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This unit covers the processes of oxidation and reduction. With emphasis on oxidation states and movement of electrons, students will find out what determines how reagents react, how chemical energy can be converted to electrical energy. Material covered includes redox equations, reactivity, voltaic cells, electrolytic cells and simple electrolysis. HL students will also cover standard electrode potentials and advanced electrolysis.

Essential idea

Many reactions are reversible. These reactions will reach a state of equilibrium when the rates of the forward and reverse reaction are equal. The position of equilibrium can be controlled by changing the conditions.

Learning Targets

Topic 9 (SL) & 19 (HL): Redox Processes

9.1 Introduction to oxidation and reduction


Moral Citizens - Who should make decisions as to priorities for research funding? (Pressures that come into play - political, environment, efficiency, self-interest etc.)

  • Define oxidation and reduction in terms of electron loss and gain
  • Deduce the oxidation number of an element in a compound
  • State the names of compounds using oxidation numbers
  • Deduce whether an element undergoes oxidation or reduction in reactions using oxidation numbers
  • Understand the implications of the activity series
  • Derive chemical equations for redox reactions using half-equations
  • Perform redox titrations and calculations
  • Analysis of dissolved oxygen and Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) in water using the Winkler method
  • Applications of redox

9.2 Electrochemical cells

  • Description of voltaic cells and electrolytic cells (energy changes/function/annotated diagrams/ chemical equations) with emphasis on redox
  • Utilization and International mindedness - Fuel cells

Topic 19: Oxidation and reduction (HL Students only)


Global Citizens - International mindedness/Utilization - the use of fuel cells on ISS.

19.1 Standard electrode potentials

  • Describe the standard hydrogen electrode
  • Define the term standard electrode potential Eθ
  • Calculate cell potentials using standard electrode potential
  • Predict whether a reaction will be spontaneous using standard electrode potential values

19.2 Electrolysis

  • Predict and explain the products of electrolysis of aqueous solutions
  • Determine the relative amounts of the products formed during electrolysis
  • Describe the use of electrolysis in electroplating

The detailed curriculum can be consulted here.

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