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Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is often called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems.

6th Form ChemistryIn this course you'll meet intellectually challenging ideas and consider numbers infinitely large and particles infinitesimally small. You'll learn crucial facts, plus a wide range of transferable skills that will last a lifetime.

It is hard to imagine any product that did not require the creative talents of a chemist at some stage in its development. Find out how chemistry contributes to our quality of life by enabling us to make new substances, from detergents and plastics to anti-cancer drugs, and by helping us to monitor the environment, detect crime and much more.

Looking to the future 

Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, Chemistry is a pre-requisite for many other courses in higher education, such as Medicine, Biological Science and Environmental Science, and serves as useful preparation for employment.

International perspective

You'll explore the work of scientists of many different nationalities, discovering the cultural origins of various aspects of Chemistry and the truly international nature of scientific discovery.  Global environmental issues connected with Chemistry will be highlighted and the role of chemists in finding solutions will be demonstrated.

Course content

Our IB Diploma Chemistry course includes the essential principles of the subject and builds on many of the ideas met at GCSE.

The same topics are covered at both SL and HL. The topics are studied in more depth at HL level.Core topics covered will be:

  • Quantitative chemistry and mole calculations
  • Structure of the atom
  • Trends in the periodic table
  • Atomic bonding and structure
  • Energy changes in chemical reactions
  • Rates of reaction
  • Equilibria
  • Acids and bases
  • Redox chemistry
  • Organic chemistry
  • Measurement and analysis (including spectroscopy)
  • You will also study an additional topic to be chosen from materials, biochemistry, energy or medicinal chemistry. The final choice of additional topic will depend on the interests and aptitudes of the class as a whole.

Experimental work:

Experimental work is integral to the experience in any of the Group 4 courses. Practical activities will enable you to interact directly with natural phenomena and secondary data sources. You will have the opportunity to design investigations, collect data, develop your manipulative skills, analyse results, collaborate with peers and evaluate and communicate your findings.

  • By carrying out some of the same processes that scientists undertake you will experience the nature of scientific thought and investigation and consider and examine questions and curiosities.
  • All scientific theories and laws begin with observations. Experimental skills will be developed by spending 10 hours on the collaborative Group 4 project and completing a programme of practical work in lessons.
  • You will be assessed on your practical skills through an investigative task spanning a further 10 hours of lesson time, and some aspects of experimental work are likely to be examined in the formal written papers at the end of the course.


All IB examinations are in May of Year 13.

Assessment is comprised of three written papers.

Paper 1 HL: 60 minutes, 20% of total marks.
Paper 1 SL: 45 minutes, 20% of total marks.

Multiple choice questions from across the whole syllabus. Non-calculator. A periodic table is provided.

Paper 2 HL: 2 1/4 hrs, 36% of total marks 
Paper 2 SL: 1 1/4 hrs, 40% of total marks 

Short and extended response questions from across the whole syllabus. Calculator and a data book are permitted.

Paper 3 HL: 1 1/4 hrs, 24% of total marks 
Paper 3 SL: 1hr, 20% of total marks
Data based question and short answer questions based on experimental work Short and extended response questions on option topic. Calculator and a data book are permitted.


Where can Chemistry lead to?
Chemistry is usually the required course for study of Medicine but can also lead into the experimental sciences at university as well as being viewed well for Engineering and Material Science. However many students simply study Chemistry at Sixth Form as a contrast to non-science subjects and as they find it interesting.
What background is needed?
A good ground in sciences from GCSE is essential for good progress in Sixth Form, but this can come from the Triple Award or a high mark in Combined Science. All the sciences are much more mathematical at Sixth Form, so a good skill there is recommended especially if you are not studying Mathematics further.
What type of work is involved? 
The theory at Sixth Form builds on that learned at GCSE and many of the topics will be familiar. With two teachers in each class, they will teach different aspects of Chemistry such as Organic and Inorganic topics. There is also a strong practical component where students will develop skills in increasing complex experiments and also be involved in planning and assessing the risk of their work.
What happens if I did not do much practical work at GCSE?
Each year we have students with a range of practical skill at the start of the course. We will not assume knowledge of any particular techniques and so introduce them all in detail. If students are struggling, extra opportunities to practice and gain confidence are available through the lunchtime enrichment sessions.
How big are the classes?
Chemistry is one of the most popular subjects at Sixth Form so it has a more classes than most. The laboratories are a decent size and fit a maximum of 14 students, but a typical IB class is nearer to 5-7 students.
How many teachers do I have?
As with many subjects at Sixth Form, each Chemistry class will have two teachers. For IB HL students, one teacher will have two-thirds of lesson time. They will teach different topics in parallel with each other.
How is the course examined?
There are three papers at the end of year 13, one is multiple choice followed by a larger structured paper. The third paper test material from the Option topic that is taken towards the end of the taught course.
Is the practical work marked? 
Not as such, there is a requirement for IB students to do so many hours of practical during the course. However IB students also do two practical based pieces of work, the Group 4 project in collaboration with other science students and then an IA on their own. The IA is written up and marked as a part of their final grade.
How are SL and HL students taught? 
For most lessons the students are together being taught the core material common to both courses, the HL students then have extra periods each week which will reinforce the material and also cover the additional content in their courses.
Do I need to do HL Chemistry for University application? 
 If a course requires Chemistry as part of its entry requirements this will usually be at Higher Level for the IB. However SL Chemistry is a good solid course which is highly viewed by universities for students not wanting to study experimental sciences or related subjects.
Does the content of IB differ from A-level? 
There are some differences as the IB is taught in fewer periods so there much be slightly less content. The main difference is in Organic chemistry where the A-level goes into more depth, although there are IB option topics on Biochemistry and Medicinal Chemistry that can fill in some of these areas. There are also a number of areas such as in Bonding and Electrochemistry where the IB course goes into much greater depth on certain points. However the core content is very similar to both as it would be for a Chemistry course in almost any other system.