Nuffield Advanced Science: Chemistry

The Nuffield Advanced Chemistry team set out to devise a course based on principles of the subject that were regarded as being of fundamental importance at the time. The authors adopted a teaching approach aimed at developing imaginative thinking on the part of students. The implications of this had been spelled out in detail in the O-level Handbook for Teachers which made the case for a fresh approach to chemical theory in school and college chemistry courses.

The approach: The course presented chemistry as an integrated subject. Four areas of integration were given prominence:

  • Integration to break down barriers between the traditional division of the subject into inorganic, organic and physical chemistry.
  • Integration of facts and concepts - with the teaching introducing new concepts to explain primary and secondary data - where possible derived from hands-on practical work.
  • The integration of theory and practical work - a radical change at a time when many schools taught the theory in parallel with laboratory training in volumetric and qualitative analysis.
  • The integration of 'pure' and 'applied' chemistry notably through the inclusion of special studies of areas such as Food science, Biochemistry, Chemical engineering and Metallurgy.

Publications: The complete course was divided into two sections, a basic course of nineteen topics and one special study chosen from a group of five.

The project published two student books – one for each year of the course. These maintained the spirit of developing understanding through practical investigation while providing sufficient guidance and support for students and teachers.

  • The main Students’ Books were supplemented by:
  • The Chemist in Action describing applications of Chemistry
  • The Book of Data which was used for reference throughout the course and in some examinations.
  • A series of Programmed texts
  • A set of Special Studies in applied chemistry.


The Nuffield Advanced Chemistry basic course based its treatment of chemistry on three aids to understanding that were seen as being fundamental. These were:
*the use of the Periodic Table to provide unifying patterns for the diverse properties of elements and their compounds.
*the relationship between...

The Nuffield Advanced Chemistry resources were developed at a time when there was considerable interest in programmed learning. The team decided to experiment with a limited range of programmed texts. An introduction to the Programmed Texts is provided in Appendix 6 of ...

Towards the end of the Nuffield Advanced Chemistry course students undertook one Special Study, during which they could apply the principles studied in the basic course to new contexts. Five special studies were developed dealing with biochemistry, chemical engineering, food science, ion exchange, and metallurgy....

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