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Through studying chemistry, students should become aware of how scientists work and communicate with each other. In all of the group 4 subjects there is an emphasis on a practical approach through experimental work.  

Past experience shows that students will be able to study a group 4 subject at standard level (SL) successfully with no background in, or previous knowledge of science. A chemistry students’ approach to study should be characterized by the specific IB learner profile attributes – inquirers, thinkers and communicators.

The chemistry course is organized by topics, with SL students having to study eleven topics and higher level (HL) students having to investigate nine of these topics to a greater depth. Both SL and HL students are responsible for covering two of seven option topics.

The power of scientific knowledge to transform societies is unparalleled. It has the potential to produce great universal benefits or to reinforce inequalities and cause harm to people and the environment. In line with the IB mission statement, group 4 students need to be aware of the moral responsibility of scientists to ensure that scientific knowledge and data are available to all countries on an equitable basis and that they have the scientific capacity to use this for developing sustainable societies.

Key features of the curriculum and assessment models

  • Available at both standard level (SL) and higher level (HL)
  • The minimum prescribed number of hours is 150 for SL and 240 for HL
  • While the skills and activities related to chemistry are common to both SL and HL students, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth and to study extension material of a more demanding nature in the common options. The distinction between SL and HL is one of breadth and depth.
  • An experimental approach to the course delivery is emphasised.
  • Students are assessed both externally and internally
  • External assessment consists of three written papers and provides opportunities for students to display their scientific understanding through the application, use, analysis and evaluation of scientific facts, concepts, methods, techniques and explanations.
  • Internal assessment accounts for 24% of the final assessment and consists of an interdisciplinary project, a mixture of both short- and long-term practicals/investigations/labs and subject-specific projects. The internal assessment allows students to demonstrate not only their scientific knowledge but also personal skills and manipulative skills.

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Read about similar studies in the Middle Years Programme and Primary Years Programme.