National Qualifications

National 5 Chemistry – The National 5 Chemistry Course enables learners to develop and apply knowledge and understanding of chemistry. Learners also develop an understanding of chemistry’s role in scientific issues and relevant applications of chemistry, including the impact these could make in society and the environment. Further information can be found at the SQA’s National 5 Chemistry page.

N5 Unit One - Key Areas

Chemical Changes & Structures

1.1 Rates of Reactions

Average rate of reaction calculated from graph


  • Calculations of the average rate of a chemical reaction from a graph of the change in mass or volume against time.

1.2 Atomic structure and bonding related to properties of materials

Nuclide notation


  • Chemists use nuclide notation to show the numbers of sub-atomic particles in an atom or ion.

Isotopes and relative atomic mass.


  • Isotopes are atoms of the same element with different mass numbers
  • Relative atomic mass is the average mass of the isotopes present taking into account their relative proportions.



  • When there is an imbalance in the number of positive protons and electrons the particle is known as an ion.

Ionic bonding. Ionic Lattices (Networks)


  • Ionic bonds are the electrostatic attraction between positive and negative ions. Ionic compounds form lattice structures of oppositely charged ions.
  • Ionic compounds have high melting and boiling points because strong ionic bonds must be broken in order to break down the lattice.
  • Dissolving also breaks down the lattice structure.
  • Ionic compounds conduct electricity, only when molten or in solution due to the breakdown of the lattice resulting in the ions being free to move.

Covalent Bonding. Covalent molecular, covalent network


  • In a covalent bond, the shared pair of electrons is attracted to the nuclei of the two bonded atoms.
  • More than one bond can be formed between atoms leading to double and triple covalent bonds.
  • Covalent substances can form either discrete molecular or giant network structures.
  • Diagrams show how outer electrons are shared to form the covalent bond(s) in a molecule and the shape of simple two-element compounds.

Physical properties of chemicals explained through bonding.


  • Covalent molecular substances have low melting and boiling points due to only weak forces of attraction between molecules being broken.
  • Giant covalent network structures have very high melting and boiling points because the network of strong covalent bonds must be broken.
  • Experimental procedures are required to confirm the type of bonding present in a substance.


Notes and Summary Sheets


N5 Unit Two - Key Areas

Nature's Chemistry

2.1 Homologous Series



  • Group of compounds with similar chemical properties and the same general formula.

Branched Chain Alkanes (up to C8)


  • Structural formulae can be drawn and molecular formulae written from systematic names.
  • Molecules can be named systematically from structural formulae.



  • The cycloalkane family is a homologous series of hydrocarbons and is identified from the name and the general formula.
  • Cycloalkanes, with no more than eight carbon atoms in their longest chain, are named from their full structural formulae, shortened structural formulae and molecular formulae.

Branched Chain Alkenes (up to C8)


  • Alkenes are described as unsaturated hydrocarbons and can undergo addition reactions.
  • Structural formulae can be drawn and molecular formulae written from systematic names.
  • Molecules can be named systematically from structural formulae



  • Isomers exist in the  alkanes, branched alkanes, alkenes, branched alkenes and cycloalkanes.
  • Isomers have different properties.

2.2 Everyday Consumer Products



  • An alcohol is identified from the –OH group and the ending ‘-ol’.
  • Straight chain alcohols are named from the structure formulae. Given the names of straight-chain alcohols structural and molecular formulae can be written.
  • Alcohols are effective solvents, highly flammable, and burn with very clean flames resulting in their use as a fuel.

Carboxylic Acids


  • Carboxylic acids can be identified by the carboxyl ending, the COOH functional group and the ‘-oic’ name ending.
  • Straight-chained carboxylic acids can be identified and named from the structural formulae. Given the name of straight chained carboxylic acid the structural formulae can be drawn.
  • Vinegar is a solution of ethanoic acid. Vinegar is used in household cleaning products and as a preservative in the food industry.



  • An ester can be made by reacting a carboxylic acid and an alcohol.
  • Some uses of esters are in food flavouring, industrial solvents, fragrances and materials.

2.3 Energy From Fuels

Energy Calculations involving Eh = cmΔT


  • Alkanes and alcohols can be used as fuels.
  • Combustion reactions are exothermic reactions. The opposite of this is an endothermic reaction.
  • Different fuels provide different quantities of energy and this can be measured experimentally and calculated using Eh = cmΔT.

Calculations based on balanced equations


  • When a substance is combusted the reaction can be represented using a balanced formulae equation.
  • The quantities of reactants and products in these reactions can be calculated.

N5 Unit Three - Key Areas

Chemistry in Society


National Qualifications Revision

Unit 1 – Chemical Changes and Structure

The general aim of this Unit is to develop skills of scientific inquiry, investigation, analytical thinking and knowledge and understanding of chemical changes and structure. The key areas covered are:

National 4

National 5

· Rates of reaction

· Atomic structure

· Energy

· Changes of chemical reactions

· Acids and bases.

· Rates of reaction

· Atomic structure and bonding

· Reaction quantities

· Acids and bases.

Unit 2 – Nature’s Chemistry

This unit will consider the applications of nature’s chemistry on our lives, as well as the implications on society/the environment. The key areas covered are:

National 4

National 5

· Fuels

· Hydrocarbons

· Everyday consumer products

· Plants to products.

· Homologous series

· Energy of fuels

· Everyday consumer products.

Unit 3 – Chemistry in Society

This unit will consider the applications of chemistry in society on our lives, as well as the implications on society/the environment. The key areas covered are:

National 4

National 5

· Metals and alloys

· Materials

· Fertilisers

· Nuclear chemistry

· Chemical analysis

· Metals

· Properties of plastics

· Fertilisers

· Nuclear chemistry

· Chemical analysis


The Higher Chemistry Course develops learners’ curiosity, interest and enthusiasm for chemistry in a range of contexts. The skills of scientific inquiry and investigation are developed throughout the Course, and the relevance of chemistry is highlighted by the study of the applications of chemistry in everyday contexts.


The higher course is available to pupils in S4, S5 and S6 with appropriate progress in S3.

The course has 3 main units:

  1. Chemical Changes and Structure
  2. Nature's Chemistry
  3. Chemistry in Society

Pupils are formally assessed at the end of each unit. To obtain an overall award, students must pass the 3 unit assessments and a minimum C pass in the external exam.

Advanced Higher

The Advanced Higher course is available to pupils in S6 who have achieved appropriate grades in Higher.

This course has 4 mandatory units.

Electronic Structure and the Periodic Table 0.5 credit 20hrs
Principles of Chemical Reaction 1 credit 40hrs
Organic Chemistry 1 credit 40hrs
Chemical Investigations 0.5 credit 40hrs

The course provides a sound basis for Chemistry related employment.