Madras College



Dr Tomb (Curriculum Leader)

Dr Nabi

Miss Ogilvy

Mr Stewart

Dr Woods


The Chemical Industry in Scotland is our second biggest exporter earner (£1.3 bn) and is competitive in world markets. It employs 13,500 people and supports 70,000 more. This significance has been recognised with the creation of ‘Chemical Sciences Scotland’ (a partnership between industry, government and education).


The department's aim is to provide learning experiences, which give all pupils an understanding of the importance of chemistry based industries and the relevance of chemistry in their everyday lives. Pupils will also be given the opportunity to develop skills, which will allow them to embark on a career in a chemistry related industry.

S1 Science Course

In S1 pupils follow an integrated science course which includes aspects of Biology, Chemistry and Physics. These courses contribute to each young person becoming a successful learner, a confident individual, a responsible citizen and an effective contributor. The courses are, in general, formed from five broad areas namely;


• Planet Earth

• Forces, electricity and waves

• Biological systems

• Materials

• Topical science.


The delivery of scientific knowledge is done within familiar contexts drawing on historical and Scottish examples and exploring cross curricular connections. The courses provide opportunities for pupils to develop and practise a range of inquiry and investigative skills, scientific analytical thinking skills, and develop attitudes and attributes of a scientifically literate citizen. The science experience in S1 also supports the development of a range of skills for life and skills for work, including literacy and numeracy.


Here are the units of study covered in S1: 


Variety of Life

This course examines the classification of Invertebrates, Vertebrates, Plants and Microbes. It also describes the organisation of complex organisms.

Health and Wellbeing

Describes how the human body works paying particular attention to cells and their function, different body systems, the sense organs and how humans reproduce.

Variety of Life Powerpoint Health and Wellbeing Powerpoint


This course looks at Diet, Digestion and the Breathing in Humans.

Staying Alive

Examines Blood and Circulation and the Skeleton and Movement.

Ourselves Powerpoint Staying Alive Powerpoint

Matter and Acids and Alkalis

Explores the changing states of matter and physical methods of separating mixtures. Pupils measure and adjust pH and describe the significance of pH in everyday life.

Periodic Table and Chemical Reactions

Develops knowledge of the periodic table and explores the making and breaking down of compounds. Experiments involving rates of reacti


Elements, Compounds and Mixtures

Explores atoms and molecules with respect to elements and compounds. The uses of metals in relation to their physical properties is also examined.

Chemical Reactions

Develops knowledge of the evidence for a chemical reaction. By experiment pupils investigate the reactivity series and displacement reactions.

on and the earth’s natural materials are carried out.



Overpopulation, global warming, pollution and finite resources mean that soon humanity will have to consider colonising another planet. In this thematic unit, pupils are tasked with learning about light, forces and renewable energy to enable them to plan and carry out a successful mission to survey a planet to see if it is suitable for colonisation. Pupils will investigate the known solar system, will develop their understanding of light and radiations in the electromagnetic spectrum, investigate the effects of friction and gravity on objects and consider the energy needs of the settlers.


This topic focuses on two forms of energy: Heat and Electricity. They will develop their understanding of the methods of heat transfer and investigate strategies to reduce heat loss and conserve energy. Electricity as a means of transferring energy will be explored by investigating circuits and building chemical cells. Pupils will learn about series and parallel circuits and of electrical and electronic components.

S2 and S3 Chemistry Course

Course Overview

The study of Chemistry in S2 and S3 provides pupils with the opportunity to develop a knowledge and understanding of chemistry within the world in which we live. Pupils also continue to develop of the skills associated with scientific enquiry that were introduced in S1.

The areas of work are based on the Outcomes and Experiences at level 3 and level 4 and will on occasion touch on some of the work encountered at National 4 and National 5 and will allow pupils to further develop in line with the four capacities. The courses on offer are designed to provide opportunities for pupils to acquire:

  • knowledge and understanding of chemical facts, theories and symbols,
  • the ability to solve chemical problems,
  • the ability to carry out investigations and techniques,
  • an awareness of the links between the course work and the chemical industry,
  • a knowledge of the relevance of chemistry to everyday living. 

S2 and S3 Chemistry Course Content

The S2 and S3 courses are divided into the following areas of study;

  1. Substances
  2. Atoms and the Periodic Table
  3. Fuels, Hydrocarbons and Polymers
  4. Bonding
  5. Metals
  6. Rates of reaction
  7. Acids and Alkalis

Senior Phase Chemistry Courses

The Chemistry Department offers the following courses for S4, S5 and S6 pupils. Note that these are SQA courses currently on offer. From 2013 onwards, a new range of Curriculum for Excellence courses will begin to replace these legacy courses.

 Please click on the heading to take you to the course descriptor.

 National 4 Chemistry

 Course Overview

The Course provides opportunities for pupils to recognise the impact chemistry makes on developing sustainability, and its effects on the environment, on society and on the lives of themselves and others. The course allows learners to develop a broad, versatile and adaptable skill set which is valuable in learning life and work.

Course Content

There are four units within this award and each is internally assessed:

  • Chemical Changes and Structure
    Pupils will investigate rates of reaction, energy changes of chemical reaction, and the reactions of acids and bases and their impact on the environment. Pupils will research atomic structure and bonding related to properties of materials.
  • Nature’s Chemistry
    Pupils will investigate how fossil fuels are extracted and processed for use. They will investigate: the chemistry of using fuels, their effect on the environment and the impact that renewable energy sources can have on this.
  • Chemistry in Society
    Pupils will focus on the chemical reactions, properties and applications of metals and alloys. They will explore properties applications of plastics and new materials. Pupils will also investigate the use of fertilisers, the formation of elements, and the presence of background radiation, and will research the use of chemical analysis for monitoring the environment.
  • Added Value Unit: Chemistry Assignment
    Pupils are required to research an area of relevant chemistry and communicate their findings. They will draw on and extend the skills they have learned from across the other units. They will show the breadth of knowledge and skills they have acquired, in unfamiliar and / or applied situations.

    National 5 Chemistry

     Course Overview

    The Course will allow learners to understand the links between the particulate nature of matter and the macroscopic properties of the world. The key skills of scientific inquiry and investigation are integrated and developed throughout the Course. The relevance of chemistry is highlighted by the study of chemistry’s impact on the environment and society through the chemistry of the Earth’s resources, the chemistry of everyday products and environmental analysis. The course allows learners to develop a broad, versatile and adaptable skill set which is valued in the workplace, and forms the basis for study of chemistry at a higher level, while also providing a knowledge base useful in the study of all of the sciences.

    Course Content

    There are three units within this award:

    • Chemical Changes and Structure
      Learners will develop scientific skills and knowledge of the chemical reactions in our world. Through practical experience, learners will investigate average rates of reaction and the chemistry of neutralisation reactions. Focusing on these reactions, learners will work towards the concept of balanced chemical equations. Learners will explore the mole concept, formulae and reaction quantities. The connection between bonding and chemical properties of materials is investigated.
    • Nature’s Chemistry
      The Earth has a rich supply of natural resources which are used by all of us. In this Unit, learners will investigate the physical and chemical properties of cycloalkanes, branched chain alkanes and alkenes, and straight chain alcohols and carboxylic acids. They will explore their chemical reactions and their uses in everyday consumer products. Learners will investigate the comparison of energy from different fuels.
    • Chemistry in Society
      In this Unit, learners will develop skills and carry out practical investigations related to the chemistry of materials. Learners will focus on the chemistry of metals and their bonding, reactions and uses. The connection between bonding in plastics, their physical properties and their uses is investigated. Learners will investigate the chemical reactions and processes used to manufacture fertilisers. They will research the use and effect of different types of nuclear of radiation. Learners will investigate chemical analysis techniques used for monitoring the environment.



    • To gain the award of the Course, the learner must pass all of the Units as well as the Course assessment. The required Units are shown in the Course Content section.
    • Course assessment will provide the basis for grading attainment in the Course award.

Higher Chemistry


Course Overview

The study of Chemistry at Higher provides a coherent extension to Standard Grade and Intermediate 2. Pupils progress to further knowledge and understanding of the chemical nature of the material world.

Course Content

The course consists of three units:

  • Energy Matters

Reaction rates, energy changes, patterns in the periodic table, bonding and the mole.

  • World of Carbon

Fuels, nomenclature and structural formulae, reactions of some carbon compounds, polymers (old and new) and natural products.

  • Chemical Reactions

The chemical industry, equilibrium, acids and bases and nuclear chemistry.

Entry Requirements

National 5 A or B, Standard Grade Chemistry Grade 1 or 2 (in both the Knowledge and Problem Solving components) with Standard Grade Maths at Credit level, or Intermediate 2 Chemistry at A or B with Maths at Intermediate 2 or Credit level.

The work of the Course - In Class

A variety of methods will be used to record the work of the class including taking notes (under the direction of the teacher), making notes and completing provided course work sheets. Pupils will be expected to take part in class discussions and to answer written and verbal questions. All pupils undertake practical work and compile written reports.

The work of the Course - At Home

Homestudy in Chemistry may involve practical reports, reading in preparation for lessons, rote learning of course outcomes, completion of work started in class and specific homework exercises. Pupils should consolidate their learning by reviewing work on the day the work is covered in class.


  • All units must be passed.
  • There is no practical examination but there are certain prescribed experiments, within each unit, which are assessed internally. There are also specific practical questions in the external examination.
  • The Final Grade is based on the external exam only.

Advanced Higher Chemistry

 Course Overview

The course further develops the underlying theories of Chemistry to university and college level. The course is designed to prepare pupils for the challenges of university study or work by developing the skills of independent study and thought. During the course pupils meet important spectroscopic and analytical methods and modern medicines. Subjects such as equilibria, entropy, electrochemistry, bonding and superconductors and semiconductors are also covered. An integral part of the pupil experience is the practical investigation which counts as ½ a unit and is the pupils responsibility to plan, carry out and report on.

Course Content

The units of study are:

  • Electronic structure and the periodic table
  • Principles of chemical reactions
  • Organic Chemistry

Go to the Resource section at the bottom of this page for links to revision materials.

New Higher Chemistry

 A new 'Higher’ course will be introduced in session 2014/15.

This will replace the existing Higher currently offered.

Details of the new course will be posted here as they become available.

New Advanced Higher Chemistry

 A new ‘Advanced Higher’ course will be introduced in session 2015/16.

This will replace the existing Advanced Higher currently offered.

Details of the new course will be posted here as they become available.



S2/ 3 Chemistry - Int1 Summaries are a useful resource

Nat 4 Chemistry -  SQA full course Support Notes

Nat 5 Chemistry -  SQA full course Support Notes

National 4 - BBC Bitesize National 4 Chemistry

National 5 - BBC Bitesize National 5 Chemistry

National 4/5 – Evans2Chemweb website

Higher Chemistry - SQA full course details, Past papers and answers

Advanced Higher Chemistry - SQA full course details, Past Papers and answers

Higher and Advanced Higher Chemistry Scholar - Heriot Watt's comprehensive learning resource