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Why Study Chemistry?

Chemistry is the study of substances - from plastics to painkillers, metals to microchips, the air you breathe, the food you eat, the clothes you wear and the complex chemicals in living organisms. It will be challenging, interesting, rewarding and hard work. You will use computers for information retrieval and data-logging. Practical work is important and will include synthesising dyes, analysing aspirin, calculating enthalpy changes and determining the rate of a reaction.

Chemistry is quite a demanding A-level. You will need to have good grades for Science and Mathematics at GCSE. You will need to be well-organised and prepared to work hard. If you have enjoyed Chemistry at GCSE level then you will probably continue to enjoy it at A-level but you do need to bear in mind that A-level Chemistry is more mathematical.

What will I study? How will I be assessed?

The AQA Chemistry course is composed of three examination papers, each two hours in length:

Paper 1: 

Relevant physical chemistry topics (atomic structure, amount of substance, bonding, energetics, chemical equilibria, Le Chatelier's principle and Kc, oxidation, reduction and redox equations, thermodynamics, equilibrium constant Kp for homogenous systems, electrode potentials and electrochemical cells, acids and bases); inorganic chemistry; relevant practical skills.

Paper 2: 

Relevant physical chemistry topics (amount of substance, bonding, energetics, chemical equilibria, Le Chatelier's principle and Kc, rate equations); organic chemistry; relevant practical skills.

Paper 3: 

Any content from papers 1 and 2, including relevant practical skills.

What skills will I gain? Where can Chemistry lead?

As well as gaining knowledge in traditional fields of Chemistry (organic, inorganic, physical and analytical), most Chemistry degrees now also include modules in interdisciplinary areas (chemical biology and physics) and some may include modules in applied Chemistry (medicinal, environmental). This gives a good balance of scientific knowledge, both specialist and general.

Chemistry is also studied in an environmental and social context, so you gain awareness of its ethical implications, as well as issues relating to environmental impact and sustainability.

The study of Chemistry provides you with the skills to pursue a career in a wide range of sectors. For example, according to a recent study, around a quarter of Chemistry graduates in full-time work chose to pursue careers in scientific research-related roles. Other popular areas of work included other technical occupations, business and finance, commercial, industrial and public sector management and education. Chemistry can lead to careers in Medicine, chemical engineering, forensics, pharmacology, dietetics, meteorology, art restoration, environmental health, scientific journalism, patent law, accounting, banking and many others.