Unit 1: How can the diversity of materials be explained?

The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavour. In this unit students investigate the chemical structures and properties of a range of materials, including covalent compounds, metals, ionic compounds and polymers. They are introduced to ways that chemical quantities are measured. They consider how manufacturing innovations lead to more sustainable products being produced for society through the use of renewable raw materials and a transition from a linear economy towards a circular economy.

Students conduct practical investigations involving the reactivity series of metals, separation of mixtures by chromatography, use of precipitation reactions to identify ionic compounds, determination of empirical formulas, and synthesis of polymers.

Throughout this unit students use chemistry terminology including symbols, formulas, chemical nomenclature and equations to represent and explain observations and data from their own investigations and to evaluate the chemistry-based claims of others.

A student-directed research investigation into the sustainable production or use of a selected material is to be undertaken in Area of Study 3. The investigation explores how sustainability factors such as green chemistry principles and the transition to a circular economy are considered in the production of materials to ensure minimum toxicity and impacts on human health and the environment. The investigation draws on key knowledge and key science skills from Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Area of Study 1: How do the chemical structures of materials explain their properties and reactions?

Area of Study 2: How are materials quantified and classified?

Area of Study 3: How can chemical principles be applied to create a more sustainable future?


Unit 2: How do chemical reactions shape the natural world?

Society is dependent on the work of chemists to analyse the materials and products in everyday use. In this unit students analyse and compare different substances dissolved in water and the gases that may be produced in chemical reactions. They explore applications of acid-base and redox reactions in society.

Students conduct practical investigations involving the specific heat capacity of water, acid-base and redox reactions, solubility, molar volume of a gas, volumetric analysis, and the use of a calibration curve.

Throughout the unit students use chemistry terminology, including symbols, formulas, chemical nomenclature and equations, to represent and explain observations and data from their own investigations and to evaluate the chemistry-based claims of others.

A student-adapted or student-designed scientific investigation is undertaken in Area of Study 3. The investigation involves the generation of primary data and is related to the production of gases, acid-base or redox reactions, or the analysis of substances in water. It draws on the key science skills and key knowledge from Unit 2 Area of Study 1 and/or Area of Study 2.

Area of Study 1: How do chemicals interact with water?

Area of Study 2: How are chemicals measured and analysed?

Area of Study 3: How do quantitative scientific investigations develop our understanding of chemical reactions?


Unit 3: How can chemical processes be designed to optimise efficiency?

The global demand for energy and materials is increasing with world population growth. In this unit students explore energy options and the chemical production of materials with reference to efficiencies, renewability and the minimisation of their impact on the environment. Students compare and evaluate different chemical energy resources, including fossil fuels, biofuels, galvanic cells and fuel cells. They investigate the combustion of fuels, including the energy transformations involved, the use of stoichiometry to calculate the amounts of reactants and products involved in the reactions, and calculations of the amounts of energy released and their representations.

Students consider the purpose, design and operating principles of galvanic cells, fuel cells and electrolytic cells. In this context they use the electrochemical series to predict and write half and overall redox equations, and apply Faraday’s laws to calculate quantities in electrolytic reactions. Students analyse manufacturing processes with reference to factors that influence their reaction rates and extent. They investigate and apply the equilibrium law and Le Chatelier’s principle to different reaction systems, including to predict and explain the conditions that will improve the efficiency and percentage yield of chemical processes. They use the language and conventions of chemistry including symbols, units, chemical formulas and equations to represent and explain observations and data collected from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.

  • Area of study 1: What are the options for energy production?
  • Area of study 2: How can the yield of a chemical product be optimised?

Unit 4: How are organic compounds categorised, analysed and used?

The carbon atom has unique characteristics that explain the diversity and number of organic compounds that not only constitute living tissues but are also found in the fuels, foods, medicines and many of the materials we use in everyday life. In this unit students investigate the structural features, bonding, typical reactions and uses of the major families of organic compounds including those found in food.

Students study the ways in which organic structures are represented and named. They process data from instrumental analyses of organic compounds to confirm or deduce organic structures, and perform volumetric analyses to determine the concentrations of organic chemicals in mixtures. Students consider the nature of the reactions involved to predict the products of reaction pathways and to design pathways to produce particular compounds from given starting materials. Students investigate key food molecules through an exploration of their chemical structures, the hydrolytic reactions in which they are broken down and the condensation reactions in which they are rebuilt to form new molecules. In this context the role of enzymes and coenzymes in facilitating chemical reactions is explored. Students use calorimetry as an investigative tool to determine the energy released in the combustion of foods.

  • Area of study 1: How can the diversity of carbon compounds be explained and categorised?
  • Area of study 2: What is the chemistry of food?
  • Area of study 3: Practical investigation