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Chemistry AS/A Level at Richard Taunton Sixth Form College

Course description

Chemistry is the branch of science concerned with the properties and interactions of the substances all matter is composed of. The Russell Group Universities call it a ‘facilitating subject’ because it opens the door to a wide range of areas of study and work. Chemistry is at the forefront of innovation in so many fields, not least medicine, materials, energy and the environment. Our A Level Chemistry course will follow the OCR A syllabus.

Course content

   The course is divided into 6 modules - there are 2 exams for the AS Level and 3 exams for the A Level.

There is no longer any examined coursework.

The AS and A Level courses are now separate qualifications. Marks awarded at AS no longer count towards the full A Level. However, it is college policy that all students will take the AS qualification at the end of the first year.

Modules covered during 1st year:

1.   Development of Practical Skills in Chemistry
This unit is covered throughout the course and develops students’ knowledge and confidence of practical chemistry skills.

2.   Foundations in Chemistry
This unit enables students to understand the fundamental concepts in Chemistry and introduces them to calculations they will use throughout the course.

3.   Periodic Table and Energy
This unit covers the differences between elements, the energy changes that happen during reactions as well as rates of reaction and equilibria.

4.   Core Organic Chemistry
This unit covers the basics in organic chemistry and introduces the students to classes of compounds such as alkanes, alkenes, alcohols and halogenoalkanes.

Modules covered during 2nd year:

5.   Physical Chemistry and the Transition Elements
This unit covers acid and basic solutions and explores pH and Buffers. It also expands upon ideas about energy changes and introduces the concepts of entropy and free energy

6.   Organic Chemistry and Analysis
This unit extends students’ knowledge of organic chemistry by introducing carboxylic acids and esters, as well as aromatic compounds. Students also learn about spectroscopic methods of chemical identification.

There is also a non-examined endorsement of the students’ practical skills. This is assessed throughout the course and does not count towards the final A Level grade.

AS Level Course:

Paper 1: Breadth in Chemistry (50% of AS Level)        

Paper 2: Depth in Chemistry (50% of AS Level)

Papers 1 and 2 can assess any content from Modules 1 to 4.

A Level Course:

Paper 1: Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry (37% of A Level)

Paper 2: Synthesis and analytical techniques (37% of A Level)

Paper 3: Unified chemistry (26% of total A Level)

The A Level covers topics from the AS modules taught in the first year, as well as two modules taught during the second year.

Paper 1 assesses content from modules 1, 2, 3 & 5

Paper 2 assess content from modules 1, 2, 4 & 6

Paper 3 assesses content from all 6 modules.

Entry requirements


  • At least five GCSEs at grade C or above, to include English Language - GCSE Maths and GCSE Science (Additional) should be at grade B or above.
  • You need to enjoy doing practical work, problem-solving and independent study
    • The course involves a large proportion of time doing experiments
    • You need to be able to link what you see in the lab with new theoretical ideas, and you must be able to write about these ideas using scientific terms correctly
    • There is some mathematical work involved in processing experimental evidence and some calculations which may use horrible numbers, but the sums are not too complicated

Future opportunities

A Level Chemistry is essential for further study of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Food Science. It is highly recommended for Biology, Forensic Science, Geology and various Environmental Science courses. It can also help you develop many skills that are useful in other walks of life; therefore a qualification in Chemistry is seen as a good basis for further study in other careers.

Further information

At AS and A Level, Chemistry is often combined with Mathematics, Biology and Physics, but is a good match for any AS/A Level. Students concentrating on Humanities, Arts, Music or Modern Languages take Chemistry as an AS to broaden their studies by continuing to take a science subject.

You will pick up new laboratory skills in purpose-built labs that are well equipped, and you will be taught to handle complex apparatus and hazardous chemicals safely.

How to apply

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

Last updated date: 31 October 2016

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