Social Subjects


Pupils in S1 undertake a common course in Social Subjects. This means they learn about History, Modern Studies and Geography collectively under the guise of certain over-arching themes. These themes are: the local area; Edinburgh; Scotland (specifically the Highlands the Islands); and then Africa. The idea is that, by starting with what they know of the local area and Edinburgh we can build up the skills required to learn more about Scotland and then Africa. By the end of S1 pupils will be able to comment on the usefulness of primary and secondary sources, use longitude and latitude to locate different locations on a map, explain why Scotland looks the way it does by referring to )often ancient) physical processes, and describe, explain and evaluate important issues that affect our lives today. Crucially, they will also be able to comment in detail about the development of Scotland as a nation and how it contrasts with  various countries in Africa.



Pupils will build upon the experiences of S1 by focusing on History, Modern Studies and Geography in distinct blocks, rather than as a common course. There are, of course, various opportunities to look at all three subjects collectively, which helps to join up topics and skills. In the History block we look at WWII in A Global Context, moving away from seeing the war through British eyes and examining how it affected the whole world. We then follow this by examining the Holocaust in detail, using primary and secondary sources to delve into the issue and empathise with those involved. In Modern Studies we look at various issues of importance today, such as terrorism, crime and law, health care and politics in Scotland. Again, examining sources is crucial to all this and helps to build a key skill in Social Subjects. In Geography, we look at Earth Forces, specifically, volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis. We then look at the British Isles in more detail, expanding upon their understanding of how physical processes shape our land and effect our economy.



In S3 pupils, pupils develop even more subject specific expertise and also begin to learn the skills required to take History at N4/5. In the History block, pupils learn about WWI and then move onto the N4/5 Atlantic Slave Trade course. For those wishing to pursue History in S4. This allows them a head start with their learning. Which in turn means more time can be spent on the crucial exam skills and techniques required to success at National level. In Geography, pupils develop their map skills and learn more about environmental changes throughout the world. Whilst doing this, case studies of developing nations allow us to compare and contrast what we know about Scotland and Britain with these countries. In Modern Studies we undertake a more detailed look at the British and Scottish Parliaments and Electoral systems.


History N4/5 & Higher

At N4/5, pupils learn about Scotland in the Era of the Great War. 1910-1928. This compliments the S3 course well, and then goes into detail about how Scotland’s economic, industrial and political development in the 20th Century was shaped by the Great War. We then learn about the Atlantic Slave Trade, 1770-1807. This is a fascinating and important course that helps pupils understand how Britain’s recent history and economic success is closely intertwined with one of the most brutal and devastating periods in African history. We follow up by looking at the rise of Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, 1919-1939. Pupils continue to be fascinated by this period and it allows us to discuss in detail how violence and fear, when they go unchallenged, can have terrifying consequences.

At Higher, pupils examine a Scottish issue, a British issue and a European or World issue. At Castlebrae, there are, respectively:  Migration & Empire, 1830-1939; Britain 1867-1928; and the Russian Revolution, 1881-1924. Throughout all three there is a focus on essay writing, structuring and proving arguments and analysing sources in detail. By the end of the course, pupils will have a broad understanding of the changes that have place in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in Scotland, Britain and Russia. This course provides an excellent opportunity for those who enjoy History, writing and arguing (!) to hone their analytical skills for college, University and an office-based workplace.