Chemistry
A Level

Awarding Body: OCR A

Course Description

Chemistry is a highly-regarded A level subject – it is a ‘facilitating’ subject, i.e. valued when applying to a leading university. An A level qualification in Chemistry (often, but not always, in combination with other sciences) opens up a wide range of exciting career possibilities.

A grade 6 in GCSE Maths is required along with a minimum grade 6 in GCSE Chemistry and one other GCSE Science subject, or grade 6 in Double Science. Higher grades in Sciences preferred.

As an international student you must:

  • Demonstrate a suitable level of academic English, normally at CEFR level B1. For Tier Visa applications Portsmouth College recommends a minimum IELTS score of 5.5 overall (with no component lower than 5) to best succeed in your studies.
  • Demonstrate that you are competent to study at Level 3 in your chosen subjects during your application, including certificates of your qualifications and subject specific requirements such as evidence of an art portfolio for entry on to one of our Art courses.
  • Successfully complete a Skype interview with the College to discuss and assess your choices.

The course consists of the following areas of study:

  • Development of Practical Skills in Chemistry
  • Foundations in Chemistry
  • Periodic Table and Energy
  • Core Organic Chemistry
  • Physical Chemistry and Transition Elements
  • Organic Chemistry and Analysis

Students will develop skills to allow independent learning and problem solving; a crucial element of being successful in this pure science subject. Practical work will be emphasised and students will be supported to complete the course with a practical endorsement alongside their A level qualification. Students will learn to answer questions by applying their knowledge to an unknown scientific situation.

There are three exams at the end of the two years of study:

  • Paper 1: 37% of total, 2 hrs 15 mins long – Periodic Table, Elements and Physical Chemistry.
  • Paper 2: 37% of total, 2 hrs 15 mins long – Synthesis and Analytical Techniques.
  • Paper 3: 26% of total, 1 hrs 30 mins long – Unified Chemistry.
  • Practical Endorsement – You will keep a lab book which contains the evidence for the practical endorsement.

It is always important to inquire about relevant work experience, particularly for students pursuing careers in medicine and veterinarian sciences. Also, if you would like to improve your mathematics qualifications, inquire about Core Mathematics alongside your main subjects.

This subject is well regarded by universities and employers. It is a challenging science subject which combines mathematics, analytical skills and problem solving, as well as linking to biology and physics. It is a course requirement for more courses than any other A level – particularly medicine, dentistry and veterinarian sciences, in addition to chemistry, chemical engineering and more. Chemistry is critical to the big issues facing our world, such as energy, climate change and feeding a growing global population, as well as cutting-edge development in materials science and biomedical sciences. It is also valued by other careers such as law and the financial industries for its high level of analytical problem solving, alongside dealing with highly complex and abstract scenarios.

All external exams are held in the summer of the second year of study.