Madras College

Modern Studies - National 4

 Welcome to Modern Studies. In the department you have 4 dedicated teachers of Modern Studies who have a passion for their subject and who look forward to delivering Modern Studies in the senior phase.

 Mr Robertson
Mr Clark
Miss Warrender
Mr Gibson

The purpose of Modern Studies is to develop a knowledge and understanding of contemporary political and social issues in local, Scottish, 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.

Study support classes are always available - arrange with your teacher. This is open to all Senior Modern Studies classes.

N4 Course Structure

  • Democracy in Scotland and the United Kingdom (Madras focuses on Option 2: Democracy in the UK)
  • Social Issues in the United Kingdom (Madras focuses on Option 2: Crime and the Law)
  • International Issues (Option 2: World issues, the issue taught at Madras is Terrorism).
  • Course Assignment (assessed internally using SQA guidelines)
  • Unit Assessments (assessed internally using SQA guidelines)

Course Detail

Democracy in the UK

Power and decision-making

  • features of a democratic political society
  • devolved and reserved matters
  • role and powers of Prime Minister


  • rights and responsibilities of individuals
  • opportunities for individuals
  • elections and campaigning (role of individuals, political parties and the media)


  • the media and either
  • pressure groups or
  • trade unions (Study of the group/organisation chosen should focus on role, purpose, aims, methods and critical evaluation of the extent to which influence is exercised in democracy.)


  • role of MPs
  • representation of women and minority groups
  • purpose, function and composition of the House of Lords

Voting systems

  • key features and outcomes of the system used to elect MPs to the UK Parliament, including the strengths and weaknesses of this system.


Social Issues - Crime and the Law

Nature of crime

  • nature and extent of crime in Scotland and/or the UK
  • evidence of crime in Scotland and/or the UK, such as official reports and academic research

Causes of crime

  • social causes and explanations of crime
  • economic causes and explanations of crime
  • biological causes and explanations of crime

Criminal justice system

  • role and structure of the criminal courts (including the children's hearing system)
  • powers of the criminal courts (including the children's hearing system)
  • effectiveness of criminal courts in tackling crime

Responses to crime

  • Government responses
    — government responses to crime
    — effectiveness of government responses
  • Police
    — role, structure and powers of the police in Scotland
    — effectiveness of the police in Scotland in tackling crime
  • Prisons
    — purpose and effectiveness of prisons
    — purpose and effectiveness of alternatives to prisons 

Consequences of crime

  • on perpetrators
  • on victims
  • on families
  • on communities
  • on wider society


World Issues - Terrorism is the issue focussed on at Madras

Nature and causes of the conflict/issue

  • political causes
  • social causes
  • economic causes

Consequences of the conflict/issue

  • impact on those immediately affected
  • impact on other countries and their governments (including the UK)
  • regional and/or wider international consequences

Attempts to resolve the conflict/issue

  • bilateral, regional and/or international organisations — role and motivation
  • military attempts to resolve conflict/issues
  • non-military attempts to resolve conflict/issues

Evaluation of international organisation(s) in tackling the conflict/issue

  • evidence of success/failure
  • reasons for success/failure
  • consequences of success/failure


  • End of Unit Assessment - 1 per unit described above
  • Added Value Unit which pupils must achieve a pass in line with the SQA requirements to achieve N4 level.
    Pupils will choose a Modern Studies issue of their choice, research this issue and present their findings.

Modern Studies Skills

The following skills are assessed in contexts drawn from across the course:

There are three skills focussed on throughout the N4 course:

  • Conclusions
  • Support/Oppose
  • Decision making options questions

Useful Resources

  • SQA Course specification with detail on each unit area and assessment details
  • Microsoft TEAMS - All pupils have been added to the N5 Modern Studies TEAM
    (all pupils have access to the MS suite when logging on via GLOW, Word, OneDrive, PowerPoint, Excel)
  • BBC Bitesize Modern Studies page
  • There are many more websites and resources. Pupils should check TEAMS on a regular basis
    as resources will be posted there.


  • National 5 Modern Studies