Representation of General capabilities

Representation of General capabilities

The general capabilities encompass the knowledge, skills, behaviours and dispositions that, together with the Geography curriculum content and the cross-curriculum priorities, will help students to live and work successfully in the twenty-first century.

The senior secondary Australian Curriculum: Geography includes all seven general capabilities:

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability
  • Critical and creative thinking
  • Personal and social capability
  • Ethical understanding
  • Intercultural understanding.


Literacy involves students using their literacy skills to explore, interpret and evaluate geographical phenomena and issues and communicate geographically. Students work with oral, print, visual and digital texts to gather, synthesise and analyse information from a range of sources, and present and justify ideas, conclusions and opinions within a broad range of geographical contexts. They understand how language is used and modified for specific purposes, and question attitudes and assumptions embedded in texts.

Geography students also develop visual literacy skills as they make meaning of information communicated through modes including maps, graphs, cartoons and other images.


Numeracy involves students using numeracy skills to identify and describe a wide range of patterns and relationships, including those that can be visually represented on a graph or map. Geography students also apply their numeracy skills to interpret and manipulate data. These skills help students to realise and describe change as it occurs over time. Students demonstrate numeracy capability by making connections between apparently diverse facts and suggesting solutions to problems in a range of circumstances, for example, the relationship between weather patterns and the likelihood of natural hazards such as drought or landslides.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) capability involves students using ICT to develop geographical understanding and support the application of geographical skills. Students use digital tools, including spatial technologies, to support their inquiries into geographical phenomena and issues. They also use these tools to collect and analyse data, represent it in a digital form, access and manipulate databases, and model conceptual constructs. In addition, students critically analyse the quality of digital information and sources of information. They also create multimodal and multifaceted reports and presentations to represent and communicate the results of geographical inquiry.

Students recognise the relative possibilities, limitations and consequences of using different forms of digital information and methods of distributing this information, and apply sophisticated understandings of social and ethical practices in the use of digital information and communications. In particular, they consider how geographical and demographic data may be used and the ethical considerations involved.

Critical and creative thinking

Critical and creative thinking processes and skills are used by students when examining diverse interactions between people, perspectives, interpretations, phenomena and environments. Through multifaceted problem posing and solving they explore the interconnections, uncertainty and consequences of these relationships.

Thinking laterally, visualising possibilities, testing options using criteria, and making judgements are essential skills for conducting geographical investigations connected with the environment, space, sustainability, scale and change. When seeking answers to questions students think holistically and spatially using skills such as analysis, interpretation, extrapolation from trends, synthesis of relationships and exploration of anomalies evident in patterns.

Through developing dispositions such as intellectual openness, curiosity and initiative they investigate biophysical and human phenomena. As independent and autonomous thinkers who seek explanations and value discovery, students turn creativity and innovation into action, apply new knowledge to identified gaps, and justify their action.

Personal and social capability

Personal and social capability involves students taking responsible personal, social and environmental action against, or in support of, decisions by organisations, governments or other bodies. Through the study of Geography, students are provided with learning opportunities to help them to develop, rehearse and refine their skills in listening to, respecting and acknowledging diverse perspectives and opinions. Students participate in collaborative investigative group-work to make ethical, rational social decisions and solve problems that relate to their social and environmental contexts. Developing these personal and social capabilities positions them positively to advocate for opportunities and methods for change in a democratic society.

Personal and social capability occurs when responsible social and environmental actions and participation are promoted and this should be a logical outcome of many geographical investigations.

Ethical understanding

Ethical understanding plays an important role in geographical inquiry. Students uncover and assess ethical considerations such as the links between human rights and responsibilities and the ways diverse perspectives, values and cultures impact on geographical issues. Through geographical inquiry students have opportunities to analyse, qualify and test their own attitudes, values and beliefs and explore how people’s knowledge, attitudes and values affect judgements, decisions and actions as they apply to their interactions with environments. They become aware of the need for social responsibility when confronted with alternative opinions and when seeking to resolve problems. Students apply ethical standards to guide their use of digital representations of phenomena and statistics associated with biophysical and environmental factors and relationships.

Intercultural understanding

Students deepen their intercultural understanding as they examine geographical issues in a broad range of cultural contexts. This involves students in developing their understanding of the complexity and diversity of the world’s cultures and evaluating alternative responses to the world’s environments and challenges. It enables students to find interconnections and sustainable solutions in an internationally integrated world, and consider the implications of their responses from different cultural responses.