Peter Symonds College

Study at PSC

Everything you see, touch, taste, or smell, involves Chemistry in some way. As the central science subject, Chemistry fits well with Biology, Physics, and related subjects. Chemists will be needed to help tackle problems facing us such as finding more environmentally friendly alternatives to current plastics and fuels, devising better batteries, making more effective medicines - maybe this will involve you!

Course Content

Year 1 modules include:

  • Practical skills: planning, implementing, analysis and evaluation
  • Foundations in Chemistry: atomic structure, bonding, moles, acid-base, redox
  • Periodic table and energy: Groups 2 and 7, periodicity, enthalpy changes, qualitative analysis, reaction rates and equilibrium (qualitative)
  • Core organic Chemistry: hydrocarbons, alcohols, haloalkanes, organic synthesis, infra-red spectroscopy and mass spectrometry

Year 2 modules include:

  • Physical Chemistry, transition elements: quantitative treatment of equilibrium and reaction rates, pH and buffers, enthalpy, entropy and free energy, electrode potentials, transition elements
  • Organic Chemistry and analysis: aromatic compounds, carbonyl compounds, carboxylic acids and esters, nitrogen compounds, polymers, organic synthesis, chromatography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy

Methods of Teaching

Lessons involve a combination of theory and practical activities. You are expected to be attentive, focusing on work set, to participate in class discussions, and to carry out experimental work carefully. Homework includes: reading textbooks, making summary notes, answering set questions, and preparing for tests and exams. Frequent homework/private study is essential for success in this subject.

Videos, intranet and internet resources reinforce visual learning. Model making and practical work develop your practical skills and reinforces kinaesthetic learning.

Workshops are held frequently offering help as required with individual problems.

Methods & Patterns of Assessment

A Level: End of Year 2

Three exams of approx 2 hours each. There is no coursework, but the exam papers include questions on practical skills. The award of a separate practical endorsement at A Level depends on successful completion of the experimental tasks set during the course.

Practical activities include:

Year 1:

  • Making an inorganic compound and finding its empirical formula by experiment
  • Identifying unknown salts
  • Finding the concentration of a solution by titration
  • Oxidising an alcohol to a carboxylic acid

Year 2:

  • Making and purifying aspirin
  • Finding the kinetic order of a reaction
  • Investigating transition metal complexes
  • Making and testing electrochemical cells

Where Could It Take Me?

Advanced level Chemistry is essential for further study of Chemistry, Biochemistry, Chemical Engineering, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy, Pharmacology, and recommended for Biology, Forensic Science, Geology, Geography, Oceanography, and Environmental Science.

Financial Implications

You need to buy the course textbook, ‘A Level Chemistry for OCR A’ by Ritchie and Gent for study at home. For details please see college booklist which is available when you start college. The college provides lab coats, safety spectacles, goggles, books for class use, but you need to provide your own stationery and scientific calculator. The college has a Student Support Fund for students needing help in meeting these costs.

Entry Requirements

5 GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English and one of the following combinations:

  • If you are studying separate sciences you are required to achieve GCSE grades 7, 6 and 6 (any order) in Chemistry, Mathematics and one other Science
  • If you are studying Combined Science you are required to achieve GCSE grades 7, 6 and 6 (any order) in Combined Science and Mathematics

Most Recent Results

Below is a summary of the most recent set of results for this subject:

Grade: A* A B C D E U Total
Total: 38 81 80 60 36 21 9 325
Percentage 11.7 24.9 24.6 18.5 11.1 6.5 2.8