Stage 2 | Subject outline | Version control

Politics, Power, and People Stage 2
Subject outline

Version 2.0
For teaching in 2022. Accredited in May 2020 for teaching at Stage 2 from 2021.  See subject changes for 2022.

Stage 2 | Subject outline | Content | Skills of sources analysis

Skills of sources analysis

The sources used should be current and selected to enhance students’ political literacy skills and awareness of current political issues. Sources could include cartoons, letters, editorials, electoral data, research documents, essays, speeches, interviews, poll results, political promotions, and diaries. Students apply their information literacy and numeracy skills in researching and using sources. The use of primary sources is encouraged, where possible. The following framework is a guide to help students develop their skills of sources analysis. 

Analysing sources

Students can analyse a source by considering:

  • context — when did it happen? Where did it happen? Who was involved?
  • purpose — what was the purpose of creating the source?
  • language — how do the nature and tone of language influence the reader? 
  • ideas — what ideas(s) are conveyed?
  • cultural messages — what cultural norms are derived, constructed, reinforced, or challenged in the source?
  • inferences — what can be inferred from the source?
  • comparison — how are differences and similarities represented within one or more sources?
  • selectivity — what has been left out or left unsaid? Who is not present? Whose views are not represented?
  • constructs of power — how are power relationships constructed in the source?
  • reflection — what can you learn from examining the source? What more do you want to know? How can you find out?

Comparing sources

Students can compare and contrast sources by considering:

  • the origins of the sources — what do the authors, dates, forms, tone, and purpose of the sources have in common and how do they differ? 
  • content — do the political ideas presented in the sources conflict or concur? 
  • biases — are biased statements and total inaccuracies evident?
  • interpretation — how is the same political event portrayed in different sources?
  • new evidence — how does new evidence change how we view a political event?

Assessing usefulness

Students can assess a source for its usefulness in understanding a political event, activity, or argument by considering:

  • propagandist or balance — how does the source help the audience to understand a political activity or event?
  • source or evidence — how can the source help to form an opinion, explain a point of view, or develop an argument?
  • natural or unintentional bias — does the nature of a source (primary or secondary) affect its perceived usefulness?
  • facts or opinion — whose opinions are represented? Whose opinions are not? Does the source convey an inclusive representation of opinion? 
  • distortion — how does the source silence some opinions while privileging others?
  • selection or omission — how useful is the source in developing the reader’s knowledge of the event or issue?

Evaluating sources

Students can evaluate a source by considering:

  • the origin of source — who created, published, or promoted it? Where was it created, published, or promoted? Is it published by a credible and reliable source? Is the information supported by evidence? Is the tone balanced?
  • author’s credentials — is the author qualified to write on the subject? Is the author affiliated with a recognised research institution?
  • purpose — why has this work been produced? Who is the audience?
  • bias — how does the evidence of bias in a source affect its usefulness? When and why is bias in politics deliberate? Can other literature verify information on the same topic?
  • chronology — why might the source be considered reliable at one point in time yet biased at another?