A suite of GCSE science courses developed in partnership with the University of York

C2 Material choices Module summary

Polymers and their properties, and the choices we make about them

This is about the 2006 course. The 2011 modules are mostly similar. See the OCR 2011 specification.

This module summary and the downloadable module map, are taken from the GCSE Science Teacher and Technician Guide published by OUP. We are grateful to OUP for permission to publish these resources on this website.
>> Download Module Map C2 Material choices (70 KB) (70 KB).

Why material choices?

Society needs to make wise decisions based on evidence when aiming for a more sustainable way of living as energy costs rise and natural resources are depleted.

Individuals make choices on a smaller scale when using materials in their homes and at work. The quality of domestic products depends on the selection and quality of the materials used. Some insight into the ways in which scientists can now manipulate chemical structures on an atomic scale can help people to make sense of controversies arising from new nanotechnologies.

Chemicals and chemical change (Science explanation)

The module focuses on polymers which are molecular. This means that the chemical explanations can build on ideas introduced in module C1 ‘Air quality’.

Polymerization is another example of a chemical change. New products form with new properties, but overall the amount of physical matter present does not alter. An important aim of the module is to give students a sense of scale: macroscopic, microscopic

Materials and their properties (Science explanation)

The module distinguishes natural and synthetic polymers while showing that chemically they all consist of long chains of atoms.

There is no formal treatment of bonding in this course, but students do have to appreciate that while atoms are strongly held together in molecules, the forces pulling molecules together are relatively weak.

Data and their limitations (Idea about Science)

Students collect their own data when testing selected properties of material. They can then assess the quality of the data by applying the same approach as in module C1 Air quality. So they use primary and secondary data to determine the best estimate for a quantity by calculating the means and recording the range of each set of readings.

Making decisions about science and technology (Idea about Science)

Students explore the idea of sustainable development by studying the life cycle of selected products qualitatively or quantitatively. This highlights some of the benefits and costs of using materials. Students also distinguish what could be done and what should be done.

Skills assessment

The practical activities in this module allow students to measure and collect their own data. The analysis and evaluation of this data can allow students to develop or demonstrate the skills involved in the practical Data Analysis skills assessment exercise.


See our guide to OCR website for the GCSE Science specification to which this module relates.

Module C2 is on pages 26–9: this gives you the Science Explanations and the relevant Ideas about Science.

Read more about Ideas about Science in Appendix F pages 85-91.
For this module you want Idea about Science 1 ‘Data and their limitations’ and 6 ’Making ‘Making decisions about science and technology’. You will find it especially useful to read the overview on page 85.