Department | Chemistry2021-03-26T12:22:29+00:00

Department | Chemistry



Mrs. K. Buchanan
Head of Department
Dr. S. Swann
Mrs. M. Donnelly

Subject Information

The aim of the department is to encourage students to further develop their interest and understanding of Chemistry and learn how it is relevant in our everyday lives. Through this we will endeavour to provide opportunities for students to develop important skills such as numeracy, data handling, communication to name a few. Practical work is integral to studying Chemistry and students will be able to carry this out independently and in groups. 

Studying chemistry will enable students to develop a range of skills which will be transferable in a number of different career pathways such as:

  • Communication skills

  • Becoming an independent learner

  • Working as part of a team

  • Being a logical and critical thinker

  • Problem solving skills

  • Paying close attention to detail

  • Leadership skills

  • Time management skills

  • Numeracy

  • Data-handling

Organisational skills

Students who study chemistry have use of two fully equipped practical science laboratories.  We have a lab technician, Mr P Clarke, who assists the teachers with the set up and running of practical activities.  Also, we book the computer room and take our students there to do ICT work.  Students, at all levels are taught by subject specialists and receive notes written by the members of the department which are tailored to the relevant specifications.

KS3 curriculum

During Year 10, students are taught chemistry two periods per week.  They study approximately five topics in the school year.

Unit 1: Chemical Reactions

Unit 2: Environmental Chemistry (cross-curricular collaboration with Geography)

Unit 3: Acids and Alkalis

Unit 4: Periodic Table

Unit 5: Chemical Analysis

These units start to prepare students for their GCSE studies by improving their practical skills and introducing them concepts like writing chemical equations. 

KS4 curriculum

GCSE chemistry is taught as a component of the double award specification and also as a separate science for those who want more in-depth understanding.   We follow the CCEA specification.  Students, at all levels, receive notes written by the members of the department which are tailored to the relevant specifications. GCSE classes are taught in mixed ability sets of approximately 20 students per group. An emphasis is placed on practical work, which provides students with analytical, problem solving and project design skills, encourages deep thinking and helps to develop an appreciation of the importance of safety in a working environment. Such transferable skills can then be developed further in both higher education and the workplace.

More information can be found here:

KS5 curriculum

Chemistry ‘A’- level is divided into 6 modules and builds on all the skills and knowledge obtained in GCSE. Three of these modules are completed in lower sixth and the remaining modules are completed during the upper sixth year. The ‘A’-level specification is taught by specialists; Mrs. Buchanan has responsibility for most of the organic chemistry with some physical and inorganic and Dr. Swann has responsibility for teaching mainly inorganic and physical chemistry.

Chemistry is a very popular ‘A’-level choice with approximately 40 in sixth form. Many of the students go on to read medical related subjects at university; chemistry is often a pre-requisite for entry to such courses. Other students study chemistry in order to keep their ‘options open’ when applying for university courses as it is recognised as a strong academic subject across the board.

For more information:

Extra –curricular

We always endeavour to send our students when the opportunity arises to attend careers events and workshops.  Some examples include:

  • Year 10 have attended ‘Learn Differently’ Chemistry shows.

  • Year 11 attend an annual ‘Chemistry at Work’ Careers event held in Queen’s University.

  • Year 8/9 have won prizes at the ‘Salters’ Festival of Chemistry’ also held in Queen’s University.

  • Year 13/14 have visited Almac and the Chemical Engineering department at Queen’s University.

Studying Chemistry provides opportunities for students to study a wide range of careers. It is typically studied to pursue a career in Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Veterinary Science and Chemistry Engineering. However, many of our students go to study degrees such as Biochemistry, Medicinal Chemistry, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Nursing and Accountancy. More information can be found:

  • Marie Curie – awarded Nobel Prize for her work with radioactivity

  • Alfred Nobel – inventor of dynamite and the Nobel Prize.

  • Margaret Thatcher– the former prime minister studied Chemistry at the University of Oxford.

Department Blog Posts

212, 2021

Period Dignity in RSA: Breaking the Stigma and Making Period Products Accessible

By |December 2nd, 2021|Categories: News|0 Comments

Period Dignity in RSA: Breaking the Stigma and Making Period Products Accessible By Marie Li, Year 13 pupil It is a pleasure for all of us in the [...]

2408, 2021

Excellent Results at RSA

By |August 24th, 2021|Categories: Agriculture, Announcements, Art & Design, Biology, Business Studies, Chemistry, Computing, Engineering, English, Geography, Government & Politics, Health & Social Care, History, Home Economics, Mathematics, Modern Foreign Languages, Moving Image Art, Music, News, Physical Education, Physics, Psychology, Religious Studies, Science, Sociology, Spanish, Technology & Design, Theatre Studies, Travel & Tourism|0 Comments

Excellent Results at RSA The wait finally ended for pupils of The Royal School, Armagh as they collected their A Level and their GCSE results on Tuesday 10 and [...]

2603, 2021


By |March 26th, 2021|Categories: Chemistry, English, News, Physics, Science|Tags: , |0 Comments

CONGRATULATIONS TO LUCY ADDIS - WINNER OF THE SCHOOLS SCIENCE WRITING COMPETITION MICHAELMAS TERM 2020 Pictured: Lucy alongside The Headmaster, Mr. Montgomery with her certificate and published article [...]

1402, 2021

Cyberfirst Girls Competition 2021 – Online Round

By |February 14th, 2021|Categories: Computing, News|Tags: , , , , , |0 Comments

Introduction For the third year running, The Royal School Armagh has participated in the GCHQ's annual 'CyberFirst Girls Competition'. Last year, we were delighted to reach the regional finals [...]

212, 2020

House Competition: Winners of the Pumpkin Competition announced

By |December 2nd, 2020|Categories: News|0 Comments

Congratulations to the following pupils who won house points for their respective Houses: 1. Emily Dunwoody (D’Arcy) 2. Edythe Qua (Armstrong) 3. Reuben McDowell (Rokeby) 4. Laura Lu (Beresford) [...]


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