Year 12
Year 12
Classroom with Whiteboard

VCE Geography Units 3 & 4

Geography is the study of where geographical features are located and why they are there, and what makes one place different from another, and how and why these differences matter. It looks at the interaction between human activities and natural processes, and develops understanding of the distribution of human and natural phenomena on or near the surface of the Earth from a spatial perspective.

The purpose of this study is to develop in students an ability to see meaning in the arrangement of natural and human phenomena in space; to see and understand the interrelationships between people, places and environments; and to use geographic skills and apply spatial perspectives to describe and interpret patterns on the surface of the Earth and the processes that created them.

This study investigates a diversity of themes, environments and places at different scales (local, regional, national, international and global) and in different contexts, particularly in Australia. It explores the patterns and processes of physical geography and their interaction with aspects of human geography. Geographers use a number of spatial concepts as tools to help them to investigate, interpret and explain these patterns. The spatial concepts provide a unique conceptual structure and framework of ideas for geographic investigations of phenomena.

This study design focuses on the following spatial concepts: location, scale, distance, distribution, region and movement, spatial change over time, spatial association and spatial interaction. These spatial concepts are all interconnected and to some degree overlap.

The study of Geography addresses the following questions: What is there? Where is it? Why is it there? What are the effects of it being there? How is it changing over time? Should it be like this? What will it be like in the future.

Through studying Geography, students develop knowledge and skills that enable them to understand the complex interactions of their world from a spatial perspective. They learn to participate effectively as global citizens in the sustainable use and management of the world’s resources.

Unit 3: Regional resources

This unit investigates the characteristics of resources and the concept of region. A resource is anything which occurs naturally or is created by humans provided that people use it to satisfy a need or want. Resources found within regions mean different things to different people over place and time. A study of resources is about the processes and relationships operating in the past, in the present, and those which will operate in the future. Regions are areas of various scales that have characteristics and features that distinguish them from other areas according to the elements used to define them. The use and management of resources is dynamic and changes spatially over time in response to the interactions between human activities, natural processes and the legislative processes that humans put into place. Social, historical, environmental, economic and political factors can be used to predict and plan for future policies and strategies to ensure the sustainability of the available resources.

Governments and other organisations often use the concept of region for planning purposes when determining allocation of resources and development of policies. Although the process of globalisation is influencing the world at a rapid rate, a regional perspective may give identity and help to make sense of such processes.

The availability and utilisation of water resources influences settlement patterns, infrastructure development and decision making in many Australian regions. Problems of supply and debates about the water resources of rural and urban communities mirror processes that are happening elsewhere on the Earth. There are competing demands for water resources within and between regions at local, national and international scales.

Students must investigate a regional resource and a local resource in Australia. The regional resource will be water in the Murray-Darling Basin region. Students will use fieldwork to investigate a local resource.

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to analyse the use and management of water within the Murray-Darling Basin region and evaluate its future sustainability.

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to describe characteristics of a local resource and justify a policy for its future use and management using data collected in the field.

Unit 4: Global perspectives

This unit investigates the geographic characteristics of global phenomena and responses to them. Global phenomena are major natural or human events, processes or activities. Such phenomena are distributed globally and possess the capacity to affect the globe or significant parts of the globe and require more than a local or national response.

Human population studies are significant to understanding the challenges facing our globalised world. Spatial variations in the distribution, composition and growth of human populations are related to the nature of places. A global perspective is a viewpoint or policy designed to guide future action by people or organisations to address the effects of global phenomena. Phenomena such as El Niño, migration, rapid communications technology, earthquake damage, genetically modified crops or globally changing patterns of investment and industrialisation, shared ocean and atmosphere resources, pandemics and other ‘borderless’ phenomena play important roles in shaping community, environments and landscape change.

Governments, organisations, groups and individuals respond to global phenomena in different ways. The type of response is affected by social, economic, historical and political considerations, resource access and distribution, and the nature and scale of the event or process. Policy developed to deal with a global phenomena and its effects results in the formation of a global perspective. This unit investigates the distribution patterns of selected global phenomena. It considers the causes, dimensions and impact of global changes and analyses policies and strategies, including those that promote sustainability, to enable a better world in the future.

Students must investigate two global phenomena in each area of study, one of which must be human population.

Outcome 1

On completion of this unit the student should be able to evaluate the relative importance of factors that affect changes in human population and one other selected global phenomenon.

Outcome 2

On completion of this unit the student should be able to compare and evaluate the effectiveness of responses and policies to manage a global phenomenon from a global perspective.


Satisfactory Completion

Demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit.

Units 3 and 4

The Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority will supervise the assessment of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4. In Geography the student’s level of achievement will be determined by school-assessed coursework and an end-of-year examination. Percentage contributions to the study score in Geography are as follows:

  • Unit 3 school-assessed coursework: 25 per cent
  • Unit 4 school-assessed coursework: 25 per cent
  • End-of-year examination: 50 per cent