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Chemistry A Level at Truro and Penwith College

Course description

Chemistry is truly the "central science". New breakthroughs in fields such as genetics, biochemistry, medicine, materials science, forensics, nanotechnology, drug discovery, the environment and next-generation computer hardware are all driven by chemistry.

Studying A Level Chemistry will give you an exciting insight into the contemporary world of chemistry. Emphasis throughout the course is on developing your knowledge, competence and confidence in practical skills and problem solving, together with enhancing your understanding of key chemical ideas and how they link to each other. All this makes A Level Chemistry a challenging and interesting subject.

Chemistry is a fascinating and fundamental subject. You will study 13 topic areas; each will allow you to explore a topic containing different key concepts. Once the features of a chemical topic have been developed, you will consider the applications and relevance to everyday life. Examples of topics you will study in the first year include the study of fundamental areas such as organic chemistry, energy, quantitative chemistry and chemical bonding alongside contemporary issues such as atmospheric chemistry. In the second year these topics are studied in more depth and new areas introduced such as 13C NMR spectroscopy. A variety of teaching methods are used with an emphasis on practical experimentation.

Course content

In Year 1 you will study 4 modules:

Module 1 Development of practical skills in Chemistry

Chemistry is a practical subject and the development of practical skills is fundamental to you understanding the nature of Chemistry. Your skills in planning, implementing, analysing and evaluating will be developed and these will be assessed in the written paper and contribute to your practical portfolio.

Module 2  Foundations in Chemistry

This module builds on your studies of GCSE Chemistry and provides you with knowledge and understanding of the important chemical ideas that underpin the study of A Level Chemistry including atomic structure, quantitative chemistry, reactions of acids, oxidation numbers and reduction and chemical bonding.

Module 3  Periodic Table and energy

In this module you will develop your understanding of inorganic and physical chemistry. Topic areas studied allow you to consider the application of energy use to everyday life and industrial processes and current environmental concerns associated with sustainability. Key topics are the periodic table and patterns in properties, enthalpy changes and their determination, rates of reaction, reversible reactions and chemical equilibrium and consideration of energy and yield in improving sustainability.

Module 4  Core Organic Chemistry

This module introduces you to organic chemistry and its important applications to everyday life. It enables you to understand how key reactions take place and how the structure of molecules are determined. This is a fundamental area of Chemistry; in addition to developing your organic practical skills you will study naming and formulae representation, organic reactions and isomerism, alcohols and haloalkanes, organic synthesis and instrumental analytical techniques to provide evidence of structural features in molecules.

In Year 2 you will study two modules alongside your practical portfolio:

Module 5 Physical Chemistry and transition elements

This module extends your understanding of energy, reaction rates, equilibria and the periodic table. It focuses on the study of reactions and how chemists use experimental data to alter reaction conditions. The main areas studied are rate, equilibrium, acids, bases and buffers, lattice enthalpy, entropy and free energy, electrochemistry and transition elements.

Module 6 Organic chemistry and analysis

This module introduces you to several new types of molecules and emphasises the importance of organic synthesis. It also adds NMR spectroscopy to your range of instrumental techniques used in organic and forensic analysis. The main areas studies are: aromatic compounds, carboxylic acids, esters, amines, polymers and synthetic organic chemistry.

You may take a stand alone AS in this subject in which you will be assessed on your first year modules.

Entry requirements

The basic requirement is five GCSEs at grade C to include a grade B in Chemistry and one other GCSE Science or grade BB in Core and Additional Science. Maths and English Language at grade B are also required.


Your achievement in this subject is dependent upon excellent attendance, punctuality and effort. You will learn in a friendly atmosphere, using a variety of assessment methods:

  1. You will be assessed regularly on your knowledge and understanding through weekly homework and regular tests.
  2. You will conduct practical work over the two years which will be teacher assessed and will contribute to the Practical Endorsement for Chemistry which is awarded on a Pass/Fail basis at the end of Year 2. You must pass the Practical Endorsement to gain your qualification.
  3. You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  4. You will undertake mock examinations in advance of your final exams.
  5. To achieve the A Level qualification you will be formally examined on all the modules that you have studied in Year 1 and 2 .The three examinations consist of multiple choice questions. structured and extended response questions covering theory and practical skills.

Future opportunities

If you want to study medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or veterinary science A Level Chemistry is essential. In addition, an understanding of chemistry is desirable for the study of many other subjects and universities value A Level Chemistry as it will equip you well for further study in the sciences as well as areas such as law and finance. Studying the chemical sciences at university level provides you with many skills such as problem solving, communication, creativity and teamwork; hence chemical scientists are much sought after and can pursue careers in many exciting and varied fields of work.

Further information

The course is supported by a textbook and a Moodle site which has a range of resources to help you. A range of textbooks and periodicals can be found in the Learning Resource Centres. In addition support outside of lectures is available.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Truro and Penwith College directly.

Last updated date: 15 June 2016

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