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Aims & Philosophy of the Chemistry Department

A catalyst for your future!

Everything around us is made up of elements. We study Chemistry to make us aware of its influence on our everyday lives. Chemistry develops a wide range of thinking and practical skills whilst introducing the key concepts of the subject. Within Queen Margaret’s Chemistry department, there is extensive use of laboratory based practical work and IT to promote ideas through excitement and discovery at all levels of learning.  The course is designed to develop the central theme of the particulate nature of matter and to use this concept to explain increasingly complex natural phenomena. The importance of chemical terminology and chemical symbols is emphasised from the outset.

Overview of Key Stage 4 Curriculum

At GCSE level, Chemistry is taught as 2 different specifications, depending on the student’s ability. The individual Chemistry course offers detailed study in a range of topics. These include fundamental ideas, rocks & building materials, metals and their uses, crude oil & fuels, products from oil, plant oils, and our changing planet. Within the Additional Chemistry component, topics include structure and bonding, structure and properties, how much?, rates & energy and salts & electrolytes.

The second specification sees girls following the Additional Science route which incorporates Chemistry and Biology. Girls choosing this path are awarded two GCSEs at the end of Year V. This path includes similar topics but in less depth.

What makes the department unique from those at other schools?

Girls have achieved places to read Chemistry, Natural Sciences, Medicine, Pharmacy and Veterinary Science at all the top universities including Oxford, Imperial College, Bristol, Edinburgh, Durham, UCL, Liverpool and Glasgow.

Year II visit the Magna Discovery Centre at Rotherham to enhance their work on Iron and Steel.  A team from Year II enter the Salters’ Chemistry Challenge each year which is held at one of the local university chemistry departments.

Year III spend a day at the National Coal Mining Museum, Wakefield, participating in a workshop run by members of the Chemistry Department at Huddersfield University where they sample and analyse the water pumped from deep underground. The day is finished off with a trip down the mine!

In the Sixth Form, girls have participated in a Quiz and Pizza Night run by the Chemical Society of Bradford University and sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry. More recently we have taken advantage of the new Outreach facilities at Bradford University. The girls have carried out an Organic Synthesis followed by Spectroscopic Analysis to check the quality of their work.

In the Lent term the Lower Sixth take part in a Green Chemistry Lab experience at York University. Later in the Easter Term the girls participate in the Cambridge Chemistry Challenge. In the Upper Sixth an extension lesson is offered to the girls to tackle Chemistry questions which venture into topics not covered by the A2 specification. Furthermore, Sixth Form chemists regularly enter the RSC Olympiad Competition and have attended events organised by the RSC ChemNet.

To learn about the Chemistry Department
curriculum in other Key Stages please choose a link