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.

 Assessment: A pupils must pass all 4 units to gain a course award.

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 course areas 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.
    • Chemistry Assignment

    Learners will carry out a practical experiment followed by a write up under exam conditions. The assignment is worth 20% of a pupil’s overall mark.

    Assessment: This consists of a question paper (100 marks) and an assignment (25 marks).  The grade awarded is based on the total marks achieved across the two course assessment components.

Higher Chemistry

 Course Overview

 The Course aims to further develop the knowledge and understanding of Chemistry. Pupils will develop an understanding of chemistry’s role in scientific issues and relevant applications of chemistry, including the impact these can make in society and on the environment.

 The course will develop the skills of scientific inquiry and investigation along with those of analytical thinking and scientific evaluation. Pupils will learn how to apply their knowledge and experiences to solve multi level problems. This skill is important in future study and many career destinations. The course will allow pupils to develop as independent learners allowing them to use scientific literacy to communicate ideas and make informed choices.

 The course serves to develop pupils for further study in school/ university or for the world of work.

Course Content

The department delivers the course in four sections.

Chemical changes and Structure

This section covers the key areas of Controlling Rates of Reaction, Periodicity (trends in the periodic table), and Structure and Bonding.

Nature’s Chemistry

This section covers the key areas of Esters, Fats and Oils, Proteins, the Chemistry of Cooking, Oxidation of Food (anti-oxidants), Soaps Detergents and Emulsions, Fragrances and Skin Care (free radical scavengers).

Chemistry in Society.

This section covers the key areas of ‘Getting the most from Reactants’ (choosing routes that maximise yield and reduce waste), Chemical Energy, Equilibria, Enthalpy changes, Oxidation and Reducing agents and Chemical Analysis.

Researching Chemistry (Higher)

This section covers the key skills necessary to undertake research in chemistry. Equipped with the knowledge of common chemistry apparatus and techniques, they will plan and undertake a practical investigation followed by a write up. 


An assignment is carried out in school, with a report being written by each pupil. The report is marked by the SQA and is worth 30 marks (20% of the final mark). The SQA exam of 120 marks (multiple choice 25 marks and written paper 95 marks) is worth 80% of the final mark. The overall final mark and grade comes from the assignment and exam scores combined.

Advanced Higher Chemistry

Course Overview

 The purpose of the Advanced Higher Chemistry Course is to develop learners’ knowledge and understanding of the physical and natural environments beyond Higher level. The Course builds on Higher Chemistry, continuing to develop the underlying theories of Chemistry and the practical skills used in the laboratory. The Course also develops the skills of independent study and thought that are essential in the further study of Chemistry, other tertiary education courses and in a wide range of occupations.

The Course also serves to equip all learners with an understanding of the impact of Chemistry on everyday life, and with the knowledge and skills to be able to reflect critically on scientific publications and media reports concerning Chemistry. Learners will become scientifically literate and be able to review the science-based claims they will meet and to communicate in an evidence-based manner. This also allows learners to make their own reasoned decisions on many issues within a modern society increasingly dependent on Chemistry, Science and Technology.

 Practical investigative skills are particularly important at this level. This is reflected in the opportunity to carry out high-quality experimental work within all the course areas and particularly in the Researching Chemistry (Advanced Higher) Unit, which incorporates both practical techniques and skills of scientific investigation. Learners carry out an individual project which is independently marked by SQA and represents 40 marks out of the total of 160 marks for all external assessment.


Course Content

The department delivers the course in three sections.

Inorganic and Physical Chemistry

This section covers the key areas of Electromagnetic Radiation and Atomic Spectra, Atomic Orbitals, Electronic Configurations and the Periodic Table, Shapes of Molecules and Polyatomic Atoms, Chemical Equilibrium, Reaction Feasibility, and Kinetics.

Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis

This section covers the key areas of Molecular Orbitals, Molecular Structure, Stereochemistry, Synthesis, Experimental Determination of Structure and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.

Researching Chemistry  (Higher)

This section covers the key areas of Gravimetric Analysis, Volumetric Analysis, Practical Skills and Techniques and Stoichiometric Calculations. Learners will identify, research, plan and safely carry out a chemistry practical investigation/ project of their choice.


The SQA exam of 120 marks (multiple choice 25 marks and written paper 95 marks) is worth 75% of the final mark. A project is carried out in school, with a report being written by each pupil. The report is being marked by the SQA and is worth 40 marks (25% of the final mark). The overall final mark and grade comes from the assignment and exams scores combined.


S2/3 Chemistry Learning Outcomes and Summaries on Teams

National 4 Chemistry

National 5  Chemistry SQA

National 4 - BBC Bitesize National 4 Chemistry

National 5 - BBC Bitesize National 5 Chemistry

National 4/5 – Evans2Chemweb website

Advanced Higher Chemistry SQA

Scholar Heriot Watt University

Scholar for Nat 5, Higher and Advanced Higher is also available for pupils on Glow.