Welcome to the Advanced Higher Chemistry page.

adrevised higher chemistryWe have made a start uploading resources for experimental work that could help to support teaching of the course. Don’t worry there’s quite a bit more to come.

The resources are accessed from the unit pages which you can get to from the links below.

Alternatively you can use the search facility or you can find a list of all the chemistry resources here.

If you think activities of ours are of use in areas of the course we have not mentioned, please let us know so we can add the information in.

Use the links below to find the resources you need:

1 Electromagnetic radiation and atomic spectra

Electromagnetic radiation and atomic spectra, Electromagnetic waves The relationship c = f λ

DVD SpectroscopeConstruction of a DVD spectroscope and analysis of spectra using tracker.

Update – The link above now also has a method to produce a spectroscope attachment for a cameraphone and allow it to be uploaded to the web and interpreted.

Dual nature of electromagnetic radiation — waves and particles  The relationships E=hf and E=Lhf

Atomic emission: Evaluation of evidence for energy levels in atoms of elements

Flame Colours – A series of simple methods to carry out flame tests.

Atomic spectroscopy: Atomic emission spectroscopy and atomic absorption spectroscopy and how they are used to identify and quantify the elements present in a sample

2 Atomic orbitals electronic configurations and the Periodic Table

The four quantum numbers used to describe any electron within an atom. The shapes of s, p and d orbitals.

Electronic configuration including: aufbau principle, Hund’s rule, Pauli exclusion principle

The Periodic Table is subdivided corresponding to electron configurations

3 Shapes of Molecules and Polyatomic Ions

VSEPR rules. Apply VSEPR rules to determine shapes of molecules and polyatomic ions


4 Transition metals

Electronic configuration of transition metal atoms and ions and the anomalies of the model explained

Oxidation numbers of transition metal ions. Using changes in oxidation number of transition metal ions to determine whether oxidation or reduction has occurred.

Oxidation States of Vanadium – an experiment to demonstrate all 4 oxidation states of vanadium.

Oxidation States of Manganese – a demonstration of all the oxidation states of manganese from II to VII.

Colour change chameleon – An attractive reaction that passes through several of the different coloured oxidation states of manganese.

Iron Drops – a series of drop-scale reactions investigating a variety of reactions of Iron II and Iron III.

Ligands. Bonding of ligands in transition metal complexes, Classification of ligands, Coordination number, Naming complex ions according to IUPAC rules

Copper amino complexes – This practical involves the preparation of 2 isomers of copper and glycine and goes on to examine them by means of infra-red spectroscopy.

Ligands of copper complexes – In a series of reactions, different ligands displace each other from complexes with copper.

UV and visible absorption of transition metal complexes

Catalysis by transition metals

Catalyst at work (Demo) – Rochelle Salt and hydrogen peroxide, catalysed by cobalt schloride, shows the formation of a different coloured temporary intermediate.

Acids and bases

Ionic product of water and calculations of pH.  pH = –log10 [H+],  Kw = [H+] [OH-]

Bronsted-Lowry acids/bases: definitions, pH of salt solutions, Equilibria of the salt solutions

Strong and weak acids and bases. Properties of strong and weak acids and bases. the acid dissociation constant, Ka

Calculation of pH for a weak acid

Buffer solutions: Composition of a buffer, how buffers work and calculation of the pH of buffers pH = pKa–log10[acid/salt]

Indicators: Weak acid indicators. selection of an appropriate indicator for a particular reaction based on titration curves. Colour change of a weak acid indicators

Indicators – microscale – A series of small scale investigations into indicators.

Rainbow reaction (Demo) – Form a rainbow of colours to illustrate the pH scale with hydrochloric acid and sodium carbonate along the length of a burette.


Reaction feasibility

Standard enthalpy of formation, definitions and relevant calculations. ΔHof = ΣΔHof (products) – ΣΔHof (reactants).

Entropy and prediction of value of entropy. Changes of entropy

Second and Third Laws of Thermodynamics

Calculations in changes in standard entropy ΔSo = ΣΔSo(products) – ΣΔSo (reactants).

Free energy: The concept of free energy. ΔG = ΔH –TΔS. Calculation of standard free energy change for a reaction. ΔGº = Σ ΔGº(products) –ΣΔGº(reactants)

Applications of the concept of free energy Prediction of the feasibility of a chemical reaction under standard and non-standard conditions ΔGo = ΔHo – TΔSo


Determination of the order of a reaction (0,1,2,3) from experimental data and rate equations. Calculation of rate constants and units of k. rate = k[A]

Bleaching Blue Food Dye – An experiment using cheap reagents (blue food dye and bleach) to determine the rate constant and order of a bleaching reaction.

Reaction mechanisms. The rate determining step in a reaction. From the rate equation predict the rate determining step and possible mechanism.

Use the links below to find the resources you need:

Molecular orbitals

Formation of bonding molecular orbitals.

Hybridisation sp3, sp2 hybrid orbitals and their role in the formation of sigma and pi bonds.

The bonding continuum. The symmetry and position of bonding orbitals between atoms determines types of bonding Ionic, polar and non-polar covalent bonding


Molecular structure

Convertion between molecular, structural and skeletal formulae with no more than 10 carbon atoms in their longest chain.



Geometric isomerism cis and trans. Physical and chemical properties of geometric isomers.

Copper amino complexes – preparation of cis and trans isomers of a copper-glycine complex.

Optical isomerism. Non-superimposable mirror image, chiral/enantiomers. Racemic mixture and effect on polarised light. Physical and chemical properties of optical isomers.

Food Science – The link ‘Structural sublety’ has a simple example of the enantiomers of carvone


From given equations identify: substitution, addition, elimination, condensation, hydrolysis, oxidation, reduction reactions Devise synthetic routes, with no more than three steps, from a given reactant to a final product  Deduce possible reactions from molecular structures

Bond fission. Homolytic and heterolytic fission.

Electrophiles and nucleophiles. Reactions involving heterolytic bond fission. Nucleophiles or electrophiles as attacking groups.

Curly arrow notation. Use of double-headed and single-headed arrows to show electron movement. The curly arrow shows source and destination of the electron (s).

Haloalkanes. Classification of monohaloalkanes as primary, secondary or tertiary. Monohaloalkanes undergo nucleophilic substitution reactions: alkalis to form alcohols, alcoholic alkoxides to form ethers, ethanolic cyanide to form nitriles which can be hydrolysed to carboxylic acids. Monohaloalkanes can also undergo elimination.reactions to form alkenes.

The reaction mechanism for SN1 and SN2 reactions. SN1 and SN2 reactions using curly arrows and mechanisms with particular attention given to the transition state/intermediate.

The preparation properties, and reactions of alcohols. Preparation from alkenes haloalkanes and reduction of carbonyl compounds using lithium aluminium hydride. Physical properties related to bonding. Dehydration, reaction with metals. Reactions with carboxylic acids and acid chlorides

Finding an Equilibrium Constant  – An experiment to to determine experimentally the equilibrium constant for the reaction between methanol and ethanoic acid to form the ester methyl ethanoate. 

Ethers. Naming and general structure. Boiling point related to bonding. Preparation using haloalkanes with alkoxides. Chemical and physical properties of ethers linked to molecular size and uses.

Alkenes. Preparation: dehydration of alcohols, base-induced elimination of hydrogen halides from monohaloalkanes.  Electrophilic addition reactions: catalytic addition of hydrogen to form alkanes, including mechanisms for addition of halogens to form dihaloalkanes, addition of hydrogen halides according to Markovnikov’s rule, to form monohaloalkanes, acid-catalysed addition of water according to Markovnikov’s rule, to form alcohols.

Carboxylic acids. Preparation by: oxidising primary alcohols and aldehydes, hydrolysing nitriles, esters, amides.  Reactions: formation of salts by reactions with metals or bases, condensation reactions with alcohols to form esters in the presence of an acid catalyst, reaction with amino groups to form amide links, reduction with lithium aluminium hydride to form primary alcohols.

Amine classification as primary, secondary or tertiary Physical properties related to structure. Amines as weak bases and their use in salt formation.

Aromatic hydrocarbons and reactions of benzene. Structure, bonding and stability of the benzene ring. Substitution reactions of benzene (phenyl); alkylation, nitration, sulfonation and halogenation as examples of electrophilic substitution in benzene and other aromatic compounds

Experimental determination of structure

Elemental microanalysis. Determination of the masses of C, H, O, S and N in a sample of an organic compound in order to determine its empirical formula.


Mass spectrometry. Interpretation of fragmentation data to gain structural information.

Infra-red spectroscopy. Interpretation of spectral data to gain structural information.

Interpretation of 1H NMR spectra. Understand how a proton NMR spectrum is produced. Interpretation of spectral data to gain structural information. Draw and analyse low resolution proton NMR spectra and to analyse high resolution proton NMR spectra.

Absorption of visible light by organic molecules

An explanation of why organic compounds are colourless or coloured with reference to molecular orbital theory or conjugated systems.

Terpenes – The experiment ‘bromination of tomato juice’ is an investigation into the change of colour related to the length of the conjugated system in lycopene from tomatoes.

Chromophores Describe a chromophore and explain its role in the colour exhibited by the compound.

Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Effect of drugs on the body. Lipinski rule of five.

Classification of drugs. Classification of drugs as agonists or as antagonists.

How drugs work. Identify the types of interaction between drug functional groups and receptor sites. Recognise the pharmacophore in drug molecules

According the the SQA Website

“The general aim of this Unit is to develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation, analytical thinking, independent working, and knowledge and understanding of researching chemistry. In this assessment the candidate will carry out an in-depth investigation of a chemistry topic. The topic will be chosen by the candidate, who will individually investigate/research the underlying chemistry of the topic. This is an open-ended task which may involve a significant part of the work being carried out without supervision.”

Here are links to:

General Assessment Information for Advanced Higher Chemistry – An SQA document from September 2016

Producing and Submitting Coursework – The current SQA guide

A Guide to Practical Work – an Education Scotland guide from 2012 – still very relevant and the latest issue.

Chemistry Practical Guide – Support Materials – a companion document to the above with details of techniques and a useful set of investigation ideas.

And a couple of older but still useful documents

A Guide to Practical Work – previous version of the 2012 guide above, from 2005 but not yet obsolete

Starter_investigations – Again from 2005 (previous version of the support materials above)  but has some good investigations in it