Chemistry within Group 4

How chemistry fits into Group 4 (Science)

The IB is structured so that all the sciences share many similar facets[1]. For example, they all share the same aims and objectives. The curriculum model is the same and the syllabi are structured in similar ways with core topics and options each set out in a similar format and the internal assessment is carried out according to the same criteria. All the Group 4 science subjects also have a similar format to their three examination papers. The objectives & command terms used are particularly important when it comes to  the examinations and these are covered fully elsewhere on this site. Before you start it is helpful to know how the teaching is divided up into theory and practical work at both levels and what the main aims of the course are.

Group 4 curriculum model (which includes chemistry)

(Total number of teaching hours = 150)

Theory (110 h)





Practical scheme of work (40 h)

Practical activity

Individual investigation

Group 4 Project*




(Total number of teaching hours = 240) 

Theory (180 h)


Additional Higher Level (AHL)





Practical scheme of work
(60 h)

Practical activities

Individual investigation

Group 4 Project**





* The 95 hours of core is common (i.e. the subject matter is identical) to both Standard Level and Higher Level.

** The Group 4 Project is also common to both levels.

The aims of all Group 4 subjects including chemistry

All the Group 4 subjects are based on a practical approach through experimental work and it is this that distinguishes them from subjects in the other five Groups of the IB that make up the IB Diploma Programme. There are ten aims that are set out clearly on page 18 of the IB Chemistry Subject Guide and in a separate page on this website where their importance is discussed. I think if you asked experienced IB teachers to state all ten aims they might have some difficulty. This is because it is the objectives rather than the aims that are assessed so they tend to be seen as less important although of course in reality they are the true rationale behind the teaching of the subject. Most of these ten aims are obvious as they put the study of chemistry into both an academic and global context. Obvious aims, for example, include developing experimental and investigative scientific skills, including the use of current technologies (Aim 6) and developing an ability to analyse, evaluate and synthesize scientific information (Aim 4). Several of the aims are specifically important as they do need to be particularly addressed during your teaching and perhaps do not form a part of some other chemistry programmes.

Aim 8

Specifically during your teaching you are asked make students appreciate that they are global citizens and that they need to be aware of the implications of science and technology.There are many areas of the syllabus where this aim can be addressed.

Aim 7

Aim 7 is concerned with the development and application of communication skills in the 21st century (ICT) with regard to chemistry. You are encouraged to use many different types of ICT with your students and there are five particular uses that should be addressed during their practical work (see ICT in practical work ). Again on this site under Practical scheme of work & IA you will find information and examples about how you can do this.

Aims 5 and 10

There are two other rather specific aims which are addressed particularly by the Group 4 Project. These are Aim 5 - develop a critical awareness of the need for, and the value of, effective collaboration and communication during scientific activities and Aim 10 - develop an understanding of the relationships between different scientific disciplines and their influence on other areas of knowledge.   

You will need to structure your teaching to include all these ten aims. Before going into detail with the chemistry syllabus it is worth briefly looking at how teaching chemistry for the IB Diploma is different to teaching chemistry within national systems.


  1. ^ Strictly speaking this is not absolutely true as Design Technology does have some small differences compared to Chemistry, Physics and Biology. Sports, Exercise & Health Science and Computer Science are also different. 
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