Study Chemistry with our Oxford Summer School 2017 | Students aged 16-18

Also available for students aged 13-15.

Class Summary

This Chemistry course focuses on strengthening core concepts as well as introducing new and exciting topics, going beyond what students might have had a chance to cover at school. It aims to give students more confidence and foster curiosity about pursuing the subject in their future studies; no one should leave this course under the impression that Chemistry is boring. The course uses class discussions, debates, presentations, role plays and written work to explore topics that students will not have encountered before in their academic career. It encourages students to think broadly and to apply transferable skills both within the Broadening Horizons programme and in their future academic studies.

The class looks at atomic structure and the concept of moles as related to atomic and molecular masses. It also covers solutions and molar calculations, and then explores acids and bases, including working out the pH of strong and weak acids – all essential applications of Chemistry in industry. Dynamic equilibria, infrared spectroscopy, and the properties of buffer solutions conclude the first week.

The lessons go on to cover oxidation and reduction, before continuing with an introduction to organic chemistry – in particular, focusing on how to identify the features of interest in an organic molecule, which is vital for cutting-edge research into the design of new medicines. Finally, the class covers some simple thermodynamics and kinetics, looking at enthalpy and entropy and the collision theory of reactions. The course will be assessed by an essay and a presentation, in which students will be encouraged to think creatively and explore new areas of Chemistry that build on what they have learned in their time at Oxford.

As all teachers are qualified at least to Masters level, they will be happy to answer students’ questions concerning Chemistry, even if it is not within the purview of the course as specified above. Teachers will also be able to give advice on university applications, interview questions, and the plethora of careers that are open to Chemistry graduates.


A background in basic chemistry will be expected – core knowledge such as the definition of atomic number, atomic mass, and the basic trends of the periodic table should be firmly established. Students should be able to distinguish organic chemistry from inorganic and physical chemistry. In addition, a basic knowledge of moles and molarities, as well as a natural curiosity towards the sciences, would be ideal.