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Chemistry AS & A Level at St Brendan's Sixth Form College

Course description

Chemistry is considered to be one of the most difficult A-level subjects, however if a student is hard-working and self-motivated, it will prove to be a stimulating and very rewarding course.

Some students choose to study Chemistry because they are interested in a chemistry-related career or it is a pre-requisite for other careers e.g. medicine, veterinary science, dentistry and pharmacy. Some choose it because it a valuable support subject for A-level Biology and can provide support for aspects of A-level Physics and Environmental Studies. Others simply choose it because they enjoy practical work, problem-solving and making sense of the material world around them, and they want to learn more.

Course content

The course is tutored by well-qualified Chemistry specialists who aim to stimulate interest in and enjoyment of chemistry and to foster imaginative, logical and critical thinking. The course integrates theory and experimental work, developing investigative and manipulative skills. Students are encouraged to develop their scientific communication skills through research, discussion and written work. First Year Study

The A-Level Year 1 course is divided into the 3 areas of Physical, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry.

Physical Chemistry

  • Atomic structure
  • Amount of substance
  • Bonding
  • Energetics
  • Kinetics
  • Chemical equilibria and Le Chatelier’s principle
  • Oxidation, reduction and redox equations

Inorganic Chemistry

  • Periodicity
  • Group 2, the alkaline earth metals
  • Group 7(17), the halogens

Organic Chemistry

  • Introduction to organic chemistry
  • Alkanes
  • Halogenoalkanes
  • Alkenes
  • Alcohols
  • Organic analysis

Second Year of Study

The A-Level Year 2 course is divided into the same 3 areas as Year 1 and incorporates additional material for each area.

Physical Chemistry

  • Thermodynamics
  • Rate equations
  • Equilibrium constant Kc for homogeneous systems
  • Electrode potentials and electrochemical cells
  • Acids and bases

Inorganic Chemistry

  • ​Properties of Period 3 elements and their oxides
  • Transition metals
  • Reactions of ions in aqueous solution

Organic Chemistry

  • Optical isomerism
  • Aldehydes and ketones
  • Carboxylic acids & derivatives
  • Aromatic chemistry
  • Amines
  • Polymers
  • Amino acids, proteins and DNA
  • Organic synthesis
  • N.M.R. spectroscopy
  • Chromatography

Entry requirements

  • A minimum of 5 GCSE’s at Grades A*-C or at point 4-9 (including English Language). Level 2 vocational qualifications (e.g. BTEC/OCR) must be a merit grade or above and will count as 1 GCSE equivalent.
  • GCSE grade B/ point 6 or higher in Mathematics
  • GCSE Chemistry B/ point 6 plus a B grade/ point 6 in either GCSE Biology or GCSE Physics (Triple award/Further Additional).
  • Or BB for Double award from Core and Additional Science


The A-level is entirely assessed by written examination at the end of year 2. Students will complete a range of practical activities; the knowledge and understanding of these will be assessed within the written exams. Practical skills will also be assessed by teacher observation in class to achieve the practical endorsement.

Future opportunities

A-level Chemistry provides a sound basis for students who wish to proceed to Higher Education.  A wide range of careers opportunities are open to them, such as – Analytical Chemistry, Archaeology, Art Restoration, Biochemistry, Conservation, Dentistry, Dietetics, Education, Engineering, Food Technology, Forensic Science, Forestry, Geology, Horticulture, Information Technology, Science Journalism, Material Science, Medicine, Museums, Nursing, Oceanography, Optometry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Radiography, Social Work, Sports & Fitness and Veterinary Science.

Further information

Students are encouraged to take part in both the ’Access to Bristol’ course and the Nuffield Crest programme, to visit medical and veterinary schools on courses such as Medisix and Vetsix, to enter the international RSC Chemistry Olympiad and the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. Visits have also been organised to the Universities of Bristol and Bath Departments of Chemistry for talks and demonstrations.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact St Brendan's Sixth Form College directly.

Last updated date: 24 October 2016

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