Head of department: Dr S. Marr

When we look around us in our modern world, we see the hand of the chemist everywhere.  It extends into virtually every material and process we employ around us.  In fact, we are all chemists performing chemical reactions throughout out day – cooking food, driving cars, heating our homes or simply existing.  There may be as many as 37 000 billion billion chemical reactions in the human metabolism in every second.

At TBGS, our aim is to develop in our students an understanding, appreciation and fascination in the science (and art) of engineering on the molecular level using the power of our imaginations coupled to the ‘chemical model’.

Chemistry is sometimes described as the ‘middle science’.  It is a physical science applying understandings from physics and mathematics to chemical systems, but chemistry is also the language used to understand much that is of interest in the biological and medical sciences.  It also has significant overlaps with geology, earth sciences and engineering.

Programme of Study

Year 7 & 8

KS3 – All students follow the Chemistry course as outlined in the KS3 Science Section of the Website

Year 9-11 GCSE AQA

Students will study topics in: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table; Bonding, Structure and the Properties of Matter; Quantitative Chemistry; Chemical Changes; Energy Changes; The Rate and Extent of Chemical Change; Organic Chemistry; Chemical Analysis; Chemistry of the Atmosphere and Using the Earth’s Resources.

The examinations will all take place in the summer of year 11 and will cover all material studied since the beginning of the course in year 9.

The students follow the AQA specification. From Year 9 all students will study three sciences. In Year 10 and 11, some students will follow the GCSE Combined Science (Trilogy) course. Others will follow the separate sciences route and be awarded GCSE certificates in Biology, Chemistry and Physics.

The aims of both routes are for the students to:
  • develop their interest in, and enthusiasm for, Science;
  • develop a critical approach to scientific evidence and methods;
  • acquire and apply skills, knowledge and understanding of how Science works and its essential role in society;
  • acquire scientific skills, knowledge and understanding necessary for progression to further study at A Level or IB.

Please consult the AQA website for specifications, resources and guidance.

Post -16 study in Chemistry

Around half of students at TBGS study Chemistry beyond GCSE.

Chemistry is a very successful subject at sixth form level producing large numbers of students with the highest grade, and with some students each year choosing to continue their studies of the subject at university.

A level – OCR Chemistry A

The aims of the course are to encourage students to:

  • develop an interest in, and an enthusiasm for chemistry, including developing an interest in further study and careers in chemistry.
  • develop essential knowledge and understanding of different areas of chemistry and how they relate to each other;
  • appreciate how society makes decisions about scientific issues and how the sciences contribute to the success of the economy and society.

An A Level in Chemistry is highly regarded for the analytical thinking skills it encourages.  A high grade is likely to be regarded as evidence for a student’s intellectual ability to work with abstract ideas to solve problems of a challenging nature.  This is a valuable transferable skill.


Board – OCR   Syllabus – Chemistry A

The course will comprise of six modules.  These modules cover major disciplines of chemistry, namely physical, inorganic and organic.  This involves studying chemical reactions and why they happen, primarily looking for patterns of structure and behaviour.






IB Higher or Standard Level

The Diploma Chemistry Programme course includes essential elements of the subject with some of the content not dissimilar to the current A level specification.  A highly analytical course, it combines academic challenge with the additional focus on experimental and investigative skills.  The traditional practical skills and techniques are developed as well as an increasing facility in the use of mathematics, which is the language of science. Relationships between the topics in Chemistry are encouraged and links are made between this subject and the other five subjects that students will study.

The syllabus encourages students to inquire, discuss and think critically about issues in the broadest sense so that they become more aware of their responsibilities in society.  The international nature of Chemistry is stressed – the vocabulary shared among scientists is universal and the collaboration between scientists working in different parts of the world is essential if we are to continue to further our understanding of matter and the influence, adverse or otherwise, which we have on our planet.  The course also allows students to further develop interpersonal skills and digital technology skills, which are essential in 21st century scientific endeavour.


The core for both Higher and Standard levels is delivered under the following topic areas over 95 hours:

  • Stoichiometric relationships
  • Atomic structure
  • Periodicity
  • Chemical bonding and structure
  • Energetics/thermochemistry
  • Chemical kinetics
  • Equilibrium
  • Acids and bases
  • Redox processes
  • Organic chemistry
  • Measurement and data processing

All but the first topic in the list above are studied in greater depth at higher level with an additional 60 hours allocated to these.

All candidates will also study a further option, selected from four areas of the subject that again offers core and extension material; this may build on existing principles as well as offering a look at more diverse applications of chemistry.  Standard level students will spend approximately 15 hours on this option with an additional 10 hours allocated for higher level students.   In addition, all students studying the Experimental Sciences are expected to work together on a Group 4 project, where a scientific or technological topic is studied that allows concepts and perceptions from across the disciplines to be shared.

Of particular note is the opportunity that IB science students have to undertake an individual research project of their own design.  These are usually carried out to an impressive standard for scientists so young.


Large numbers of Sixth Form students take part in two prestigious competitions, the ‘Cambridge Chemistry Challenge’ and the Royal Society of Chemistry’s ‘Olympiad’ competition.  These offer students a level of challenge difficult to replicate in school and they can gain awards which demonstrate a higher level of competence in the subject and in problem solving than the A Level or IB qualifications.  We are proud of our success with most year’s producing students in about the top 5% of UK chemistry students.

Students in other years may also be invited to take part in the Salter’s festival or in other competitions.