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Calderglen High School

Modern Studies


Mr D Munn  (Faculty Head)

Ms E Blaker

Miss E MacGregor

Mr G MacPherson (Acting Faculty Head- Thursdays & Fridays)

Mr I Hart (NQT)

Miss K Murphy (Pupil Support)

Why study Modern Studies?

In Modern Studies you examine contemporary society and the world around you. It encompasses three main elements: Political, Social and Economic areas of study. In Modern Studies you become equipped with many transferable skills which will enable you to effectively contribute in a variety of events and activities throughout your life. Being able to analyse information and make decisions is an essential life skill, as is having an awareness of current affairs and how they can affect you.

Modern Studies is an interesting and highly relevant subject that provides many opportunities to actively participate. Students who undertake this subject go on to be employed in many different fields including Law, Journalism, Teaching and Social Work. Good literacy and numeracy skills make this course far more accessible.


 First Years tackle two units, the first looks at how life compares between China and Scotland looking at education, human rights, the way the countries are run and food amongst other things.

The second unit looks at why we have Government and Political Parties and why people vote and join pressure groups in the UK. 



 Second year firstly look at the issue of Child Soldiers around the world- who they are, why they are recruited, the problems they face and action being taken to stop this happening.

The second unit looks at terrorism around the world and why it takes place using some case studies and then focuses on the present Conflict in Ukraine: its origins, its impact on the world and the possible future


In S3 pupils will follow a Modern Studies course as part of a broad general education, covering level 4 outcomes and experiences.  During S3 pupils will also overtake some of the National 4 and National 5 outcomes.

The main focus of S3 is looking at Crime and Law in Scotland and also at developing the research skills essential for S4.

Further details of units and course content can be obtained from:-




Assessment of Course

The course will be assessed and marked throughout the session by teachers. These assessments are appropriate to the subject and level of study. Assessments may include a combination of practical work, case studies, examinations and projects.


At the end of S3 pupils will progress to a course leading onto a qualification at National 3, National 4 or National 5.

At the end of S4 pupils could choose from the following progression routes:

  • A pupil achieving National 3may progress to National 4
  • A pupil achieving National 4 may progress to National 5
  • A pupil achieving National 5 may progress to Higher



Homework tasks are given on a regular basis in order to support the work being completed in class. The homework can take different forms dependent on the particular area of study and the level of the course. Examples of homework tasks could include internet based research, report writing and working on evaluating questions. Attention to detail ensures that the homework given is related to the various topic areas and complements the skills development and knowledge base of the student. There is also an expectation that students will catch up on unfinished classwork and take a regular interest in relevant news stories, using the internet, newspapers and television to keep abreast of issues as they arise.



Students are encouraged to come to class armed with pens, pencils and a ruler. A calculator can be handy.

National 5

National Modern Studies explores social, economic and political issues in Scotland, the UK and the USA.

It is divided into three distinct units and develops students skills in handling knowledge and understanding and dealing with sources of information in a number of ways including drawing conclusions, identifying evidence to support and oppose a view point, and reaching a decision on an issue.

The Units covered are:

Democracy in Scotland: Participation in elections, political parties, pressure groups, trade unions and the media; how Scotland is governed; how the Scottish Parliament and Councils are elected.

Crime and Law: Causes and evidence of crime; impact of crime on individuals and the community; the role of the police; the role of the courts; sentencing and its effectiveness; youth crime and how it is dealt with.

This is tackled in S3.

World Power- USA: How the USA is governed; participation in US politics; social and economic issues-immigration and healthcare; impact and influence of USA on rest of the world.

Assignment- 20% of the final marks come from a piece of research carried out by pupils into a Modern Studies topic of their choice.

Final Exam- this tests candidates on all three units and their ability to handle source evidence. The exam last two hours and twenty minutes.


Modern Studies

  • Why are so many people not voting in elections?
  • What has happened after Brexit?
  • How is the government trying to tackle rising obesity and diabetes levels?
  • How should health care in the future be funded?
  • How influential is the USA globally?

In their fifth and sixth years, students are beginning to look forward to full participation in the adult world. Modern Studies can assist by equipping them with a range of skills and ideas that can help them to understand, and make informed judgements about the many personal, national and international issues they are likely to face.


Usefulness of Subject 

The subject content and skills for Modern Studies lend themselves to a wide range of occupations such as journalism, TV and Film, law, business and marketing, social work, police and the armed forces and in general any occupation requiring well-informed young people. It should be noted that some University and College courses now name Modern Studies as a preferred subject for entry - particularly law and social work.

Entry Requirements 

Entry to the Higher will normally require a National 5 ‘C’ pass in Modern Studies or a previous pass (A-C) at Higher level in S5 in another social subject. For S6 students, a National 5 ‘C’ pass in a related Social Subject or English is required, although ideally we suggest a Higher pass in one of these.

Higher Modern Studies explores UK political and social issues and takes an international perspective on similar issues by looking at the USA.

Course Content 

There are three units of study comprising:

Democracy in the UK:  
Democracy in Scotland and the UK students will study topics such as: the United Kingdom constitutional arrangement including the role of the Scottish Parliament and other devolved bodies and the impact of UK membership of the European Union; the study of political institutions and processes; voting systems and their impact; the impact of a range of factors which affect voting behaviour; and the ways in which citizens are informed about, participate in, and influence the political process.

Social Issues in the UK: 

In the social inequality context, students will focus on a contemporary aspect of social inequality in the UK and the impact  on a group in society. They will focus on topics such as inequality relating to a specific social group; evidence, theories and causes; the impact of inequality; and the attempts to tackle inequality and their effectiveness.

International Issues
The study of a world power (The USA) will focus on a study of its political system, contemporary socio-economic issues and its role in international relations. The study of a world issue will focus on a significant recent issue or conflict which has a global impact.


Students are required to research an assignment topic worth a third of their overall marks and attempt a two hour and fifteen minutes exam which comprises three essays and two source based questions.



The final examination is made up two papers totalling three hours and worth 73% of the overall marks, plus an individual research task undertaken by students, which is submitted before Easter, worth 27% of the final mark.



This is worth one third of a students total marks.

It involves choosing a relevant topic related to Modern Studies and making a decision based on an issue. recent examples have included: changing the US Presidential Election System; Holding a second referendum on Scottish Independence; charging patients for visiting their GP.



Higher Politics

This course looks more specifically at Politics itself, rather than wider social and economic issues that Modern Studies does.

It covers three units:

Political Theory- the relationship between Power, Authority and Legitimacy; Democracy; and a comparison of two political ideologies- Conservatism and Socialism.

Political Systems- this compares the UK and US Political systems and explores the powers of government, the ability of Parliament and Congress to control government and the role of the two constitutions in protecting human rights

Political Parties and Elections- this unit explores the theories around voting behaviour; the dominant ideas of the Conservative Party  and the SNP and how they have affected electoral success for them; and finally the extent to which various campaign methods and strategies help parties win elections. There are a series of case studies explored for this.


In line with the other Humanities Highers, Politics has a two paper final exam (total of 80 marks) plus a 30 mark assignment (27% of final grade) which involves pupil research into a suitable Political topic of their choice.

Departmental Homework Policy

In addition to any tasks given to students at least once a week, it is expected that students are reading and researching around topics throughout the year. Reading a newspaper and watching news items and relevant documentaries, as well as relevant use of the Internet, is essential to a good pass in the final exam.