Revised Higher Chemistry

Revised Higher Chemistry provides a good basis for the future study of Chemistry and Chemistry–related subjects in higher education. It is a good background for candidates who wish to pursue a career in a science-based area.

Again in 2013/2014 LHS Chemistry department will be undertaking the new Revised Higher Chemistry course with our senior pupils. The course has been redeveloped by SQA, who have worked with teachers, pupils, universities and industry, to provide our students with a better understanding of the subject. The new course has an added skills emphasis to enable pupils to follow further education or work placements when they leave school .

New Course Content

Below is an outline of how the new units are structured and what is covered in each.

Periodicity, Polarity and Properties – 20 hours (4 teaching weeks)

  • Trends in the Periodic table and Bonding
  • Intermolecular forces
  • Oxidising and Reducing agents

 Consumer Chemistry – 40 hours (8 teaching weeks)

  • Alcohols
  • Carboxylic acids
  • Fruit flavours
  • Fats and oils
  • Proteins
  • Chemistry of cooking
  • Oxidation of Food
  • Soaps and emulsions
  • Fragrances
  • Skin care products

 Principles to Production – 40 hours (8 teaching weeks)

  • Getting the most from costly reactants
  • Controlling the rate
  • Chemical energy
  • Chemical Analysis as part of quality control

 Researching Chemistry – 20 hours (4 weeks but spread throughout the year)

  • Research the chemistry underlying a topical issue to a given brief
  • Plan and carry out investigative practical work related to a topical issue in chemistry
  • Prepare a scientific communication which presents the aim, results and conclusions from a practical investigation related to a topical issue in chemistry.

This includes being able to use a variety of practical techniques such as filtration, distillation, titration, collecting a gas, heating chemicals safely etc.

Skills such as graphs of various types, accuracy of measurements with different equipment, risk assessment, ICT skills, etc

The Main Changes

The content of the course is very much the same as to the previous Higher, with the main difference being the course structure. The Revised Higher will now take the form of four units, as outlined in more detail below, which will be covered through the year, amassing 120 hours of teaching. The main changes can be listed as:

  • Researching Chemistry – A practical unit to develop pupils’ skills through an investigation, which will include research, practical and analytical skills. This unit will also be spread throughout the year, as practical skills are not specific to one aspect of chemistry but are a necessity for all young chemists.
  • No Prescribed Practical Activities – In the previous course there were several set experiments which all pupils must complete and write up. Any of these experiments could be questioned in the final test. This practise has been stopped, but the same activities can still be used in class to reinforce learning and develop skills.
  • Sampling in exam papers – Under the previous system, all aspects of the Higher course were questioned in the exam, which often led to the repeating of very similar questions year on year. The new exams will be able choose what is tested and not have to cover every concept learned.
  • Open ended questions – A new style of questioning will be introduced, where there is no specific correct answer but allows pupils to demonstrate their understanding of related chemical concepts. This will be marked on a three point scale, with a good understanding of chemistry to be awarded three marks in the final exam. There is likely to be two such questions in the final exam.

Recommended Entry Requirements

Candidates will normally be expected to have attained one of the following awards or its equivalent:

Standard Grade Chemistry at Grades 1 1 or 1 2 or a good pass at Intermediate 2 Chemistry.
(The preferred entry level from Standard Grade is based on achievement in Knowledge and Understanding and Problem Solving elements.)


  • Final examination – The final exam will be made up of 70% knowledge and understanding and 30% skills based questions. The skills based questions effectively replace the PPA questions as well as testing non-practical ability skills.

SQA have developed several resources to assist with the presentation of the course, which are available to all at the address below. These will be used in class along with teachers’ own resources.

The web address is: