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ACT subject areas

Our ACT resources can be plugged in to any educational programme to help you explore the epistemological aspects of subject areas, link classes to what’s going on in the real-world, and help students to become authentic critical thinkers.

There are many ways to categorize knowledge into different subject areas; here is the way we do it, which you can adapt to suit your own curriculum and educational programme.

Defining the subject areas

We make extensive reference to the following subject groups, within the mini-lessons, the course lessons, and the newsletter. You can easily adapt them to fit in with your own curriculum or educational programme. Note that there is a huge amount of overlapping across different subject groups, with sub-fields often belonging in more than one of them. It’s worth noting that some modern education systems have dispensed with subject groups altogether!

The arts encompass a wide range of fields, such as visual arts, theatre, literature, and music. Looking at real-world examples related to the arts provides us with a great deal of scope to develop critical thinking, for example, thinking about who is qualified to judge whether art is ‘good’ or ‘bad’, the role of the cultural context of art, and how and why art develops over time.

The study of digital society spans fields like digital media, information technology, and data science. Understanding this area of knowledge is crucial for deciphering modern societal changes, technology’s impact on culture, privacy issues, and the way we communicate with each other. Digital literacy is viewed as being essential to becoming an informed citizenship in our modern global age.

Individual cognition involves studying mental processes like perception, memory, reasoning, and problem-solving within a person’s mind. Researchers explore how individuals acquire, process, and utilize information, in an attempt to shed light on the cognitive mechanisms that shape our understanding of the world, our decision-making, and our behaviour.

The study of language encompasses linguistics, literature, translation, and nonverbal communication. Understanding language is key to decoding societal norms, cultural diversity, and effective communication. It promotes critical thinking, empathy, and a nuanced understanding of what shapes relations between individuals and societies.

Mathematics covers fields like algebra, geometry, calculus, and statistics. Mathematical understanding is pivotal in helping us to decode complex issues in our modern, data-driven world. Mathematics equips critical thinkers with analytical tools to navigate societal challenges, make informed decisions, and comprehend the intricacies of our interconnected global landscape.

The natural sciences includes disciplines such as physics, chemistry, biology, astronomy, and sports and health sciences. Understanding these areas is vital for deciphering modern societal challenges and important ethical issues, as it underpins key issues such as environmental concerns, medical advancements, and the way we utilize technological innovations.


The social sciences and humanities comprises fields like sociology, psychology, economics, history, anthropology, and philosophy. Understanding these disciplines is essential for decoding societal dynamics, cultural contexts, human behaviour, and historical perspectives. It fosters critical thinking, empathy, and a nuanced comprehension of our interconnected – but often antagonistic – world.