Chemistry is sometimes known as the ‘central science’ because it helps to connect physical sciences, like maths and physics, with applied sciences, like biology, medicine and engineering. Chemistry helps you to develop research, problem solving and analytical skills. It helps you to challenge ideas and show how you worked things out through logic and step-by-step reasoning. Chemistry often requires teamwork and communication skills too, which is great for project management.
Chemistry opens the doors to many careers and courses. A Level Chemistry is essential for a degree in Medicine. qualifications in Chemistry will help you get ahead in most STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Maths) careers and more besides. It is an important subject for careers in: medicine, environmental science, engineering, toxicology, developing consumer products, metallurgy (studying how metals behave), space exploration, developing perfumes and cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, energy, teaching, science writing, software development, research and many, many, more.
Atr CAST we follow the OCR Chemistry A specification. The course consists of 6 taught modules and 12 Practical Endorsement Activities.
Module 1- Practical Skills in Chemistry
Module 2 – Foundations in Chemistry
Module 3 – Periodic Table and Energy
Module 4 – Core Organic
Module 5: Physical Chemistry and Transition Elements
Module 6: Organic Chemistry and Analysis
At CAST we begin Year 12 with Foundations in Chemistry. The course is taught by 2 teachers and the Foundations module is split between them. This module incorporates many concepts taught at GCSE, where ideas are built upon to a higher level. Areas covered include; bonding, atomic structure, amount of substance, redox reactions, shapes of molecules and ions, energy levels and electronic configuration. These ideas act as the foundation for all the following topics and are therefore referenced continuously throughout the two year course.
The Periodic Table and Energy module is then taught by one teacher alongside the Core Organic module being taught by the other. The Periodic Table and Energy module builds upon concepts covered at GCSE, students learn about group 2 and 7 from the periodic table and the trends within these two groups and trends across periods. Students then move onto learning about energy changes in reactions in more detail, using Hess Cycles to calculate energy changes of reactions indirectly. The module finishes off by looking at rates of reactions and equilibria where students are introduced to the idea of using numerical values to determine the position of equilibrium, Kc. The Core Organic module builds upon the homologous series taught at GCSE, where students learn about different reactions that each can undergo, as well as learning mechanisms for these reactions such as electrophilic addition and nucleophilic substitution. Students also learn about how to analyse unknown substances using IR spectroscopy and mass spectrometry.
During the summer term, the teacher covering the Periodic Table and Energy module starts to cover some of the year 2 content, Kp and the rate equation. This is because Module 5 is quite big so it allows more time to cover content in the second year.
In the summer term of year 12 the students spend a number of weeks carrying out their required PAG 12 investigation. During this they research, plan, carry out, present and evaluate a practical on a given topic. They produce a scientific paper with correct referencing, a detailed method and statistically analyse their results. These skills have been taught previously in Chemistry lessons, but also as part of their Challenge Projects and Extended Project Qualification.
At the end of year 12 they sit the AS papers internally to check their progress. They therefore need to cover all of the AS topics (modules 1-4) in the first year.
At the start of year 13 the students sit the Breadth in Chemistry AS paper from the June exams in their first week back. This is to force the students to remind themselves of the content covered in year 1.
The first teacher then focuses on Physical Chemistry and Transition Elements. This module covers a variety of topics, building upon year 1 content. Areas covered are transition elements and their reactions, lattice enthalpy and entropy; acids, bases and buffers; redox titrations, rates and equilibria, including the use of the Arrhenius equation to work out the activation energy of a reaction. The second teacher covers the Organic Chemistry and Analysis module. This topic builds upon previous knowledge and covers benzene and its reactions including nucleophilic addition, amines, carbonyl compounds including how to extend the carbon chain of a molecule, esters and polymerisation. The module also covers more enhanced ways of analysing unknown substances using Carbon-13 and proton NMR.
The students then complete a revision program focusing of exam technique.
Two x 2 hour 15min exams (paper 1 Modules 1, 2, 3 & 5, paper 2 Modules 1,2,4 & 6)
One x 1 hour 30min exam (Unifying Concepts – more problem-solving and application of Chemistry questions that comprise elements from multiple modules)
In addition to the exams each student has to complete 12 practical endorsement activities, whilst although not assessed, are a compulsory component of the course.
Minimum entry requirements for A level courses: 7 GCSEs at grade 9-4 (including English grade 4) with double or triple science (grade 6/6) and Maths (grade 5/6 depending on subject choice).
Please see our website for more information - https://cast.education/curriculum/a-level
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