mathematics subject.


There are three written papers at the end of the course, which examine all the material from the two years; 

Paper 1 (35%): 1 ½ hours – Inorganic Chemistry and relevant Physical Chemistry; Relevant practical skills 

Paper 2 (35%): 1 ½ hours – Organic Chemistry and relevant Physical Chemistry; Relevant practical skills 

Paper 3 (30%): 2 hours - All practical skills and questions on any area of Chemistry covered 

All papers contain a mixture of short and longer answer questions; one third of paper 3 will be multiple choice questions.

Future opportunities

Chemistry is essential if you aim to study Chemistry, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry or Pharmacy at university and extremely useful for the biological sciences. It is also an excellent preparation for an extensive range of scientific and non-science careers.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Paston Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 09 September 2016

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