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The literacy demands of subject areas

Updated: Aug 23, 2021

Patterns of genre across the curriculum

The literacy demands of each subject area are different. But what does that actually mean?

One of the aspects of a subject area that is special and distinctive, involves the genres or purposes for writing. Each subject area has its own particular pattern of genres, which relates to the ways that experts in that discipline communicate.

The main genre families have been outlined in another post- to see it click here.

Here is a table showing the main genres as they are applied to some selected subject areas. As you can see, no subject has all the genres.

The only genre that every single subject area has is describing and reporting. That's because describing is a fundamental purpose for every subject area.

To read more about genres and their purposes, have a look at the references below. ACARA has listed some main genres for some subject areas too.

Follow up in a faculty meeting:

  • Look at your upcoming written assessment tasks in your faculty

  • What are the genres of the tasks you have planned for students?

  • What are the most common genres you teach in each year level?

  • Which genres could be a literacy focus for staff professional development?


ACARA. (2020). Literacy Learning Area Advice. Available at

Martin, J. R., & Rose, D. (2008). Genre relations. Mapping culture. London: Equinox.

To reference this blog, please cite:

Weekes, T. (2021, August 23). The literacy demands of subject areas. [Blog post]. Retrieved from:


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