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VCE Chemistry


VCE Chemistry enables students to develop knowledge and understanding of matter and its interaction with energy, key factors that affect chemical systems, to explain the properties, structures, reactions and related applications of materials in society, to understand and use the language and methodologies of chemistry to solve qualitative and quantitative problems in familiar and unfamiliar contexts, develop knowledge and understanding of how chemical systems can be controlled to develop greener and more sustainable processes for the production of chemicals and energy while minimising any adverse effects on human health and the environment, with consideration of wastes as underutilised resources and/or feedstock for another process or product.

Prior Learning: No prerequisites for Units 1, 2 and 3; but students must undertake Unit 3 prior to Unit 4.


Units 1 and 2:  Individual school decision on levels of achievement based on a combination of practical reports, topic tests, field reports, assignments, multimedia or web page presentations, responses to media articles, oral presentation and examination.

Unit 3: School assessed coursework (20%)

Unit 4: School assessed coursework (30%)

End-of-year Examination (50%)

UNIT 1:  How can the diversity of materials be explained? 

UNIT 2:  How do chemical reactions shape the natural world?

The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavour. In this unit students investigate the chemical structures and properties of a range of materials, including covalent compounds, metals, ionic compounds and polymers. They are introduced to ways that chemical quantities are measured. They consider how manufacturing innovations lead to more sustainable products being produced for society through the use of renewable raw materials and a transition from a linear economy towards a circular economy. 

Water is the most widely used solvent on Earth. In this unit students explore the physical and chemical properties of water, the reactions that occur in water and various methods of water analysis.  Students examine the structure and bonding within and between water molecules in order to investigate solubility, concentration, pH and reactions in water including precipitation, acid-base and redox. They are introduced to stoichiometry and to analytical techniques and instrumental procedures analysis, and apply these to determine concentrations of different species in water samples, including chemical contaminants.  

UNIT 3:  How can design and innovation help to optimise chemical processes? 

UNIT 4:  How are carbon-based compounds designed for purpose? 

The global demand for energy and materials is increasing with world population growth. In this unit students investigate and explore how innovation, design and sustainability principles and concepts can be applied to produce energy and materials while minimising possible harmful effects of production on human health and the environment. Students analyse and compare different fuels as energy sources for society, with reference to energy efficiencies, environmental impacts and potential applications. They explore food in the context of supplying energy in living systems. The purpose, design and operating principles of galvanic cells, fuel cells, rechargeable cells and electrolytic cells are evaluated. They evaluate chemical processes with reference to factors that influence their reaction rates and extent. They investigate how the rate of a reaction can be controlled so that it occurs at the optimum rate while avoiding unwanted side reactions and by-products.  

Carbon is the basis not only of the structure of living tissues but is also found in fuels, foods, medicines, polymers and many other materials that we use in everyday life. In this unit students investigate the structures and reactions of carbon-based organic compounds, including considering how green chemistry principles are applied in the production of synthetic organic compounds. They study the metabolism of food and the action of medicines in the body. They explore how laboratory analysis and various instrumentation techniques can be applied to analyse organic compounds in order to identify them and to ensure product purity.  

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