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A licence to mock

Political cartoons – do they help or harm democracy?

Front cover of the Licence to Mock unit of work

Curriculum areas: Australian history, English, media, arts

Years: 8–12

Key curriculum links: Time, Continuity and Change; Culture; Natural and Social Systems; Investigation, Communication and Participation, Thinking Processes and Communication

What are the characteristics that make political cartoons popular and effective? In this unit of work students consider the ideas and values embedded in political cartoons and discover how to 'read' these important sources of evidence. Students are also challenged to decide whether political cartoons promote or possibly even undermine Australia's democratic system of government.

The student activities included in this unit cover the following topics:

  • depicting an issue
  • presenting ideas and values
  • caricature
  • how cartoons can disturb or shock
  • commenting on democracy
  • how cartoonists might harm or help democracy
  • analysing a cartoon