Chemistry is the branch of science that is concerned with materials. It is often thought of as the central science because it overlaps with biology and physics. On the one hand, chemists unravel the chemical reactions that are responsible for life, enabling, for example, the development of new medicines and treatments. On the other, they investigate new materials with exciting and useful properties such as superconductors and electrically conducting plastics. Chemists are interested in the properties of substances, whether they are solid, liquid or gas, how hard, strong or brittle they are or whether they conduct electricity. They are also concerned with how to change one substance into another. In fact chemistry evolved from the work of early alchemists who tried to turn metals into gold.

Now chemists are concerned with equally dramatic changes. Through chemical processes we can turn crude oil into a wide range of products such as nylon, aspirin, paint, adhesives as well as fuels such as petrol and diesel. We turn sand into glass and silicon chips, nitrogen from the air into fertilizers and explosives. In fact there are very few materials that have not been changed in some way by a chemist. Even wood in your home is likely to have been treated with fungicides to prevent it rotting and then protected with paint or varnish. All three products will have been chemically synthesised. Historically humans have often failed to recognise the effects of their chemistry on our planet, creating problems such as acid rain, depletion of the ozone layer and the greenhouse effect. This has lead to new research initiatives, dedicated to making new substances which are more effective, cheaper and with fewer environmental disadvantages than those used at present, for instance biofuels and biodegradable plastics. This means that chemistry is big business. The chemical industry is the nations fourth largest industry, and our largest export earner, and is the fifth largest chemical industry in the western world.

S1/2/3 Broad general education

In S1 pupils follow an integrated science course. S2 and S3 sees pupils rotate around 13 week blocks of physics, chemistry and biology in order to benefit from specialist teaching in these areas.

Chemistry experiences and outcomes can be found here

S4/5/6 Senior phase

National 4

SQA National 4 Chemistry

National 5

SQA National 5 Chemistry


SQA Higher Chemistry

Advanced higher

SQA Advanced Higher Chemistry