skip to content

Subject Summary

The Part II course builds on the ideas which were presented in the first and second year, and offers students the opportunity to both broaden and deepen their knowledge of chemistry. As the year progresses there is the opportunity for students to narrow their focus somewhat, for example towards chemical biology or chemical physics; however, they can equally well choose to pursue a broad range of topics across all areas of chemistry. 

Practical work is given a prominent place, and the programme of work is designed to continue to develop skills in this area by tackling more sophisticated and open-ended experiments. In addition to conventional practical, there will be the opportunity to do other kinds of continuously assessed work such as learning a language, computer programming or additional mathematical skills. 

The lectures are organised into three groups: A, B, and C.

A courses

The A courses are compulsory and cover a range of core topics. If you have taken Chemistry A and Chemistry B in Part IB you must take courses A1–A4. If you have only taken Chemistry B in Part IB you have two options: either you can take courses A1–A4 or you can take courses A1, A2, and A6 Concepts in physical chemistry. This latter course is specifically designed for those who have not taken Chemistry A at Part IB. No special arrangements are made for those who have taken only Chemistry A in Part IB. However, with some focused reading over the preceding vacation and some additional supervisions, you should find it possible to complete courses A1 and A2 in a satisfactory way. You should consult the Director of Teaching and your Director of Studies if you fall into this category.

B and C courses

The B and C courses cover a wide range of topics from which you have a free choice, subject to the constraints of the examination. Most B and C courses consist of 12 lectures, but some are shorter and consist of 6 lectures. The B courses span the last two weeks of the Michaelmas Term and the first three of the Lent Term. The C courses span weeks 5–8 of the Lent Term and the first two weeks of the Easter Term. You need to think carefully about your choice of B and C courses so that you develop a coherent programme of study, lay down a good foundation for Part III (if that is your intention), and prepare appropriately for the examinations. The examination structure is such that you must answer four questions for the B and C courses. In short, you will need – at the absolute minimum – to be prepared to answer questions relating to 24 hours of B course lectures, and 24 hours of C course lectures.

The B and C courses offer wide range of lecture courses (from chemical physics through to chemical biology). Students may take any courses that they feel prepared for. The emphasis in the final part of the course is the development of specialised knowledge in particular areas of chemistry, very much with a view to the kind of advanced research-based topics that will be studied in the fourth year (Part III).

The practical course continues throughout the first and second terms. Various options are on offer, included advanced experiments in all areas of chemistry, study of a foreign language, computer programming and mathematical methods. 

Programme Specification

This course is taught by the Department of Chemistry.


This course aims to:

  1. build on the knowledge and ideas gained from the Part IB Chemistry courses;
  2. further develop the theories and ideas studied previously, extending their scope, the complexity of the systems being studied and the need for critical evaluation;
  3. provide the opportunity for students to deepen their knowledge in particular areas of chemistry up to the level expected for a chemistry graduate;
  4. exemplify and offer the chance to study areas of chemistry which are of current research interest;
  5. build on and develop the practical skills gained in Part IB, introducing more sophisticated measurements and preparative techniques, and the design of experiments;
  6. gain an appreciation of the chemical literature and related data bases and how such information can be accessed and assessed;
  7. (optional) have the opportunity to study a language (Chinese, French, German, Japanese or Spanish); to gain skills in computer programming; to enhance skills in mathematical methods. 

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should:

  1. be able to apply the ideas and concepts introduced in the course to solve problems, make calculations, make predictions and rationalize trends;
  2. have a deeper appreciation of selected areas of chemistry such as would prepare them for advanced study;
  3. have enhanced practical skills;
  4. have an appreciation of how to find out and assess chemical information;
  5. (optional) have a working knowledge of a foreign language, computer programming or to have gained additional skills in mathematical methods.

Teaching and Learning Methods

These include lectures, supervisions, practical classes and examples classes.


Assessment for this course is through:

  • four unseen written examinations (for aims 1-4 and learning outcomes 1-2);
  • continuously assessed practical work (for aim 5 and learning outcome 3);
  • short tests and/or the submission of other exercises (for aims 6-7 and learning outcomes 4-5).

Courses of Preparation

Essential: NST Part IB Chemistry A and NST Part IB Chemistry B; a specific route is provided for those who have taken only NST Part IB Chemistry B but it is important to realise that the choice within the course will be reduced. No specific route is provided for those who have taken only NST Part IB Chemistry A, but it is possible to access Part II Chemistry from this starting point provided that additional directed reading is taken over the preceding vacation. 

Recommended: Any Part IB NST subject complementary to either Part IB Chemistry A or Chemistry B e.g. Mathematics, Physics, Materials Science, and biological subjects with a molecular focus.

Additional Information

Further information is available on the Course Websites pages.