Chemistry is an experimental science that combines academic study with the acquisition of practical and investigational skills. It is often called the central science, as chemical principles underpin both the physical environment in which we live and all biological systems. Apart from being a subject worthy of study in its own right, chemistry is a prerequisite for many other courses in higher education, such as medicine, biological and environmental science, and many branches of engineering and serves as useful preparation for employment. The course accommodates both students who wish to study chemistry as their major subject in higher education and those who do not.
Nature of the group 4 subjectsGroup 4 students at standard level (SL) and higher level (HL) undertake a common core syllabus, a common internal assessment (IA) scheme and have some overlapping elements in the options studied. They are presented with a syllabus that encourages the development of certain skills, attributes and attitudes.
While the skills and activities of group 4 science subjects are common to students at both SL and HL, students at HL are required to study some topics in greater depth, to study additional topics 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.
Practical/investigative work is a compulsory component of the group 4 subjects. SL students are required to take part in 40 hours and HL students 60 hours of laboratory-related activities as part of the subject.
Prior learningPast experience shows that students will be able to study a group 4 science subject at SL successfully with no background in, or previous knowledge of, science. Their approach to study, characterized by the specific IB learner profile attributes—inquirers, thinkers and communicators—will be significant here.
However, for most students considering the study of a group 4 subject at HL, while there is no intention to restrict access to group 4 subjects, some previous exposure to the specific group 4 subject would be necessary. Specific topic details are not specified but students who have undertaken the IB Middle Years Programme (MYP) or studied an international GCSE science subject would be well prepared. Other national science qualifications (such as Naturfag Vg1 SSP in the Norwegian curriculum) would also be suitable preparation for study of a group 4 subject at HL.