At Mill Hill, Chemistry, like all the sciences, is taught as a separate subject from Year 9 by experienced subject specialists. It is compulsory until the end of year 11 with a large proportion of pupils going on to study Chemistry at Advanced level. Chemistry is taught almost exclusively in specialist laboratories, a practice which allows continued emphasis on the practical nature of the subject through teacher demonstrations and, predominantly, through the medium of class practical work. The department is housed in a suite of purpose built laboratories. There are currently three fully equipped laboratories and one lecture style laboratory.
Years 9, 10 & 11
Pupils start their Science GCSEs in Year 9 and at the end of Year 10 they will be assigned to a set completing Combined Science: Trilogy (2 GCSEs) or to a set completing separate GCSEs in Biology, Chemistry and Physics. The Chemistry Department follows the AQA Chemistry specification which is one of a suite of three science specifications used by the Science Department at Mill Hill. The course develops an increasingly sophisticated theoretical understanding of the subject while continuing to emphasise the practical basis of the subject and its vital contribution to contemporary society.
There is no coursework or internal assessment. However, there are required practicals, and knowledge and skills acquired from the required practicals is examined in the terminal examinations. The topics studied in Chemistry for Combined Science and the Separate Sciences are the same. Pupils who study the Separate Sciences Chemistry will be examined in more depth than those who take Combined Science; grades will be awarded from 9 – 1 rather than from A*-G.
The Sixth Form
Chemistry is a popular choice at A Level, with a large proportion of pupils going on to study Chemistry and Chemistry related courses at Oxbridge and Russell Group Universities. Mill Hill follows the Edexcel syllabus which is traditional in style and which offers ample opportunity for experimental work above what is required in core practicals. The course is structured as a two year linear course that extends and develops the ideas encountered in GCSE Chemistry. Pupils will have the opportunity to sit the AS examination at the end of the first year if they decide not to take the full two year course.
Edexcel A Level Chemistry includes the following key themes: Atomic Structure and the Periodic Table; Bonding and structure; Redox; Inorganic Chemistry and the Periodic Table; Formulae, Equations and Amounts of Substance; Organic Chemistry; Modern Analytical Techniques; Energetics; Kinetics; Equilibria; Acid-Base Equilibria and Transition Metals.
Terminal written papers which will be taken at the end of Year 13 are divided into the following units: Advanced Inorganic & Physical Chemistry (30%); Advanced Organic and Physical Chemistry (30%) and General and Practical Principles in Chemistry (40%).
After Advanced Level
Chemistry at Advanced GCE Level is a prerequisite for many courses at university and for many areas of employment. It is also a long-established and respected qualification that allows progression into a number of subjects at university including Chemistry itself, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Veterinary Science, Agriculture, Biochemistry and Biosciences, Pharmacology, Chemical Engineering, Materials Sciences and related subjects. However, Chemistry graduates enter many disciplines and a degree in Chemistry is a qualification that is highly regarded in today’s world: technically adept individuals, problem solvers, numerate individuals and those that can deal with complex and challenging ideas remain essential to our rapidly developing society. Many Chemists find careers in law, finance and computing as well as those areas which use the degree directly.