Advanced Higher Chemistry

This page shows many useful references if you are studying the Advanced Higher Chemistry course 

Page Index :

  • General Information
  • Unit 1 - Inorganic and Physical Chemistry
  • Unit 2 - Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis
  • Unit 3 - Researching Chemistry

General Information

Some Reference documents :

Data Booklet
Make sure and familiarise yourself with everything in the new data booklet. And know what equations are in it... and how to use them !

Investigation :
Useful guidance / marking scheme etc for the Investigation - (dated 2019) :

Past Papers
2016-2018 Past Papers for the "new" Advanced Higher CfE exam:

Question paper (3 hours)
110 marks - Scaled to 120 marks
25 marks - scaled to 40 marks

Unit 1 - Inorganic / Physical Chemistry

Good links for Unit 1 from SSERC:

Electromagnetic Spectrum 

EM Spectrum Properties edit

Dual nature of electromagnetic radiation -

Electromagnetic Radiation - Revision of Basics
An entertaining presentation and revision of the basics of Electromagnetic Radiation (is that Matt Baker speaking ?!?) :

Dual Nature of Electromagnetic Radiation :Is it like a wave or particle or both ?
Some Nobel Prizes which were based on this are discussed here :

Spectroscopy in a Suitcase - some interesting resources, particularly for some background reading -

Energy levels in an atom
remember the energy levels are spaced more like this with a bigger difference in energy between n=1 and n=2 than for n=2 and n=3 etc etc

Hydrogen Spectrum
Here are the transitions between the various electron energy levels (the arrows!!) which result in the four coloured lines on the visible part of the Atomic Emission spectrum for hydrogen :

Emission and Absorption spectra of Hydrogen Helium Lithium and Beryllium :

Using/Making a simple CD Spectroscope 
You can make a very simple spectroscope from a CD (or even just hold one up to the light), to analyse emissions from lights such as neon / sodium vapour streetlight, candle light etc.  Details of making one are here and examples of what you might see :

So many words !!  Spectroscope vs Spectrometers vs Spectrophotometer
You may come across all these words but essentially they all allow you to view emission or absorption spectra across all the wavelengths and some allow you to measure and graph the results as well. Different from a colorimeter which you will come across later which measures at one particular wavelength only - although you can use a spectrometer to do that as well!

Wavenumber - you might need to know this too

Flame Tests
Group 1 Elements - video of flame tests!cmpid=CMP00002276
In the colours seen, we see energy emitted at a discrete energy level as electrons move from a high energy level to a lower energy level, emitting a discrete (definite) amount of energy which we perceive as a particular colour. Can also be viewed through a spectroscope to see the discrete levels.

How to do a Flame Test -
Using a wooden splint or toothpick?

Another flame test video :
.....and some more !
(I love flame tests !!)
Energy levels and flame tests experiment in a lecture (Recommend to watch this)
Slightly hesitant explanation but nice to see the different colours from the lamps and flame tests of alkali metals. Only 3 mins long!!cmpid=CMP00002461

Emission and Absorption Spectra :
"What is Spectroscopy" 
This page shows a Hydrogen Absorption and Emission Spectrum in Visible light.

If you want to read more and in particular the physics of all this then here is a link to a book you might like - but this is mostly not necessary for Adv Chemistry !

Sodium Lamps - arc lamps
A sodium street lamp is an arc lamp which is an electric lamp in which a current travels through a gas between two incandescent electrodes and generates an arc that produces light. Also called arc light. The commonly seen Sodium street lamp actually also contains Neon which glows red as the lamp is starting up. Once the lamp has been on for about 10 minutes or so, you will see the orange-yellow glow of the Sodium emission. Find out more from this video about how this lamp works. Interesting to listen to -
Lighting - Lots about different types of lamps and lighting- just if you are interested - not really Adv Higher Chemistry except for the sodium Arc lamps perhaps!

Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy and Atomic Emission Sepctroscopy can be used quantitatively (ie to measure how much of something there is) and qualitatively (to find out exactly what that thing is)-,-emission-and-fluorescence-techniques

Working out questions on this ... using the formulae from data booklet:

Nice link about s orbitals, p orbitals etc

Quantum Numbers
Each electron in an atom can be defined by its own set of quantum numbers - each electron has a different position ....
n = the principal quantum number = the shell
l = the angular momentum quantum number = the type of orbital eg 0 = s, 1 = p, 2 = d ....
m = magnetic quantum number = which orbital... eg -1, 0 , 1 for p orbitals...
s = spin quantum number = which electron in the orbital - 0.5 or + 0.5

Periodic Table
An interactive periodic table which allows you to select different elements to see if their outer orbital is an s, p or d orbital. Its useful to work through from the beginning and remember that its the outer layers that you are seeing :
Also you can use this table to check the spectroscopic notation for each element.

Colorimetry - Atomic Absorption Spectroscopy
If your school doesnt have a colorimeter then here is a method using simple electronics which could easily be bought and your school will surely have some of these parts. All you need to buy are some LED light bulb emitters and receivers and find some LEGO bricks would you believe! (from the CLEAPSS website)

Determining Manganese Content in Steel using Colorimetry (was in old Adv H it still relevant ?)

and ... - Spectrophotometric determination of Iron -may still be worth watching ... as you don't know what may come up in the Open Questions !

A bit about Colour !
In chemistry and pigments, the following happens ...
  • A Black object absorbs all the colors of the visible spectrum and reflects none of them to the eyes. (think of a black object or clothes on a hot summer day - they absorb everything and get hot)
  • White reflects all the colours of the visible light spectrum to the eyes (their atomic bonds do not absorb any frequencies). (white clothes are ideal for a summer's day as they reflect all the heat) 
  • Colourless objects do not reflect the light, they are transparent to light, letting all frequencies pass 
If you want to read more about colour - and pigments - dyes and art etc then there is loads to read here - but its mostly just for interest - mostly not in the Adv H Chem course -

Bonding - some resonance structures :  (Not sure if these are definitely in the course but probably worth looking at, even if just for some general knowledge)
Lewis dot diagrams :

Interesting film about Forensic Science
Physics solving Crimes ! Using an Ion beam of X-rays and Gamma rays to obtain a spectrum of gunshot residue :

Transition Metal compounds
Colourful manganese and vanadium compounds - colour varies depending on oxidation state of the compounds they are involved in:
Colour changing in Manganese Vanadium colour changes
The Colours of Complex Metal Ions
This is worth printing out to keep and read :

Another similar reference - worth a read through - about colours of complexes etc.

Colour Chart
Here is a nice chart of the colours of the different transition metals, depending on oxidation states - you don't need to know all these colours but its something colourful to hang on your wall and remind you that they do change colour depending on what ligands surround them
Coloured Glass - another nice picture to print out :
- a video about colouring glass -
Transition Metal and Ligand Complexes + Naming them :
EDTA - a hexadentate ligand with all sorts of uses - an interesting page from the Royal Society of Chemistry's excellent online magazine The Mole (PRINT THIS OUT TO KEEP !)

Ligands etc - bidentate, hexadentate - useful information -

Schweizer's Reagent - This is just a snippet of interest - one of the ligand complexes you might have named - and its use in making cellulose etc

Drawing Lewis Structures - electrons to create molecular structure (not sure if this is in CfE course...)

Splitting of D orbitals - nice example at the bottom here :

Here is a very good resource about ligands, colour and splitting of D Orbitals :

Quiz about Ligands at the bottom of this page -
Try 5.4 part 1 and can check answers
Do not try 5.4 part 2 at this stage as it is not all relevant

Text Book - Transition Metals / Ligands etc - a nice book - nice illustrations - and a test at the end to try - use as an extra for wider reading .... it has roughly the same content but does not mention splitting of d orbitals etc so does not replace the Bright Red text book or Scholar etc

UV/Vis Spectroscopy Video

Shapes of Molecules
Discover which molecules take up certain typical shapes :

Fabulous video explaining the Cobalt 2+ to Cobalt 3+ being used as a catalyst as featured in Bright Red book page 25 - well explained video - watch it even if you already think you know about it !

Questions - You might want to start revising the earlier work - in which case there are questions here - Questions 1 - 15 are relevant so far ... answers can be obtained by emailing me your answers and I can check them.

Equilibrium, Le Chatelier and Equilibrium Constant K

Partition coefficient
To explain this further I have worked through an exam question on this .. hope this helps you to clarify it a little ...

Working out pH of Acids and Alkalis At Higher you need to know how to work out the pH from the concentration of Hydrogen ions, however the answer is usually a round number such as pH3. Or you may have to estimate pH within a range from a concentration so the answer might be for example - "between pH3 and pH 4" 
Just out of interest (so will not come up at Higher) if you wanted to work out an exact pH (such as pH 3.5) or an exact concentration from a pH such as 3.5 then you need to use the "Log" button on your calculator which helps you work out values that are on a logarithmic (or exponential) scale. For some details read here :

Ionic Product of Water KW and also temperature effects on pH of water

A nice demo - watch when doing topic on Acids / Bases and Indicators - second half of video tells you how it was done !

An Indicator- Phenolphthalein :

Buffer - Diagram of an Acid Buffer
You can create an acid buffer to whatever pH you want, depending on the proportions of salt and acid you add in. And here is how an acid buffer would deal with keeping a steady pH when Hydrochloric acid is added :
Very good explanation of Buffers from Chemguide - to go with my diagram above:

Working out Logs etc - this might help if you don't know which buttons to press on your calculator to work out logs etc for buffer calculations :


Delta G Delta S - Entropy - Free Energy in a system / reaction
Visit Website with Explanation

Spontaneous Reactions 
ΔG, ΔH and ΔS

Ellingham diagrams
Diagrams plotting delta G vs Temperature for a reaction

Reaction Rates - First Order Reactions etc ...
The first three pages of this section are useful, but page 4 I think is not in Adv H Chem and page 5 will become more understandable once you have completed Unit 2 Organic Chemistry :

Rate Determining Step and working out Reaction Mechanisms
Very good video ! Listen to all 14 minutes of it - it goes past very quickly and is very clear !
Thanks to excellent Hartlepool Sixth Form College teacher !

(Extra bits I need to double check are not in the CfE course but I think they are not !
Ionic Crystal Lattice Structures (not in Revised for 2014....)
You can rotate and examine the CsCl (8:8 ratio) and NaCl (6:6 ratio) typical crystalline structures here :
Chlorides (not in Revised....)  )

Unit 2 - Organic Chemistry and Instrumental Analysis

Sigma and Pi bonds - a bit of an explanation - although really you will hopefully only need to know about Carbon's hybrid orbitals hopefully :
and a good explanation of bonding with sigma bonds formed in methane etc.

Chromophore Experiment
Really easy chromophore experiment using the chromophore lycopene which gives the red colour in tomatoes - and adding Bromine water to get a rainbow of colour (watch out its a noisy video!)

Chromophores and Bleach
How bleach breaks up a chromophore

Chromophores - a tricky explanation
The explanation here about how Chromophores absorb light etc. is probably more advanced than you need for Advanced Higher but it makes for quite interesting reading if you don't worry too much about trying to learn it ! It also talks about indicators for acids and alkalis which is quite interesting .. and also how the Colour Wheel is not always quite as simple as it seems ...

Chromophores with some interesting examples and graphs (I like this link)

another chromophore link :

Dyes - see page 5 of this Mole magazine from Royal Society of Chemistry - v interesting -


There is a picture of plane polarised light on this link - and also what two enantiomers do to this-

Limonene - an optical stereo-isomer (enantiomer) - one optical isomer has a lemon smell, the other has a pine smell :

Explaining about amino acids being stereo-isomers - this is a little beyond Adv H level but if you are doing biology as well then you might be interested in the fact that all amino acids in the body are of one type of enantiomer - L-amino acids

Understanding the curly arrows used in Organic chemistry reaction diagrams :

Determining how Basic they are - eg methylamine, phenylamine etc. - are they good bases ?

Reaction Pathways
This is an interesting website with the reaction pathways we need to know. I haven't completely examined the site yet but it pretty much seems to cover what is in Advanced Higher Chemistry :

Alcohols vs Ethers
Discussing hydrogen bonding (or lack of !), boiling points, behaviour of these two molecules which can have same molecular formulas but quite different behaviours.

Alcohols - Ethers - Esters - Alkanes
Comparing boiling points -
Useful table in green, yellow, blue and orange colour half way down this page.

Some information about Esters, including which smells/flavours you can get from different esters -

Naming rules - - this hopefully goes a little beyond the types of compounds you might have to name so don't panic ! ...
rules also here :
and a quiz to try :

Forcing Benzene to Undergo Nucleophillic Substitution reactions ...
An explanation of why we need to use FeBr3 to encourage Br-Br to react with benzene ...

Also more details at:

Mass Spectrometry
Really good animation / explanation

Experimental Determination of Structure :
Elemental Microanalysis - lots of calculations to try on this technique that is mentioned in Bright Red book p72  :

Gas Chromatography
Quite a nice 5 minute video about Gas Chromatography :
Nice explanation of Gas Chromatography - I would say you just need general ideas about this so DO NOT WORRY ABOUT THE DETAILS here !! But there is some interesting information :

Extra of interest :
IR Spectroscopy
The lower parts of this page are not relevant but the top half is very readable and has good examples which we will use during tutoring.
Interesting link:

NMR - Here is quite a nice resource - I think pages 1,4, 6,7 and 8 are the most useful, and basically you do not need to know all this detail but read the first bit and then have a look at all the graphs on pages 6,7 and 8 to get an idea how to interpret them.

NMR animation from Royal Society of Chemistry  :

Here are some more examples of NMR spectra :

Drugs and Medicines
The design of drugs and medicines are considered. Whether they are agonists, which mimic the body's own biological molecules or ant-agonists which block the body's receptors to get their effect are all considered.
Beta blockers is one group of medicines which were originally designed to block the β receptors in the heart. They were designed by a Scot, James Black who received a Nobel Prize.
Propanolol is the drug he discovered :
You do not appear to need to memorise these structures but you may have to compare them with other structures to look for similarites or you may be expected to recognise groups within them such as amine groups etc.
Affects of Adrenaline and a small animation : 

Robots helping us to discover/design new medicines - very interesting video from the Royal Society of Chemistry:

Medicines that affect neurotransmitters :

Drug design - some interesting reading about "The Rule of Five" and other considerations when designing drugs -

This is quite interesting - a short video from "Periodic Videos" about the chemical structure of various painkillers - and the associated illegal drug as well - morphine, diamorphine, codeine, etc 
- interesting to read this as well after watching this video - about Andanamide - the natural "bliss" molecule - (mentioned in Course and Unit Support notes) -

Andanamide - the Bliss molecule (also this article links to the medicine and drug section below) (this is probably really just background reading - it will make more sense too if you are studying Biology as well so don't panic if you are not - just have a bit of a read of it and see what you pick up)

Medicines - structures
There are a few interesting bits about medicines and drugs on the first few pages of this reference:


Unit 3 - Researching Chemistry

Experimental Techniques

Ask your teacher for a copy of or follow this online link to: 
Chemistry: A Practical Guide
(If you have trouble locating a copy please get in touch and I will see if I can help.)

Very good website from Royal Society of Chemistry:
Interactive Lab primer
Apparatus -

A lot about preparation of aspirin, use of re-crystallisation, melting point, and thin layer chromatography
Synthesis of Aspirin :
Synthesis of Aspirin - very good video - shows crystallisation and vacuum filtration and explanations along the way from the teacher -

Recrystallisation and Vacuum Filtration to purify a compound - from Thinkwell videos with Professor Yee - very good explanation
and more about recrystallisation - ignore the actual experiment here but there is some nice info and  a nice diagram :

Separating Funnel
a lovely 1min 30 sec video to show this

Analytical Balance
from Thinkwell - v good videos

Worth watching to get finer points of doing these at Adv Higher Level

The Advanced Higher Chemistry Investigation

Some resources :

Detailed Marking Instructions:

Some experiment ideas:
If you are in a remote school could possibly loan equipment from here:

Here are some ideas if you are searching for a project:

ONLY FOR REVISED Advanced Higher Chemistry Students :
Making an azo dye from doing revised could watch this too !
Instructions for Azo dye experiment :

Probably more for A Level
very good
for gas law and pressure v volume animation - and PV=nRT

To check later :

Another one to check - currently i cant get Java past my virus checker on the computer but this site looks very interesting for lots of parts of the course :