Chemistry

Subject Overview

Knowledge of chemicals and chemical processes provides insight into a variety of physical and biological phenomena and provides an excellent basis for understanding the physical universe we live in. Chemistry is a fascinating field of study, playing a role in everyone’s lives and touching almost every aspect of our existence in some way. 

Often referred to as the central science, Chemistry joins together Physics and Mathematics, Biology and Medicine, and the Earth and Environmental sciences. Students studying Chemistry at Stonyhurst achieve excellent examination results, in 2018, 75% achieved A*-B at A-Level, the average IB point score was 5.8 and 89% achieved 7-9 at GCSE. 

They also benefit from a wide variety of extracurricular opportunities including Chemical Societies for those wanting to extend their skills and knowledge of practical chemistry and competitions such as the Chemistry Olympiad and C3L6.

Curriculum

Key Stage 3 (Year 9)

There is a strong focus on developing pupils’ skill in practical chemistry and their understanding of scientific method. For example, pupils will plan different types of enquiries including recognising and controlling variables where necessary; They are taught to use a range of scientific equipment, taking repeat readings when appropriate. They evaluate their conclusions in oral and written forms such as displays and other presentations. Pupils have individual “skills lists” that record their developing competency with a wide range of techniques and apparatus. 

Our students are interested by and engaged in the world around them, enjoying the study of topics such as:

  • The particulate nature of matter
  • Atoms, elements and compounds
  • Pure and impure substances
  • Chemical reactions
  • Energetics
  • The Periodic Table
  • Kinetics
  • Earth and atmosphere

GCSE (Years 10 & 11)

At GCSE Chemistry we follow the AQA specification. 

This is a wide-ranging course which provides sound depth suitable for progression to A-Level.  It also requires knowledge of practical scientific principles to facilitate coursework. Our pupils continue to develop their scientific skills base, engaging with scientific inquiry in the pursuit of greater understanding of the world and their place in it. 

Chemistry is essentially an experimental science and as such, the course devotes a high proportion of the time to practical experimentation and investigative work. There are 8 required practical's running through the course to develop students working scientifically and using apparatus and techniques competently.  

Content includes:

  • Atomic structure and the periodic table
  • Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter  
  • Quantitative chemistry  
  • Chemical changes  
  • Energy changes  
  • The rate and extent of chemical change  
  • Organic chemistry
  • Chemical analysis  
  • Chemistry of the atmosphere  
  • Using resources

Assessment is by two 1-hour 45 minute written papers, to be sat at the end of the 2-year course. Each paper is worth 50% of the total marks. 

A Level (sixth form)

Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, Chemistry at sixth form is a prerequisite for many higher education courses, including Medicine, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy and Biochemistry. The Chemistry course is good preparation for further study in science as well as being an excellent way of stimulating logical thinking useful in many arts courses. A minimum of grade 7 at GCSE is required to study either A level or IB Chemistry. 

The specification followed at A-Level is AQA Chemistry.  

The main aim of an Advanced Chemistry course is for students to gain sufficient knowledge and understanding of chemical facts and theories to enable them to apply this knowledge to both familiar and novel situations.  Topics such as Structure, Energy and Rates of Reaction reappear in an expanded form together with a much larger Organic section and a study of the properties of elements and their compounds according to the Periodic classification. All classes take place in superbly equipped laboratories. 

Practical techniques, observations and conclusion are assessed throughout the course following a CPAC criteria looking at individual competency’s such as following instructions, adapting methods and hazard identification, the Paper 3 examination also assess these skills; most experimental work is performed individually.

Students sit three exams at the end of their A Level course, with each exam lasting for two hours. 

 

IB Diploma (sixth form)

Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, Chemistry at sixth form is a prerequisite for many higher education courses, including Medicine, Veterinary Science, Pharmacy and Biochemistry. The Chemistry course is good preparation for further study in science as well as being an excellent way of stimulating logical thinking useful in many arts courses. A minimum of grade 7 at GCSE is required to study either A level or IB Chemistry. 

Chemistry is available for study at Standard or Higher level as part of the IB Diploma.  The IB chemistry course has a good balance of practical investigation and theoretical studies and provides the opportunity to explore the subject and explain phenomena in much greater depth than GCSE. IB students also develop collaboration skills by joining in with a “Group 4 project” together with students taking other science subjects for IB, as they choose and investigate a group research question. 

Standard and Higher Level topics covered include:

  • Stoichiometry
  • Atomic Structure
  • Periodicity
  • Bonding
  • Energetics
  • Kinetics
  • Equilibrium
  • Acids and Bases
  • Redox
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Measurement and analysis.

Both Standard and Higher level students carry out their own individual investigation as part of the internal experiment where they propose a research question, plan, carry out, analyse and evaluate their own data on a topic area of their choice. 

There are also a selection of optional topics including Biochemistry, Materials, Energy and Medicinal chemistry students to give student and opportunity to understanding content in more depth and apply their learning to a particular context. 

Syllabus Outline: 

Higher level (240 hours)- Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20%, External assessment: 80%. 

Standard level (150 hours)- Internal assessment (individual investigation): 20%, External assessment: 80%.