Social Sciences Department

Dean of Social Sciences

Anne Miles


We study Social Science because social phenomena affect people’s lives in profound ways.

History is important as people and events of the past shape the future. We all live in, and are part of, history. The history of human societies from different times in the past includes: where people lived, the way they lived, what they believed, how their lives changed and how their lives today have been shaped by people and events from the past.

Geography examines the physical, social and economic interactions of human civilizations. It  assist students to be able to make sensible judgements about matters involving relationships between the physical environment and society and to appreciate Earth as the homeland of humankind and provide insight for wise management decisions about how the planet’s resources should be used

Legal Studies is important in developing an understanding of the Australian legal system and how it affects your basic rights, obligations and responsibilities. Students become active and informed citizens and learn how to constructively question and contribute to the improvement of laws and legal processes.



Geography Geography is introduced to Year 7 students with basic mapping skills.  Students investigate different types of maps, including concepts such as direction, keys/legends and scale.  In addition, weather and time are examined through longitude and latitude.  The two units of study for Year 7 Geography are ‘Place and Liveability’ and ‘Water in the World’.  ‘Place and Liveability’ examines the services and facilities needed to support and enhance our lives and how places, including our own local area, could be improved through planning.  Students will investigate how people’s reliance on places and environments influence their perception of them.  ‘Water in the World’ focusses on water as a renewable environmental resource.  The unit examines the many uses of water, the way it is perceived and valued and the way it connects places as it moves throughout the environment.  The unit also looks at the varying availability and scarcity of water in the world.  Students conduct an excursion of a local wetland and examine its habitat, features and advantages to the community in which they live.  

History The theme for Year 7 History is ‘The Ancient World’ which is the study of history from the earliest human communities to the end of the ancient period, approximately 60,000 BC to 650 AD.  This was a period defined by the development of cultural practices, such as religion, government and organised societies, which are typified by towns and trade.  The study of the ancient world includes discoveries of the past and some of the mysteries and myths that surround this period in history.  Students will engage in developing historical skills, such as using evidence and constructing timelines, as well as historical understandings through depth studies of Ancient Egypt and the Roman Empire.  Students will examine the characteristics of ancient civilisations and the legacies they have left behind.


Geography The two units of study for Year 8 Geography are ‘Changing Nation’ and ‘Landforms and Landscapes’.  ‘Changing Nation’ focusses on the changing human geography of countries, as revealed by shifts in population distribution.  The unit draws on a study of a country, in the Asia region, to explore the causes and consequences of urbanisation and examines the reasons for and effects of internal migration through case studies of Australia and China.  ‘Landforms and Landscapes’ focusses on geomorphology.  This unit examines: the processes that shape individual landforms; the values and meanings placed on landforms and landscapes by diverse cultures; hazards associated with landscapes; and management of landscapes.  The concept of the environment is a major focus and enables students to explore the significance of landscapes to people, include Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples.  Students complete an investigative excursion to Cape Hillsborough supporting these concepts.

History The focus of Year 8 History is Medieval Societies.  This is in line with the Australian National Curriculum.  Students will spend time studying The Vikings, Medieval Europe and Japan.  Firstly, students investigate the way of life in Viking society (social, cultural, economic and political features) and the roles and relationships of different groups in its society.  In particular, significant developments and/or cultural achievements that led to Viking expansion, including weapons and shipbuilding. They will also study the extent of their trade and relationships with subject peoples, including the perspectives of monks, changes in the way of life of the English, and the Norman invasion.  Students then discover Medieval Europe and the relationships within it.  Students focus on feudal society, Knights and medieval warfare, castles, the bubonic plague and medieval medical treatments.  Lastly, the medieval society of Japan is studied.  This includes feudalism, the role of the shoguns, the samurai and the code of bushido, weapons and tactics of battle, religions such as Shintoism and Buddhism and the daily lives of the medieval Japanese people.

  YEAR 9

Geography – Elective Geography involves the study of different places and environmental issues that affect people and how they live in many parts of the world.  Geography looks at how physical and economic factors determine the ways that people live and adapt or change their environment.  Students use many different skills in geographical inquiry such as the use of maps and photographs to find out about a variety of places.  Students construct and interpret graphs, tables and questionnaires and they use the Internet, newspapers, magazines and books to research a topic.

In Year 9, under Australian Curriculum, Geography has two units of study that investigate the environmental and human geography of Australia and the world.  ‘Geographies of Interconnections’ examines aspects of interconnections between people and places such as production and consumption of products, and the ways transport and information and communication technologies have increased services internationally and in isolated rural areas.  The main focus is Globalisation.  ‘Biomes and Food Security’ examines the biomes of the world, their alteration and significance as a source of food and fibre, and the environmental challenges and constraints on expanding food production.  The main focus is food production with an excursion and emphasis on local food producers.

History – core History is a disciplined inquiry into the past that develops students’ curiosity and imagination.  Historical study is based on the evidence of the remains of the past.  The process of historical inquiry includes the ability to ask relevant questions, critically analyse and interpret sources, consider context, respect and explain different perspectives, develop and substantiate interpretations and communicate effectively.

In Year 9, students will study history with two themes.  Firstly, ‘The Making of the Modern World’, from 1750 – 1918, which was a period of industrialisation and rapid changes in the ways people lived.  It was an era of nationalism and imperialism and the colonisation of Australia.  This period culminated in World War I, the ‘war to end all wars’.  Year 9 History will concentrate on three key areas of study.  The first is called ‘Movement of Peoples’ which includes the movements of peoples throughout the world such as the Trans-Atlantic slave trade and convict transportation.  During this unit of study, students will examine the experiences of slaves, their journey abroad and their reactions on arrival.  This will apply particularly to the Australian experience.  Students will examine the changes in the way of life of groups of people who moved to Australia in this period.  The second unit of study is ‘Making a Nation’.  Students examine the extension of settlement, including the effects of contact (intended and unintended) between European settlers in Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and the experiences of non-Europeans in Australia prior to the 1900s (such as the Japanese, Chinese, South Sea Islanders, Afghans).  The third area is ‘The Australian Experience of World War 1’. This unit includes an overview of the causes of WWI: the reasons men volunteered; the places where Australians fought; and the nature of warfare during WWI, including Gallipoli.  The impact of the War will be investigated including the changing roles of women and the conscription issue.

Secondly, the main theme is ‘The Modern World and Australia’.  Students investigate the history of the modern world and Australia, from 1918 to the present, with an emphasis on Australia in its global context.  Depth studies will include ‘World War II’, ‘Rights and Freedoms’ and ‘Popular Culture’. As part of the study of WWII, students will examine: the causes of WWII; significant events focussing on the war in the Pacific; and turning points of the war such as the Battle of the Coral Sea, Kokoda and the Fall of Singapore.  The second depth study focusses on the struggles for human rights and will include investigations into Apartheid and Segregation.  The last depth study examines the development of popular culture in Australia with specific emphasis on fashion, television, movies, family and technology.


Geography – Term Elective

In this term subject, Year 10 students study ‘Natural Disasters’, their causes and the consequences that follow a disaster.  This unit includes geomorphic, geological and meteorological features of disasters such as earthquakes, volcanoes, cyclones, tornadoes, bushfires, floods and drought.  Students are encouraged to examine local, state, national and international disasters and investigate the immediate issues that arise after a disaster and also the longer term issues that victims face.

History – Term Elective

In this term subject, Year 10 students focus on ‘Revolutions of the Modern World’.  This provides students with a focus and comparison of the American, French and Russian Revolutions.  This unit has a foundation in the elements of rights, freedoms and equality.  Students develop an ability to interpret, organise, locate, select, summarise and critically examine historical sources, both primary and secondary, and understand the relevance historical study has in their own lives.

Geography – Semester Elective

In Semester 2, Year 10 Geography students focus on investigating environmental geography through an in-depth study of a specific environment.  The unit begins with: an overview of the environmental functions that support all life; the major challenges to their sustainability; and the environmental worldviews, including those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples, that influence how people perceive and respond to these challenges.  Students apply human-environment systems thinking to understand the causes and consequences of the change and geographical concepts and methods to evaluate and select strategies to manage the change.  Additionally, students investigate global, national and local differences in human well-being between places.

History – Semester Elective

In Semester 2, Year 10 History introduces concepts from Ancient and Modern History.  Students investigate ‘Ancient Civilisations’ focussing on their society and customs.  In addition, students gain an appreciation of cultural heritage and tradition which comes from the past.

‘Introduction to Modern History’ investigates World War II; its causes, major battles in which Australian troops were involved and the first atomic bomb.  This unit will also cover Australian national history, providing students with an historical perspective of who and what we are as a nation.

Law and Citizenship

This subject could lead to the study of Legal Studies in Year 11 and 12 and is therefore an introductory unit of study which provides an overview of legal issues and rights and responsibilities of citizens.

Year 10 students investigate the laws which govern society and the legal, moral and social effects on society.  They examine the concept of ‘Crime’, including who is responsible for law enforcement and outline the criminal court system and procedure.  Students consider the relationship between government and law and investigate the rights and responsibilities of Australian citizens.

Students will examine the origins of the law and how the concepts of a trial, jury, judge and verdict evolved.  Students will be able to identify types of law such as criminal law and civil law.  They will become familiar with the court hierarchy in Australia and learn about the court personnel.  Students will examine the role of the police in our society and how policing has changed over the past century.  Students will then investigate the concepts of crime, punishment and rehabilitation.

As part of their studies, students will look at particular cases and how they have led to the laws being changed.  An example of this might be the Port Arthur massacre which led to changes in the gun laws in Australia.  Students will examine contemporary issues such as child abuse and domestic violence and how society and the legal system can change patterns of behaviour and attitudes.

Students consider sentencing and punishment options in Australia and our rights under the law.  In addition, they examine technology and the law and its impact in our changing society.

YEAR 11-12

Ancient History – OP

Students who come to this course are beginning to concern themselves with the complex problems of living in a society governed by law, organised by means of various kinds of political institutions, influenced by a long history of religious and cultural developments and stimulated by complex economic and social changes. Through the study of history, we can understand the processes of change and continuity that have shaped today’s world, their causes and the roles people have played in those processes. We can understand that there are relationships between our needs and interests and a range of historical issues, people and events. We develop these understandings through processes of critical inquiry, debate and reflection and through empathetic engagement with the standpoint of others. Through studying history we should be more ready to cope with the present and to influence our futures. Through studying Ancient History, students will develop:

  • an objective understanding of the development of human society and civilization
  • a proficiency in the process of historical inquiry and explanation
  • an appreciation of cultural heritage and tradition which comes from the past
  • the ability to locate, select and summarise a variety of primary and secondary sources in preparation for their critical use
  • skills of written and non-written communication
  • an empathy with the value positions and consequent actions of others in both the past and present, leading, where appropriate, to the tolerance of differences.

Geography – OP

Geography is the study of the human and natural characteristics of places and the interactions between them. Geography is a rich and complex discipline which includes two vital dimensions:

  • the spatial dimension, which focuses on where things are and why they are there; and
  • the ecological dimension, which considers how humans interact with environments.

Geography prepares students for adult life by developing in them an informed perspective. This perspective should be developed across a two-year course of study through a range of scales, including local, regional, national, and global scales. Geographically informed citizens understand the many interdependent spheres in which they live, and make informed judgments to improve their community, state, country and the world. To meet the challenges of the future, a geographically informed citizen should be able to:

  • know and understand facts, concepts and generalisations about Geography
  • apply geographic skills to observe, gather, organise, present and analyse information
  • use geographic perspectives to evaluate, make decisions about, and report on issues, processes and events.

Legal Studies – OP

It is anticipated that students who pursue this Course of Study will acquire an informed appreciation of our Legal System and develop competencies, attitudes and values which should enhance their awareness and ability to participate as more informed, supportive and active members of our democratic society. Students will be encouraged to use the law and legal processes effectively and not to see the law simply as a set of rules or sanctions which they must follow or by which they must unquestioningly abide.

The Course is not intended as a pre-requisite for entry into tertiary law courses nor is it intended to provide a formal legal education at the level achieved by tertiary law courses. It is not proposed that students at secondary level be required to have detailed knowledge of case law or specific legislative enactments although these can be used for illustrative purposes. It is hoped that through this Course of Study students should be able to recognise that certain social situations which arise have legal implications which affect the rights and obligations of citizens. It is a desired outcome that they understand the basic historical and social issues that have led our society to regulate such situations. Students should have sufficient knowledge of the law so as to know their own rights and obligations as private citizens, when to seek legal advice, and how to contribute as informed members of society, to critical discussion affecting our legal and social institutions.

Modern History – OP

Through studies of Ideals and Beliefs, Conflict and Hope, students will discern the specious and dishonest nature of coercion, force and violence as a means of achieving goals and will focus on the choice made by millions of individuals around the world, throughout the 20th century and continuing to the present, to effect change through non-violent passive resistance and to reject violence, ‘not just as morally indefensible, but also as tactically naive, limiting and destructive’. The course will also cover Australian national history, providing students with an historical perspective of who and what we are as a nation and the knowledge and skills to challenge the dominant Australian identity. Modern History should develop in students:

  • Knowledge of people, places, events and conditions that shape the modern world
  • Proficiency in the process of historical inquiry and explanation
  • Knowledge of key historical concepts
  • Ability to critically evaluate heritages and traditions
  • Ability to interpret, organise, locate, select, summarise and critically examine historical sources, both primary and secondary
  • Knowledge, abilities, skills and ethical commitment to participate as active citizens in the shaping of the future
  • Ability to formulate hypotheses
  • Skills of both written and non-written communication
  • Empathy with the value positions and consequent actions of others in both the past and present leading, where appropriate, to tolerance of differences
  • Understanding of the relevance that historical study has to their own lives

The course is offered as four semester units which consist of the following topics: Australian National History, Conflict, Studies of Hope and The History of Ideas and Beliefs. The first unit, Australian National History, particularly examines the evolution of a national identity and the internal and external influences which have shaped us as a nation. The second unit, Studies of Conflict, deals with the growth of the Super powers during the 20th century and the Cold War which was an ideological war which manifested itself in wars such as Vietnam and Cambodia. The third unit of study deals with Studies of Hope and examines slavery, the emergence of the Civil Rights Movement in America, Gandhi and non-violent resistance and Apartheid in South Africa and the fight to abolish segregation. The final unit of study is the Study of Ideas and Beliefs which examines the dominant ideologies of the 20th century and the ‘isms’. Then students investigate the development and application of communism in the Soviet Union and finally examine anti-semitism and its application in Germany under the Nazi regime and what ideas led to the Holocaust.