The Nobel Prize winning chemist Dorothy Hodgkin, and one of our best puzzle solvers, stated that she ‘was captured for life by Chemistry and by crystals’. Her mastery of the technique x-ray crystallography solved several structural perplexities in biochemistry, conveying that our lives are inextricably influenced by chemistry.
Our subject exposes you to a secret code that only chemists can read and understand, and in doing so chemists are at the forefront of advancing technology and behaviour, such as in improving the sustainability of food and energy production. Chemistry continues to be ground breaking, colourful, and explosive, even when it is impossible to see with a naked eye.
A level Chemistry allows you to answer questions such as “how is aspirin made?”, “what’s affecting the ozone layer?”, “how much copper is there in 2p coins?”, “why doesn’t electron structure follow the rules we were taught at GCSE?”, and “why does ice float?”. Chemistry is often referred to as the “central science” because it connects physical sciences like mathematics and physics, with applied sciences such as biology. It helps you develop research, problem solving and analytical skills. It encourages you to challenge ideas and work through problems with logical reasoning. It regularly requires teamwork and communication, so encompasses the essential skills required for a vast range of careers.
The OCR A Chemistry specification splits the content into 6 modules:
(1) Development of practical skills in chemistry
(2) Foundations in chemistry
(3) Periodic table and energy
(4) Core organic chemistry
(5) Physical chemistry and transition metals
(6) Organic chemistry and analysis.
In these topics, you will learn facts that will build a strong body of knowledge, but also you will understand and apply the ideas to a range of contexts. Many topics include calculations, so you will be well suited to this course if you feel comfortable rearranging equations and handling numbers. Importantly, Chemistry is a hands-on science – expect to carry out experimental investigations on a regular basis. These practical activities will consolidate your theory work, but also provide you with the opportunity to use new apparatus and build your competence and confidence in completing safe and accurate practical work.
An important subject for many careers, Chemistry A level is highly respected due to the broad variety of skills tested. It is an important subject for careers in medicine, environmental sciences, engineering, forensics, pharmacology, space exploration, food development, creating perfumes and cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, energy production, teaching, journalism, software development and research. Chemistry will continue to be at the forefront of responding to the needs of society.
Carl Jung is famously quoted as saying that ‘the meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is a reaction, both are transformed’. Completing A level Chemistry will certainly leave you transformed.