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Modern Studies

Modern Studies overview

Why study Modern Studies?

Modern Studies helps you to understand important issues in the world today. It helps you gather information about these issues, evaluate the information you have and, most importantly, it helps you to make up your own mind and come to your own conclusions about these issues.

Modern Studies also supports the rising of standards in core skills such as literacy and numeracy and develops transferable skills which will help learners succeed in other subjects.

S1 - S3 -  "The Broad General Education"

Throughout the junior phase, Modern Studies is taught as a discrete subject, contributing to learners' exploration of 'Social Studies', where they advance their understanding of the world by developing an understanding of the principles of democracy and citizenship through experience of critical and independent thinking, explore and evaluate different types of sources and evidence, and establish firm foundations for lifelong learning and for further specialised study and careers.

From S1 to S3, all courses in Modern Studies will be develop skills which will transfer to a variety of contexts.  The contexts explored are:

  • Introduction to Modern Studies
  • International Human Rights
  • Democracy in Action
  • Terrorism around the world
  • Contemporary International Issues
  • Decision making
  • The Politics, Economic and Social Issues of The USA
  • How citizens in a democracy can influence decisions.

S3 is the culmination of the Broad General Education during which pupils continue to develop their skills and lay down the foundations for learning in the new National Qualifications.

S4-S6 - "Senior Phase"

In the senior phase learners will build on what they have learned in S3 leading to the presentation for National 3, 4, 5 or Higher.

Through active involvement in the Modern Studies course it is anticipated that the student will achieve the following skills and knowledge:

  • Develop and apply knowledge and understanding and skills in political, social or international contexts;
  • Research and use information collected from a range of sources about contemporary issues;
  • Use a range of sources of evidence to detect and explain bias and exaggeration in familiar political contexts;
  • Draw and justify valid conclusions and decisions from a range of sources of evidence about topical international issues.

National 3/4/5

  • Democracy and Decision making in Scotland and The UK
  • Crime and the Law and Inequality in The UK
  • World Powers: China & The USA
  • The Added Value Unit on topic of their choice


  • Democracy in The UK
  • Social Issues in The UK
  • World Powers: The USA
  • The Added Value Unit on topic of their choice

Hints and Tips for Helping with Homework and Exam Preparation

Due to the ever changing nature of Modern Studies, learners might be asked to complete some research at home on a particular current topic. This might require internet but there are computers readily available in school to complete this if needed.

Other homework pieces will include completing past paper questions, both knowledge based and enquiry skills. The knowledge questions use the principle of main point, explain and example. This structure is the key to success in both the National 5 and Higher courses.

To support our learners, the department provides all students with past paper booklets so there is no need for parents to purchase expensive past paper booklets.

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