AS/A level specification | OCR Chemistry B (Salters)


Have you ever wondered why Kevlar body armour is so effective against bullets? Or how they make aspirin? Or how forensic chemists detect tiny quantities of poison in the bodies of murder victims? How do they produce all those colours in fireworks?

There’s chemistry in everything around you – from the caffeine in your coffee to the genetic blueprint that made you who you are. Chemistry is at the forefront of modern science. Leading the way in methods for decoding the human genome, developing medicines to treat AIDS and the common cold and helping us to understand the environment in which we live – and to protect it for future generations!

Taking Chemistry at A Level will open a fantastic number of doors for you in the future.

Content & Breakdown

The Salters course is probably the most modern, up to date course available, and is particularly well thought of by universities throughout the UK. It starts with applications and develops the theory as required. It introduces chemical topics in one unit and then revisits them in later units, so that student learning has a chance to mature and is then reinforced.

The AS level starts with a grounding in the basics that you’ll need throughout your studies. Units include

  • The Elements of Life.
  • Developing Fuels.
  • Elements from the Sea.
  • The Ozone Story.
  • What’s in a medicine?

The A2 year develops these ideas further. Units include:

  • The Chemical Industry.
  • Polymers and Life.
  • Oceans.
  • Developing Metals.
  • Colour by Design.

There are overlaps with Biology (genetics and biochemistry) and Physics (electrochemistry) but also subjects such as Geography (the atmosphere). It fits in well with a whole range of subjects from English to Psychology.


Chemistry A level is completely assessed by examination. Students sit three written papers at the end of Year 13. These examinations potentially cover all aspects of Chemistry studied in both Year 12 and Year 13 and will include questions on practical skills. Students can expect to complete a wide range of practical activities to prepare them for these practical skills questions and to be able to pass the separate Practical Endorsement in Chemistry.

Students have the option of completing an AS Chemistry award, which is assessed by two written examinations at the end of Year 12. The AS does not contribute to the A-level and it is a separate qualification. However, students can continue to study Chemistry in Year 13 and then take the A-level examinations at the end of the second year in the sixth form.

Careers/Further Education

Taking Salters Chemistry at A level will leave you with a large set of options when you’ve finished. Don’t think you’re tying yourself down to lab-based work. With a Chemistry qualification you could pursue any of the following careers:

Art Restorer; Dentist; Doctor; Forensic Scientist; Oceanographer; Optician; Pharmacist; Photographer; Physiotherapist; Sports and Fitness Trainer; Vet and many more.

For more information contact

Mr D Knight