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Chemistry is an intellectually demanding subject at IB and is a big step up from the low level demands of GCSE.

We require students to have obtained at GCSE level a grade 7, 7 in the Combined Science Award or ‘7’ in the Chemistry Separate Science Award. The main distinction between IB and GCSE, apart from the difficulty of the material in terms of the underlying concepts involved, is the emphasis which is placed on your own role in the learning process. As much as anything else, the IB course is trying to prepare you for University life, both academically and in terms of the learning process.  

Chemistry is the study of the materials which make up our world, both living and non-living, and their properties. It offers, therefore, unlimited scope to people who want to understand and contribute to further developments in our use and conservation of the materials that surround us.

Chemistry occupies a central position among the sciences. On the one hand it is closely linked with biology through organic chemistry and on the other is closely linked with physics through physical chemistry. It is, therefore, an important companion to the other two sciences, either individually or collectively, whilst also, of course, being a self-standing academic discipline.

Course Structure

The IB Diploma Programme is a rigorous two-year course for highly motivated students. Chemistry is part of the Group 4 (experimental sciences) academic area.

You will be externally assessed at the end of the course on the following theory topics  (Higher = core + AHL + one option):


Topic 1: Stoichiometric relationships

Topic 2: Atomic structure

Topic 3: Periodicity

Topic 4: Chemical bonding and structure

Topic 5: Energetics/thermochemistry

Topic 6: Chemical kinetics

Topic 7: Equilibrium

Topic 8: Acids and bases

Topic 9: Redox processes

Topic 10: Organic chemistry

Topic 11: Measurement and data processing

Additional Higher

Topic 12: Atomic structure

Topic 13: The periodic table – the transition elements

Topic 14: Chemical bonding and structure

Topic 15: Energetics/thermochemistry

Topic 16: Chemical kinetics

Topic 17: Equilibrium

Topic 18: Acids and bases

Topic 19: Redox processes

Topic 20: Organic chemistry

Topic 21: Measurement and analysis



A. Materials

B. Biochemistry

C. Energy

D. Medicinal chemistry

Assessment Outline


Weighting (%)


Paper 1


1 hr paper - 40 multiple-choice questions on core and AHL

The use of calculators is not permitted.

Students will be provided with a periodic table.

No marks are deducted for incorrect answers.

Paper 2


2 ¼ hr paper - Short-answer and extended-response questions on the core and AHL material.

The use of calculators is permitted.

A chemistry data booklet is to be provided by the school.

Paper 3


1 ¼ paper - will have questions on core, AHL and option material

Section A: one data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work.

Section B: short-answer and extended-response questions from one option.

The use of calculators is permitted.

A chemistry data booklet is to be provided by the school.

Internal assessment


The internal assessment, worth 20% of the final assessment, consists of one scientific investigation.

Practical Skills

Students at higher level are required to spend 60 hours, on practical activities. These times include 10 hours for the Group 4 project and 10 hours for the internal assessment. Students are assessed on an individual investigation which they design, carry out and evaluate.

Group 4 Project

The group 4 project is an interdisciplinary activity in which all Diploma Programme science students must participate. The intention is that students from the different group 4 subjects analyse a common topic or problem suggested by the science department. The Group 4 Project typically takes 10 hours of timetabled time and results in a presentation of findings and self-reflection on your contribution to the process. The exercise should be a collaborative experience where the emphasis is on the processes involved in scientific investigation rather than the products of such investigation.

Careers and Chemistry

If you elect to study chemistry in the Sixth Form then this can lead to careers in the following: doctor, dentist, veterinary science, chemical engineer, banking, solicitor…

N.B. this list is by no means exhaustive and further information should be obtained from the School’s Careers Advisers.

You should also note that the study of Chemistry both at IB and at degree level develops exactly the key skills so much in demand from prospective employers e.g. logical deductive thought processes and high level problem solving ability.

IB Chemistry students would benefit from completing IB Mathematics to at least a Standard Level.