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From the moment you are born, and throughout your life, you are surrounded by chemistry; the air you breathe, the food you eat and the clothes you wear – they’re all chemistry. It’s the scientific study of substances: what they are made of, how they interact with each other and their role in the world.
This is a challenging A Level very highly regarded by universities and employers alike. A practical subject, you’ll develop key transferable skills through carrying out experiments, recording your discoveries and solving problems, often applying mathematics. You’ll learn about the fundamentals of chemistry, the periodic table and energy, organic chemistry and analysis, physical chemistry and transition elements.
The course helps students develop a solid foundation of inorganic and organic Chemistry as well as considering aspects of environmental and technological issues: improving efficiency and protecting the environment.
Chemistry combines well with STEM and earth sciences. If you’re considering studying the chemical sciences at university, we recommend you also take A Level Mathematics. It is a required subject for Medicine, Veterinary Science and Dentistry, alongside subjects such as Pharmacy, Pharmacology and Chemical Engineering. The rigorous demand of A Level Chemistry also makes it suitable for those considering courses outside the STEM area such as Law and Economics.
A minimum of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and Mathematics at grade 4 or above.
On this course you will study:
Foundations of chemistry – this module builds on GCSE science and includes basic ideas about the structure of atoms and molecules. There is significant focus on developing your numerical skills and confidence in tackling mole calculations. You will also develop your understanding of electronic structure and the three dimensional shape of molecules.
Periodic table and energy – you will study the chemistry of the halogens and group 2 metals in depth, alongside an overview of trends in chemical behaviour across the Periodic Table. You will learn how to identify substances through simple qualitative tests. Fundamental ideas in Physical Chemistry such as enthalpy change and chemical equilibria are introduced.
Core organic – basic concepts such as bonding and systematic naming are covered. The chemistry of alcohols and haloalkanes introduces a systematic study of functional groups. Organic synthesis and instrumental techniques for analysis complete the first year study.
Physical chemistry and transition elements – includes a mathematical treatment of reaction rates and chemical energetics. The study of redox reactions includes more complex mole calculations, an introduction to electrode potentials and the construction of fuel cells. A study of the chemistry of the transition metals completes this module.
Organic chemistry and analysis – covers the chemistry of benzene and organic nitrogen compounds, the structure and function of polymers and further organic synthesis. Analytical techniques include chromatography and nmr.
Practical skills are developed throughout the two years. You will carry out a wide range of experiments, learning to make precise observations and measurements. You will be able to synthesise and analyse organic products such as aspirin.
All of our lecturers are leading subject and industry professionals.
Chemistry is taught in well-equipped, modern science labs. Lecturers will explain chemical principles; you will carry out problem solving activities which often involve application of mathematical techniques. Experimental work forms a vital component of the course and you will be assessed on your practical skills. You must be prepared to commit a lot of key facts and formulae to memory.
You will be expected to complete homework every week; regular tests will enable you to track your progress. Students are invited to participate in optional additional activities such as advanced practical work at local universities.
The course is assessed through a series of examinations at the end of the second year. Three separate exams cover: Periodic Table, Elements and Physical Chemistry; Synthesis and Analytical Techniques and Unified Chemistry. The papers include multiple choice, structured and extended responses. You will be expected to solve numerical problems and be assessed on your understanding of practical work. You will be asked to apply your knowledge of chemistry in familiar and new contexts.
In addition, there is a pass/fail Practical Endorsement based on 12 practical activity groups. You will keep a lab book throughout the two years to provide evidence for this certification.
I got into both of the Universities I wanted to. It happens so fast and it’s an amazing feeling when you think that all of the work you’ve done has paid off in the best way possible.Anton Sukhorukov, A Level student
South Downs is a really good College, and it is definitely somewhere you can achieve your dreams.Yolanda Stemp, BTEC student
The tutors were really supportive and it was all thanks to them that I have achieved what I have. I’ve also made loads of great friends and really enjoyed my time at South Downs College.Lizaveta Sinkerich, A Level student
Chemistry is an A Level subject accepted by universities for a whole range of degrees. In the past, our students have progressed to degrees within the health sciences such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, nursing, midwifery, occupational therapy, radiography, optometry, paramedic science, biomedical sciences, forensic science, neuroscience, pharmacy and pharmacology.
Chemistry combines well with other physical and biological sciences; students have gone on to study Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Biochemistry, Biology, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Geotechnical Engineering, Geology, Mechanical Engineering. Degree paths outside the STEM subjects have included languages, Economics, Law, History and Music.
Chemist, Pharmacist, Doctor, Vet, Dentist, Civil Engineer, Geologist, Forensic, Scientist, Biomedical Scientist, Chemical Engineer