IB Chemistry home > Syllabus 2016 > Fundamental concepts

The nature of the world around us has been the subject of interest and speculation for thousands of years. The original chemistry concerned itself with observing and compiling data on the many substances that could be found free in nature or prepared by simple procedures such as heating. People working with such substances were known as alchemists (from the Arabic 'al quimia') and although much time and effort was put into the search for the philosopher's stone, there was also a great deal of useful information gathered.

The theories underlying the structure of matter waited until the eighteenth century when John Dalton made observations regarding the indivisible particles of matter, which he called atoms.

This section deals with the fundamental ideas needed to understand the nature of chemistry.

Nature of science:

The principle of Occam's razor is used as a guide to developing a theory.

Making quantitative measurements with replicates to ensure reliability - definite and multiple proportions


Mixtures contain more than one element and/or compound that are not chemically bonded together and so retain their individual properties.

Mixtures are either homogeneous or heterogeneous.

Applications and skills

Description of the kinetic theory in terms of the movement of particles whose average kinetic energy is proportional to temperature in Kelvin.

Application of the state symbols (s), (l), (g) and (aq) in equations.

Explanation of observable changes in physical properties and temperature during changes of state.


In Chapter 0.10