Chemistry

  • Why does water expand when it freezes?
  • Why is the sea blue?
  • Why do we get an explosion when we put a mento in a can of coke?
  • Why is a diamond so hard?
  • How does a battery work?
We can answer all these questions with the knowledge acquired in Chemistry A Level. Students who choose chemistry will study topics relating to physical, inorganic and organic chemistry and will carry out a series of required practical experiments which relate to the concepts being taught. 
 
In Physical chemistry you build on your understanding of the structure of the atom, chemical bonding and reaction equations. You will study thermodynamics which uses concepts such as Gibbs free energy, enthalpy and entropy data to predict whether a reaction is likely to occur at a specific temperature. You will investigate rates of reactions and catalysts that increase the rate of reaction. The concept of redox reactions will be introduced to explain how batteries generate electricity, and you will learn how to determine the pH level of acids and bases.
 
Organic chemistry concerns compounds containing carbon and hydrogen atoms (or more accurately, compounds with carbon-hydrogen bonds and carbon-carbon bonds). You will build on your understanding of the behaviour of alkanes, alkenes and alcohol, and introduce many other organic compounds. You will understand of how organic reactions occur and the influence of bond polarity, electron density and lone pairs of electrons on the mechanisms.
 
There are opportunities to make, purify and analyse organic compounds, gaining an understanding of the variety of apparatus and techniques used. Students develop their problem-solving skills as they interpret infra-red and 13C and proton NMR spectroscopic data as a means of working out the structures of unknown organic compounds.
 
The inorganic chemistry component of the course focuses on different sets of elements in the periodic table: the alkalines in Group 2; the halogens in Group 17; the Period 3 elements such as Sodium, Magnesium and Chlorine; and coloured compounds formed by the transition metals Titanium through to Copper on Period 4 of the periodic table. 
 
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