Chemistry Depth Study | The Comprehensive Guide

Do you have a Chemistry depth study? Learn the 5 depth study types as well as ideas and tools for your depth study to get you started.

Looking for Chemistry depth study ideas and examples?

If you are given a Chemistry depth study assessment task, you are probably as confused as many other students out there.

In this article, we discuss


What are Chemistry depth studies?

A depth study is any type of investigation/activity that a student completes individually or collaboratively that allows the further development of one or more concepts found within or inspired by the Chemistry syllabus.

The flowchart categorises different types of depth studies:

Chemistry Depth Studies Category Flowchart
The flowchart illustrates the different types of investigation in Depth Studies.

A depth study may be, but is not limited to:

  • A practical investigation or series of practical investigations
  • A secondary-sourced investigation or series of secondary-sourced investigations
  • Presentations, research assignments or fieldwork reports
  • The extension of concepts found within the course, either qualitatively and/or quantitatively


Types and ideas for Chemistry depth study

Most Chemistry depth studies are on:

  • Practical investigations or
  • Secondary-sourced investigations

A list of Chemistry depth study types and useful tools are provided below. For more information on each Chemistry depth study type, click the link.

Depth Study TypeIdeasUseful tools
Practical investigations
  • Design and conduct experiments
  • Test a claim
  • Test a device.
Secondary-sourced investigations
  • Make a documentary or media report
  • Conduct a literature review
  • Develop an evidence-based argument
  • Write a journal article
  • Write an essay – historical or theoretical
  • Develop an environmental management plan
  • Analyse a work of fiction or film for scientific relevance
  • Create a visual presentation
  • Investigate emerging technologies.
Data Analysis

A practical investigation, or secondary-sourced investigation may require a form of data analysis.

For example:

  • Construction and analysis of graphs/tables
  • Data analysis from a variety of sources
  • Research analysis, eg of longitudinal data, resource management data
  • Design and invent
  • Create a working model
  • Create a portfolio.

Fieldwork may be a starting point for a practical investigation or secondary-sourced study and could be initiated by the following stimuli:

  • An excursion
  • Engagement with community experts.

Source: NSW Education Standards Authority



Four steps to completing your depth study for Chemistry

The process for completing your Chemistry depth study is outlined below.

1Choose the type of depth study you would like to undertake if it is not prescribed by your school.Many schools prescribe the type of depth study that HSC Chemistry students will undertake. Although there are many different depth study types, most schools assign a practical investigation for their depth study assessment.
2Choose the idea for your chosen depth study type.NESA has provided a list of ideas for each depth study type.

  • For practical investigations, designing and conducting experiment is a popular choice.
  • For secondary-sourced investigation, making a media report, writing a journal article or creating a visual presentation is a popular choice.
3Choose the topic for your Chemistry depth study.Once your depth study type is defined, a good place to start choosing your topic is to think about which aspect of the HSC Chemistry course you find most interesting and/or enjoyable.

If you’re unsure of what topic you’re interested in, try scanning through the various topics in all four modules and see if anything jumps out at you.

For Year 11 Chemistry, the modules are:

  • Module 1: Properties and Structure of Matter
  • Module 2: Introduction to Quantitative Chemistur
  • Module 3: Reactive Chemistry
  • Module 4: Drivers of Reactions

For Year 12 Chemistry, the modules are:

  • Module 5: Equilibrium and Acid Reactions
  • Module 6: Acid/Base Reactions
  • Module 7: Organic Chemistry
  • Module 8: Applying Chemical Ideas
4Conduct your Chemistry depth study.Once you have chosen the topic and type of depth study to undertake, think carefully about how you will approach and structure your work.

  • If you are doing a practical investigation involving an experiment and data analysis, you must follow the scientific method.
  • If you are doing a secondary-source investigation such as a media report, a journal article or a visual presentation, think about the story you’d like present and structure your work in a way that delivers that story coherently accompanied by detailed discussions of the relevant science. A science magazine such as Cosmos is a good source for secondary-sourced investigation.



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Written by Hee-Chan Jang

Hee-Chan is the author of Chemistry resources on Learnable. He loves teaching and helping students to "learn smarter", using his multidisciplinary knowledge of science and engineering. He is also currently completing his doctoral degree in mineral processing at The University of Sydney.

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