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The assignment has a total mark allocation of 30 marks. This is 27% of the overall marks for the course assessment. 

The assignment allows candidates to demonstrate the following skills, knowledge and understanding: 

  • identifying a political issue that invites discussion and debate 
  • researching a political issue using a range of sources of information 
  • showing detailed factual and theoretical knowledge and understanding of a political issue 
  • communicating information from, and referring to, political sources 
  • analysing and synthesising information in a structured manner 
  • drawing a detailed and reasoned conclusion, showing an awareness of different points of view.

The assignment has two stages, research and the production of evidence (the  write-up). Candidates undertake the research stage at any appropriate point in the course, normally when they have developed the necessary skills, knowledge and understanding. In the research stage, candidates choose a topic which allows them to analyse and evaluate a political issue which invites discussion and debate. 

They research the issue, and organise their findings to address it, using the Politics resource sheet to collate their evidence and references.  

Assessment conditions 

The research stage is designed to be completed over a notional period of 8 hours. Candidates have 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the production of evidence for assessment. 

This must be done in one sitting. Candidates complete the production of evidence stage in time to meet the submission date set by SQA.   

Advice from the 2019 SQA Course Report

Where candidates cover topics linked directly to course content, performance tends to be poorer than for those who appeared to have a personal interest in the topics they choose. 

The assignment remains an opportunity for personalisation and choice for candidates.  

Many candidates produced high-quality, detailed and well-structured assignments that indicated familiarity with marking guidance and focused on topics which invited discussion and debate. 

High-scoring candidates tended to frame their assignment topics in an essay format (for example, ‘To what extent…’ or a statement followed by ‘Discuss’). The framing of the title in this way supported candidates to produce assignments that were able to access a range of analytical marks and then produce detailed and relevant conclusions on their issue. This supported candidates to address the central issue and evaluate different viewpoints in their conclusions. 

Candidates that achieved high marks produced well-structured responses and made explicit reference to the resource sheet and the sources they had used. Effective use of the resource sheet enables candidates to develop their knowledge and understanding and therefore provide the basis for then developing analytical comments based on this knowledge and understanding. 

The highest scoring candidates provided developed analytical points that gave additional justification or evidence. Many candidates produced responses which were highly analytical. Candidates who achieved high marks appeared to be aware of the success criteria for the assignment, and this was clearly reflected in the structure and content of their responses.