Madras College

Modern Studies - Advanced Higher

Welcome to Advanced Higher Modern Studies. This session, Mr Gibson will be delivering the course.


This page aims to give you a very brief overview of the course structure and includes some useful links to support material.

Course Structure

  • Law and Order
  • Research Methods
  • Course Dissertation (assessed by the SQA)
  • Final Exam (assessed by the SQA)

Course Content

The exam has three optional sections. We focus on Section 2: Law and Order and Reasearch Methods.

Law and Order and Research Methods

In topics A–C, candidates use a comparative approach to analyse and evaluate similarities and differences between the UK (including Scotland) and other international countries in relation to complex law and order issues. Candidates have flexibility in the international countries they choose to compare with the UK.

In topic D, candidates study social science research methods and issues. Relevant case studies and examples are used from either contemporary contexts, academic contexts, or the candidate's own use of social science research methods.

Topic A: Understanding the Criminal Justice System

  • judicial frameworks
  • human rights, civil liberties and the criminal justice system
  • criminal justice issues

Topic B: Understanding Criminal Behaviour

  • definitions, measurements and perceptions of crime
  • contemporary relevance of theories of criminal behaviour including physiological, psychological and sociological theories
  • social and economic impact of criminal behaviour on victims, perpetrators, families and wider society

Topic C: Responses by Society to Crime

  • contemporary relevance of theories of punishment, including deterrence, rehabilitation, incapacitation, retributivism and denunciation
  • preventative responses to crime, including policing strategies, multi-agency approaches and early interventions
  • criminal justice responses to crime, including custodial and non-custodial sentences

Topic D: Social Science Research Methods and Issues

Research methodology

  • analysis, evaluation and comparison of research methods, including:

- official statistics
- surveys: postal, telephone and online
- interviews: structured, semi-structured and unstructured
- focus groups
- observation: covert and overt case studies
- longitudinal studies

Source evaluation

  • critical evaluation of sources of information, including:

- other researchers' data
- official statistics and reports
- private and personal documents
- surveys
- interviews
- focus group
- non-participant and participant observation
- media outputs
- virtual (internet) outputs
- case studies


  • Component 1: Question Paper (90 marks - 64% of final grade) - exam lasts 3 hours.
    Part A: Candidates attempt two 30-mark questions from a choice of three - one question from each topic (A–C).
    Part B: Candidates attempt both 15-mark questions: on research methods, on the trustworthiness of a source.
  • Component 2: Project Dissertation (50 marks - 36% of final grade) - see Project Dissertation below

Project Dissertation

The project–dissertation has a total mark allocation of 50 marks. This is 36% of the overall marks for the course assessment. The project–dissertation enables candidates to demonstrate their skills, knowledge and understanding by undertaking independent research into a complex, contemporary political or social issue.

The project–dissertation allows candidates to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding:

  • justifying an appropriate complex, contemporary political or social issue for research
  • evaluating research methodology
  • using a wide range of sources of information
  • analysing the issue
  • evaluating arguments and evidence
  • synthesising information to develop a sustained and coherent line of argument, leading to a conclusion, supported by evidence
  • organising, presenting and referencing findings using appropriate convention

Useful Resources

  • There are many more websites and resources. Pupils should check TEAMS on a regular basis as resources will be posted there.