A Future in Chemistry - Your career starts here

Options at 14

Choosing your options at 14

Around the age of 14 you will have to make some important decisions about your future studies. If you like chemistry and are considering taking it further, the best advice is to do as much science as you can.

What do I need to do?

  • Find out what science courses are available at your school

  • Ask your teachers what the various courses involve

  • If you are interested in a career using chemistry, and/or would like to study the subject at a higher level, find out the entry requirements for those higher level courses. You are likely to need good grades with maths also being an important subject. Even if you decide not to continue with science in future, it is still useful for a wide range of careers.

  • Take the time to consider your options as how they would impact your future

What science courses are available?

There have been extensive reforms to pre-16 qualifications in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and there are now differences between the UK nations and in the Republic of Ireland as summarised below.


Name of qualification


Combined Science* GCSE (chemistry, biology and physics) OR

Triple Science (chemistry, physics and biology studied as separate subjects**)


Double Award Science* GCSE OR

Chemistry, physics and biology as separate subjects OR

Applied Science*** GCSE as a single* or double* award

Northern Ireland


 Double Award Science* GCSE OR

Single* award Science GCSE OR

Chemistry, physics and biology as separate subjects**


Chemistry can be taken at National 3, 4 and 5 as a separate subject. Science (encompassing chemistry, physics and biology) is available at National 3 and 4.

Republic of Ireland

Science is taken as part of the Junior Cycle, although not compulsory it is taken up by over 95% of students.


* Single Award includes biology, chemistry and physics which together results in one GCSE grade whereas the English Combined Science or Double Award (Wales and Northern Ireland) includes biology, chemistry and physics which together results in two GCSE grades.

** A separate grade is given for each subject.

***Applied science focuses on the application of science in the workplace.

Some schools offer international qualifications called IGCSEs, which are mainly exam based and often used to prepare students for the International Baccalaureate.

Where can I get help with my choices?

Your teachers can tell you more about the science or chemistry courses at your school.

Find out whether there are any special events that will give you information about careers in chemistry.

For information on which subjects you will need for any careers that interest you, see:

Remember that if you want to continue with chemistry, keep your options open by taking as much science as possible. Take time to consider all your options – they can impact on the choices available to you in the future.

Registered Scientist

Tara O'Neill

I help maintain the welfare of the environment through analysing riverways and bathing waters.
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