Course Content

Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. There is a variety of approaches to the teaching of chemistry. By its very nature, chemistry lends itself to an experimental approach, and this is reflected throughout the course.

Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological science and environmental science, and serves as useful preparation for employment.

The Diploma Programme chemistry course includes the essential principles of the subject but also, through selection of options, allows teachers some flexibility to tailor the course in order to meet the needs of their students. Both theory and experiments should be undertaken by all students and they should complement one another naturally, as they do in the wider scientific community. The Diploma Programme chemistry course allows students to develop traditional practical skills and techniques and to increase facility in the use of mathematics, which is the language of science but also to develop interpersonal skills, and digital technology skills.

The course is available both at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL), and therefore accommodates students who wish to study science in higher education and those who do not. The course at both Standard and Higher Level does not require any particular background or prior learning.

Course Content (Standard Level)

The Chemistry Standard Level course will cover the following topics:

1. Stoichiometric relationships
2. Atomic structure
3. Periodicity
4. Chemical bonding and structure
5. Energetics/thermochemistry
6. Chemical kinetics
7. Equilibrium
8. Acids and bases
9. Redox processes
10. Organic chemistry
11. Measurement and data processing

Course Content (Higher Level)

The Chemistry Higher Level course will cover the topics covered in the Standard level section plus extension material on the same topics, apart from Topic 1 where the material is the same for both levels.

The course also requires selection of one of the following options:

  • Materials
  • Biochemistry
  • Energy
  • Medicinal chemistry

The options are common for both levels, but the Chemistry Higher Level students will also cover extension material for each option.

The course will also involve practical work during the 2 years. The practical scheme of the work includes:

  • Practical activities
  • Individual investigation (internal assessment—IA)
  • Group 4 project

Course Assessment

The final grade is the result of external and internal assessment.

The final external assessment involves 3 written papers:

Paper 1: Multiple choice questions on core material.
Paper 2: Short-answer and extended-response questions on core material.
Paper 3: One data-based question and several short-answer questions on experimental work and short-answer and extended-response questions from one option.

The internal assessment task will be one scientific investigation taking about 10 hours and more specifically it will be a practical activity with a purposeful research question and a scientific rationale and also addressing many of the learner profile attributes. The task will have the same assessment criteria for SL and HL. The five assessment criteria are: personal engagement, exploration, analysis, evaluation and communication.


Having followed the Chemistry Diploma Programme course, students will be expected to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of scientific facts, concepts and terminology.
  • apply and use appropriate methods and techniques to present and communicate scientific information.
  • construct, analyse and evaluate research questions, predictions and scientific explanations.
  • demonstrate the appropriate research, experimental, and personal skills necessary to carry out insightful and ethical investigations.

Download the subject guide



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