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SUBJECT overview

We follow the Edexcel syllabus in chemistry. In both AS and A2 the course is split into 3 units. Learners will sit their terminal examinations in June.   Assessed practical make up the units studied in AS and A2 are as follows:

  • Unit 1: The Core Principles of Chemistry
  • Unit 2: Application of Core Principles of Chemistry
  • Unit 3: Chemistry Laboratory Skills I (10%)
  • Unit 4: General Principles of Chemistry I – Rates, Equilibria and Further Organic Chemistry
  • Unit 5: General Principles of Chemistry II – Transition Metals and Organic Nitrogen Chemistry
  • Unit 6: Chemistry Laboratory Skills II (10.0%)

unit overview - autumn term


  • Identify which species acts as the acid and which as the base in Brønsted-Lowry acid-base reactions.
  • Calculate the pH of strong bases from the base concentration and vice versa, including dilutions (AO2  - Apply knowledge and understanding;  MS0.4 - Use calculators to find and use power, exponential and logarithmic functions; MS2.5 - Use logarithms in relation to quantities that range over several orders of magnitude).
  • Required practical 9
  • Investigate how pH changes when a weak acid reacts with a strong base and when a strong acid reacts with a weak base
  • Explain why the elements Ti–Cu have properties characteristic of transition metals, and what those characteristics are (AO1 - Demonstrate knowledge and understanding).
  • Identify the oxidation state of the metal, the ligands and co-ordination number in a series of complexes (AO2 - Apply knowledge and understanding).
  • Students could be asked to find ∆S for vaporization of water using a kettle.
  • Students write equations for, and make esters by reactions of alcohols with carboxylic acids in test tubes
  • Name a range of aromatic compounds with common functional groups (AO2 - Apply knowledge and understanding).
  • Research the use of aromatic amines in making dyes
  • Students could make nylon 6,6.
  •  AT k - Safely and carefully handle solids and liquids, including corrosive, irritant, flammable and toxic substances; AT d).
  • Students can carry out some thin-layer chromatography of some amino acids to identify an unknown amino acid.
  • Make a 2D or 3D model of DNA using cut out components.
  • Label a diagram of DNA to show the components and the hydrogen bonding between base pairs


  •   define Brønsted–Lowry acids and bases
  • identify species as Brønsted–Lowry acids or bases in proton transfer reactions. show that Kw = [H+][OH]
  • use Kw to find the pH of strong bases from its concentration, and vice versa
  • calculate the pH of water at different temperatures
  • sketch pH curves for titrations of strong/weak acids with strong/weak bases
  • write the electron structure of first row transition metals and their ions
  • describe what a transition metal is in terms of electron structure
  • describe the characteristic properties of transition metals
  • define the terms ligand, complex, co-ordinate bond and co-ordination number
  • Understand what heterogeneous catalysts are and how they work, including examples and how they can become poisoned.
  • know how carboxylic acids react with carbonates
  • write equations for the reaction of carboxylic acids with alcohols to form esters
  • know some common uses of esters
  • describe the structure of benzene and explain how delocalisation makes benzene more stable than the theoretical cyclohexa-1,3,5-triene
  • use thermochemical evidence from enthalpies of hydrogenation to account for this extra stability
  • explain why benzene undergoes substitution reactions in preference to addition reactions.
  • write equations and give conditions for the preparation of primary aliphatic amines from both halogenoalkanes and nitriles
  • know the repeating units in Terylene, nylon 6,6 and Kevlar
  • describe the primary, secondary and tertiary structure of proteins, including the importance of hydrogen bonds and S-S bonds
  • draw the structure of peptides formed from amino acids
  • identify the components of DNA
  • explain how the two DNA strands interact with hydrogen bonds between base pairs.


  • Acids and bases are important in domestic, environmental and industrial contexts. Acidity in aqueous solutions is caused by hydrogen ions and a logarithmic scale, pH, has been devised to measure acidity. Buffer solutions, which can be made from partially neutralised weak acids, resist changes in pH and find many important industrial and biological applications.
  • Sketch pH curves and choose suitable indicators for titrations.
  • Understand the terms complex, ligand co-ordinate bond, and co-ordination number.
  • explain why transition metal complexes are coloured
  • describe factors that affect the colour of transition metal ions
  • describe how colorimetry can be used to find the concentration of coloured ions in solution.
  • describe the use of Fe in the Haber process
  • explain how heterogeneous catalysts can become poisoned
  • Know how esters are made from carboxylic acids. Students research uses of esters and the presence of esters in fruit. Know some uses of esters
  •  Students make biodiesel (AO2 - Apply knowledge and understanding; AT k - Safely and carefully handle solids and liquids, including corrosive, irritant, flammable and toxic substances.
  • Understand the structure of benzene and evidence for delocalisation.
  • Know how aromatic amines are produced and their use in making dyes.
  • Understand how condensation polymers are formed including linkages in polyesters and polyamides.
  • Know how to use thin-layer chromatography to separate and identify amino acids.
  • Understand the structure of single DNA strands and the arrangement of these together in the double helix structure.

knowledge Organiser

A knowledge organiser is an important document that lists the important facts that learners should know by the end of a unit of work. It is important that learners can recall these facts easily, so that when they are answering challenging questions in their assessments and GCSE and A-Level exams, they are not wasting precious time in exams focusing on remembering simple facts, but making complex arguments, and calculations.

We encourage all pupils to use them by doing the following:

  • Quiz themselves at home, using the read, write, cover, check method.
  • Practise spelling key vocabulary
  • Further researching people, events and processes most relevant to the unit.