Subject Information - Modern Studies

National 5

Head of Department: Mrs Fiona Taylor

Course Progression: Modern Studies

Modern Studies opens up the world of contemporary society for learners. The National 5 course in Modern Studies is designed to inform pupils about the society in which they live and to encourage them to make comparisons with the political, economic and social systems of other countries. The purpose of the National 5 course is to develop the learner’s knowledge and understanding of contemporary political and social issues in local, Scottish and United Kingdom and international contexts. In these contexts, learners will develop an awareness of the social and political issues they will meet in their lives.

The main aims of this Course are to enable learners to: 

  • engage as active and informed members of society and local and global citizens
  • have an appreciation of the changing nature of modern society
  • understand and respect human and legal rights and responsibilities as well as democratic modes of government
  • understand the democratic process and the ways in which people are informed about, and participate in, society
  • have an awareness of social and economic issues at local, Scottish, national and international levels and ways of addressing needs and inequalities
  • be aware of different views about the extent of state involvement in society
  • be aware of the nature and processes of conflict resolution at all levels.

 

Modern Studies (S3/S4) National 5

All pupils will begin to study for the National 5 qualification, although some pupils may find the demands of National 5 too challenging and therefore, the National 4 qualification may be more suitable. For these pupils there will be an opportunity to transfer to the National 4 course at some point during S3/S4.

Course Units

Pupils will complete a study of the following three units across S3 and S4:

Democracy in Scotland
At National 5 level Modern Studies, learners will be expected to have a broad-based understanding of the Political arrangements currently governing Scotland. They will study part of the structure of the UK’s political system, by focusing on the role of the Scottish Parliament and local councils. They will explore the role of MSPs and Councillors, the importance of voting, ways to participate in a Democracy, the influence of Trade Unions, Pressure Groups and the Media and current debates about constitutional change in the UK. During this unit, we undertake a visit to the Scottish Parliament, so that pupils can see the work of MSPs up close.

Crime and the Law 
In this unit learners will explore the concept of ‘crime’ as a social construction and evaluate the nature and extent of different types of crime in the UK. They will explore the causes of crime and assess the impact of crime on various groups in society. They will critically evaluate the response of the criminal justice system and governments to the problem of crime in the UK. Learners will also complete a detailed study of the court system and laws in Scotland with particular reference to juvenile justice and the Children’s Hearing System. As part of the study of this unit, we visit Edinburgh Sheriff and Justice of the Peace Court, allowing the pupils to take part in a mock-deferred sentence, to watch what happens in the Custody Court and JP Court, along with a visit to the cells.

World Power: USA
In the international section of the course, pupils will study the USA as a World Power. Our learners will explore the political system and structure of the USA and look at issues relating to participation and representation in American politics. They will also look at population issues such as immigration, gun control and equal marriage. A range of social and economic issues are studied (poverty, crime, health, employment, education, housing), with a focus on the opportunities and inequalities in each area. A critical reflection on the government response to these issues will be the final section of the unit. Throughout the unit, pupils will be taught theoretical content exploring concepts such as capitalism, federalism, democracy and the rights and responsibilities of US citizens.

Assessment

Course assessment consists of two Components: 

Component 1 - The Exam
The question paper consists of 80 marks (80% of the overall mark awarded for the course) and learners have 2 hours and 20 minutes to complete the exam. The question paper has three sections which mirror the Units the learners undertake. Each Section is made up of short answer/extended response questions requiring the learner to draw on the knowledge and understanding and to apply the skills acquired during the Course. 

Component 2 – Assignment
The assignment is worth 20 marks (20% of the overall course mark). The assignment gives learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding:

  • research an appropriate Modern Studies topic or issue
  • evaluate the effectiveness of two research methods used, commenting on their strengths and weaknesses where appropriate
  • show knowledge and understanding of the topic or issue studied
  • present a reasoned and well-developed conclusion, supported by evidence and taking account of alternative evidence, about the topic or issue studied. 

The assignment will be tackled in school and as homework, then written up under formal exam conditions. Learners will have 1 hour for this write up. 

It should be noted that there are clear guidelines provided by the SQA in relation to the Modern Studies assignment and teacher assistance. All teachers are limited to providing “reasonable assistance” during the research and preparation phase. Such “reasonable assistance” includes:

  • directing candidates to the instructions for candidates
  • clarifying instructions/requirements of the task
  • advising candidates on the choice of issue
  • advising candidates on possible sources of information
  • interim progress checks
  • advising candidates of the nature and volume of specified resources which may be used to support the production of evidence.

The SQA are very clear that “reasonable assistance” does not include:

  • providing the issue to be researched for the candidate
  • directing candidates to specific resources to be used
  • providing model answers
  • providing detailed feedback on drafts, including marking. 

For the full SQA documentation relating to the assignment, please refer to the online PDF

 

 

 

Higher

Head of Department: Mrs Fiona Taylor

Course Progression: Modern Studies

The Department is committed to developing core skills through the study of Modern Studies. Researching information and presenting the results clearly and precisely is a great help to literacy. These are central skills that our pupils are taught from an early point. Essay-writing techniques, using evidence and construction of reports, decision-making exercises and synthesising of knowledge from various sources, are all powerful transferable skills that our pupils frequently draw upon in study and employment beyond school.

Modern Studies is a subject that asks questions about the world around us and about the way that people, groups, governments, countries and international organisations operate. Modern Studies is a discipline marked by the ever-present relevance of the topics for study. This includes development issues in countries such as the China, as well as domestic themes such as Health and Wealth and Constitutional change for Scotland. Furthermore pupils explore the decision making process of governments at home and abroad. Pupils are constantly addressing issues of personal, local, national and international importance. They are aided in their growth of maturity in understanding of concerns to which we are exposed as part of an educated, industrialised society with a leading role to play in a globalised economy.

Progression Routes

Modern Studies is an excellent introduction to the learning experience and research methods of undergraduate work in degree courses such as Law, the Arts or Social Sciences e.g. Politics, Sociology, International Relations and Public Administration. Pupils may also progress to employment in journalism, marketing, local government or any social science related work.

Modern Studies (S5/S6) Higher

In S5, pupils may choose to follow Higher in Modern Studies. The purpose of this course is to develop knowledge and understanding of political, social and international issues and to promote the development of the critical skills of analysis, synthesis, evaluating and decision-making, within a fast paced multi-sourced course.

Course Units

The course involves the study of three units:

Unit 1 – Democracy in Scotland and the UK
In this unit learners cover a variety of topics, such as the U Constitutional arrangements, including the role of the Scottish Parliament and other devolved bodies and the impact of UK membership of the EU. They will also learn about decision Making in Central Government looking a the role of the Executive, Cabinet and Civil Service and the impact of influences such as the media and pressure groups on these processes. Additionally, we will cover electoral systems and voting behaviour, enabling pupils to understand how and why citizens participate in a democracy, in addition to analysing voting patterns and considering how the media influences political attitudes in the UK.

Unit 2 – Social Inequality in the UK
In this unit, learners focus on the contemporary aspect of social inequality in the UK and the impact of inequality on a variety of groups in our society. We investigate the evidence of inequality and the theories that underpin its existence, as well as establishing the causes of inequality. Learners also have the chance to explore how inequality impacts upon specific groups when it comes to income, employment, education, housing, health and social mobility, before finally assessing the attempts made by government and businesses to tackle these inequalities.

Unit 3 – World Power: China
Learners will undertake a study of the People's Republic of China. This involves a study of political issues such as the role of the Chinese Communist Party and the extent of meaningful representation/ participation in China. They also look at social, economic and human rights issues in China and evaluate the response of the government to these inequalities. Finally, learners will explore the place of China in relation to other countries and within international organisations, assessing the power and influence she has.

Course Assessment

Course assessment consists of two Components:

Component 1 - The Exam
The exam contains two question papers. Paper 1 consists of 52 marks and candidates have 1 hour and 45 minutes to complete this paper. The question paper has three sections which mirror the Units the learners undertake. Candidates answer two extended response questions out of 20 marks and one out of 12 marks. All three assess knowledge and understanding, as well as higher-order skills of analysis and evaluation. In each section, candidates have a choice of question to answer.

Paper 2 consists of 28 marks and candidates have 1 hour and 15 minutes to complete this paper. Candidates will answer three source-based information-handling skills questions, two out of 10 marks and 1 out of 8 marks, which assess the skills of: detecting and explaining the degree of objectivity, drawing and supporting complex conclusions and assessing the reliability of sources. Candidates will have no choice of question.

Component 2– assignment
The assignment is worth 30 marks (27% of the overall course mark). The assignment gives learners an opportunity to demonstrate the following higher-order cognitive skills, knowledge and understanding:

  • identify a Modern Studies issue about which there are alternative views
  • research a Modern Studies issue, using a range of sources of information
  • synthesise and analyse information from a range of sources
  • evaluate the usefulness and reliability of a range of sources of information
  • reach a decision on the issue studied
  • show detailed knowledge and understanding of the issue to support the decision reached
  • show an awareness of alternatives to the decision
  • communicate information using the conventions of a report.

The assignment write-up will be carried out under formal exam conditions. Learners will have 1 hour and 30 minutes for the write up. 

It should be noted that there are clear guidelines provided by the SQA in relation to the Modern Studies assignment and teacher assistance. All teachers are limited to providing “reasonable assistance” during the research and preparation phase. Such “reasonable assistance” includes:

  • directing candidates to the instructions for candidates
  • clarifying instructions/requirements of the task
  • advising candidates on the choice of issue
  • advising candidates on possible sources of information
  • interim progress checks
  • advising candidates of the nature and volume of specified resources which may be used to support the production of evidence. 

The SQA are very clear that “reasonable assistance” does not include:

  • providing the issue to be researched for the candidate
  • directing candidates to specific resources to be used
  • providing model answers
  • providing detailed feedback on drafts, including marking. 

For the full SQA documentation relating to the assignment, please refer to the online PDF.

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Advanced Higher

Head of Department: Mrs Fiona Taylor

Course Progression: Modern Studies

The Department is committed to developing core skills through the study of Modern Studies. Researching information and presenting the results clearly and precisely is a great help to literacy. These are central skills that our pupils are taught from an early point. Essay-writing techniques, using evidence and construction of reports, decision-making exercises and synthesising of knowledge from various sources, are all powerful transferable skills that our pupils frequently draw upon in study and employment beyond school.

Modern Studies is a subject that asks questions about the world around us and about the way that people, groups, governments, countries and international organisations operate. Modern Studies is a discipline marked by the ever-present relevance of the topics for study. This includes development issues in countries such as the China, as well as domestic themes such as Health and Wealth and Constitutional change for Scotland. Furthermore pupils explore the decision making process of governments at home and abroad. Pupils are constantly addressing issues of personal, local, national and international importance. They are aided in their growth of maturity in understanding of concerns to which we are exposed as part of an educated, industrialised society with a leading role to play in a globalised economy.

Progression Routes

Modern Studies is an excellent introduction to the learning experience and research methods of undergraduate work in degree courses such as Law, the Arts or Social Sciences e.g. Politics, Sociology, International Relations and Public Administration. Pupils may also progress to employment in journalism, marketing, local government or any social science related work.

Modern Studies (S6) Advanced Higher

In S6 pupils may choose to follow a Higher (as previously described) or attempt Advanced Higher Modern Studies. For Advanced Higher pupils are recommended to have attained a good pass at Higher in Modern Studies, History, Economics or English.

At Advanced Higher level, learners study Law and Order and Research Methods. As well as lectures, lessons, use of the internet, guest speakers, seminars and structured research tasks, learners are actively encouraged to go out into the field and interview people from a variety of organisations within the course's field as part of their primary research, initially as a group and then individually.

The course is made up of three areas of study, two of which must be covered. We teach Context B - Understanding Criminal Behaviour and C - Responses by Society to Crime. Learners essentially gain an understanding of the causes of crime and the impact of these on society, followed by an exploration of the ways in which we deal with offenders. In addition to these two units, learners also cover Context D- Research Methods, which covers a wide variety of methodologies, assessing their relative merits and identifying moral and ethical concerns contained within them.

Throughout all sections, learners are expected to make international comparisons.

Course Assessment

Course assessment consists of three Components:

Component 1 - The Exam

The question paper will give learners the opportunity to demonstrate the following skills and knowledge and understanding:

  • describing, explaining and analysing in order to demonstrate factual and theoretical knowledge and understanding and the ability to make international comparisons
  • evaluating, analysing and synthesising a wide range of evidence to demonstrate complex skills
  • critically evaluating a range of political and/or social science research methods. 

The question paper is out of 90 marks and is made up of two sections. Learners will tackle two essays, one from each Context of the course covered, followed by two Research Methods questions. Essay questions will consist of a statement for learners to discuss throughout the course of their answer. Research Methods questions will require the learners to assess the extent to which they can trust sources, advantages and disadvantages of methods and ethical considerations in relation to specific methods.

The exam will last 3 hours.

Component 2 – Project (Dissertation)

The project (dissertation) will allow learners to apply decision-making skills as they research a complex contemporary issue. Candidates have an open choice in the issue chosen for study. Assessors will support candidates to make an appropriate choice that will allow them to demonstrate the required knowledge and understanding and application of skill.

The project (dissertation) has 50 marks.

The project (dissertation) is an individual piece of work that learners will commence in August and then submit to the SQA before Easter.

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