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Image of three Senior School girls in lab coats working in our School Chemistry Lab

Studying the building blocks of life and the materials that make up our every day existence.

Chemistry is all around us - from the moment we get up in the morning to the moment we go to sleep, chemical reactions are occurring all of the time.

The study of matter at the level of atoms, molecules, ions and compounds, chemistry provides us with knowledge of how substances are made up and the effect of chemical reactions on our lives and existence.

Chemistry is introduced within the Junior Science courses for our Transitus and First Year cohort, with Second Year pupils studying it as a discrete science in a 10-week rotational block.

Our Junior Science curriculum is designed to excite pupils, engaging their curiosity about the world in which they live, and how they can shape its future.

Our learners study a variety of topics between Transitus and Second Year, with a focus on developing knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts, as well as improving practical and investigative abilities, and other skills involved in the processing of scientific information and data, including scientific literacy.

All topics cover Third Level learning outcomes from the Curriculum for Excellence, while certain topics are extended to include some Fourth Level outcomes.


Topics covered in Transitus are 'Introducing Science', 'Separation and Purification', 'Energy and Forces', and 'Living Things'. The latter topic includes an investigative summer term field trip.

First Year learners study 'Model of Matter', 'Heat, Cells and Reproduction', 'Elements and Compounds', and 'Energy for Life'. These follow on from topics studied in Transitus, extending our pupils' scientific knowledge and skills.

In Second Year, the final year of Junior Science, pupils study the three discrete sciences - Biology, Chemistry and Physics - on a rotational basis. This gives pupils an idea of what to expect should they go on to study the different sciences at National 5 level.

The topics studied in Second Year Chemistry are 'Chemical Reactions', 'Rates of Reaction', 'Acids and Alkalis', and 'Reactions of Metals', while, at the end of the year, pupils take part in a mini-rotation for each subject, often involving cross-curricular links between the three sciences, where they can integrate skills, knowledge and understanding.

The National 5 course uses an experimental and investigative approach to develop knowledge and understanding of chemical concepts amongst Third and Fourth Year learners. Pupils learn about substances as the building blocks of life and all of the materials that surround us within the main course topics: 'Chemical Changes and Structure', 'Nature’s Chemistry' and 'Chemistry in Society'.

The course helps to develop curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for chemistry, with the integration and development of scientific inquiry throughout enabling pupils to become scientifically literate citizens who are able to review the science-based claims they meet. Pupils also develop their ability to think analytically and to make reasoned evaluations while covering a variety of relevant contexts including the chemistry of the Earth’s resources, the chemistry of everyday products and chemical analysis.

...Our Higher course allows pupils to acquire a deeper understanding of the central concepts of Chemistry, of benefit not only to those intending to pursue a career in science, but also to those intending to work in areas such as the food, health or manufacturing industries.

Continuing the subjects studied at National 5, as well as adding a further 'Researching Chemistry' topic, pupils are challenged to think analytically, creatively and independently, and to make reasoned evaluations as they develop a range of transferable skills crucial to the workplace or for studying Chemistry in further education.

The course emphasises practical and experiential learning opportunities, with a strong skills-based approach to learning.

...The Advanced Higher course sees pupils develop an in-depth understanding of the nature of matter, from its most fundamental level to the macroscopic interactions driving chemical change. The main course topics studied at this level are: 'Inorganic Chemistry', 'Physical Chemistry', 'Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis' and 'Researching Chemistry'. Adding to abilities gained at National 5 and Higher level, Advanced Higher pupils apply critical thinking in new and unfamiliar contexts to solve complex problems, with an emphasis on studying situations where the principles of Chemistry are used and applied in everyday life.

The Advanced Higher course offers opportunities for collaborative and independent learning, with pupils given the autonomy to personalise their choice of project topic. Pupils build on the knowledge and skills developed at Higher level, furthering their capabilities in scientific inquiry and investigation. Pupils will be required to communicate complex ideas and issues, as well as making scientifically informed choices.

Studying Chemistry Helps Pupils...

  • Develop a critical understanding of scientific issues and relevant applications, including the impact Chemistry could make on society and the environment.
  • Apply skills, knowledge and understanding of Chemistry to carry out complex practical scientific activities, including the use of risk assessments, technology, equipment and materials.
  • Improve their analytical thinking skills, including critical evaluation of experimental procedures in a Chemistry context.
  • Form the basis for progression to the study of Chemistry within a higher education establishment, as well as providing knowledge useful in the study of all of the sciences.
  • Develop a broad, versatile and adaptable skill set that is highly valued in the workplace.
  • Make their own decisions on issues within a modern society, where the body of scientific knowledge and its applications and implications are ever developing.

Where Next?


Natural Sciences

Finding solutions to the world’s problems, inspired by the wonder and complexity of all living things.



Natural Sciences

Understanding the world around us, the world inside us and the world beyond us.