As well as being part of our daily lives, Chemistry is a fundamental subject in science. In different areas it overlaps with Biology and Medicine, with Physics and Engineering and with Geology and Earth Science.
Chemistry is the study of what the world we live in is made of: from the complex chemistry of living organisms, to the paper and ink in what we read. The chemical industry is the biggest in the world and chemists generate more wealth and resources than any other group of professionals.
Many doors are open to graduates and career opportunities are diverse. Some of the areas where chemists are found include the oil industry, pharmaceutical companies, public health and environmental protection agencies, university research, government institutions, patent agencies and forensic medicine.
In the Middle Department, Chemistry is taught as part of combined Science lessons.
Term 1: The alkali metals, order of reactivity, introduction to stoichiometry, describing a reaction, word and symbol equations, patterns in equations, metals and acids.
Term 2: Reacting metals, group trends in the periodic table, metals and acids, comparing reactivity, developing a reactivity series, acid concentration, preparing solutions, displacement reactions, displacement equations.
Term 3: Metals and non-metals, predicting reactions, corrosion of metals, prevention of rust, exceptional elements, metallic conductors, acids/alkalis/bases.
Terms 4 and 5: The evidence for a reaction, explaining the changes, carbonates and acids, salts, formulae of salts, making a salt, salts by neutralisation, precipitating salts, using salts, separation of mixtures.
Year 10: Stoichiometry; writing symbols, formulae and equations. Chemical bonding; ionic, covalent and metallic bonding, macromolecules. Electricity and chemistry; electrolysis of aqueous solutions and molten solids. Industrial processes involving electrolysis. Chemical reactions; factors affecting the rate of a chemical reaction, reversible reactions. The periodic table; general properties and trends within the table, the chemistry of Groups 1 and 7, the transition elements and the noble gases. Sulphur chemistry; sources and uses of sulphur, sulphur dioxide and sulphuric acid. The mole concept. Chemical changes; exothermic and endothermic reactions.
Year 11: Organic chemistry; names of compounds, fuels, homologous series, alkanes, alkenes, alcohols, acids, macromolecules (polymers). Metals; properties of metals, reactivity series, extraction of metals, uses of metals. Identification of ions and gases. Carbonates, redox reactions; defining oxidation and reduction processes in various ways. Oxidising and reducing agents.
Unit 1: The Core principles of Chemistry (taught in Terms 1 and 2)
This unit provides opportunities for students to develop the basic chemical skills of formulae writing, equation writing and calculating chemical quantities.
The study of energetics in chemistry is of theoretical and practical importance. In this unit, students learn to define, measure and calculate enthalpy changes. They will see how a study of enthalpy changes can help chemists understand chemical bonding.
The study of atomic structure introduces s, p, and d orbitals and shows how a more detailed understanding of electron configurations can account for the arrangement of elements in the periodic table. The unit introduces the three types of strong chemical bonding (ionic, covalent and metallic). Organic chemistry is also introduced, with students studying alkanes and alkenes.
Unit 3: Chemistry Laboratory Skills 1 (taught throughout the year)
The practical assessments cover the areas of physical, organic and inorganic chemistry. The types of practicals that students must complete are qualitative observations, quantitative measurements and preparations. Practical work measuring energy changes helps students to understand the ideas of uncertainty in measurements and evaluate their results in terms of systematic and random errors. The introduction to organic chemistry shows how chemists work safely with potentially hazardous chemicals by managing risks.
Unit 4: Rates, Equilibria and Further Organic Chemistry (taught in Terms 1 and 2)
Students make a quantitative study of chemical kinetics and take further their study of organic reaction mechanisms. The topics of entropy and equilibria show how chemists are able to predict quantitatively the direction and extent of chemical change.
The organic chemistry in this unit covers carbonyl compounds, as well as carboxylic acids and their derivatives. The historical development of theories explaining acids and bases shows how scientific ideas change as a result of new evidence and fresh thinking.
Students are required to apply the knowledge gained in Units 1 and 2 to all aspects of this unit. This includes nomenclature, ideas of isomerism, bond polarity and bond enthalpy, reagents and reaction conditions, reaction types and mechanisms. Students are also expected to use formulae and balance equations and calculate chemical quantities.
Unit 5: Transition Metals and Organic Nitrogen Chemistry (taught in Terms 3 and 4)
In this unit, the study of electrode potentials builds on the study of redox in Unit 2, including the concept of oxidation number and the use of redox half equations. Students will study further chemistry related to redox and transition metals.
The organic chemistry section of this unit focuses on arenes and organic nitrogen compounds such as amines, amides, amino acids and proteins. Students are expected to use the knowledge and understanding of organic chemistry that they have gained over the whole AS/A2 course when covering the organic synthesis section.
Unit 6: Chemistry Laboratory Skills 2
Through practical work, students will learn about the methods used to measure reaction rates. They will collect data, analyse it and interpret the results. They will then see how a knowledge of rate equations and other evidence can enable chemists to propose models to describe the mechanisms of reactions.
The study of entropy introduces students to the methods of thermodynamics and shows how chemists use formal, quantitative and abstract thinking to answer fundamental questions about the stability of chemicals and the direction of chemical change.
The unit tests the equilibrium law by showing the degree to which it can accurately predict changes during acid-base reactions, notably the changes to pH during titrations. Students have further opportunities to carry out quantitative analysis, to interpret complex data and to assess the outcomes in terms of the principles of valid measurement. The topic of organic synthesis illustrates a selection of the techniques that chemists have developed to carry out reactions and to purify products efficiently and safely.
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