We analyzed 40 coal samples and 45 carbonaceous shale samples of varying thermal maturity (vitrinite reflectance 0.59% to 4.28%) from the Upper Carboniferous coal-bearing strata of the Upper Silesian, Lower Silesian, and Lublin basins, Poland, to evaluate their potential for generation and expulsion of gaseous and liquid hydrocarbons. We evaluated source rock potential based on Rock-Eval pyrolysis yield, elemental composition (atomic H/C and O/C), and solvent extraction yields of bitumen. An attempt was made to relate maceral composition to these source rock parameters and to composition of the organic matter and likely biological precursors. A few carbonaceous shale samples contain sufficient generation potential (pyrolysis assay and elemental composition) to be considered potential source rocks, although the extractable hydrocarbon and bitumen yields are lower than those reported in previous studies for effective Type III source rocks. Most samples analysed contain insufficient capacity for generation of hydrocarbons to reach thresholds required for expulsion (primary migration) to occur. In view of these findings, it is improbable that any of the coals or carbonaceous shales at the sites sampled in our study would be capable of expelling commercial amounts of oil. Inasmuch as a few samples contained sufficient generation capacity to be considered potential source rocks, it is possible that some locations or stratigraphic zones within the coals and shales could have favourable potential, but could not be clearly delimited with the number of samples analysed in our study. Because of their high heteroatomic content and high amount of asphaltenes, the bitumens contained in the coals are less capable of generating hydrocarbons even under optimal thermal conditions than their counterpart bitumens in the shales which have a lower heteroatomic content. Published by Elsevier Science B.V.