Course Outline – Chemistry

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The Chemistry curriculum is designed to develop the skills needed for our students to become capable and confident scientists. We endeavour to promote STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) based careers and share our passion and enthusiasm of Chemistry with our students. Our teaching assumes that all students could be the scientists of the future if they so choose, and allows them to achieve to the best of their ability.

Through the Chemistry curriculum we teach many transferable skills and how science works, contributing to the cultural capital of the students. In addition students learn how to use chemicals safely and how to behave with fire.  The course ranges widely from the practical applications of chemistry, such as why food bags fall apart and how to descale a kettle to wider environmental issues including global warming.  Students gain general transferable skills such as problem solving, manipulation of apparatus, planning investigations, data interpretation and evaluation. 

The Chemistry Curriculum

  • Years 7 and 8 – the aim of the course is to provide a suitable basis for GCSE studies in Chemistry and to fulfil the requirements of the National Curriculum Key Stage 3. This requires the student to develop scientific knowledge and conceptual understanding through progression; scientific enquiry though Chemistry practical work, and become equipped with scientific knowledge and understanding of the uses and implications of Chemistry. Practical work forms over 50% of the KS3 curriculum, allowing students to develop a scientific attitude, experimental, analytical and evaluation skills, as well as measurement and appropriate mathematical skills. Topics include Separating Mixtures, Acids and Alkalis, Crystals, Elements and Compounds, Rusting and Rates of Reaction.
  • Years 9 to 11 – the course followed is the Edexcel 1CH0 specification, which provides continuity from Years 7 and 8 and is spread across 3 years. This allows practical work to be extended beyond the core practicals and allows students to discover, investigate and witness a wide range of experiments and techniques and further develop the practical and investigative skills learned in Years 7 and 8.  The course moves at a good pace, while allowing opportunities to revisit earlier topics and giving time for revision and examination practice.  Topics include: Atomic Structure, Structure and Bonding, Acids, Alkalis, Bases and Salts, the Periodic Table, Analysis, Chemical Calculations, Separating and Purifying, the Mole, Gases, Organic Chemistry, Electrolysis, the Reactivity Series, Titrations, Energy Changes, Rates of Reaction, Equilibria, Group Trends, Materials and Nano-particles
  • Years 12 and 13 – Chemistry is a popular A Level subject at CCHSG, with between 60 and 80 students studying each year. The OCR A Level syllabus (H432) is a particularly up-to-date course, with an emphasis on understanding why things happen rather than memorising facts.  It provides the ideal basis on which to study sciences, Medicine or Veterinary Medicine at university.  The course consists of approximately equal amounts of time spent on Physical, Organic, Inorganic and Practical Chemistry. There is at least one hour of practical work each week which is designed to reinforce the concepts introduced in theory lessons. Titrations are used to establish the formulae of compounds and analysis is extended to allow the identification of a large range of materials. Practical techniques are examined within the written examinations and also through the teacher-assessed Practical Endorsement. Topics include: Atomic Structure, Chemical Bonding, Enthalpy Changes, Rates of Reaction, Equilibria, Redox Potentials, Energetics and Entropy, Periodic Table, Group Trends, Qualitative Analysis, Transition Metals, Organic chemistry, Spectroscopy.

Department facilities

The department is fortunate in having a suite of twelve purpose built laboratories served by five preparation rooms and a team of three technicians. This results in almost all science lessons being taught in laboratories and allows practical work to be fully integrated into the lessons at the most opportune time.

Co-Curriculum and Extracurricular Activities

Enthusiasm for Chemistry is further promoted in a range of extracurricular opportunities including a Year 7 Science Club and a range of competitions such as “Scrub up on Science”, the Salters Festival of Chemistry, Chemistry Mastermind, the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge, the Cambridge Chemistry Race and the Chemistry Olympiad. There are also trips including to GCSE Science Live, Chemistry Conferences, the Chemistry at Work Exhibition and the Royal Society Summer Exhibition.

Opportunities for Further Study and Destinations

Chemistry is the central science and is therefore a valuable and, in many cases, essential basis for further study in science.  Chemistry A Level is a normal requirement for the following courses: Medicine, Veterinary Science, Dentistry, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacy and Chemical Engineering.  In addition, success with A Level Chemistry reflects transferable skills such as numeracy, analysis and problem solving, skills which are widely valued by both universities and employers in management, finance and other technical areas. Over the last four years, our students have gone on to study the following courses, amongst others, at university: Medicine, Natural Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Biology, Physics, Dentistry, Biochemistry, Veterinary Medicine, Chemical Engineering, Engineering and Ophthalmology.