Higher Chemistry CfE

Higher Chemistry

Course outline for CfE Higher Chemistry
SCQF: level 6 (24 SCQF credit points)

Mandatory (Compulsory) Units

Chemical Changes and Structure (Higher)    3 SCQF credit points
Researching Chemistry (Higher)                   3 SCQF credit points
Nature’s Chemistry (Higher)                         6 SCQF credit points
Chemistry in Society (Higher)                      6 SCQF credit points
Course assessment                                         6 SCQF credit points
There is an emphasis on experimental techniques and you will carry out an assignment based around an experiment.

The final exam is 2.5 hours long and is separated into two sections - a multiple choice and an extended answers section where short answers and calculations are required.

To study Higher it is recommended that you have a minimum of a 2 at Standard Grade (KU2, PS2) or a B at Intermediate 2 or an A or B (or C) pass at National 5.

Some General Information about the course :

The CfE Higher Chemistry Data Booklet: Remember to make full use of your data booklet during the exam - there is lots of information in it that can be used !

Here is a link to some really excellent Pupil Notes for CfE Higher Chemistry :
What you need to know - detail from SQA of Course and Unit support notes - page 7 onwards is details of what you need to know - very useful.
BBC Bitesize Revision
Past Papers
Always useful for Revision

New Higher Chemistry CfE - Specimen Paper
Exemplar Question Paper -

Some advice on using Revised Higher Past Papers :
InfoChem Magazine from Royal Society of ChemistryA very interesting magazine for 15-18 year olds - read online, download or print out.



Photographs of Each Element Periodic Table

A fabulous periodic table to investigate - photographs of each element - definitely take some time to browse this !

Royal Society of Chemistry - Periodic Table Trends

Very good information - very visual - particularly the trends of electronegativity and first ionisation energy are really clear here :

Yet another Excellent Periodic Table to Investigate

This is fabulous and would also take you through into University level Chemistry with all the information on here.

Noble Gases -
Density - periodic table trends

Periodic Table Trends
Including Metallic bonding in Group 1 explanation :

Ionic Radii 
Comparing the sizes of atoms and their ions - look at the image on this page which shows the difference between
  • the elements on the right hand side of the table which form negative ions by gaining electrons, compared to, 
  • the ions on the left side of the table which lose electrons to form positive ions :

Alkali Metals

Watch these Youtube videos of alkali metal reactions then explain what you are seeing using the terms "order of reactivity" "electron shells", "electronegativity" etc



Caesium and Fluorine 

Captured for the first time on television !  The moment when these most opposite of elements react ! Largest difference in electronegativity in the periodic table !

The Story of the Discovery of Buckminster Fullerene :
Click here to read
and make a model of the 60 Carbon molecule buckminster fullerene - there are gaps for the pentagons in the model - it should look just like a football - click here

Behaviour of Water

Water is quite unusual - even though it forms covalent molecules, the bonds within the molecules are polar covalent and this is what leads to an attraction between water molecules which we call Hydrogen bonding. This causes surface tension so you can see globules of water sitting on a desk rather than going flat and you can see a meniscus in a measuring cylinder because of surface tension. But what do you think happens if water is taken into space - how will it behave if you were to wring out a facecloth or washcloth ? Will the surface tension affect it ? See what happens when Chris Hadfield, an astronaut in the International Space Station tried this :

and 36 drops of water on a penny - pretty remarkable behaviour of water - caused by what type of bonding ? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8O8PuMkiimg from MrTopherProductions YouTube account

Bonding from BBC Bitesize - with great graphics


Spot the Bonding Exercise - From Royal Society of Chemistry
(keep for Revised Higher as is relevant)

If you don't know how to do this, print this out - its useful for all the calculations in Unit 1 or just useful anyway if you can get the hang of this !


Unit 2 : Nature's Chemistry

Some information about Esters


An experiment to make esters :

Fats and Oils

Fats and oils are made up from fatty acids and glycerol
Here is some examples of fatty acids - the main ones you hear about at Higher Chemistry are Oleic Acid and Stearic Acid - see what you can find out about them here :

Primary Alcohols/Secondary Alcohols /Aldehydes/Ketones Chart

Aldehydes and Ketones

Tollens Silver Mirror Test for Aldehydes - nice video with clear explanation

Animations of how Soap is made and works plus explanation of emulsions


Here is an excellent resource about reactions of hydrocarbons etc in Unit 2 - Nature's Chemistry
Fill in the blanks

New Higher Chemistry CfE  - Chemistry of Food
If you are studying new Higher Chemistry you may be studying about the Chemistry of Food - including chocolate!

How we Taste and Smell Food - CfE New Higher Chemistry

Flavour molecules

Vanilla dissolves in water 9g per litre B.Pt 285 deg C
zingerone dissolves only sparingly in water, B.Pt 141 deg C

odours - http://scifun.chem.wisc.edu/chemweek/Odors/chemorec.html


New Higher Chemistry CfE - Cooking
Heston Blumenthal explains about cooking Asparagus in Oil or Water in a video here - find out how to cook various vegetables well and the science behind that :

Food / Scents etc - chemistry of molecules 

New Higher Chemistry CfE - Terpenes
Spices - flavours and essential oils
http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/highersciences/chemistry/natureschemistry/fragrances/Terpenes.asp  - cloves, cinnamon, ginger, peppermint, limonene, ylang ylang, lavendar, lemon oil
Terpene - Myrcene - the smell of hops in Beer making
and another related terpene involved in beer aroma http://beersensoryscience.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/linalool-fresh-and-floral-hop-aroma/

New Higher Chemistry CfE - Emulsifiers
Soy Lecithin - why its important in Chocolate etc.

Emulsifiers and Fats in Ice Cream ! http://www.compoundchem.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Ice-Cream-Chemistry.png

Stopping Fruit going Brown
A simple food experiment you can even do at home - while making a healthy fruit salad or a smoothie!
Pictures of various foods going brown and some of the chemistry behind it :
Does the lemon inactivate the enzyme ? or is it acting as an anti-oxidant ? Hmm !!

Measuring Vitamin C in fruit or plants experiments - various links
A quick test on UV, skincare, terpenes, essential oils etc from BBC Bitesize - http://www.bbc.co.uk/education/guides/zchnn39/test

The H2 and Cl2 gases in this test tube start to react when UV light is shone on them - they react with a free radical chain reaction - see what happens in this video:

Unit 3


An easy to understand video explaining the terms "Dynamic Equilibrium" and "Open" and "Closed Systems" :

Effect of Pressure on Equilibrium 
Here is a very short video showing the colour change with pressure on the 
N2O4 (yellow) --->  2NO2 (dark brown) experiment.
High pressure will favour the yellow side and low pressure favours the dark brown side.

A video of three examples of dynamic equilibrium where increase in concentration of reactants, temperature or pressure affect the position of equilibrium.
At the beginning of the video you can find out how adding or removing a reactant H+ affects the position of equilibrium with a dichromate reaction (see page 80 of Bright Red Higher Chemistry book)
At 1 min 45 secs into the video you will see the example of temperature affecting position of equilibrium in N2O4 to NO2 from page 84 of the Success Guide "Higher Chemistry" book (or page 81 in the Bright Red Higher Chemistry Book) :

A further explanation : http://www.chemguide.co.uk/physical/equilibria/lechatelier.html

The position of equilibrium :

Nice Video about Haber Process

This video is quite slow to start with but definitely worth watching to the end :

Very clever sliders to experiment with conditions of temperature and pressure in the Haber process: http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/science/triple_ocr_gateway/how_much/equilibria/revision/3/

Fritz Haber and the Haber Process

Some interesting historical information about the history of Fritz Haber, World War 1, and how the Haber Process, when it was invented, had the potential to be very beneficial or to cause great harm !


some more history - http://www.nsta.org/publications/news/story.aspx?id=58157

Further good example of Coursework if you are looking for some different revision examples. Nice layout of questions :


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 : http://chemistry.about.com/od/chemistryquickreview/a/phreview.htm

Nuclear Fission

Demonstrated in an American classroom - good fun video ! (or should I say Totally Awesome ! Cool !) http://pinterest.com/pin/243757398552375984/

Some Higher Chemistry Interactive Puzzles


Interactive Laboratory

This is very useful at University level or even for Advanced Higher students. It shows interactive diagrams and photographs of laboratory apparatus by the Universities of Nottingham, Birmingham, Sheffield and Southampton.
Higher pupils may find the Distillation diagrams useful and interesting.


An Aspirin Experiment :

The Chemistry Olympiad :