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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 and pharmacy, materials science (including nanotechnology), forensics, the environment and next-generation computer hardware are all driven by 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 course.

Chemistry is a fascinating and fundamental subject. You will study thirteen 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

For AS Level, you will study the first four modules which will be assessed at the end of the one year linear course as a stand-alone qualification. For A Level, you will study all six topics over the two years which will be assessed at the end of the two year linear course.

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. You will build practical skills throughout the A Level course which will lead to a practical endorsement. You will be required to undertake 12 core practical investigations, but you will experience many more throughout the course as practical work reinforces the theory studied. The practical skills developed throughout the A Level programme will be assessed by your lecturers and will be based on direct observation of your competency in a range of skills that are not assessable in written exams. Evidence to support the practical endorsement is gained over the course of the two years and is assessed on a pass or fail basis. You will be assessed on your conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental method at the end of your A Level studies.

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 studied are: aromatic compounds, carboxylic acids, esters, amines, polymers and synthetic organic chemistry.

Entry requirements

Minimum of 5 GCSEs grades A*- C including at least GCSE B in Chemistry and one other science subject or grade BB in Core and Additional Science. In addition we require at least GCSE grade B in Mathematics and English.


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:

  • You will be assessed through end of topic tests under timed conditions in class, regular homework questions and through completion of class activities. You will then be given detailed feedback on your progress.
  • Investigative skills and understanding are a vital part of the scientific process and you will be expected develop your practical proficiency throughout the course.
  • You will review your own performance in 1:1 sessions with your tutor.
  • You will undertake mock examinations on each unit in advance of your final exams.
  • You will sit formal A Level exams at the end of your two years of study. You will also be required to sit AS Level exams at the end of your first year to gain an AS Level qualification. A Level grades will be based only on marks for written exams, and your practical endorsement will be assessed separately as pass or fail.

Future opportunities

If you want to study medicine, dentistry, pharmacy or veterinary science then A Level Chemistry is essential. In addition, an understanding of chemistry is desirable for the study of many other subjects and A Level Chemistry is valued highly by universities 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

You will be expected to undertake at least 4-6 hours of independent study time per week. Throughout the year you will be able to access additional support through drop-in sessions, dedicated revision workshops, tailored 1-to-1 provision, as well as a variety of additional opportunities to stretch and challenge the most able students. We encourage you to proactively engage with the support available in order to reach your full potential.

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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