I would like to take this opportunity to welcome pupils past, present and future, and parents to the Chemistry Department within R.B.A.I.

Shane Johnston (Head of Chemistry and Science).

Why Study Chemistry with RBAI

The aim of the Chemistry Department is to provide a stimulating, enjoyable and motivational environment, from which our students can actively engage in their own learning and fulfil their full potential as individuals.


As a Department, we would like you to know what to expect from Chemistry so the table below gives some details of the results our pupils achieved last year in comparison to Northern Ireland. We hope you find this information useful in making decisions about whether or not to study Chemistry with us.

% A*-C within RBAI.

% A*-C within NI.








At present there are 27 students studying Chemistry in year 14, 39 students studying Chemistry in year 13 and there are 230 students studying Chemistry at GCSE. The Chemistry Department has six members of staff.

S Johnston

(Head Of Science),

L Gray,

K Parks,

F Eakin,

R Davren,

L Totten

Department Facilities

The Chemistry Department has four working Laboratories, two preparation rooms and three apparatus/ chemical stores. The laboratories are fully equipped with apparatus and interactive whiteboards.

Preparation Room

 Laboratory C7

chem-2 chem-1

Junior School

The junior school includes years 8-10. Science students will have 4 periods of science in years 8 and 9. In Year 10 science students will have 6 periods of science- two for each science subject.

Year 8

Topics covered in year 8:-

  • Safety and the Bunsen Burner.

  • What is Chemistry? Includes Materials, particle theory/ simple diffusion and some separation techniques.

Year 9

Topics Covered in Year 9: -

  • Introduction to Acids and Alkalis: - use of Red Cabbage extract as an Indicator.

  • Physical and Chemical Changes.

  • Thermal Decomposition.

  • Limestone Chemistry.

  • Heat of Materials

  • Periodic Table.

Year 10

Topics Covered in Year 10: -

  • Particle Theory.

  • Elements, Compound and Mixtures.

  • Separation Techniques

  • Students should be ready for the March Examination.

  • Combustion/gases

  • Atomic Structure and Basic Formula writing.

  • Mock Control Assessment.

Years 11-12

GCSE Chemistry students will have 4 periods of Chemistry per week. GCSE Chemistry is divided into two units;  unit one is taught in year 11 and unit two is taught in year 12.

Unit 1 contains:

  • Elements, Compounds and Mixtures

  • Atomic Structure

  • Bonding and Structures

  • Formula and Balancing Chemical equations

  • Acids, Bases and Salts

  • Solubility

  • The Periodic table

  • Calculations

  • Ion identification

Unit 2 contains:

  • Calculations

  • Water

  • Reactivity Series

  • Electrolysis

  • Rates of Reaction

  • Non-Metals and their compounds

  • Organic Chemistry

  • Different types of Chemical Reactions

  • Natural and Man-made Materials

Year 13

Subject Content

  • AS 1: Basic concepts in Physical and Inorganic Chemistry.

  • AS 2: Further Physical and Inorganic Chemistry and Introduction to Organic Chemistry.

  • AS 3: Internal Assessment

Year 14

Subject content

  • A2 1: Periodic Trends and Further Organic, Physical and Inorganic Chemistry.

  • A2 2: Analytical, Transition Metals, Electrochemistry and Further Organic Chemistry.

  • A2 3: Internal Assessment.

Chemistry Competitions at RBAI

On Saturday 18th of February 2012, four sixth form pupils from R.B.A.I. competed in the annual qualifiers for the International Chemistry Olympiad. The Event was held in the Whitla Hall of Queen’s University in Belfast, where candidates sat two challenging examinations in Chemistry. The competitors from R.B.A.I were Alastair Herron, Matthew James, Samuel Millar and Mustafa Salem. Of these candidates, Alastair Herron and Samuel Millar were awarded silver awards in the Chemistry section. On Saturday 12th of March three sixth form pupils from R.B.A.I competed in the Northern Ireland Schools’ Analyst Competition. We were delighted when they won and then went on to represent Northern Ireland in the national finals at Bristol in June. The students were competing against the top schools in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you would like to read more about the successes of RBAI students or to see upcoming competitions within Chemistry and Science please download the science e-zine, which contains information on all on-going events in the Science department. 

Nuffield SCIENCE Bursary

Student Samuel Millar took part in the Nuffield Science Bursary project which involved looking at common and artic terns. Samuel spent the summer of 2012 working with a Hannah Geary from Glenlola Collegiate and the RSPB assessing if the rates of chick hatching would promote the existence of a successful colony. They presented their findings at a celebratory event at Queen's University. Samuel said of his experience, "This project has developed my skills, enabled me to design a methodology to be used by other students and produce my first scientific paper. The identification and monitoring skills I have learnt will also be of use in future employment as I continue to pursue my love of nature (especially butterflies and moths!) whether as part of, or alongside, my career". Well done to Samuel and Hannah!

What do Chemists Do?

Chemists make medicines that help in the fight against AIDS and cancer; improve the colour and taste of foods; investigate the formulations for cosmetics; measure the alcohol content of drinks; improve the way new materials are used for example roller blades and mountain bikes.


Careers in Chemistry

Careers in Commerce

The commercial sector is one of the largest employers of chemistry graduates after the Chemical Industry.  Employers recognise the key skills of numeracy, problem solving and communication that are an integral part of all chemistry degrees.


Teaching presents you with challenges and rewards that few other jobs can offer. This includes variety and constant intellectual stimulation.

Science Journalism

Science journalists have a role to play in acting as intermediaries between science and the public. Journalists work in all areas of the media, in television, radio, newspapers or specialist science magazines.

Careers in Law

Patent agents are professionals who have grounding in science and are trained in specialist areas of law.

Further Information and careers advice can be obtained from the Education Department, Royal Society of Chemistry OR

More to explore!

Darmstadt GSI Centre for Heavy Ion Research:

Lawrence Berkeley National Labora-tory:

The Periodic Table in-depth: