Welcome to the Chemistry department!  We aim to explore chemistry through research, practical work and theory using real-life applications and putting those into a relevant context.

Courses & Qualifications



 This course is for pupils who enjoy practical chemistry in an everyday context and would like to develop the skills and understanding to become well informed about many of the issues facing the world today and in the future.

There are 3 units through which the course develops basic chemical skills such as writing chemical formulae, equations and naming and identifying chemicals as well as a simple insight into atomic structure. It provides progression from the S1/2 course and develops analytical, practical and creative skills.


This unit covers the role of oil in our society as a source of many products containing carbon compounds such as fuels and plastics. Pupils will build, name and draw a range of simple carbon compounds including alkanes, alkenes and polymers. The advantages and disadvantages of our use of carbon based fuels will be investigated and alternatives to oil such as biofuels will be manufactured and their advantages and disadvantages evaluated. Pupils will make plastics from natural sources such as potatoes.


Pupils will investigate the natural cycles that provide plants with their nutrients and the effect of farming on this process. They will further develop their skills in writing chemical formulae and apply this to the design and manufacture of fertilisers. They will compare and contrast organic and traditional methods of farming in terms of fertilisers and pest control. Strategies used to preserve food and minimise spoilage, including smart packaging, will be investigated.


Pupils will study atomic structure and how this affects the behaviour of elements when they combine to form compounds. They will apply this knowledge to the energy changes and chemical reactions taking in place inside batteries and apply their knowledge to the study of detergents, cosmetics, alcohol and the chemistry of colour. Pupils can investigate new materials in any area of their choice such as touch screens, new materials used in sport, art, fashion, cosmetics etc.


Skills for Learning, Life and Work are core to the course and pupils are asked to identify which skills they are developing and how they are progressing.  Higher Order Thinking Skills such as understanding, applying, analysing, evaluating and creating are embedded into the course and identified to pupils.


In addition to a wide range of self assessment and peer assessment strategies, pupils use a tracking and monitoring sheet that allows staff and pupil to identify progression and areas for development.  In addition there are regular homework exercises and unit tests.



This course is available at National 4 and 5 level. Both courses consist of three units and seek to engage pupils in the study of chemistry and how it relates to everyday life. Pupils will undertake practical investigations as well as research based challenges to explore the application of their studies in a range of contexts. The course will develop numeracy and literacy skills as well as team work and practical scientific skills such as handling equipment, planning experiments and processing results in a meaningful way. Pupils will experience using a wide range of practical equipment and analytical techniques.  Pupils will extend their chemistry skills to include writing formula equations and calculations of mass changes in chemical reactions.

For each unit, the depth of understanding pupils will study will depend on the level they are following and working towards.

Nature’s Chemistry

This unit looks at how natural compounds are used as fuels, foods, preservatives, and as a source of alcoholic drinks and medicines and investigate the chemistry of improving fuel performance.  Pupils will progress to the reactions and uses of alcohols and carboxylic acids. Pupils will also to investigate the organic compounds widely found in foods, cosmetics and cleaning products. The chemical properties of many organic compounds will be studied ranging from alkanes, alkenes, alkanols to alkanoic acids.

Chemical Reactions

A wide range of practical activities will allow pupils to study reaction rates and energy changes during chemical reactions.  Pupils will develop your skills at writing word equations for reactions and investigate how the structure of atoms affects how they react, with progression to writing formulae and formulae equations. Pupils will explore the relationship between the way substances behave and the way atoms bond, as well as why some are radioactive. There will be practical investigation of acids and alkalis and pupils can develop their ability to predict the products formed in the reactions of acids.

Chemistry in Society

This unit is a study of the materials used in everyday products. The extraction and uses of metals, including alloys is included. Pupils will look at the reactions of metals, including corrosion and methods of prevention, as well as the use of metals in making batteries. Pupils will progress to studying the reactions of metals in terms of ‘redox’ and how this applies to predicting the size of voltage and direction of current flow in simple batteries. The structure, properties and design of new materials for a range of applications and the possibility of using alternative materials such as ceramics and plastics will be investigated.


Throughout the course, pupils will be developing their numeracy and literacy skills. Thinking skills are widely developed in the course as pupils must apply knowledge to new situations and to plan and design experiments. In addition they must draw valid conclusions which they can justify, evaluate the validity and reliability of evidence and work together co-operatively as part of a team.



Assessment is ongoing and carried out within school, according to the SQA guidelines. Pupils must pass all the units, a research task and a practical task. There will also be a value added assessment in which pupils are required to complete an extended project which will be internally assessed.


Pupils would be expected to pass all 3 unit assessments. 80% of the final course assessment comes from an external exam covering the whole course content. The other 20% is assessed through an externally marked assignment which involves combining research and practical work carried out in class which is then written up as a report.


BBC bitesize National 4 Chemistry:           

BBC bitesize National 5 Chemistry:           

Evans 2 chemweb                                   




Higher Chemistry (N6) is comprised of the following units:

Nature’s Chemistry

  • Production and uses of alcohols and acids e.g. vinegar, the chemistry of fruity flavours, edible fats and oils and their relationship to health and possible source as alternative fuels.
  • Proteins and their structure and importance in the body e.g as enzymes.
  • Chemistry of cooking e.g. flavour, aroma, antioxidants, role and analysis of vitamin C, emulsions (e.g. in low fat foods).
  • Cosmetics – Detergent and soap manufacture and action, perfumes and essential oils, need for free radical prevention.

Chemistry in Society

  • How to turn expensive raw materials into useful products
  • The Principles of green Chemistry
  • Factors affecting yield and how this can be maximised and measured
  • Factors affecting rates of reaction and how these must be balanced against cost
  • Analysis of products to check for purity and analysis for investigative purposes e.g. drug testing.

Chemical Changes and Structure & Researching Chemistry

  • Investigating the factors that affect chemical behaviour e.g position in periodic table, type of bonding present and applying these in a range of contexts.
  • An opportunity for individualised work based around a starter question that will involve background research into a topic, planning and carrying out of practical work and presentation of the findings in a suitable format.

This aspect of the course is both internally and externally assessed.  This provides excellent skills preparation for the investigations at AH in any science.


 Extension assessment on completion of each unit comprised of A/B type questions

  • Prelim February 2½ hour paper – 100 marks (Graded A – D)
  • Assignment – marked externally
  • SQA exam (May/June) – marked externally


BBC bitesize Higher Chemistry:



 School – Advanced Higher Chemistry and Scottish Baccalaureate in Science

  • Further Education – HNC/HND/Degree courses (e.g. Pharmacy, Medicine, Veterinary Studies, Dentistry, Engineering, and Chemistry etc.).
  • Employment – Oil Industry, Distilling, Medicine/Nursing, Food Industry, Teaching etc.
  • Generally – Higher Chemistry is a well respected qualification suitable for many interesting courses.




 Advanced Higher Chemistry allows students the opportunity to develop their flair for practical work and independent research in preparation for a wider range of science courses at university.

Investigating Chemistry ( 1 Unit)

Pupils develop the skills and background understanding of a wide range of chemical techniques. The  knowledge gained will help with the project and the knowledge of skills will be assessed in the final exam.

Inorganic Chemistry (½ unit )

Develops knowledge of atomic structure, atomic orbitals and spectroscopy, molecular shapes and the chemistry of transitions metals including colour.

Physical Chemistry (½ unit)

Study of reaction kinetics,  thermodynamics,  equilibria and pH of strong and weak acids and of buffer solutions, and the application of equilibria to indicators in acid/base titration.

 Organic Chemistry (1 unit)

Investigates the synthesis and uses of a wide range of organic compounds, chromophores in coloured molecules, drug development, methods of analysis and identification.

In addition, 30 marks (out of the possible 130 for the course) is based on a practical project of the students’ choice, externally marked.


  • Extension tests exist after each unit. The ½ units are assessed separately.
  • Prelim (Jan)
  • SQA exam (May/June)
  • Project report – 30 marks (adds to SQA exam)




 Further Education – HNC/HND/Degree courses e.g. Chemistry, Pharmacy, Medicine, Veterinary, Dentistry, Engineering, Medical Chemistry, Biochemistry etc.

  • Employment – Chemical/Oil Industry, Distilling, Medicine/Nursing, Food Industry, Teaching etc.
  • Valuable qualification – especially for further Chemistry Studies at University.

DYW – Forensic Science


 Forensic Science introduces pupils to the fundamental techniques required in forensic science, allowing them to develop skills in biology, chemistry and physics in this contemporary context. The unit enables candidates to develop basic research and information handling skills. The unit also allows the opportunity for pupils to undertake investigations in all three sciences. Pupils who complete this unit will be able to describe and perform a variety of forensic techniques as well as process and report the results.


 There are three outcomes:

  1. Explain and use scientific techniques in relation to their application in forensics.
  2. Investigate forensic evidence in a documented case(s).
  3. Describe potential future developments in forensic science technology.

Outcome 1

♦ Explain three ‘forensic’ techniques. This must include one technique each from biology, chemistry and physics.

♦ Use three scientific techniques safely in a forensic context. This must cover preparation, performance of experiment, recording and interpretation of results, and health and safety.

Outcome 2

Pupils must produce evidence which covers three types of forensic evidence.. All evidence must however be collated in a single form which demonstrates the pupil’s ability to identify the case and the type of forensic evidence obtained, explain how the forensic evidence was used, as well as their ability to identify potential sources of error having analysed the case.

Outcome 3

♦ Identify one future practical advance in forensic science

♦ Describe one future application of existing forensic science technology

♦ Identify factors which may limit future advances and applications of forensic science


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