Madras College


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.

N5 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 by the SQA)
  • Final Exam (assessed by the SQA)

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
  • SQA Course Assignment - 1 hour write up, under exam conditions (20 marks - 20% of final grade)
  • SQA Exam - 2 hours, 20 minutes (80 marks - 80% of final grade)

Modern Studies Skills

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

There are three skills focussed on throughout the N5 course:

  • Conclusions
  • Support/Oppose
  • Decision making options questions

In the N5 exam they are all worth 10 marks each.


The assignment allows candidates to demonstrate challenge and application by demonstrating the following skills, knowledge and understanding:

  • choosing, with minimum support, an appropriate Modern Studies topic or issue
  • finding at least two sources, of different types, as independently as possible, and collecting relevant evidence from them
  • evaluating the effectiveness of the two sources used, commenting on their specific strengths and weaknesses
  • applying Modern Studies skills to the evidence collected
  • drawing on knowledge and understanding to explain and analyse key features of the topic or issue
  • reaching a well-supported conclusion, supported by evidence, about the topic or issue

Candidates use specified resources during the production of evidence stage. A structured template is available for the production of evidence.


The assignment component has 20 marks out of a total of 100 marks for course assessment. The assignment is therefore worth 20% of the overall marks for the course assessment.

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.


  • Higher Modern Studies (then Advanced Higher Modern Studies)
  • Higher Politics in S6