Higher English


New National Courses, and the Units in them, are designed to reflect the values, purposes and principles of Curriculum for Excellence and to develop Skills for Learning, Skills for Life and Skills for Work. They are skills-based, offer flexibility, provide time for learning and have scope for personalisation.  As such, the new Higher English Course builds meaningfully upon the National 5 Course, allowing pupils to develop the breadth, depth and sophistication of their knowledge of literature; enhancing their ability to write insightfully about literature; and promoting pupils’ ability to respond to a range of Textual Analysis and Understanding, Analysis and Evaluation (Close Reading) questions.


Entry Requirements 

Pupils should have achieved a minimum of a Grade B in the National 5 examination in order to progress into the Higher course.  However, if a pupil opts to take a two-year approach to Higher – and be presented for Units only in Year 1 – then a National 5 C might be accepted as suitable entry.


Course Structure


  • Internal Unit Assessments


All Courses have Units which are assessed on a pass/fail basis and are ungraded.


Units provide learners with the opportunity to demonstrate their acquisition of skills in an organised way and to develop the required skills to be successful in the external examination.  Hierarchical structures have been used in the Units to support smooth progression through the levels of qualifications.


Course assessment structure


Component 1 — question paper: reading 70 marks

Component 2 — portfolio: writing 30 marks

Total marks 100 marks


  • External Examination: question paper

The purpose of this question paper is to assess learners’ application of their reading skills in a familiar but challenging context and to provide the challenge of questions and other tasks to be accomplished in a limited amount of time. This question paper will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding:


  • apply their reading skills in the understanding, analysis and evaluation of texts

  • apply their critical reading skills and their knowledge of appropriate literary context, forms and genres


The question paper will have 70 marks (70% of the total mark)


This question paper has two Sections.


Section 1, titled ‘Reading for Analysis, Evaluation and Summarising’, will have 30 marks.

These 30 marks will be awarded for addressing the challenge of applying reading skills, understanding, analysis and evaluation to two non-fiction texts. Assessment tasks will involve learners answering questions to show their understanding, analysis and evaluation of non-fiction texts, and summarising information for a purpose.


Section 2, titled ‘Critical Reading’, will have 40 marks. (This Section has two Parts.)


These 40 marks will be awarded for applying critical reading, knowledge and understanding.


Part 1

Learners will apply their understanding, analysis and evaluation skills to previously studied texts from the following contexts: drama, prose, poetry, film and TV drama, or language, by writing one critical essay.


Part 2

Learners will apply their understanding, analysis and evaluation skills based on previously studied Scottish texts by answering questions on one Scottish text chosen from a list of specified texts covering the genres of drama, prose and poetry. These texts will be both contemporary and pre-20th century and the list will be refreshed as required.

In each part, learners must cover a different genre and cannot use the same text twice.

Twenty marks will be awarded for each of the two tasks addressed.


  • Component 2 — portfolio: writing


The purpose of this portfolio is to provide evidence of the learner’s writing for two different purposes.


This portfolio will give learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding:


  • develop their skills in writing in different genres

  • develop their skills in writing for a range of purposes and audiences


The portfolio will have 30 marks (30% of the total mark).


The portfolio will comprise two written texts that address the main language purposes, namely creative and discursive writing. Fifteen marks will be awarded for each writing piece chosen for the portfolio.


Learners will demonstrate their ability to write in more than one form. The writing portfolio will comprise writing that addresses two of the main language purposes: creative and discursive writing.


The Higher English course is a challenging and enriching one which prepares pupils for progression to Advanced Higher as well as preparing learners to achieve well beyond school. 

Advanced Higher English                                            


Course outline   


SCQF: level 7 (32 SCQF credit points) Course code: C724 77   


Mandatory Units


  • English: Analysis and Evaluation of Literary Texts (Advanced Higher) 16 SCQF credit points

  • English: Creation and Production (Advanced Higher) 8 SCQF credit points

  • Course assessment 8 SCQF credit points


This Course includes eight SCQF credit points to allow additional time for preparation for Course assessment. The Course assessment covers the added value of the Course.

Recommended entry: Grade A at Higher level.




This Course or its Units may provide progression to:


  • degrees in higher education

  • further academic study in English or related areas

  • employment or training


Purpose and Aims of the Course:


The Course aims to provide opportunities for learners to develop the ability to:


  • critically analyse and evaluate a wide range of complex and sophisticated literary texts, as appropriate to purpose and audience

  • apply critical, investigative and analytical skills to a literary topic of personal interest

  • create a range of complex and sophisticated texts, as appropriate to different purposes and audiences

  • apply knowledge and understanding of complex language in a wide range of contexts and use creative and critical thinking to synthesise ideas and arguments. The Course also develops high levels of analytical thinking and understanding of the impact of language.


Course Assessment Structure


Component 1 — Question paper: Literary Study 20 marks

Component 2 — Question paper: Textual Analysis 20 marks

Component 3 — Portfolio–writing 30 marks

Component 4 — Project–dissertation 30 marks

Total marks 100 marks