S4 and S5 Course Information

Course Information Booklets

The links below to the S4/5 Course Information Booklets will provide further information about specific course content and how this links to potential career aspirations.

Course Option Form

Please ensure you have referred to the course informaion booklet before you make your choice. Please remember that it cannot be guaranteed that all courses listed over will all run.

The opportunity will be given to you in August to amend your course choices in the light of SQA exam results. At this stage in planning, subjects will remain in the columns shown on the option sheet.

Leadership through modern languages is only available to S6.

S5 pupils should choose courses where they already have a national qualification unless agreed with the Year Head.

Edinburgh College Logo.

Edinburgh School / College Partnership Courses 

We have prepared an Application Support Toolkit to support with SCP coursing discussions and the application process. The guide features key dates, personal statement guides and information on SCP pathways to employment, full time colloege courses and University as well as testimonials from current SCP students.

Information on the school / College Partnership is below. This is mainly for pupils moving into S6. These courses take place on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

Pupils should speak to their Year Head and Louise Winser (School Career Adviser) prior to making any application.

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

How many subjects will my child take?

Pupils moving into S5 and S6 will study 5 subjects, choosing suitable courses from the subject choice columns. Pupils in S6 may opt to study 4 subjects with the option of having a study column on their timetable or using this time for work experience placements, volunteering or anopther leadership opportunity. Core RE/PE courses also form part of the senior curriculum.

How are our subject choice columns structured?

S5 and S6 columns are structured to allow clear progression from S4 into S5 then S5 into S6. Courses on offer also present opportunities for new subjects to be studied where appropriate. Column 5 allows for courses at Edinburgh College to be selected as well as work experience placement or leadership opportunities.

How will my child be awarded a grade for their qualifications?

National 5, Higher or Advanced Higher courses are assessed through a question paper (exam) or coursework, or both – most of which will be marked by the SQA. In some subjects, coursework is marked by a teacher. The courses are graded A to D or ‘no award’.

National 3 and 4 courses are made up of units which are assessed by the teacher as a Pass or a Fail.

Questions about course choice options and process

Why does my child have to pick a reserve choice?

Pupils are asked to list thier course choice in the order of preference plus a reserve, in the event we are unable to provide all the courses they would wish.

What if chosen subjects do not run? Will my child get their chosen subjects?

Whilst we try to run all courses in school, some are not possible due to capacity on the timetable with staffing or poor pupil uptake. In the senior school, pupils can look to study a subject or course at another school as part of the sonsortia agreement across CEC (City of Edinburgh Council) schools if this is not offered in our school. Alternatively, they can look at courses as part of the School College Partnership at Edinburgh College. College courses can be a good option for any pupil looking to gain experience related to a particular chosen career pathway.

Will they get priority if they did not get first choice in S3?

The range of subjects on offer in the senior school timetable offers progression as well as opportunities to choose subjects that pupils did not study as part of their S4 qualifications. However, we do recommedn that S4 pupils think about progression into S5 and would advise that pupils talk to their Year Head pr Careers Advisor for advice and guidance if they want to make significant changes for their S5 choices.

What happens if there are no subjects that they want to take in a particular column?

Any pupil who is struggling to make choices should speak to their Year Head for advice. There are other options available to pupils in Column 5 on the course option form which offer opportunities outwith school such as courses at Edinburgh College. We also offer the Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award as an excellent leadership qualification for S6 pupils. For some pupils a work experience placement at that time mnay be a suitable option depending on chosen career pathway.

Progression may also involve new courses that are related to subjects already studied, usually offered within the same faculty. S6 pupils in particular may wish to consider some new courses to broaden their knowledge, enhance and develop their skills and add to the range of qualifications they already gained.

Can pupils do a Higher if they have not done Nat 5 qualification?

In the senior school many subjects would require a National 5 qualification for entry into that course;  this ensures progression and the required knowledge and skills to be able to cope with the demands of the subject at Higher level. Some subjects do not require the National 5 qualification and are suitable for pupils who have attained a level and range of qualifications and skills that indicate suitability and likelihood for success in these subjects.

The SQA National Progression Awards (NPAs) are industry and vocational courses aimed at developing skills and knowledge in preparation for further study or employment. There is no final exam for NPA courses, however, ongoing project based assessments form part of the overall qualification. NPAs are offered by Holy Rood at Level 5 and 6 in the Scottish Qualifications Framework, the same level as National 5 and Higher qualifications. NPAs provide a full qualification can also provide tariff points for those interested in applying to further or higher education.

Can Highers be taken over 2 years?

National and Higher courses are taught as one-year courses with the expectation that pupils complete and gain that qualification at the end of the school year. Sometimes, for various reasons, a pupil may not have had made sufficient progress to gain the qualification. In this instance, we recommend that parents/carers and pupils work with the school to agree the best outcome for the pupil. This may involve postponing presentation to the following year or looking for a more suitable alternative qualification.

Questions about support with making course choice

Do pupils have the opportunity to speak to subject teachers about course choice?

Teachers will share information about the courses on offer in their faculties. This also gives pupils an opportunity to ask more specific questions relating to course content, assessment and qualifications. Teachers will also talk about skills nad careers pathways that these subjects offer.

How do pupils get more detailed information on specific courses?

The course information booklets that all pupils received in the course choice assemblies provides information on the course choice process, qualifications and detailed subject course information. You may also with to look at the subject choice tool on my world of work website: 

My World of Work

How to support making choices in S5 vs S6?

S6 pupils will have already gained a set of qualifications over both S4 and S5 and should carefully consider skills and interests along with entry requirements for their intended career pathways when making choices for S6.

UCAS, individual university and Edinburgh College websites will give more information on courses and entry requirements that will help shape decisions for S6. Pupils in S6 may also wish to consider opportunities to gain alternative qualifications that are both rewarding and allow for personal development, wider achievement and enhancement of skills that many employers, colleges and universities look for. At Holy Rood, senior pupils can opt for the following courses/opportunities which are all accredited and allow pupils not only to gain recognised qualifications but also to gain a positive personal development experience.

In S5 and S6 core PE pupils have the opportunity to work towards a school-based award or an SQA Leadership Award. Pupils will learn about team building, leadership styles, skills and qualities.

S6 pupils can choose to work towards the Pope Benedict XVI Caritas Award which encourages and promotes the ongoing faith journey of young people. This award asks young people to use their faith learning as a starting point for further faith development.

The school offers the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Award to S3 pupils and the DofE Silver Award to S6 pupils.

Questions about options once course choices have been made

Can my child change their subjects if they are not enjoying it?

S5 and S6 pupils have an opportunity to change coursing at the start of the new school session in August. For more information about positive destinations to support course choice and post-school pathways, please have a look at the websites below where you will find lots of information to support pupils:

My World of Work

Edinburgh College


The new timetable starts in June each year, offering pupils an opportunity to settle into these new courses and supporting a smooth return to study after the summer holiday.

Can my child change their subjects once they have their exam results?

For our senior pupils, SQA results come out in August, and this may result in some pupils wishing to reconsider their course choices and make changes to their coursing. These changes will be made in August after the results come out. Any pupil wishing to do this should speak to their Year Head. Pupils will be able to access advice from their teachers, Year Head, and the Careers Adviser. 

Pupils will be able to make changes where there is availability in courses. We strongly recommend pupils and their families read the attainment reports and the S5 and S6 course information booklets to support making course choices.

Please contact your child’s Year Head or Careers Adviser if you require further support. There is more information in the pre-recorded presentation about how to support your child with their course choice.

Questions about SQA exams

General Exam Information

We understand that you and your child may have questions about the SQA National Qualifications for this year. Please check the SQA website to keep up to date. 

SQA Website

Will there be study leave during the exams?

We are waiting on information about study leave for the SQA exams from CEC. We will share information with you as soon as we are able to do so.

Questions about support with exam preparation

How do you support pupils with managing their workload? What support will be given to pupils in preparation for their SQA exams?

Supports that were in place for the prelim exams will continue in preparation for the SQA exams. We offer supported study classes after school and at lunch time and we would encourage your child to make effective use of this additional support. The supported study timetable can be found on the school website at Study Support.

We also offer a programme of supported study classses for some subjects during the February break. Details of the programme will be emailed to you. We run a study club for S4 pupils, this was well attended before the prelims, and we recommend that our S4 pupils continue to make effective use of this opportunity.

Pupils are given advice on how to manage their workload in PSE, Tutor Time, and targeted attainment assemblies. This includes study plans, time management and different study/revision methods. The mentoring programme offers support to a group of identified pupilsand these pupils should ensure that they work with their mentor and attend the weekly meetings that provide them with targeted support in preparation for their exams. All pupils can speak with their Year Head who can provide them with ongoing support for their exams.

If a pupil has a concern that is related specifically to a subject, then they should speak to their class teacher for advice and support. We also offer stress busting grous for pupils as well as 1-1 counselling sessions for ppils who require enhanced support.

Questions about support for pupils who are leaving school

What support will pupils who wish to leave school receive with finding college courses/apprenticeships?

S4 to S6 pupils are asked to fill in a form about their intended leaving date and preferred career pathway and this is updated  each year. This helps inform the school and careers adviser about targeted career support for pupils at various stages throughout the senior school. This allows us to offer 1-1 interviews with the Year Head and Careers Adviser for pupils who are leaving school and provide support with application forms, CVs and interview preparation. Pupils can request an appointment with the careers adviser for support with finding a positive destination if they are thinking about leaving school. Parents and Carers can also contact their child’s Year Head or our careers adviser for more advice and guidance.

Pupils in S6 will be guided through the application process to university (UCAS) and college, as well as given support if seeking employment, apprenticeships, training, or other pathways.