Humanities and Social Sciences

Education in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) – History, Geography, Economics and Civics

Education in the Humanities and Social Sciences is about increasing people's understanding of society's functioning at several scales - local, national and global. It assumes these principles:

In a democratic society, citizenship entails rights and obligation. Participation is a cooperative process in which people work together to promote their individual and collective welfare. Understanding these functions and processes and how to contribute to them is the key to successful participation.

Precise knowledge of society can be explained in the theories, concepts and processes that the Social Sciences have developed in studying past, present and future societies and in the experiences of history. With this knowledge, the College has constructed programs that contribute to the overall aims of education and to the important needs of the students and the community.

The Humanities and Social Sciences in the secondary school provide the knowledge necessary to understand the social, cultural, political and economic activities and institutions of society and their relationship to the natural environment. Students can become more selective and committed participants in their society - for example, as workers, citizens, consumers, family members.

To help achieve this goal, the College program will emphasise how to use knowledge and understanding to investigate problems, make considered decisions and take action in the modern world. Case studies are selected because they are relevant to the welfare of all students and to the good of the local and world community.

Equity issues, such as gender, culture, class and the distribution of world resources, and questions related to the sustainability of the world environment will be important factors in choosing topics for study and teaching strategies. Underlying these studies and the values involved in them will be a commitment to human rights, social justice, and ecological sustainability.

Development of key skills in reading, writing, researching, speaking and numeracy underly all studies.  In practicing and applying these to the just and productive resolution of the challenges and opportunities which the world presents, students will become valuable members of the community. The Social Sciences make an important contribution to a rewarding and productive education.


Ancient History

Ancient History is recommended for students who enjoy learning about the past and understanding how it has influenced society today. Students who select this subject should enjoy questioning and inquiry learning and be confident when researching independently. Similarly, wide reading and the ability to critically analyse and evaluate are also advantageous. History is a fundamental background for studies in all Social Sciences – the law, business, the economy, politics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and welfare services; however, the skills that the students learn in Ancient History reach far beyond this, and are beneficial for success in further study across many fields. Students of Ancient History develop understanding of not only the ancient world but also modern society, assisting them to engage with it and contribute to it effectively.

Ancient History aims to provide students with a context through which they can understand human behaviours. In making sense of their origins, students are awakened to their own identity and to global cultural diversity. In recognising how past actions have impacted on the present, they are empowered to make more effective decisions about the future. In addition, active inquiry in Ancient History provides students with a range of essential learning skills that enable them to become independent and critical thinkers.

Units include Studies of Everyday Lives of People in Ancient Societies (Maintaining Life and The Idea of Death and Immortality), The Power of the Pharaoh in the New Kingdom; Studies of Conflict (Trojan Wars, Persian Wars and the Rise of the Athenian Empire), Studies of Power (Breakdown of the Roman Republic, The Triumvirs and Imperial Power-brokers), Studies of Philosophy and Studies of Europe in Transition (Roman Britain or Norman Conquest of England).



An inquiring mind is an essential attribute for all students of Economics. The subject encourages students to see the world through a unique lens and in doing so provides them with tools that will assist them throughout life, as consumers, savers, workers, business people and voters. Apart from an Economics degree, the subject is often recommended as a good complement to fields ranging from the Humanities through to Science, Commerce and Law.

Economics is often referred to as the science of choice. Essentially, it is the study of decision-making processes at the individual, business and government levels, when faced with the reality of scarcity. This dilemma arises because we have unlimited wants and competing priorities, alongside finite resources. These resources can be in the form of land, labour, capital and enterprise, as well as time and finances. The extensive media coverage of economic problems and events, such as the rising costs of living, population pressures and the Global Financial Crisis, highlight the need for increased community awareness of the forces that act upon our lives.

The diversity of content and skills offered by Economics is its strength. Core and Elective units offered include the following: Markets and Models, Personal Economics, Population, Environment, Contemporary Micro and Macro Issues, Systems and Development and International Trade.



A sound command of English and IT skills is recommended in Geography. Geography contributes to a “well-rounded education”, as a basis for a variety of jobs and careers in business, town planning, environmental management, education and population studies and as a basis for any career in welfare or health. Geography develops a citizen who is perceptive and able to participate in the decision-making processes of a modern representative democracy whether as an ordinary citizen or in a future government role.

Geography in the 21st Century helps students understand and evaluate the social and environmental dimensions of the world in an integrated way. This occurs through combining studies about natural systems such as coasts, river catchments, global warming, weather and climate, natural hazards and oceanography, and how they function along with the studies of demography (population), urban design and structures, culture, politics, economic development and resource management. Students of Geography use scientific and cultural information to make decisions about planning for the future of how we live, whether that be in cities, or in rural or wilderness areas.

Units include: Managing the Natural Environment (responding to natural hazards and managing catchments), Social Environments (sustaining communities and connecting people and places), Resources and the Environment (sustaining biodiversity and climate change), People and Development (feeding the world’s people and exploring the geography of disease or development and poverty studies), Local, regional and global case studies are used.


Legal Studies

Through involvement in Legal Studies, Year 11 and 12 students will be better able to recognise the numerous legal situations and issues that arise in their everyday lives. These situations and issues often have legal implications that affect the rights and obligations of themselves and other community members. An outcome of this course of study is that students will understand the historical and social factors that have led society to regulate certain activities within it.


Students have responsibility for accessing and using information from diverse sources on matters affecting them. Through critical analysis, examination and problem solving, they are empowered to make decisions which may benefit not only the individual but also the community. Throughout their study, students will collect, analyse, organise and evaluate the quality and validity of legal information. Students will also plan and organise inquiry activities, observations and other forms of data generation, to comment on the social relevance of law in local communities and Australian society.


Core areas of study are; the legal system, human rights, introduction to civil obligations, criminal law. Elective areas of study are chosen from the following; civil wrongs (torts) and the law, family and the law, employment and the law, environment and the law, international law, housing and the law, technology and the law, Indigenous Australians and the law, sport and the law.


Modern History

Students need to be prepared to read widely and follow current national and international events and work towards being independent researchers. Reading newspapers and journals or watching documentaries or commentary programs on television are very useful for a broad understanding of topics covered. History is an important study for people who travel beyond Australia for business, pleasure and research, or who wish to understand other nations and cultures. History is a fundamental background for studies in all Social Sciences – the law, business, the economy, politics, psychology, sociology, anthropology and welfare services. Students of Modern History develop understanding of modern society and so students become equipped to engage with it and contribute to it effectively.

Modern History is about the present as much as it is about the past. It helps to dispel our ignorance and misconceptions about contemporary society by putting it into historical context. It reminds us that things were not always as they are today and will not continue to be so. It therefore opens our eyes to future change and new possibilities. Modern History offers students the framework upon which to develop the skills of inquiry and critical analysis. This knowledge and understanding is vital for a small nation like Australia in business, law, culture and diplomacy.

Units include; the origins and development of nations and internationalism (e.g. the national History of France, Russia, Germany, the USA, Europe, the United Nations) studies of conflict – Global War and the Cold War, Asia and Australia in World Affairs (including the revolutionary history of China, Japan, Vietnam), Australian Foreign Policy from 1901 and the alliances with USA and Great Britain; issues such as the legacies of internationalism in India, USA, South Africa, Malaysia, Australia and Europe. Students will appreciate the background to international conflicts, cultural and ethnic differences, peace-keeping and world trade and business matters in the present world, the struggle for power in Africa and the impact of personalities (e.g. M.L. King, N. Mandela, M. Ghandi, Ho Chi Minh, E. Mabo) are investigated to assess the role of the individual in history.


Study of Religion

Study of Religion is designed to assist students become more effective global citizens by developing their knowledge, skills and values to understand the standpoint of others, while exploring ways particular cultural contexts have influenced, and continue to influence, the formation of an individual’s and society’s world view and beliefs.

As this course teaches a range of research and practical skills, it provides a useful background for many and varied occupations including health professions, law, journalism, tourism, philosophy, teaching and sociology among others. Study of Religion helps students to:

  • understand and appreciate the purpose, meaning and significance of religion in the lives of individuals and communities, both past and present
  •  investigate patterns of belief, religious traditions and ways in which these contribute to shaping and interpreting people’s lives and experiences
  • respect and appreciate beliefs, attitudes and values of others while refining one’s own personal beliefs and values
  • understand that religions are dynamic and living, not static, with transforming power for their adherent
  • value the study of world religions and the phenomena of religion, and evaluate critically religions and religious traditions
  • explore the relationship between religion and other institutions.


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