Modern Studies

Modern Studies

Modern Studies is a subject unique to the Scottish secondary school curriculum , that is concerned with the study of local, national and international issues from a social, political and economic perspective.[1] Most pupils will study Modern Studies for all, or at least most, of 1st and 2nd Year of secondary school and thereafter may elect to study the subject during the following years towards Standard Grades or National Qualifications. Some schools do not teach Modern Studies as a discrete subject, choosing instead to integrate History, Geography and Modern Studies into a Social Subjects course, at least in S1.


The Modern Studies Concepts

Modern Studies is concerned with the study of seven key concepts;

Act, speak, or make decisions on behalf of other people, e.g. an MP speaking for his/her constituents in the Parliament.

  • Rights and Responsibilities

Freedoms we are entitled to and duties or obligations we have as a result, e.g. the right to vote and the responsibility to use the vote wisely.

Joining in, taking part, becoming involved, e.g. standing as a candidate in an election.

Ideas and beliefs of a political or economic system, e.g. the USA is a capitalist democracy.

Having the same level of wealth, status or well-being; usually looked at in terms of inequality, e.g. some elderly people have a lower living standard than others.

What individuals, groups or countries must have to survive and develop; usually looked at in terms of whether needs are being met, e.g. some developing countries find it difficult to meet their basic needs.

  • Power

Ability individuals, groups or countries have to act or influence how others act.

Modern Studies and the Primary Curriculum

Primary schools in Scotland follow the 5-14 guidelines, which sets out different areas to be covered. Environmental Studies covers social subjects among other things and therefore work on Modern Studies concepts and knowledge begins prior to secondary school.

==Modern Studies in S1 and S2== Each school has the freedom to develop a course to suit the needs and interests of both pupils and teachers, but most will develop courses for study that are in line with the 5-14 guidelines. Topics normally taught include fairtrade, China and Human Rights.

Standard Grade

Most schools offer Standard Grade Modern Studies over S3 and S4 though some now offer National Qualifications instead. The Standard Grade course covers four different syllabus areas over two years: you are giving three subjects based on social subjects they are history, geography and modern studies.

  • Syllabus Area 1 - Living in a Democracy (covering Politics and Trade Unions)
  • Syllabus Area 2 - Changing Society (covering Elderly, Unemployed and Families)
  • Syllabus Area 3 - Ideologies (covering either the USA, Russia or China)
  • Syllabus Area 4 - International Relations (covering Politics of Aid and Alliances)

40% of the final exam consists of Knowledge and Understanding (KU) questions. The rest of the exam covers Enquiry Skills (ES) which are source based skills that are developed during the teaching of the course.

National Qualifications

Modern Studies is available at Access 3, Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2, Higher and Advanced Higher levels. Students who have achieved Credit passes (grades 1 and 2) at Standard Grade will be able to go on to study at Higher level; those with General passes (grades 3 and 4) will normally go on to study at Intermediate 2 level; those with passes at Foundation level will normally go onto study at Intermediate 1 or even Access 3 level. Advanced Higher level is studied by students who have passed the Higher course during their 5th Year, or an equivalent Higher Level pass in either History or Geography.

Modern Studies and University

Modern Studies does not exist as a separate subject at University level though it is a sound basis for further study of a range of subjects from which Modern Studies is composed, such as Politics, International Relations, Sociology, Economics and Public Policy.

See also

Education in Scotland


  1. ^ What is Modern Studies? Modern Studies Association

External links

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