DP Chemistry

Purpose of Course

As one of the three natural sciences in the IB Diploma Programme, chemistry is primarily concerned with identifying patterns that allow us to explain matter at the microscopic level. This then allows us to predict and control matter’s behaviour at a macroscopic level. The subject therefore emphasizes the development of representative models and explanatory theories, both of which rely heavily on creative but rational thinking. Given the pattern-seeking nature of chemistry, the development of generalized rules and principles also plays an important part in knowledge production, as do the concrete statements provided by mathematical laws.


With its roots in the practice of alchemy, chemistry maintains a strong emphasis on empirical experimentation. However, with advances in technology, it now extends its reach beyond the limits of the human senses at a macroscopic level and into fields such as spectroscopy and computer molecular modelling. Insights from these technologies often require thorough mathematical analysis before being accepted as valid justifications for scientific claims. In all their investigative work, chemists must qualify confidence in their discoveries by considering potential errors related to methodology or limitations in measuring equipment.

Core Concepts

Both HL and SL students integrate concepts, topic content and the nature of science through inquiry.  The course is organised into two conceptual themes: Structure – which refers to the nature of matter from simple to more complex forms and Reactivity – which refers to how and why chemical reactions occur.

Higher Level extension

Students at SL and HL share the following.

  • An understanding of science through a stimulating experimental programme
  • The nature of science as an overarching theme
  • The study of a concept-based syllabus
  • One piece of internally assessed work, the scientific investigation
  • The collaborative sciences project

The SL course provides students with a fundamental understanding of chemistry and experience of the associated skills. The HL course requires students to increase their knowledge and understanding of the subject, including additional mathematical skills, and so provides a solid foundation for further study at university level.


All students undertake a collaborative sciences project, an interdisciplinary sciences project that addresses real world problems that can be explored through the sciences. All students then complete two summative assessments, their internal assessment and external examinations.

The Internal assessment is an integral part of the course and is compulsory for both SL and HL students. It enables students to demonstrate the application of their skills and knowledge, and to pursue their personal interests, without the time limitations and other constraints that are associated with written examinations. This will make up 20% of the final IB mark.

The external assessment will consist of two exams which will assess their understanding of the material covered in the course as well as their ability to analyse and evaluate experimental data. The two exams will make up the remaining 80% of the final mark.


Students intending on proceeding with Standard Level Chemistry should be working towards obtaining a minimum of 60% average in Year 10 Chemistry. Students intending on proceeding with Higher Level Chemistry should be working towards obtaining a minimum average of 65% in Year 10 Chemistry. Students should also be competent in Science Investigation Skills.