Why choose Chemistry?

Everything you see around you involves chemistry in some way!

  • You enjoy subjects which encourage both imagination and logical problem solving.
  • You want to study a subject that develops a range of skills that can be applied elsewhere, including expertise in practical work.
  • You are thinking of a career in any scientific discipline, Chemistry makes a key contribution in many fields.
  • You might be thinking of a vocation that requires A level chemistry - such as medicine, nursing, veterinary science, dentistry, pharmacy.
  • Most of all! are interested in and enjoy chemistry – its applications affect us all in our daily lives and you will understand better some of the important issues like global warming and ozone depletion.

Knowledge of chemistry will give you a greater understanding of the world we live in. Chemistry is the study of substances, what they are made of, how they interact and what role they play in living things and the environment. Everything you see around you involves Chemistry in some way! Chemists provide many of the materials used in everyday life, together with the knowledge to improve healthcare and to appreciate and tackle the major environmental problems that face us all.


If you enjoy finding out about how the world around you works, and recognising and explaining different patterns of behaviour then you are likely to enjoy Chemistry. Throughout the course, you will carry out practical work to develop your skills and to enhance your learning and enjoyment of the subject. You will be encouraged to participate in competitions such as the RSC Schools’ Analyst Competition and the International Chemistry Olympiad, and there are opportunities to attend conferences and university taster events.

As the central science, Chemistry underpins many other disciplines and could lead to a career rich in challenge, variety and opportunity. It is an essential subject for those wishing to study medicine, veterinary science, pharmacy and dentistry and it is useful if you are considering entry to degree courses in biology, biological sciences, engineering or geology. It is a highly-regarded subject at A level and is useful for entry into a wide range of professions. Apart from excellent career prospects within Chemistry itself, its graduates are found in careers as varied as banking, accountancy, law, sport, publishing and art restoration.

Why Hills Road?

  • We are a very supportive department - staff are available every lunchtime to help you if you want extra tuition, assisted by current Cambridge University students who come in to the College daily.
  • All our teaching staff are enthusiastic and well qualified Chemists, who have considerable experience in teaching A level.
  • We have well equipped purpose built laboratories, and substantial IT resources.
  • You will be encouraged to work with each other – building team working skills, and lessons include a wide range of activities to appeal to different learning styles.
  • We have a huge range of teaching and learning resources to support you, both in lessons and in private study.

There are also lots of opportunities to develop your scientific thinking:

  • We have a peer mentoring scheme whereby Year 13 students spend time helping Year 12 students and explaining difficult ideas – this scheme is beneficial to both Year 12 and 13 students.
  • The student-run Chemistry Society organises a series of events during the year and arranges for a number of speakers to come in and talk to students.
  • Each year we run a competition to select a team of Year 12 students to compete in the regional round of the RSC Analytical Competition. Hills Road has a good record in this competition, having won the regional round 4 times in the last six years.
  • We run extra classes for those who want to extend their knowledge, possibly in order to take part in the Chemistry Olympiad, or to apply to Oxbridge universities.
  • Each summer we have a major research and poster making activity. Last year we investigated the saturation of fats, and how their structures affect our health.

“Lots of support available and varied learning style e.g. practise questions, discussions, explaining to peers, teachers’ explanations, practicals. I like the way that our course links to real life context and practical uses.

Entry Requirements

GCSE grade A in Chemistry or GCSE grade A in Science and Additional Science, and GCSE grade A in Maths.

Awarding Body

OCR Specification A - H432

Units of Study

Year 12


In the first year of the course you will study some foundations of the subject, building on material covered in GCSE courses (eg. atomic structure, electron configurations, bonding and equations). You will then go on to do some chemical calculations and to learn about some organic chemistry (eg. alkanes, alkenes and alcohols) and physical chemistry (eg. rates of reaction, equilibrium and energy changes) as well as some modern analytical techniques.

Further details of the A level specification can be found here:

Year 13


During the second year, you will enhance your understanding with further study of the 3 main branches of Chemistry (organic, inorganic and physical). This will include, for example, learning about more organic functional groups, nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy, transition elements, entropy, electrode potentials and a more numerical discussion of rates of reaction, equilibrium and acid/base behaviour.