Subject Team

Mr D Spence (Head of Department)

Mrs L Totten
Mrs J Wray
Mrs R Crooks

Mrs A Stafford (Technician)

Department Aims

Chemistry is concerned with the building blocks of all materials – the elements.  We are interested in the properties of these elements, how they react together, and the properties of the compounds that are formed.  Chemistry is a challenging and very interesting subject that involves a lot of practical work and leads to a large variety of very rewarding careers such as: Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Physiotherapy, Veterinary Science, Engineering, Research, and Teaching.

The Chemistry Department aims to foster a learning environment in which students can develop a good overall knowledge of the subject and be thoroughly prepared for the relevant examinations.  We believe that diligence and enjoyment create a fantastic atmosphere for learning to take place.

The teaching and resources provided by the department are of a very high standard and there is a lot of examining experience at the most senior level with CCEA.


GCSE Chemistry

Examination Board: CCEA

What is GCSE Chemistry about?


Chemistry is a challenging science requiring serious study. While Chemistry requires understanding and recall of specific scientific facts, students are also expected to be able to conduct experiments and interpret observations in terms of scientific principles and to carry out relevant calculations.

Students are encouraged to develop their curiosity about the material and physical worlds and the course provides insight into and experience of how science works. It also enables students to engage with Chemistry in their everyday lives and to make informed choices both about further study in Chemistry and their careers.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

Unit 1 Structures, Trends, Chemical Reactions, Quantitative Chemistry and AnalysisWritten examination

(1 hour 15 mins)


Unit 2 Further Chemical Reactions, Rates and Equilibrium, Calculations and Organic ChemistryWritten examination

(1 hour 30 mins)


Unit 3 Practical SkillsBooklet A (7.5%)

Two externally marked pre-release practicals in Year 12.


Booklet B (17.5%)

External written examination on practical work. (1 hour)


What can this subject lead to?
Students who are interested in pursuing a career in engineering, science teaching, medicine or a medically related area should choose to study all three of the separate Sciences (Biology, Chemistry and Physics) at GCSE level.  This will ensure that these students will satisfy the university admissions criteria for medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, engineering etc. Prospective students are advised that GCSE Chemistry is required by many universities for ‘non-chemistry’ courses such as Food Science and Dietetics.

A Level

Examination Board: CCEA

What is A Level Chemistry about?

Chemistry is often described as the most versatile science, and it fits in well with the study of the other sciences. It is the science most often required by universities and higher education establishments for students to embark on degrees in medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, and forensic and veterinary science. It is a very challenging and competitive subject in which students acquire skills that are valued in higher education and in the workplace such as research, investigation, analysis, communication, problem solving and working with others.

What will I study and how will I be assessed?

AS ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1 Basic Concepts in Physical and Inorganic ChemistryExternal Examination


40% of AS


Unit 2 Further Physical and Inorganic Chemistry and an Introduction to Organic ChemistryExternal Examination


40% of AS


Unit 3 Basic Practical Chemistry


1 hour 15 minutes External Examination involving practical tasks (laboratory) 1 hour 15 minutes External Examination on practical knowledge (examination hall)20% of AS


A2 ContentAssessmentWeighting
Unit 1 Further Physical and Organic ChemistryExternal Examination


40% of A2


Unit 2 Analytical, Transition Metals, Electrochemistry and Organic Nitrogen ChemistryExternal Examination



of A2

Unit 3 Further Practical Chemistry


1 hour 15 minutes External Examination involving practical tasks (laboratory) 1 hour 15 minutes External Examination on practical knowledge (examination hall)20%

of A2


Are there any particular qualities or skills I should have to study this course and to what kind of careers can it lead?

Chemistry can lead to a wide variety of rewarding careers including medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, engineering, research and food science.

Entry Requirements: Students seeking to study AS Chemistry must have an A grade or above in GCSE Chemistry, or a AA grade or above in GCSE Double Award Science, along with a minimum of a B grade in GCSE Mathematics. All GCSE units in these subjects must be taken at Higher Tier.

Support Materials

A detailed specification and past papers and mark schemes can be found here.

Department News / Events

Oxford Doctor of Chemistry inspires future Chemists in Portadown College

Former pupil Stephen Hyde visited the College today to chat to students about studying Chemistry at a high level.   Head of Chemistry David Spence was delighted to receive a copy of his PhD thesis from Oxford entitled “Novel Strategies for Synthesising and Labelling the Heteroatom-trifluoroethyl Motif” 


Celebrating Excellence

The College is delighted to be honoured by inaugural awards in memory of two of Northern Ireland’s most famous and forward thinking scientists, Sir Hans Sloane and Sir Allen McClay.

The Hans Sloane (Memorial Fund) Trust, in partnership with National Museums NI, was established in 1960 to commemorate the life and work of the celebrated physician, scientist and collector. This year, in partnership with Almac Group, The Hans Sloane Memorial Fund established a new award, the Sloan McClay Award, to celebrate the visionary entrepreneur and businessman, Sir Allen McClay. The award recognises excellence in GCSE level in science and mathematics by Northern Ireland’s brightest GCSE students and their teachers.


At a prestigious ceremony in the Ulster Museum, the Sloane McClay Award for first prize was presented to Matthew Vennard who achieved the highest combined marks in Biology, Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics at GCSE level in Northern Ireland in 2017. Principal, Mr Simon Harper, also received a Sloane McClay Award in recognition of excellence in teaching at Portadown College. Both awards were presented by Professor Tim Harrison, Vice President, Drug Discovery, Almac Group.

The College is exceptionally proud of both awards which recognise Matthew’s remarkable individual success, as well as the collective achievement of his teachers.

Photograph courtesy of Press Eye/ Darren Kidd


Year 11 Chemists get creative!

Year 11 Chemists making a sodium chloride lattice from grapes and marshmallows. November 2016

grapes and marshmallows

Educational Visits / Trips

No current updates


No current updates