VCE Chemistry

Chemistry is a key science in explaining the workings of our universe through an understanding of the properties and interaction of substances that make up matter. Most processes, from the formation of molecules in outer space to the complex biological interactions occurring in cells, can be described by chemical theories. Although there are no sharp boundaries between sciences such as chemistry, physics and biology, chemistry is used to explain natural phenomena at the molecular level, as well as create new materials such as medicines and polymers.


The development of modern society has been intimately linked with the successful integration of chemical knowledge into new technologies. This continues with emerging fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.


There are many unanswered questions in science, and many unexplained phenomena such as the language of the brain and the evolution of climate. Over time, chemistry will play a key role in answering some of these questions as well as providing a sustainable environment for the future.


Studying Chemistry can enrich students' lives through the development of particular knowledge, skills and attitudes, and enable them to become scientifically capable members of society. It will also provide a window on what it means to be a scientific researcher, working as a member of a community of practice, including insight into how new ideas are developed and investigated, and how evidence or data collected is used to expand knowledge and understanding of chemistry.


Many people develop an 'applied' knowledge of chemistry through their careers and day-to-day pursuits. Chemistry permeates numerous fields of endeavour, including agriculture, art, biochemistry, dietetics, engineering, environmental studies, food, forensic science, forestry, horticulture, law, medicine, oceanography, pharmacy, sports science and winemaking.


The chemistry undertaken in this study is representative of the discipline and the major ideas of chemistry. Some students will develop a passion for chemistry and be inspired to pursue further studies. All students, however, should become more informed, responsible decision-making citizens, able to use chemical knowledge and scientific arguments in their everyday lives and to evaluate and debate important contemporary issues such as the future of our environment and its management.


The study is made up of four units:

Unit 1: The big ideas of chemistry
Unit 2: Environmental chemistry
Unit 3: Chemical pathways
Unit 4: Chemistry at work


Each unit contains two areas of study.


There are no prerequisites for entry to 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 reading as prescribed by their teacher. Units 1 to 4 are designed to a standard equivalent to the final two years of secondary education. All VCE studies are benchmarked against comparable national and international standards.