At a glance – the CCSS approach

Given the accelerated nature of the course we finish teaching the four examined units in Chemistry by the Easter break, which equates to teaching approximately a unit each half term.  The time in which each unit takes varies from group to group, as teaching is tailored to meet the needs and prior experience of those on the course.

Time is gained in the course by making links between concepts that overlap and resurface in more than one unit – reducing the level of re-teaching that occurs from AS to A2 in a conventional two year course.  In practice some of the earlier units have more time devoted to them at the start to ensure thorough understanding is gained, with some of the later content taught as well.  Later units are then more synoptic and tie in, reinforce and revise earlier content with new knowledge and understanding.

To ensure that all learning is highly focused, past paper questions are used extensively to check and refine learning and exam technique, both in lessons where time permits, as well as through homework.  This means that for any area, students are highly familiar with what will be expected of them and how a particular concept or piece of knowledge will be assessed in an exam.  Detailed feedback is given regularly to ensure that the common pitfalls and exam techniques are understood.

The first unit consists of a basic grounding in the foundational aspects of chemistry.  Atomic structure, sub shells and enthalpy changes being linked into bonding and its consequence on physical properties of elements.  The first parts of organic synthesis is studied here with a focus on the reactions and naming of alkanes and alkenes.

Unit two builds upon ideas of bonding to look at interactions between molecules and the consequences these have on their reactivity, mechanisms, solubility and boiling points. A specific focus is put into the reactions of group 2 and group 7 compounds from an inorganic context as well as Halogenoalkanes and alcohols.  There is also an initial exposure to reaction kinetics, chemical equilibria and spectroscopy.  These are built on in unit 4, being developed to a level where they can be numerically assessed and quantified through understanding of entropy, equilibrium constants, and rate equations.  Organic work is extended to look at the reactions of Halogenoalkanes and the different variants of the carbonyl functional group.  Unit 5 is highly synoptic and draws together elements from the previous three units as well as some new work on electrochemical cells, transition metal chemistry and organic work on benzene and organic Nitrogen compounds.

Practical work

The planned course of practical work seeks to reinforce the theoretical principles, to teach you how to handle equipment and chemicals safely and accurately and how to interpret results of chemical investigations. The assessed practicals are conducted as we go through the course and are enmeshed with the theoretical work so that they support each other effectively.

Background needed

The majority of students who do well on the One year course have had some prior experience of Chemistry to an equivalent standard, either through AS chemistry or else an equivalent qualification from a different educational system.  However, it is possible to cover the subject from scratch if you are prepared to work extra hard and can pick up new information and concepts very readily. Determination and the ability to work hard are the main criteria.

Suitable combinations

Biology, Physics, Mathematics, Business Studies, Economics, Geography and Psychology.

After A Level

Chemistry is an integral part of many degree courses, the main ones being Chemistry itself, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Chemical Engineering, Pharmacology, Biochemistry, Food Science, Marine Biology and Forensic Science. Chemistry A or AS-level is required for many Biology-based degrees. Its scientific approach also makes it a well-respected subject when applying for courses such as Law, Psychology, Business Studies, Accountancy – no shortage of choice!