A Level Chemistry

Head of Department: Miss M Towns BSc (UWE)
Email: mtowns@stedmundscollege.org
Dr J Eves  BSc (UWE Bristol) MSc PhD (Dublin) -Director of Key Stage 5, Gifted & Talented Co-ordinator
Email: jeves@stedmundscollege.org


This information can be also found in the download at the bottom of this page.


Over the course of Year 1 the following content will be covered:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3 and Module 4

There will be two assessment points in the year—November and June.

Assessments will be 1 hour 30 minutes and consists of 70 marks. The papers may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions.

The papers will also include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.

Following the internal assessment in June, students will begin work on Year 2 material,  and opportunity to complete independent research.


Year 2 CHEMISTRY (H432)
Paper 1 H432/01 Periodic table, elements and physical chemistry (37% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 2 hours 15 minutes and consists of 100 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.



Paper 2 H432/02 Synthesis and analytical techniques (37% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 2 hours 15 minutes and consists of 100 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.



Paper 3 H432/03 Unified Chemistry (26% of the total qualification)
This paper will examine the following modules:

Module 1, Module 2, Module 3, Module 4, Module 5 and Module 6

Assessment is 1 hour and 30 minutes and consists of 70 marks

The paper may include multiple choice, short responses, calculations and extended writing questions

The paper will include questions that target the conceptual and theoretical understanding of experimental work.




Module 1 – Development in practical skills in

Content summary

Students learn how to perform a wide variety of experiments and learn important practical skills. They learn how to record data and to interpret qualitative and quantitative experimental results using appropriate mathematical skills. Students learn how to evaluate results and draw conclusions. Selection of suitable apparatus and techniques. Recording data with appropriate units for measurements and significant figures. Plotting and interpreting suitable graphs from experimental results. Analysis of quantitative data to evaluate results and draw conclusions. Identification of anomalies in experimental measurements. Evaluating the limitations in experimental procedures, precision and accuracy of measurements and data, including margins of error, percentage errors and uncertainties in apparatus.
Module 2 – Foundations in Chemistry

Content summary

Starting with basic atomic structure and isotopes students learn important basic chemical skills: writing chemical formulae, constructing equations and calculating chemical quantities using the concept of amount of substance. The role of acids, bases and salts in chemistry is developed in the context of neutralisation reactions and titration experiments. Finally, redox reactions are studied within the context of oxidation number and electron transfer. Atomic structure and isotopes. Different models for atomic structure can be used to explain different phenomena, e.g. the Bohr model explains periodic properties. The changing accepted models of atomic structure over time. The use of evidence to accept or reject particular models. Energy levels, shells, sub-shells, atomic orbirtals and electronic configuration.

Ionic and covalent bonding. The shapes of molecules and ions. Electronegativity and bond polarity. Intermolecular forces.

Compounds, formulae and equations. Moles. Determination of formula. Calculation of reacting masses, gas volumes and mole concentrations. Percentage yields and atom economy.

Acids, bases, alkalis and neutralisation reactions. Acid–base titrations and their calculations,

Oxidation number Redox reactions

Module 3 – Periodic table and energy

Content Summary

The focus of this module is inorganic and physical chemistry, the applications of energy use to everyday life and industrial processes, and current environmental concerns associated with sustainability. Periodic trends are first studied to extend the understanding of structure and bonding. Group properties are then studied using Group 2 and the halogens as typical metal and non-metal groups respectively, allowing an understanding of redox reactions to be developed further. Finally, this section looks at how unknown ionic compounds can be analysed and identified using simple test-tube tests.

Learners first learn about the importance of enthalpy changes, their uses and determination from experimental results including enthalpy cycles. Then it investigates the ways in which a change in conditions can affect the rate of a chemical reaction, in terms of activation energy, the Boltzmann distribution and catalysis. Reversible reactions are then studied, including the dynamic nature of chemical equilibrium and the influence of conditions upon the position of equilibrium. Finally, the integrated roles of enthalpy changes, rates, catalysts and equilibria are considered as a way of increasing yield and reducing energy demand, improving the sustainability of industrial processes.

This module introduces organic chemistry and its important applications to everyday life, including current environmental concerns associated with sustainability. The module provides learners with a knowledge and understanding of the important chemical ideas that underpin the study of organic chemistry. Topics covered include: nomenclature and formula representation, functional groups, organic reactions and isomerism; aliphatic hydrocarbons; alcohols and haloalkanes; organic practical skills and organic synthesis; instrumental analytical techniques to provide evidence of structural features in molecules.
Module 5—Physical Chemistry and  Transition  Metals

Content summary

This module extends the study of energy, reaction rates and equilibria, and the periodic table. The main areas of physical chemistry studied include: rate equations, orders of reaction, the rate determining step; equilibrium constants, Kc and Kp ; acid–base equilibria including pH, Ka and buffer solutions; lattice enthalpy and Born–Haber cycles; entropy and free energy; electrochemical cells.

The main areas of inorganic chemistry studied include: redox chemistry; transition elements.

The largely qualitative treatment of reaction rates and equilibria encountered in Module 3 is developed within a quantitative and graphical context. This section also allows learners to develop practical quantitative techniques involved in the determination of reaction rates and pH.

In the kinetics section students will investigate: orders, rate equations and rate constants. Elucidate meaning from rate graphs calculate orders of reactions and find the rate-determining step. This will include the effect of temperature on rate constants including use of the Arrhenius equation.

Equilibrium covers both Kc and Kp calculations.

In the acids topic students cover Brønsted–Lowry acids and bases, strong acid and base and weak acid calculations as well as Buffer calculations.

Born–Haber cycles are used as a theoretical model to illustrate the energy changes associated with ionic bonding. Entropy and free energy are then introduced as concepts used to predict quantitatively the feasibility of chemical change.

Redox chemistry is developed further within this section, including use of volumetric analysis for redox titrations and an introduction of electrochemistry in the context of electrode potentials.

Finally in the transition metal section the role of ligands in complex ions, stereochemistry, precipitation, ligand substitution and redox reactions is studied.

Module 6—Organic Chemistry and Analysis

Content Summary

This module introduces several new functional groups and emphasises the importance of organic synthesis. This module also adds NMR spectroscopy to the instrumentation techniques used in organic and forensic analysis. The main areas of organic chemistry studied include: aromatic compounds; carboxylic acids and esters; amines and amino acids; addition polymers and condensation polymers; synthetic organic chemistry. The importance of modern analytical techniques in organic analysis is also taught. Aromatic compounds are first introduced, including the central role of delocalisation within the chemistry of arenes and phenols. Directing groups are also introduced, including their importance to organic synthesis.

The important carbonyl compounds, and their derivatives: carboxylic acids, acyl chlorides and esters, are studied.

Organic nitrogen compounds, including amines, amides and amino acids.

Chirality and optical isomerism is introduced.

Condensation polymerisation is also introduced and compared with addition polymerisation.

The importance of carbon–carbon bond formation in organic synthesis is stressed. Learners are also able to consider multi-stage synthetic routes towards an organic product.

Finally this section demonstrates how analytical techniques covered earlier in the course may be used in combination with NMR spectroscopy to provide evidence of structural features in molecules. The instrumentation methods of analysis studied during the A level course provide learners with an important base of knowledge, understanding and awareness for further study in Higher Education and in many areas of employment in the broad scientific field. This section also looks at how unknown organic functional groups can be analysed and identified using simple test-tube tests.


The practical endorsement is a wide range of practical experiences incorporating apparatus, skills and techniques with experiments such as; following procedures, applying an investigative approach when using instruments and equipment, working safely, making and recording observations and researching, referencing and reporting.

Practical activity group Techniques/skills covered
1 Moles determination • Measurement of mass

• Measurement of volume of gas

2 Acid–base titration • Measurement of volume of a liquid

• Use of volumetric flask, including accurate technique for making up a standard solution

• Titration, using burette and pipette

• Use of acid–base indicators in titrations of weak/ strong acids with weak/strong bases

3 Enthalpy determination • Measurement of temperature
4 Qualitative analysis of ions • Use of apparatus for qualitative tests for ions • Make and record qualitative observations
5 Synthesis of an organic liquid •Heating under reflux

• Purification using a separating funnel

• Distillation

• Risk assessment

6 Synthesis of an organic solid • Purification by recrystallization

• Use of melting point apparatus

• Use of thin layer or paper chromatography

• Filtration

• Heating under reflux

• Risk assessment

7 Qualitative analysis of organic functional groups •Use of apparatus for qualitative tests for organic functional groups

• Heating using water bath or electric heater

• Make and record observations

8 Electrochemical cells • Set up of electrochemical cells and measurement of voltages
9 Rates of reaction – continuous monitoring method • Measurement of rate of reaction by a continuous monitoring method

• Measurement of time

• Use of appropriate software to process data

10 Rates of reaction – initial rates method • Measurement of rate of reaction by an initial rate method

• Use of appropriate software to process data2 • Identify and control variables

11 pH measurement • Measurement of pH
12 Research skills • Apply investigative approaches

• Use online and offline research skills

• Correctly cite sources of information


Students will be provided with textbooks but the following OCR A textbooks might be of interest:

CGP’s New A-Level Chemistry for OCR A: Year 1 & AS Student Book with Online Edition

ISBN-10: 1782943226

CGP’s New A-Level Chemistry for OCR A: Year 2 Student Book with Online Edition

ISBN-10: 1782943277

A Level Chemistry A for OCR Year 1 and AS Student Book

ISBN-10: 0198351968

OCR A level Chemistry Student Book 1

ISBN-10: 1471827062

Calculations in AS / A Level Chemistry

ISBN-10: 0582411270


Jeffrey Hancock: “The Right Chemistry”

Peter Atkins: “The Periodic Kingdom: A Journey into the Land of the Chemical Elements” and also “What is Chemistry?” in which Peter discusses the contribution of chemistry to society, some of the major historical achievements of chemisty, and explores the fundamental concepts of chemistry in a way that is very accessible to chemists and non-chemists alike.

Nick Lane: “Oxygen – the molecule that made the world”

Philip Ball: “Stories of the Invisible: a Guided Tour of Molecules”

James Keeler and Peter Wothers: “Why Chemical Reactions Happen” takes a unified approach to understanding standing chemical processes.

There are of course lots of websites that might be useful:

OCR’s own Chemistry A – H032, H432 website http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-chemistry-a-h032-h432-from-2015/ and for older past papers (and mark schemes) the legacy site at http://www.ocr.org.uk/qualifications/as-a-level-gce-chemistry-a-h034-h434/

Probably the next most useful is Jim Clark’s http://www.chemguide.co.uk/ which was produced by a very experienced A level chemistry teacher which is a treasure trove for those struggling with understanding a particular topic.

KNOCKHARDY PUBLISHING produces notes and other resources for AS and A2 Level Chemistry which can be found at http://www.knockhardy.org.uk/sci.htm

The Royal Society of Chemistry is the UK’s professional body for chemical scientists organisation it has in the past had plenty of chemistry resources for teachers and students, including videos, worksheets. Unfortunately they do tend to move things around on their website http://www.rsc.org/. At the moment http://www.rsc.org/learn-chemistry/ seems to be a good place to start.

There are many interesting periodic table websites on the internet here’s a link to one https://www.webelements.com/

As a project in the National Science Digital Library (NSDL), the ChemCollective’s goals are to support a community of instructors interested in improving chemistry education through interactive and engaging online activities. http://chemcollective.org/home

Nottingham University  hosts this website http://www.periodicvideos.com/ which includes a series of fascinating videos on individual elements.

http://www.3dchem.com/  is a visual and interactive website showcasing the beautiful world of chemistry

The videos of Khan’s academy are often worth a look, though they might not always follow your syllabus https://www.khanacademy.org/#/science

A few years back some of the big US universities like MIT started producing online learning material like https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/chemistry/ obviously they will not be following the same specification as UK A level students but they might be worth a look. Further courses can be found at Free Online lectures and courses for chemistry at http://academicearth.org/chemistry/

Extra curricular

We will be visited by the Spectroscopy in Suitcase team which gives school students the chance to learn about spectroscopy through hands-on experience. As well as covering the principles of spectroscopic techniques, the activities use real-life contexts to demonstrate the applications of the techniques.

We will also be making use of our friendly links with locally based but international chemistry companies to extend our students knowledge and understanding.