Pupils are introduced to general science from T2 with Chemistry taught as a discrete subject in its own right from S2. From this point all the way through to Advanced Higher in S6, nearly every lesson has a practical component with experimental work carried out to illustrate particular aspects of the theory being taught

Practical work and the acquisition of practical skills are viewed as fundamental to the understanding of Chemistry and its importance and relevance to us in our every day lives.

Teaching is focused on enabling pupils to develop an appreciation of the inter-linking patterns that are a distinguishing feature of the subject. We also aim as a department to ensure that pupils also gain an understanding of the social, economic, environmental and technological inter-relationships between chemistry and its applications.

Mastering the subject also requires pupils to foster imaginative and critical thinking skills as well as the straightforward acquisition of knowledge. Ultimately, we want to attract pupils into studying the subject by illustrating the inherent importance of Chemistry in today’s world.

Chemistry can be studied at all examination levels from National 5 to Advanced Higher.

Chemistry - National 5

At National 5, the course is split into three units:

Chemical changes and structure: skills of scientific enquiry, investigation, analytical thinking and knowledge and understanding of chemical changes and structure. Key areas covered are: rates of reaction; atomic structure and bonding related to properties of materials; formulae and reacting quantities and acids and bases.

Nature’s chemistry: applications of nature’s chemistry on our lives, as well as the implications on society and the environment. Key areas covered are: homologous series; everyday consumer products; energy from fuels; hydrocarbons and plants to products.

Chemistry in society: applications of chemistry in society and in our lives as well as the implications on society/the environment. The key topics covered are: metals and alloys; properties of plastics and materials; fertilisers; nuclear chemistry and  chemical analysis.

Chemistry - Higher

At Higher level, the purpose of the course is to develop learners’ curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for Chemistry in a range of contexts. The course provides opportunities for learners to develop the ability to think analytically, creatively. AS with N5, the course is split into 3 units:  

Chemical changes and structure: which covers periodicity, structure and bonding and oxidising and reducing agents

Nature’s chemistry: which considers systematic carbon chemistry; alcohols; carboxylic acids; esters; fats and oils; soaps; detergents and emulsions; proteins; oxidation of food; fragrances and skin care

Chemistry in society: which covers getting the most from reactants; controlling the rate; chemical energy; equilibria and chemical analysis


Chemistry - Advanced Higher

Advanced Higher study builds on knowledge gained at Higher and the key skills of scientific inquiry and investigation are integrated into and developed throughout the course. The relevance of Chemistry is highlighted by the study of the applications of chemistry in everyday contexts. The course at Advanced Higher covers the following areas:

Inorganic and Physical Chemistry which develops a knowledge and understanding of the principles and concepts of inorganic and physical chemistry. Learners will discover how electromagnetic radiation is used in atomic spectroscopy to identify elements. They will extend an understanding of the concept of atomic structure by considering atomic orbitals and electronic configuration related to the periodic table. Using electron pair theory, learners will predict the shape of molecules. Learners will gain an understanding of the physical and chemical properties of transition metals and their compounds. Learners will investigate the quantitative component of chemical equilibria. They will develop their understanding of the factors which influence the feasibility of chemical reactions. Learners will progress their understanding of reaction kinetics by exploring the order and mechanisms of chemical reaction.

Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis which develops a knowledge and understanding of organic chemistry. Learners will research the structure of organic compounds, including aromatics and amines, and draw on this to explain the physical and chemical properties of the compounds. They will consider the key organic reaction types and mechanisms, and link these to the synthesis of organic chemicals. Learners will discover the origin of colour in organic compounds and how elemental analysis and spectroscopic techniques are used to verify chemical structure. They will study the use of medicines in conjunction with the interactions of the drugs.

Researching Chemistry which give learners the opportunity to gain an understanding of stoichiometric calculations, to develop practical skills and to carry out research in chemistry. Learners will develop the key skills associated with a variety of different practical techniques, including the related calculations. Equipped with the knowledge of chemistry apparatus, techniques and an understanding of concepts, learners will identify, research, plan and safely carry out a chemistry practical investigation of their choice. The Unit will equip learners with the scientific background and skills necessary to analyse scientific articles and use them in order to make informed choices and decisions.

The Department strives to encourage every student to achieve their best in their study of Chemistry at whatever their level and readily provides additional support opportunities to bring this about. Senior pupils lead clubs for pupils in younger yeargroups, and we offer lunchtime support and drop-in.

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To find out more about how we engender hard work and determination in our young people, come and visit us and meet our dedicated teaching staff and speak to our pupils.