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2014 Notes from the Marking Centre – Society and Culture


This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 Society and Culture course. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2014 Higher School Certificate examination, highlighting their strengths in particular parts of the examination and indicating where candidates need to improve.

This document should be read along with:

Personal Interest Project

Characteristics of better projects:

  • topic choice was clearly defined
  • there was clear evidence of an effective research process, integrating both primary and secondary research findings
  • a range of primary and secondary resources from both electronic and printed sources was used
  • resources were clearly and appropriately annotated
  • research findings were synthesised in an in-depth and sophisticated way
  • course concepts were thoroughly integrated
  • cross-cultural and continuity and/or change perspectives were made explicit
  • the project log provided a holistic overview of the candidate’s research development with a reflective analysis of methodologies which also identified potential bias, where appropriate, and critical judgement of their research findings
  • an understanding of the limitations of particular research methodologies was demonstrated
  • a high level of social and cultural literacy was demonstrated.

Characteristics of weaker projects:

  • the topic selected was either very broad or proved difficult to research over a sustained period, which prevented the candidate from being able to develop their ideas
  • where very personal issues were selected, it was difficult to relate these to syllabus content, course concepts and appropriate social issues
  • bias in research or personal views was not acknowledged
  • issues that had ethical considerations were not addressed
  • the central material often consisted of summarising material from secondary sources about an issue, without sufficient judgement regarding their research findings
  • log entries were often calendar entries consisting of simplistic overviews of each month rather than a developmental analysis or reflection on the research process
  • not all secondary materials used were referenced or referenced correctly
  • the resources used were not annotated.


  • select a topic that will allow you to conduct valid primary and secondary research and enable you to analyse and integrate findings
  • discuss your topic selection with your teacher if you think your topic or methodology may be controversial
  • if you choose to conduct primary research using the internet, you need to demonstrate an awareness of the validity, bias and usefulness of those methodologies
  • your log needs to be more than a chronological list of events and occurrences – it should be a holistic statement of reflection on how and why the research took place and the effectiveness of the overall research process
  • when you discuss the ideas of others, you should try to synthesise these ideas into discussions on your own views
  • acknowledge the works of others by referencing, using a referencing system such as the Harvard system
  • any information deemed significant to the project should generally be located within the central material. Remember that appendices are not included in the marking guidelines or considered in marking the project
  • integrate all the methodologies used in the central material rather than including a separate chapter for each methodology.

Written examination

Section I – Social and Cultural Continuity and Change

Question 9

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • identifying an ethical consideration when conducting research
  • giving examples of ethical considerations

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • ensuring that examples provided were relevant to the scenario.

Question 10

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • identifying relevant examples of change
  • making clear and informed judgements about the strategy and providing positive effects and/or negative effects of the selected strategy for change
  • supporting the answer with relevant examples, course-specific language and Core topic concepts

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • making statements about change without considering the strategies.

Section II

Depth Study – Pop Culture

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • identifying one aspect of continuity within a popular culture, and clearly relating the key features of this continuity to consumption (Q.11)
  • demonstrating knowledge of course concepts (Qs.11, 12 and 13)
  • understanding the value of continuity to the perpetuation of popular culture (Q.11)
  • demonstrating understanding of the relationship between a source of conflict within the popular culture and how this may have influenced change within the popular culture over time (Q.12)
  • understanding differences between age groups or generations of people (Q.13)
  • making an informed judgement about how age and gender affect the way people can access one popular culture (Q.13).

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • making the relationship between continuity and the aspect of popular culture clear (Q.11)
  • demonstrating understanding of the concept of continuity (Q.11)
  • describing the relationship between conflict and the aspect of popular culture rather than just describing a conflict (Q.12)
  • supporting responses with appropriate examples (Q.13).

Depth Study – Belief Systems

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • demonstrating the relationship between ritual and life cycle in belief systems (Q.14)
  • identifying the features and relationship of the life cycle and linking this to its importance and value and significance to the belief system (Q.14)
  • using examples of rituals such as prayers in Islam, meditation in Buddhism and baptism in Christianity (Q.14)
  • explaining the ways in which the philosophy of one belief system contribute to peace (Q.15)
  • demonstrating understanding of peace using both micro and macro examples (Q.15)
  • making a clear and appropriate assessment of the effect of changing gender roles on one belief system (Q.16)
  • integrating appropriate examples throughout the response to show the effects of changing gender roles in one belief system (Q.16)
  • integrating course concepts throughout (Q.16).

Candidates showed weakness in these areas:

  • moving beyond just describing a ritual and/or life cycle (Q.14)
  • understanding the overall idea of compassion and harmony (Q.15)
  • supporting the response with examples that illustrate their understanding (Q.15)
  • using related course concepts (Q.15)
  • referring to a country study rather than a belief system (Q.16)
  • making a judgement (Q.16).

Depth Study – Equality and Difference

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • providing features of how the ideal of equality has changed in Australian society (Q.17)
  • providing concrete examples to illustrate the change in the ideal of equality (Q.17)
  • understanding concepts such as egalitarianism and socially valued resources (Q.17)
  • demonstrating understanding of human rights (Q.18)
  • making a strong link between power and human rights (Q.18)
  • showing the relationship between continued inequality and the implications for one society (Q.19)
  • understanding that continued inequalities can lead to a cycle of poverty and disenfranchisement and prevent meaningful participation in public, social, political and economic life (Q.19)

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • demonstrating skills in social and cultural literacy (Q.17)
  • not simply focusing on examples at a micro level (Q.17)
  • making the relationship between power and human rights clear (Q.18)
  • understanding how power can be used to influence human rights (Q.18)
  • supporting responses with accurate data (Q.19)
  • addressing the full intent of the question, rather than just being descriptive (Q.19).

Depth Study – Work and Leisure

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • defining active and passive leisure (Q.20)
  • using examples to demonstrate how the relationship was sustained (Q.20)
  • showing the ways in which norms influence leisure aspirations (Q.21)
  • making informed judgments on how norms can influence leisure aspirations (Q.21)
  • discussing how changing social and individual values had affected work in one society (Q.22).

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • drawing the link between active and passive leisure (Q.20)
  • describing aspirations rather than leisure activities or experiences (Q.21)
  • focusing on one society rather than describing changes they had observed in their micro and macro world and relating these to work opportunities in a generic manner (Q.22).

Section III – Depth Studies

Question 23 – Popular Culture

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • explaining the extent to which perceptions that underlie one popular culture are controlled by marketers, government and family
  • detailing the relationship between the perceptions and the nature and reason for the control
  • applying a range of appropriate course concepts with relevant detailed examples integrated throughout the response.

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • engaging with the idea of how the perception is used, rather than about the nature of control in popular culture or providing a narrative on the history of the example of popular culture used
  • addressing all aspects of the question consistently
  • using relevant course concepts and terminology.

Question 24 – Belief Systems

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • demonstrating understanding of, and assessing ways in which, tradition and cultural heritage affect change and resistance to change within a belief system
  • providing relevant examples to support their argument.

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • moving beyond mentioning social change in a general way
  • referring to a specific belief system such as Hinduism, not just referring to a country, for example India
  • not using the question to discuss subjective opinions.

Question 25 – Equality and Difference

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • distinguishing between the effects of political and legal forces on access to socially valued resources
  • discussing political policies and party process as well as making judgements about legislation and systems of justice in relation to, for example, education, health care, housing
  • integrating clear and appropriate examples that demonstrate the extent that political and legal forces affect access to socially valued resources
  • demonstrating a high degree of social and cultural literacy.

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • understanding course concepts like socially valued resources
  • engaging with the question, rather than inequality generally
  • ensuring that the example of inequality comes from Australian society
  • giving relevant examples.

Question 26 – Work and Leisure

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • demonstrating understanding of the concepts of employment, unemployment and social attitudes
  • making judgments and placing contemporary social attitudes into their historical context and demonstrating change over time
  • integrating appropriate examples and logical arguments, often including a discussion of theoretical perspectives.

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • sustaining a logical argument
  • giving specific examples
  • answering the question instead of offering a narrative of social observations
  • identifying changing social attitudes.
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