The Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences may be implemented as a combined F–6 program or as an F–7 program. The F–6/7 curriculum is organised into two interrelated strands: knowledge and understanding and inquiry and skills.
Knowledge and understanding strand
The F–6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum encompasses knowledge and understanding from the four sub-strands of history, geography, civics and citizenship, and economics and business. The curriculum includes the sub-strands of history and geography in Foundation Year to Year 2, and introduces the sub-strand of civics and citizenship in Year 3, and the sub-strand of economics and business in Year 5.
Table 1: Organisation of sub-strands in the Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences (F-6/7)
|Foundation – Year 2||Years 3–4||Years 5–6/7|
|N/A||Civics and Citizenship||Civics and Citizenship|
|N/A||N/A||Economics and Business|
Concepts of disciplinary thinking
Each of the four sub-strands in the Humanities and Social Sciences has its own way of thinking. The Australian Curriculum: Humanities and Social Sciences focuses on developing students’ ability to apply concepts of disciplinary thinking. The concepts of disciplinary thinking for each of the sub-strands are outlined below:
History: sources, continuity and change, cause and effect, significance, perspectives, empathy and contestability (View the concepts for developing historical thinking)
Geography: place, space, environment, interconnection, sustainability and change, applying this understanding to a wide range of places and environments at the full range of scales, from local to global, and in a range of locations (View the concepts for developing geographical thinking)
Civics and citizenship: government and democracy, laws and citizens, and citizenship, diversity and identity
Economics and business: Resource allocation and making choices, the business environment, and consumer and financial literacy
Concepts of interdisciplinary thinking
Drawing on these concepts of disciplinary thinking, the Australian Curriculum identifies seven concepts that underpin Humanities and Social Sciences understanding: significance; continuity and change; cause and effect; place and space; interconnections; roles, rights and responsibilities; and perspectives and action. These concepts are outlined below.
The importance of something such as an issue, event, development, person, place, process, interaction or system over time and place
Continuity and change
Aspects of society, such as institutions, ideas, values and problems, that have stayed the same and changed over time (some point in the past and the present) or in the past (two points in the past)
Cause and effect
The long- and short-term causes and the intended and unintended consequences of an event, decision, process, interaction or development
Place and space
The characteristics of places (spatial, social, economic, physical, environmental) and how these characteristics are organised spatially (location, distribution, pattern)
The components of various systems such as social systems, resource systems and natural systems, and the connections within and between them, including how they impact on each other
Roles, rights and responsibilities
The roles, rights and responsibilities of social, economic, civic and environmental participation, including those of individuals, communities and institutions
Perspectives and action
The ways in which different individuals and/or groups view something such as a past or present issue, idea, event, development, person, place, process or interaction and how these views influence their actions
Students’ understanding of disciplinary and interdisciplinary concepts can be strengthened as they are experienced in an integrated way across sub-strands and other learning areas and through different topics or contexts.
Figure 1: Sub-strand-specific illustrations of concepts of interdisciplinary thinking
Although some concepts are related to only one sub-strand, or more obviously related to some sub-strands than others, many apply to more than one sub-strand. For example, the concept of interconnections is drawn from interconnection in geography but also relates to social systems and structures in civics and citizenship and resource systems in economics and business. Similarly, the concept of significance is drawn from history, but can also apply to geography, civics and citizenship, and economics and business. The concepts are also interrelated; for example, it is often difficult to consider significance independent of perspectives, or cause and effect independent of change.
View the sequence of interdisciplinary thinking for the F–6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences.
Inquiry and skills strand
The Humanities and Social Sciences sub-strands include a range of skills that are represented broadly as questioning, researching, analysing, evaluating and reflecting, and communicating. Students apply these skills to investigate events, developments, issues and phenomena, both historical and contemporary.
The inquiry skills in the Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum require explicit teaching, with the type of questions asked, the information, evidence and/or data gathered, and the analysis applied varying according to the sub-strand context.
Students develop questions about events, people, places, ideas, developments, issues and/or phenomena – before, during and after stages of inquiry – to guide their investigations, satisfy curiosity and revisit findings.
Students identify and collect information, evidence and/or data from primary and secondary sources, including observations. They organise, sequence, sort and categorise them in a range of discipline-appropriate formats.
Students explore information, evidence and data to identify and interpret features, distributions, patterns, trends and relationships, key points, fact and opinion, points of view, perceptions and interpretations. Students also identify the purpose and intent of sources and determine their accuracy and reliability.
Evaluating and reflecting
Students propose explanations for events, developments, issues and/or phenomena, draw evidence-based conclusions and use criteria and democratic processes to make informed decisions and judgements. They work with others with respect and reflect on learning to suggest courses of action in response to an issue or problem and predict possible and preferred effects of actions.
Students present ideas, findings, viewpoints, explanations, predictions, decisions, judgements and/or conclusions in appropriate digital and non-digital forms for different audiences and purposes, using discipline-specific terminology.
Figure 2: Sub-strand-specific illustrations of skills
The inquiry and skills strand has common content descriptions for Foundation Year – Year 2 and then for each band of schooling (Years 3–4, Years 5–6 and Year 7), yet with elaborations specific to each year to support the changing content of the knowledge and understanding strand.
Relationship between the strands
The two strands should be integrated in the development of a teaching and learning program. The knowledge and understanding strand, through the four sub-strands, is developed year by year and provides the contexts through which particular skills are developed.
Year level descriptions
Two year level descriptions are provided for each year level:
- A description for the subject at each year level: these descriptions give an overview of learning for the year level across the sub-strands and identify connections between the sub-strands.
- A description for each sub-strand: these descriptions provide the focus of study at each year level for that sub-strand. The descriptions identify the key concepts or ideas that are the focus for understanding and articulate how students’ knowledge and understanding in each sub-strand will be developed.
Key inquiry questions
Two sets of inquiry questions are provided for each year level:
- Subject inquiry questions provide guidance on how learning in two or more sub-strands might be connected.
- Sub-strand inquiry questions provide a framework for developing students’ knowledge and understanding, and inquiry and skills, in the sub-strand.
Both sets of inquiry questions are intended as suggestions for teachers. Teachers can choose to use the inquiry questions that are appropriate for their students, or they may adapt these or develop their own to suit their local context.
The achievement standards describe expected learning at each year level. Each achievement standard describes the depth of conceptual understanding and the sophistication of skills expected of students.
There are two types of achievement standards offered in the F–6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences curriculum:
- An achievement standard at each year level for the F-6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences subject. This achievement standard provides a holistic statement of expected learning across the sub-strands.
- An achievement standard at each year level for each of the knowledge and understanding sub-strands.
The ‘understanding’ paragraph in the subject achievement standard (Humanities and Social Sciences achievement standard) is organised by sub-strand. The concepts of disciplinary thinking that students are expected to develop are identified in both the subject achievement standard (Humanities and Social Sciences achievement standard) and the sub-strand-specific achievement standards (history, geography, civics and citizenship, economics and business). For example, concepts of historical thinking that students are expected to learn are articulated in both the subject achievement standard and the history sub-strand achievement standard.
The concepts of disciplinary thinking are introduced to the achievement standards at different year levels, reflecting a progression of increasing breadth and depth of expected learning. For example, in history, the concepts of continuity and change, perspectives, empathy and significance are introduced in Foundation Year. Cause and effect is introduced to achievement standards in Year 2, sources in Year 3, and contestability in Year 7.
Although the achievement standards articulate the concepts of disciplinary thinking, the concepts of interdisciplinary thinking are also evident and can be used by teachers when they plan.
View the Sequence of Achievement for F–6/7 Humanities and Social Sciences.