Shrewsbury School

Chemistry in the Sixth Form

The following information is taken from our document 'The Sixth Form and Beyond', which is updated each December. It can be downloaded as a pdf file.

Head of Faculty: Dr A.D. Briggs

Although Chemistry at A Level relies on a sound knowledge of the subject at GCSE, it is suitable for those that have studied the subject either as a separate subject or as part of Dual Award Science.  Some students have achieved a degree of success with a background of a C grade at GCSE, although this is what one might term ‘unusual’, and we would normally recommend a B grade as the minimum requirement from GCSE with which to tackle the AS course.  An aptitude for, and facility with, numbers and mathematical concepts is certainly an advantage, although for those less confident students, the department runs a ‘Maths for Chemists’ class for the first few weeks at AS Level.

Chemistry fits particularly well with Physics, Biology and Mathematics, being the A Levels with which the subject shares some common material.  University courses in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Medicine, Dentistry, Veterinary Medicine, Forensic Science and Chemical Engineering have Chemistry as a pre-requisite. From the general employment perspective, those who have studied Chemistry to A Level are seen to possess a wide range of analytical, evaluative and organisational skills.   

We follow the OCR A Chemistry linear course, which is a content-led approach.  This flexible approach divides the specification into topics, each covering different key concepts of chemistry.  Teaching of practical skills is integrated with the theoretical topics and they are assessed both through written papers and the Practical Endorsement, which incorporates a series of ‘can do’ practical skills which is reported separately as a ‘pass’ or ‘fail’ grade. There is no coursework.

Content is split into six teaching modules:

  • Module 1 – Development of practical skills in chemistry
  • Module 2 – Foundations in chemistry
  • Module 3 – Periodic table and energy
  • Module 4 – Core organic chemistry
  • Module 5 – Physical chemistry and transition elements
  • Module 6 – Organic chemistry and analysis

There are three examinations in this course:

  • Paper 1: Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry,
        100 marks     2 hours 15 minutes        Modules 1, 2, 3 and 5.
  • Paper 2: Synthesis and analytical techniques
       100 marks     2 hours 15 minutes         Modules 1, 2, 4 and 6.
  • Paper 3: Unified chemistry
       70 marks     1 hour 30 minutes         All modules.

Practical activities are embedded within the learning outcomes of the course to encourage practical activities in the laboratory, enhancing students’ understanding of chemical theory and practical skills.

Throughout the two years of A Level Chemistry, we attempt to stimulate all of our pupils’ academic curiosity, and to encourage them to think beyond the confines of the syllabus we follow.  Many of our pupils take part in the Chemistry Olympiad in the Upper Sixth, and in the Lower Sixth online Olympiad a year earlier.  Three of our most promising Lower Sixth formers attend the Schools’ Analyst competition at Nottingham Trent University. We also run an Academic Extension Course, for Upper Sixth students looking to study Chemistry at university.



back to top