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Course Description

This course includes a broad exposure to the historical and contemporary concepts that underpin modern Chemistry. It includes a wide range of required practicals to ensure students will be trained in working scientifically so that they can think scientifically; develop experimental skills and strategies; analyse and evaluate; and develop scientific literacy (inclusive of numeracy, vocabulary and schemas). This course covers content and skills that link with geography, history, mathematics and physical education.

How will I be assessed?

The course is assessed by external exam only. The two papers are sat at the end of year 11 and assess different topics:

  • Paper 1: Atomic structure and the periodic table; Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter; Quantitative chemistry, Chemical changes; and Energy changes.
  • Paper 2: The rate and extent of chemical change; Organic chemistry; Chemical analysis, Chemistry of the atmosphere; and Using resources.

Each paper is 50% of the GCSE, made up of 100 marks and are 1 hour 45 minutes long. There are different styles of questions including multiple choice, structured, closed short answer, and open response questions. 

40% of marks will be based on demonstrating knowledge and understanding (AO1); 40% of marks will be based on applying that knowledge and understanding (AO2) and 20% on analysing given information and ideas (AO3). There is also a significant maths/numeracy component to the examinations.

Foundation and higher tier versions of the papers are available and students will sit the papers that are most suitable for them. Foundation tier papers are for those likely to achieve a grade between 1 and 5, whereas higher tier papers are for those likely to achieve a grade between 4 and 9.

What will I learn?



Atomic structure and the periodic table

  • Simple model of the atom, symbols, relative atomic mass, electronic charge and isotopes
  • The periodic table; groups and their properties
  • Transition metals

Bonding, structure, and the properties of matter

  • Chemical bonds, ionic, covalent and metallic
  • How bonding and structure is related to the properties
  • Structure and bonding of carbon
  • Bulk and surface properties, including nanoparticles

Quantitative chemistry

  • Chemical measurements, conservation of mass
  • Moles, the amount of substance
  • Yield and atom economy of chemical reactions
  • Concentrations of solutions

Chemical changes

  • Reactivity of metals
  • Reactions of acids
  • Electrolysis

Energy changes

  • Exothermic and endothermic reactions
  • Chemical cells and fuel cells

The rate and extent of chemical change

  • Rate of reaction
  • Reversible reactions and dynamic equilibrium

Organic chemistry

  • Carbon compounds as fuels and feedstock
  • Reactions of alkenes and alcohols
  • Synthetic and naturally occurring polymers

Chemical analysis

  • Purity, formulations and chromatography
  • Identification of common gases
  • Identification of ions by chemical & spectroscopic means

Chemistry of the atmosphere

  • The composition and evolution of the Earth’s atmosphere
  • Carbon dioxide and methane as greenhouse gases
  • Common atmospheric pollutants and their source

Using resources

  • Using the Earth’s resources and obtaining potable water
  • Life cycle assessment and recycling
  • Using materials
  • The Haber process and the use of fertilisers

What could I do next?

GCSE Chemistry allows for natural progress to A level chemistry in post-16. Students not wishing to study biology further will find the knowledge and skills developed on the GCSE Chemistry course are relevant in other post-sixteen courses and may directly complement other A-level subjects such as mathematics and sports science. The knowledge acquired can also be utilised to provide examples of natural systems and interactions that have analogues in settings that are not explicitly scientific e.g. in art, business or engineering.