How can the diversity of materials be explained?

The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavour. In this unit students investigate the chemical properties of a range of materials from metals and salts to polymers and nanomaterials. Using their knowledge of elements and atomic structure students explore and explain the relationships between properties, structure and bonding forces within and between particles that vary in size from the visible, through nanoparticles, to molecules and atoms. Students examine the modification of metals, assess the factors that affect the formation of ionic crystals and investigate a range of non-metallic substances from molecules to polymers and giant lattices and relate their structures to specific applications. Students are introduced to quantitative concepts in chemistry including the mole concept. They apply their knowledge to determine the relative masses of elements and the composition of substances. Throughout the unit students use chemistry terminology including symbols, formulas, chemical nomenclature and equations to represent and explain observations and data from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.


  1. The student should be able to relate the position of elements in the periodic table to their properties, investigate the structures and properties of metals and ionic compounds, and calculate mole quantities. .
  2. The student should be able to investigate and explain the properties of carbon lattices and molecular substances with reference to their structures and bonding, use systematic nomenclature to name organic compounds, and explain how polymers can be designed for a purpose.
  3. The student should be able to investigate a question related to the development, use and/or modification of a selected material or chemical and communicate a substantiated response to the question.


  • Periodic Table Data Analysis
  • Laboratory Practical Reports
  • Modelling Activity
  • A report of a student-designed quantitative laboratory investigation
  • Examination


What makes water such a unique chemical?

Water is the most widely used solvent on Earth. In this unit students explore the physical and chemical properties of water, the reactions that occur in water and various methods of water analysis. Students examine the polar nature of a water molecule and the intermolecular forces between water molecules. They explore the relationship between these bonding forces and the physical and chemical properties of water. In this context students investigate solubility, concentration, pH and reactions in water including precipitation, acid-base and redox. Students are introduced to stoichiometry and to analytical techniques and instrumental procedures, and apply these to determine concentrations of different species in water samples, including chemical contaminants. They use chemistry terminology including symbols, units, formulas and equations to represent and explain observations and data from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena. Students explore the solvent properties of water in a variety of contexts and analyse selected issues associated with substances dissolved in water.


  1. The student should be able to relate the properties of water to its structure and bonding, and explain the importance of the properties and reactions of water in selected contexts.
  2. The student should be able to measure amounts of dissolved substances in water and analyse water samples for salts, organic compounds and acids and bases.
  3. The student should be able to design and undertake a quantitative laboratory investigation related to water quality, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.


  • Written Assignment
  • Laboratory Practical Reports
  • Problem solving task
  • A report of a student-designed quantitative laboratory investigation
  • Examination


How can chemical processes be designed to optimise efficiency?

In this unit students investigate energy options and the chemical production of materials with reference to efficiencies, renewability and the minimisation of their impact on the environment.

Students compare and evaluate different chemical energy resources and investigate the combustion of fuels, including the energy transformations involved, the use of stoichiometry to calculate the amounts of reactants and products involved in the reactions, and calculations of the amounts of energy released and their representations.

Students consider the purpose, design and operating principles of galvanic cells, fuel cells and electrolytic cells. In this context they use the electrochemical series to predict and write half and overall redox equations, and apply Faraday’s laws to calculate quantities in electrolytic reactions.

Students analyse manufacturing processes with reference to factors that influence their reaction rates and yield. They investigate and apply the equilibrium law and Le Chatelier’s principle to different reaction systems, including to predict and explain the conditions that will improve the efficiency and percentage yield of chemical processes. They use the language and conventions of chemistry including symbols, units, chemical formulas and equations to represent and explain observations and data collected from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.


  1. Compare fuels quantitatively with reference to combustion products and energy outputs, apply knowledge of the electrochemical series to design, construct and test galvanic cells, and evaluate energy resources based on energy efficiency, renewability and environmental impact.
  2. Apply rate and equilibrium principles to predict how the rate and extent of reactions can be optimised, and explain how electrolysis is involved in the production of chemicals and in the recharging of batteries.


  • A report on a laboratory investigation.
  • Investigation – Annotations of at least two practical activities from a practical logbook
  • External examination (End of year)

UNIT 4 -

How are organic compounds categorised, analysed and used?

In this unit students investigate the structural features, bonding, typical reactions and uses of the major families of organic compounds including those found in food.

Students investigate the ways in which organic structures are represented and named. They process data from instrumental analyses of organic compounds to confirm or deduce organic structures, and perform volumetric analyses to determine the concentrations of organic chemicals in mixtures. Students consider the nature of the reactions involved to predict the products of reaction pathways and to design pathways to produce particular compounds from given starting materials.

Students investigate key food molecules through an exploration of their chemical structures, the hydrolytic reactions in which they are broken down and the condensation reactions in which they are rebuilt to form new molecules. In this context the role of enzymes and coenzymes in facilitating chemical reactions is explored. Students use calorimetry as an investigative tool to determine the energy released in the combustion of foods.


  1. Compare the general structures and reactions of the major organic families of compounds,deduce structures of organic compounds using instrumental analysis data, and design reaction pathways for the synthesis of organic molecules.
  2. Distinguish between the chemical structures of key food molecules, analyse the chemical reactions involved in the metabolism of the major components of food including the role of enzymes, and calculate the energy content of food using calorimetry.
  3. Design and undertake a practical investigation related to energy and/or food, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.


  • A report of a student investigation or A response to a set of structured questions
  • A comparison of food molecules or A report of a laboratory investigation
  • A structured scientific posters
  • External examination (End of year)