Chemistry for VCE

Purpose written for the VCAA Chemistry Study Design

Guided tour of Chemistry for VCE

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Chemistry for VCE

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*Complimentary resource terms and conditions
Complimentary resources will be provided upon publication. Only available to practicing secondary school teachers. One complimentary title per attendee; teachers who attend both webinar sessions will only receive one complimentary resource. Maximum of two copies per subject area per school, to be distributed at the discretion of OUP Primary Education Consultants.

Preparing for the new VCE Chemistry Study Design

Hear from expert Chemistry educators as they explore the VCAA Chemistry Study Design (2023-2027) and share tips and insights to support student success.

Learn about investigation methodologies, supporting Key Science Skills and a Q&A with education experts Kate Adriaans, Carolyn Drenen, and James Kennedy.


Change is coming to VCE Chemistry

Changes to the VCAA Chemistry Study Design (2023-2027) affect all aspects of teaching and learning. New key knowledge, course structure, scientific methodologies and a fresh approach to assessment.

What's in, what's out? Allow our expert publishers to guide you through the content changes and help to confidently implement the VCAA Chemistry Study Design.

Students will need to apply the following concepts:

  • Sustainable development, focusing on nine of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Green chemistry principles, focusing on atom economy, catalysis, design for degradation, design for energy efficiency, designing safer chemicals, prevention of wastes and use of renewable feedstocks
  • Linear and circular economies as a strategy for achieving sustainable development

Students are required to:

  • Compare and evaluate chemical concepts, methodologies and methods from at least two practical activities
  • Analyse and evaluate primary and/or secondary data, including assumptions or data limitations and conclusions
  • Conduct a comparison and evaluation of biological concepts, methodologies and findings from practical activities
  • Analyse and evaluate a contemporary bioethical issue
  • Produce a scientific poster and logbook entry

Practical work will be a central component of learning and assessment.

Scientific investigations can cover a range of methodologies now specified in the Study Design (page 13), including:

  • Case studies
  • Classification and identification
  • Controlled experiments
  • Fieldwork
  • Literature reviews
  • Modelling
  • Product, process or system development
  • Simulations

Students should complete at least 10 hours of practical work per unit (out of at least 50 hours of classroom instruction) and additional time to the AOS investigation.

What's In? What's Out?

How can the diversity of materials be explained?

What's In?
  • Elements and the periodic table (introducing critical elements)
  • Covalent substances (including structures and representations)
  • Reactions of metals (including metal recycling)
  • Reactions of ionic compounds
  • Separation and identification of components of mixtures (including chromatography)
  • Quantifying atoms and compounds (including mole concept)
  • Families of organic compounds (up to C8 and structural isomers up to c5)
  • Polymers and society
What's Out?
  • Nanoparticles and nanostructures
  • The Bohr model
  • Extraction of metal ores
  • Metallic nanomaterials
  • Emphasis on crude oil
  • Cyclic compounds C9 and C10 and structural isomers C6 and C7
Assessment Outcomes 1 & 2:
At least one task selected from a list. The same task type cannot be used more than once across Outcomes 1 and 2.

Outcome 3:
A response to a question involving the production or use of a selected material, including reference to sustainability.

How do chemical reactions shape the natural world?

What's In?
  • Water as a unique element
  • Acid-base (proton transfer) reactions (introducing antacids & applications in society)
  • Redox (electron transfer) reactions (introducing applications in society)
  • Measuring solubility and concentration (introducing precipitation reactions to remove impurities from water)
  • Analysis for acids and bases
  • Measuring gases (including general gas equation and gas stoichiometry)
  • Analysis for salts
What's Out?
  • Applying solvent properties of water in biological, domestic and industrials contexts
  • Atomic absorption spectroscopy (AAS)
  • Organic contaminants of water
Assessment Outcomes 1 & 2:
At least one task selected from a list. The same task type cannot be used more than once across Outcomes 1 and 2.

Outcome 3:
A report of a student adapted or designed investigation, using a selected format (e.g. poster, oral presentation, report, multimedia)

How can design and innovation help to optimise chemical processes?

What's In?
  • Carbon based fuels (including biofuels, photosynthesis and cellular respiration)
  • Measuring changes in chemical reactions (including energy from fuels and food)
  • Primary galvanic cells and fuel cells as sources of energy
  • Rates of chemical reactions
  • Extent of chemical reactions (introducing reaction quotient)
  • Production of chemicals using electrolysis (introducing green hydrogen)
What's Out?
  • Fuel choices
  • Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves (no longer specified)
Assessment Outcomes 1 & 2 (40 marks):
    One task selected from:
  • comparison and evaluation of chemical concepts, methodologies and methods, and findings from at least two practical activities
  • analysis and evaluation of primary and/or secondary data, including identified assumptions or data limitations, and conclusions
  • problem-solving, including calculations, using chemistry concepts and skills applied to real-world contexts
  • analysis and evaluation of a chemical innovation, research study, case study, socio-scientific issue, or media communication.

How are carbon-based compounds designed for purpose?

What's In?
  • Structure nomenclature and properties of organic compounds (introducing aldehydes and ketones)
  • Reactions of organic compounds (introducing transesterification)
  • Laboratory analysis of organic compounds (introducing iodine test for degree of unsaturation, tests for carbon-carbon double bond & tests for purity)
  • Instrumental analysis of organic compounds
  • Medicinal chemistry (including enzymes as protein catalysts)
What's Out?
  • Metabolism of fuels in the human body
  • Energy content of food
Assessment Outcomes 1 & 2 (40 marks):
One task selected from the same list as Unit 3

Outcome 3 (40 marks):
Communication of the student-designed investigation through poster and logbook entries (max. 600 words).

Source: Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Chemistry Study Design

The 2023 VCE Chemistry Study Design also includes:

  • More guidance and definitions for key terms relating to data and measurement (pages 18–19)
  • More inclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and knowledges
  • Refinements to Key Science Skills (e.g. now refers to data generation instead of data collection) (pages 11–12)

We’ve got you covered for the new Chemistry Study Design

  • Units 1 & 2 available for implementation in 2023
  • Units 3 & 4 available for implementation in 2024
Chemistry for VCE Units 1–4 has been written specifically for the new VCE Chemistry Study Design 2023-2027. Forget irrelevant content, this brand new series provides more opportunities to apply and extend understanding of Key Knowledge and Skills.

Key features of the new Study Design, including Sustainability and Scientific Methodologies, are also explicitly targeted in this new series.

Streamlined to the Study Design

Forget irrelevant content, this brand new series provides more opportunities to apply and extend understanding of Key Knowledge and Skills

Supporting every step to assessment success

Set your students on a pathway to assessment success and provide targeted support for every step along the way: Schools Assessed Coursework (SACs), practical work and exams.

40+ hours of practical work?
No problem!

Targeted instructional videos, risk assessments and lab tech notes will provide the support you need to complete over 10 hours of practical work per unit as required by the new Study Design.

Introducing Chemistry for VCE Units 1 – 4

Watch this short video to learn how Oxford is supporting VCE Chemistry educators in 2023.

Meet our author team

Author, Director of Teaching and Learning Science at Frankston High School

Carolyn Drenen has been teaching VCE Chemistry and Science in secondary schools for the past 9 years, currently at Lalor North Secondary College.

In her role as ECCN Committee Member, she has presented Workshops at previous VCE Chemistry Conferences since 2015 and also connects with Pre-Service Teachers in her role of University Liaison. She has also authored the OUP Unit 3 and 4 Student Workbook for the Chemistry for Queensland series.

Author, Educator at Bentleigh High School

James Kennedy has been a VCE Chemistry teacher for nine years at schools including Haileybury, Loreto, Monash College and Wesley.

He has a wealth of experience in science communication and speaks at corporate events about how to tackle an irrational fear of “chemicals”. His latest book, Everything Is Natural, was published in 2021 with the Royal Society of Chemistry