Welcome to the Higher Politics Course

Hannah Young
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Why study Politics?

1. Government and politics impacts nearly every aspect of our lives.

Whether we like it or not, government plays a huge role in our daily lives, ranging from the amount of tax you pay for your morning coffee, to the types of light bulbs you’re allowed to purchase.

Since we know that government impacts various choices we make, why not take the time to understand how the process works? Who makes these laws and how do they impact you?

Having this understanding can help you determine the best course of action for yourself and your family regarding a wide range of issues. (Most of which are more important than your coffee and light bulbs.)

If you don't take an interest in Politics, it will take an interest in you.

Everything in the world is touched by Politics, so to be interested in Politics is to be interested in life.

2. Having knowledge of politics helps make you an informed voter.

For those who do vote, it’s important to go to the polls armed with the facts. 


The Higher Politics course consists of three areas of study:


  1. Political theory (Power, Authority and Legitimacy, Democracy & Political Ideologies)
  2. Political systems (Constitutions, the Legislative Branch & Executive Branch)
  3. Political parties and elections (Dominant ideas of political parties, Political campaign management strategies & Theories of voting behaviour)

A broad range of skills can be developed in this course such as: 

  • researching, analysing, evaluating and synthesising information from a wide range of political sources
  • using a wide range of sources of information to draw detailed and balanced conclusions about political concepts and ideologies
  • comparing and contrasting different political systems, making generalisations, where appropriate, on the political process
  • interpreting and evaluating a wide range of electoral data
  • drawing on factual and conceptual knowledge of political theory, political systems, and political parties and elections. 

There have been major changes to the Higher Politics course following John Swinney's announcement in the Scottish Parliament yesterday (7/8/2020).

You need to be aware of the following:

1. The coursework aspect of the course - the Assignment - is no longer necessary to complete.

2. The Political Parties and Elections unit will contain the only 12 mark essay question in Paper 1.

3. The Political Parties and Elections section of the exam will contain all three topics (dominant ideas of political parties, political campaign strategies and theories of voting behaviour). You will be able to choose one of these topics to write about.

4. The 20 mark questions in Paper 1 will only be from Unit 1:Political Theory and Unit 2: Political Systems.


So, what this means is that you can choose to just learn and revise one of these topics and only as a 12 mark essay and you do not need to the Assignment.

Should you have any questions, please email me at Young-h@dollaracademy.org.uk


Essential Information for your teacher, SQA Coordinator or school's Business Manager:


The SQA Course Assessment Specification for Higher Politics 2020-2021 can be found here.

Higher Politics SCQF: level 6 (24 SCQF credit points) 

The SQA Course code for Higher Politics is C858 76, the Course Assessment Code is X858 76 


If you are only being entered for Units. You will need the following information:

The Unit code for Political Theory is J20E 76 (6 SCQF credit points)

The Unit code for Political Systems is J20F 76 (6 SCQF credit points)

The Unit code for Political Parties and Elections is J20G 76 (6 SCQF credit points)


Get updates on the course on Twitter here


What Will You Study in the Higher Politics Course?

Hannah Young
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Higher Politics Units.pdf

Click through the sides above to see all of the topics that are covered in this course.

Politics makes a distinctive contribution to the curriculum through its study of important political concepts and ideologies, the comparison of different political systems, and the evaluation of factors that impact on the electoral performance of political parties.

Candidates develop knowledge and understanding of key political concepts. The theoretical perspective of the course enables candidates to identify, explore and analyse political issues in order to develop their own views and perspectives. Candidates develop analysing and evaluating skills during the course which help them to interpret and understand political issues.

Candidates develop:

  • knowledge and understanding of:

— significant political concepts and ideologies

— political systems through comparative study

— political parties and elections

  • the ability to analyse and evaluate political ideas, events, issues, systems, parties and electoral performance
  • a range of research, data-handling and evaluating skills.

If you going to sit the final examination you will be expected to answer questions in two separate question papers:

Paper 1: 

This question paper has three sections: Political theory, Political systems, and Political parties and elections. Candidates demonstrate the application of skills and breadth of knowledge and understanding from across the three sections of the course. 

There are two 20 mark extended response questions to and one 12 mark extended response question to answer. The 12 and 20 mark questions may appear in any section of the paper.


Paper 2:

This question paper has a total mark allocation of 28 marks. This is 26% of the overall marks

for the course assessment.

This question paper enables candidates to demonstrate the following skills:

  • comparing information about political theories, systems and parties
  • interpreting, evaluating and synthesising a wide range of electoral data

In this question paper, candidates answer two source-based, information-handling skills questions. One question is worth 8 marks and consists of two sources, and one question is worth 20 marks and consists of up to seven sources. Sources may be written, numerical, graphical or pictorial.