There are no prerequisites for entry into Units 1, 2 and 3.

Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4

Students entering Unit 3 without Units 1 and/or 2 may be required to undertake additional preparation as prescribed by their teacher.

Chemistry explores and explains the composition and behaviour of matter and the chemical processes that occur on Earth and beyond. In this subject students examine a range of chemical, biochemical and geophysical phenomena through exploration of the nature of chemicals and chemical processes. In undertaking this study, students apply chemical principles to explain and quantify the behaviour of matter, as well as undertake practical activities that involve the analysis and synthesis of a variety of materials.

VCE Chemistry provides for continuing study pathways within the discipline and leads to a range of careers.

Unit 1 How can the diversity of materials be explained?

In this unit students investigate the chemical properties of a range of materials from metal and salts to polymers and nanomaterials. Using their knowledge of elements and atomic structure students explore and explain the relationships between properties, structure and bonding forces within and between particles that vary in size from the visible, through nanoparticles, to molecules and atoms.

Students examine the modification of metals, assess the factors that affect the formation of ionic crystals and investigate a range of non-metallic substances from molecules to polymers and giant lattices and relate their structures to specific properties.

Within this course students are introduced to quantitative concepts in chemistry including the mole concept.


  • Be able to relate the position of elements in the periodic table to their properties, investigate the structures and properties of metals and ionic compounds, and calculate mole quantitiies.
  • Be able to investigate and explain the properties of carbon lattices and molecular substances with reference to their structures and bonding, use systematic nomenclature to name organic compounds, and explain how polymers can be designed for a purpose.
  • Be able to investigate a question related to the development, use and/or modification of a selected material or chemical and communicate a substantiated response to the question.

Unit 2 What makes water such a unique chemical?

In this unit students explore the physical and chemical properties of water, the reactions that occur in water and various methods of water analysis. They explore the polar nature of a water molecule and the intermolecular forces between water molecules. Students explore the relationship between these bonding forces and the physical and chemical properties of water.

They are introduced to stoichiometry and to analytical techniques and instrumentation procedures, and apply these to determine concentrations of different species in water samples, including chemical contaminants.

Students explore the solvent properties of water in a variety of contexts and analyse selected issues associated with substances dissolved in water.


  • Be able to relate the properties of water to its structure and bonding, and explain the importance of the properties and reactions of water in selected contexts.
  • Be able to measure amounts of dissolved substances in water and analyse water samples for salts, organic compounds and acids and bases.
  • Be able to design and undertake a quantitative laboratory investigation related to water quality, and draw conclusions based on evidence from collected data.

Unit 3 How can chemical processes be designed to optimise efficiency?

In this unit students explore energy options and the chemical production of materials with reference to efficiencies, renewability and the minimisation of their impact on the environment.

They compare and evaluate different chemical energy resources, including fossil fuels, biofuels, galvanic cells and fuel cells, and investigate the combustion of fuels, including the energy transformations involved, the use of stoichiometry to calculate the amounts of reactants and products involved in the reactions, and calculations of the amounts of energy released and their representations.

Students consider the purpose, design and operating principles of galvanic cells, fuel cells and electrolytic cells. In this context they use the electrochemical series to predict and write half and overall redox equations, and apply Faraday’s laws to calculate quantities in electrolytic reactions, and analyse manufacturing processes with reference to factors that influence their reaction rates and extent.

They investigate and apply the equilibrium law and Le Chatelier’s principle to different reaction systems, including to predict and explain the conditions that will improve the efficiency and percentage yield of chemical processes.

The language and conventions of chemistry including symbols, units, chemical formulas and equations is used to represent and explain observations and data collected from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.


  • students should be able to compare fuels quantitatively with reference to combustion products and energy outputs, apply knowledge of the electrochemical series to design, construct and test galvanic cells, and evaluate energy resources based on energy efficiency, renewability and environmental impact.
  • students should be able to apply rate and equilibrium principles to predict how the rate and extent of reactions can be optimised, and explain how electrolysis is involved in the production of chemicals and in the recharging of batteries.

Unit 4 How are organic compounds categorised, analysed and used?

In this unit students investigate the structural features, bonding, typical reactions and uses of the major families of organic compounds including those found in food. They study the ways in which organic structures are represented and named and process data from instrumental analyses of organic compounds to confirm or deduce organic structures, and perform volumetric analyses to determine the concentrations of organic chemicals in mixtures.

Students consider the nature of the reactions involved to predict the products of reaction pathways and to design pathways to produce particular compounds from given starting materials.

Key food molecules are investigated through an exploration of their chemical structures, the hydrolytic reactions in which they are broken down and the condensation reactions in which they are rebuilt to form new molecules. In this context the role of enzymes and coenzymes in facilitating chemical reactions is explored. Students use calorimetry as an investigative tool to determine the energy released in the combustion of foods.


  • students should be able to compare the general structures and reactions of the major organic families of compounds, deduce structures of organic compounds using instrumental analysis data, and design reaction pathways for the synthesis of organic molecules.
  • students should be able to distinguish between the chemical structures of key food molecules, analyse the chemical reactions involved in the metabolism of the major components of food including the role of enzymes, and calculate the energy content of food using calorimetry.
  • student should be able to design and undertake a practical investigation related to energy and/or food, and present methodologies, findings and conclusions in a scientific poster.


Units 1 and 2

Procedures for assessment of level of achievement in Units 1 and 2 are a school decision. Assessment may come from tests, exam, investigations and practical reports or a combination of these.

Units 3 and 4

School-assessed coursework and examination

  • Unit 3  School-assessed Coursework: 16%
  • Unit 4  School-assessed Coursework: 24%
  • End-of-year examination: 60%

Contact Teacher - Christine Misale, Stephen Chap