Chemistry is taught as a practical subject from the first lesson in Year 7, lighting a Bunsen burner, through to A level.  This increases students’ confidence, not only in the equipment and techniques they are using, but also in each other and in their capacity to problem solve and adapt.  This often allows the level of practical work, and hence the discussions of the Science, to be well beyond that typical for a particular age group.


Ours is a lively department headed by Dr J Danks. We have a highly qualified set of teachers who not only aim for exam success but also to produce confident, communicative, practical scientists. The considerable popularity of Chemistry at A level with generally around 40% of the Sixth Form taking the subject shows the success of this philosophy with our students.

We also encourage an enjoyment of the fun side of Science at the same time as building an appreciation of the wider impact and importance of Chemistry on our technological, environmental, economic and social future.  The department is well-known for the spectacular, whether it is Dr Danks’s and Dr Waggetts’s whizz-bang shows given in the Blake Theatre to junior schools.

The department also helps to run a very popular Junior Science club. This is open to members of Years 7 and 8, and they meet during one lunch hour a week in order to investigate the wonders of science and carry out experiments which extend beyond the scope of the normal curriculum.  Students build and blow up volcanoes, make bridges out of spaghetti and testing their strength, carry out blueprinting bringing together 19th and 21st century technology in order to turn digital photographs into negatives and they have also solved the age old search to turn base metals into gold!



At Monmouth School for Boys all students study the iGCSE Chemistry course. This is considered to be a more rigorous qualification that will benefit both the pupils’ understanding of the principles involved and science education at the school. The course is designed to develop students’ understanding of the unifying patterns of Chemistry and to allow them to apply their knowledge to problem-solving, experimental work and advanced applications.

The course is based on a linear scheme and assessment is by terminal examination.  This removes the disruption of module tests and permits a much greater emphasis on practical applied science. There is no centre-based assessment required for this qualification.  As in previous years the majority of pupils will study for iGCSE awards in each of the three separate sciences and will sit two papers in each.  However, the option exists for candidates to take a single paper in each Science and achieve a Dual Award Science qualification, which will be awarded two passes at iGCSE level.  Further details can be obtained from the EDEXCEL website.

A level
Why study Chemistry?

Chemistry is a challenging A level, which complements the other science subjects well. It can also be studied as a contrast to arts and humanities subjects. It is excellent preparation and a requirement for some university courses. Students go on to study a wide variety of disciplines, including engineering, medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, biochemistry, maths and economics.

The course followed is based on the AQA A level syllabus and consists of the three strands spread over two years. Two teachers teach each set to provide variety and to allow flexibility in practical and theoretical topics. In Year 12 Physical and Organic Chemistry will be taught in parallel, with the Inorganic Chemistry split after that. In the more advanced Year 13 courses, Inorganic and Organic Chemistry are taught in parallel and the Physical Chemistry is split.

The approach is to teach through practical work wherever possible; each exam paper will contain some practical techniques assessment, so development of practical awareness and confidence is an important part of all three strands.

You will be provided with in-house revision booklets and material in addition to standard text books and revision books. You will also have a book targeted at bridging the gap between GCSE and A level.

We have a highly qualified set of teachers who not only aim for exam success but also to produce confident, communicative, practical scientists. The considerable popularity of Chemistry at A level in the Monmouth Schools shows the success of this philosophy with our students.

Head of Department: Dr A Winter

Course content

Board: AQA   A level Syllabus Code: 7405

The A level has three strands:

  1. Physical Chemistry – fundamental principles of Chemistry and their application from qualitative and quantitative viewpoints.
  2.  Inorganic Chemistry – the Periodic Table, Main Group and Transition Metal Chemistry.
  3. Organic Chemistry – Chemistry and analysis of carbon-based molecules from Alkanes and Alkenes through to Benzene, Polymers and Amino Acids.

Method of assessment

Paper 1 (2 hours) 105 marks of short and longer answer questions.
This paper covers some Physical Chemistry and the Inorganic Chemistry

Paper 2 (2 hours) 105 marks of short and longer answer questions.
This paper covers some Physical Chemistry and the Organic Chemistry

Paper 3 (2 hours) 40 marks of questions on practical techniques and data analysis, 20marks of synoptic questions across the syllabus + 30 marks of multiple choice questions.

There is no practical coursework for the A level courses. There are a number of compulsory practicals which are included in the normal teaching schedule. All papers will contain some questions on practical skills relevant to the content of the paper.

Staff List

Dr J P Danks BSc (Warwick), DPhil (Oxon) Head of Chemistry
Dr A J Winter BSc (Liverpool), PhD (Wales)
Mr I J Lawrence BSc (UCL), MSc (Cranfield)
Mr D M Briggs BSc (Reading)

Beyond Monmouth Chemistry

We produce accomplished and confident practical chemists some of whom then go on to study Business Management, History and associated courses at top universities.  Our approach with all our students is to stretch them and develop their problem-solving, logic processes, team building and other transferable skills for whichever courses they follow.

Many A level chemists go on to study medicine, dentistry or veterinary science as well as chemistry, chemical engineering, biochemistry, pharmacy and environmental sciences.

Employers recognise the value of  training in logical thought, numerical and communications skills. Typically 40% of graduate chemists stay in the university sector to study further and only about half of graduates go on to a career in chemistry or a related discipline. The skills you learn on a Chemistry degree equip you for a whole range of other careers in law, finance, accountancy, sales, management and more.