Politics - To vote, or not to vote

19th June 2009 at 01:00

Both questions in the first Higher paper, which requires candidates to form conclusions from data and is worth 20 marks, focused on elections. Keith Grammar head John Aitken, who taught politics this year, thought this a "narrow" approach.

Question 2 used results and voter turnout from the 2003 and 2007 Scottish parliamentary elections. Candidates had to decide whether these represented a "triumph for democracy". This caused him "slight concern that it assumed shared values about what democracy entails".

Question 1 did not bring in the same level of subjectivity. Statistics were provided from countries where voting is compulsory (Australia, Belgium and Greece) and where it is not (UK, Germany), and on this basis candidates had to decide whether it was a desirable approach.

Paper 2 (60 marks), demands three essays. One question from a choice of three must be chosen for each of political theory, political structures and political representation. It was a "fair" paper covering all the curricular areas. Section C was straightforward, but Section A more difficult than in previous years. In Section B (structures), Question 6 asked whether a judiciary provided the best protection of people's rights. Mr Aitken said a "yes" answer with a list of evidence would get the marks.

He found the Higher "very fair", with ample opportunities for candidates to show their understanding of issues.

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