Independent Nursery, Junior and Senior School, Edinburgh



SCIENCE (and Chemistry, in particular)




The Science Faculty aims to provide an exciting, inspiring and challenging experience throughout the upper junior (J5-7) and senior school. We expect students to work hard, have fun and to achieve their full potential.




From J5 to S1 students are taught general science. This is an exciting time for students and it is during this period that they build the foundation to become competent, inquisitive scientists. Through practical investigation and discussion they develop a range of inquiry and investigative skills, scientific analytical thinking skills, and develop the attitudes and attributes of a scientifically literate citizen.




The main scientific themes studied are Biodiversity and Interdependence, Body Systems and Cells, Inheritance, Properties and Uses of Materials, Energy Sources and Sustainability, Processes of Planet Earth, Earth’s Materials, Chemical Changes, Space, Forces, Electricity, Vibrations and Waves and Topical Science.




From S2 students are taught the three sciences by specialist teachers. Please refer to the specific subject pages below for further information about the Senior School curriculum and SQA examinations.



Useful links




BBC Bitesize


The pages below provide interactive learning opportunities for the topics studied at J5-7 and S1-2.




CfE Second Level (J5-7)




CfE Third Level (S1-2)




The Chemistry Department aims to provide students with an appreciation and enjoyment for chemistry and establishes how this branch of science affects their everyday lives.


During J5-S1 students are taught general science. Please refer to the main <Science Faculty> page for more information. A specialist chemistry teacher delivers the curriculum from S2 onwards with students selecting their subject options from S3-S6.


S2 CfE Third Level Chemistry


In S2 the course emphasises the development of practical skills, problem solving and application of knowledge and understanding of chemistry concepts. This is achieved by encouraging questioning and discussion.  Students also have opportunities to develop their thinking skills and to become independent learners through a variety of experiments. In S2 the students will lay the groundwork for study in later years.


S3/4 National 4 & 5 Chemistry


Students in S3/4 wishing to further their study of Chemistry may progress to National 4 or 5.


The main aims of these two courses are for students to:

  • Acquire and apply knowledge and understanding of chemistry concepts
  • Develop scientific and analytical thinking skills in a chemistry context
  • Develop applied problem solving skills in a chemistry context
  • Develop an understanding of chemistry’s role in scientific issues especially in Scotland today
  • Develop understanding of how chemical products are formed and why they are formed
  • Develop understanding of relevant applications of chemistry in society


S5 Higher Chemistry


In S5 students may progress to Higher Chemistry. The course studies concepts in significantly more detail – for example we will look at the forces that attract molecules together, and allow water to be a liquid rather than a gas at room temperature. There will be opportunities for students to develop chemical knowledge and scientific skills that directly relate to everyday life. The development of thinking skills, inquiry and investigative skills, problem solving and practical skills are fundamental to the course. Higher chemistry is required for example for entry into higher education courses in chemistry, chemical engineering, pharmacology, forensic chemistry and all biological sciences courses including sports physiotherapy.


S6 Advanced Higher Chemistry


Advanced Higher chemistry offers the opportunity for in-depth study in S6. The course gives opportunities for learners to develop the ability to think analytically, creatively and independently, and to make reasoned evaluations. Students’ creativity will be developed and encouraged through opportunities to generate new ideas when planning and designing investigations and experiments, which they will carry out. The course is a prerequisite for any student going on to the following:


Degree programmes in a chemistry-based course or a related area, such as medicine, law, dentistry, veterinary medicine, engineering, environmental and health sciences.


Careers in a chemistry-based discipline or related area, or in a wide range of other areas, such as oil and gas exploration, renewable energy development, engineering, technology, pharmaceuticals, environmental monitoring, forensics, research and development, management, civil service and education.


Useful links


CfE Third Level (S1-2)

Third Level is a phase of education in Scotland, generally for pupils aged 11 to 15.


National 4 to Advanced Higher Resource Guides for Chemistry

These guides show the mandatory course topics from the SQA course and unit support notes. They include useful links and video clips explaining key concepts.


SQA Chemistry

This page provides links to all documents relating to national qualifications in Chemistry.


BBC Bitesize

The pages below provide interactive revision opportunities for the topics studied at National 4/5 and Higher Chemistry.


National 4 Chemistry


National 5 Chemistry


Higher Chemistry