The Victorian Certificate of Education or VCE is the credential awarded to secondary school students who successfully complete high school level studies (year 11 and 12 or equivalent) in the Australian state of Victoria.
Study for the VCE is usually completed over two years, but can be spread over a longer period of time in some cases. It is possible to pass and obtain the VCE without completing the end of year exams. The VCE was established as a pilot project in 1987. The earlier Higher School Certificate (HSC) was abolished in 1992.
The Victorian Certificate of Education is generally taught in years 11 and 12 of secondary education in Victoria, however some students are able to commence their VCE studies in year 10 or earlier if the school or institution allows it.
All VCE studies are organised into units. VCE subjects typically consist of four units with each unit covering one semester of study. Each unit comprises a set number of outcomes (usually two or three); an outcome describes the knowledge and skills that a student should demonstrate by the time the student has completed the unit. Subject choice depends on each individual school. Units 3/4 of a subject must be studied in sequential order, whereas units 1/2 can be mixed and matched. Students are not required to complete all the units of a subject as part of the VCE course, meaning they are able to change subject choice between years 11 and 12.
On completing a unit, a student receives either a 'satisfactory' (S) or 'non-satisfactory' (N) result. If a student does not intend to proceed to tertiary education, a 'satisfactory' result is all that is required to graduate with the VCE. If a student does wish to study at a tertiary level then they will require an ATAR. In order to gain an ATAR a student must satisfactorily complete three units of any subject in the English field (at least one English field subject is compulsory) and twelve units in any other subjects.
VCE studies are assessed both internally (in school) and externally (through the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority (VCAA). During units 1/2 all assessment is internal, while in units 3/4 assessment is conducted both internally and externally.
Internal assessment is conducted via "school assessed coursework" (SACs) and "school assessed tasks" (SATs).
"School assessed coursework" (SACs) are the primary avenue of internal assessment, with assessment in every VCE study consisting of at least one SAC. SACs are tasks that are written by the school and must be done primarily in class time; they can include essays, reports, tests, and case studies. Some studies in the visual arts and technology areas are also assessed via "school assessed tasks" (SATs). SATs are generally practical tasks that are examined in school. Both SACs and SATs are scaled by VCAA against external assessment; this is to eliminate any cheating or variances in task difficulty.
External assessment is conducted in the form of examinations set by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority for units 3/4 studies. As of 2013, only the General Achievement Test (GAT) will be examined in June, with all subjects now only having one external assessment with the exceptions of mathematics subjects, and LOTE studies, which consist of both a written and oral external test. All examinations excepting the GAT are held in late October and most of November.
Subjects in the LOTE field (languages other than English) are also assessed in the form of oral examinations. Subjects in the Music field are assessed by a performance for a VCAA panel of examiners as part of their external assessment. All performance based external assessment (Oral Examinations and Music Performances) are typically held in early October.
General Achievement Test (GAT)
Main article: General Achievement Test
The GAT is an essential part of VCE external assessment. It provides the basis of a quality assurance check on the marking of examinations. Any student who is enrolled in a VCE units 3/4 study is required to sit the GAT.
A student who satisfactorily completes units 3/4 of a VCE study is eligible for a study score of between 0 and 50. Study scores are calculated by VCAA, and indicate a student's performance in relation to all other students who undertook that study.
Study scores are calculated according to a normal distribution, where the mean is 30 and the standard deviation is 7, with most study scores falling in the range 23 to 37. For studies with many enrolments (1000 or more), a study score of 40 or more places a student in the top 9% of all students in that subject.
Scaling is the process that adjusts VCE study scores into ATAR subject scores. The Victorian Tertiary Admissions Centre (VTAC) adjusts all VCE study scores to equalise results between studies with stronger cohorts, and those with weaker ones. Contrary to common perception, scaling is not based on the difficulty of the subject, as each study score is in fact a ranking. The score adjustment ensures that in those subjects where it is easier to overtake the cohort, the score is adjusted downwards, while in those subjects where it is difficult to rank highly, it is moved upwards.
Main article: Australian Tertiary Admission Rank
This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information.(October 2016)
In total there are 129 VCE studies ranging across education fields including humanities, science, mathematics, technology, the arts and language as well as incorporating vocational studies.
- A student must study an English subject; with a choice between English, English (EAL), English Language or Literature.
- Mathematics. At units 1 and 2, a student may study Foundation Mathematics, General Mathematics, Specialist Mathematics, or Mathematical Methods. At units 3 and 4, a student may study Further Mathematics (practical application - data analysis and discrete mathematics), Mathematical Methods (mainstream calculus based course) or Specialist Mathematics (advanced calculus based course).
The following is a list of all VCE studies available:
|Subject||Unit 1||Unit 2||Unit 3||Unit 4|
|Agricultural and Horticultural Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Algorithmics (Higher Education Scored Study)||●||●|
|Classical Societies and Cultures||●||●||●||●|
|Computing: Software Development||●||●|
|Design and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|English: Bridging English as an Additional Language||●||●|
|Food and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|Health and Human Development||●||●||●||●|
|History: 20th Century History||●||●|
|History: Ancient History||●||●||●||●|
|History: Australian History||●||●|
|History: Global Empires||●||●|
|History: Renaissance History||●||●|
|Industry and Enterprise Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Mathematics: General Mathematics||●||●|
|Mathematics: Mathematical Methods (CAS)*||●||●||●||●|
|Mathematics: Further Mathematics*||●||●|
|Mathematics: Specialist Mathematics*||●||●||●||●|
|Music: Music Performance||●||●||●||●|
|Music: Music Style and Composition||●||●||●||●|
|Outdoor and Environmental Studies||●||●||●||●|
|Politics: Australian and Global Politics||●||●|
|Politics: Australian Politics||●||●|
|Politics: Global Politics||●||●|
|Religion and Society||●||●||●||●|
|Systems and Technology||●||●||●||●|
|Texts and Traditions||●||●||●||●|
|Visual Communications and Design||●||●||●||●|
|Vocational Education and Training (VET)*||●||●||●||●|
|* = see table below|
|Albanian||Japanese First Language, Japanese Second Language|
|Armenian||Korean First Language, Korean Second Language|
|Indigenous Languages of Victoria||Turkish|
|Indonesian First Language, Indonesian Second Language||Ukrainian|
|VCE VET Programs|
|Applied Fashion Design and Technology||Financial Services|
|Automotive||Food Processing (Wine)|
|Building and Construction||Furnishing|
|Conservation and Land Management||Information Technology|
|Community Services||Integrated Technologies|
|Dance||Interactive Digital Media|
|Desktop Publishing||Music Industry|
|Engineering Studies||Sport and Recreation|
There are also University Extension studies available for high-achieving students. These subjects are carried out through multiple universities, including Monash University, The University of Melbourne,Swinburne University and Deakin University.
development course: Ancient History teachers 2018
This professional development course for ancient history teachers closely relates to VCE Units 1 to 4 of the Ancient History Study Design.
This professional development course for ancient history teachers closely relates to VCE Units 1 to 4 of the Ancient History Study Design. In the first session John Whitehouse from the Melbourne Graduate School of Education will present on historical thinking and assessment in teaching ancient history. Each week eminent scholars from the Faculty of Arts will present key areas of study including Ancient Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome, exploring and developing historical skills, historical thinking and highlight a selection of appropriate primary source materials and historical interpretations.
Before the commencement of the program there will be an online forum (Learning Management System) to enable registered participants to access sample scholarly articles and support material. These resources, plus the lecture, will form the basis for discussions.
Professional Certificates of participation will be offered upon completion of the course and VIT applicable.
Thursdays 1-29 March, 6 - 8.15pm
|Thursday 1 March: UNIT 1|| Historical Thinking and Assessment in VCE Ancient History: John Whitehouse|
Ancient Mesopotamia: Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson
|Thursday 8 March: UNITS 2 - 4||Ancient Egypt: Dr Brent Davis|
|Thursday 15 March: UNIT 2||Ancient China: Dr Lewis Mayo|
|Thursday 22 March: UNITS 3 and 4||Ancient Greece: Dr Hyun Jin Kim|
|Thursday 29 March: VCE UNITS 3 and 4||Ancient Rome: Professor Tim Parkin and Dr Gijs Tol|
Individual session: $60
Series pass: $250
Light refreshments provided, (GST inclusive)
Arts West (Building 148),The University of Melbourne, Parkville
Historical Thinking and Assessment in VCE Ancient History
The VCE History Study Design invites students to use a range of concepts to engage in historical inquiry and argument. Students ask historical questions, establish historical significance, use sources as evidence, identify continuity and change, analyse cause and consequence, explore historical perspectives, examine the ethical dimensions of history, and construct historical arguments. What are the implications for assessment in Unit 1? Students complete two tasks from a list of four: a historical inquiry, an analysis of primary sources, an analysis of historical interpretations, and an essay. How might historical thinking concepts may be addressed through each of these tasks?
Ancient Mesopotamia, the land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, is one of the most historically significant and archaeologically rich regions in the world. The Mesopotamians are credited with many inventions: urbanisation, astronomy, mathematics, irrigation, agricultural developments, animal husbandry and writing. The surviving texts and inscriptions, combined with the abundant artefacts recovered from decades of excavation, provide a wealth of material enabling historians and archaeologists to reconstruct Mesopotamia’s past. In addition to outlining key characteristics and resources associated with the Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian and Assyrian empires, the presentation this year (2018) will focus on the following two knowledge areas of study design: 1. the development of writing, its use in trade and managing revenue in the (re)distribution of resources and the ensuing rise of societies with complex hierarchies 2. the rise of the Assyrian Empire, including political changes during the reigns of Assurnarsirpal II and Tiglath-Pileser III
Ancient Egypt - Egyptian Religious Art and Architecture
In this module, we will explore the characteristics of the art and architecture of Egyptian tombs and temples. The art from tombs and temples tells us much of what we know about the nature of Egyptian royalty, and how the royals promoted themselves and their power to the people of Egypt; but it also tells us much about the lives of the non-royal elite, and of the common folk who made up the majority of Egyptian society. The architecture of tombs and temples, on the other hand, reflects Egyptian religious beliefs in a way that is truly ‘set in stone’. Picking apart the features of this architecture helps reveal what the Egyptians actually believed and how they actually thought about their world.
Anceint China - Religious Power and Military Power in the Making of Empire in Rome and Ancient China
The Terracotta Warriors which guard the tomb of the first Qin Emperor, Qin Shihuang, convey a strong impression of the appearance of empire in China as a product of military force and governmental discipline. Yet they are objects that serve no secular purpose - they are there to guard the emperor in the afterlife, and in this sense can be understood as emanations of a religious system, and they remind us that Chinese emperors were figures whose power had a non-secular, heavenly source. This session will examine the relationship between secular power - and above all military power - and religious ideas and practices in the emergence of an imperial system in Ancient China, and it will compare this with the transition to empire in the Roman context. Noting that intellectuals in China have recently questioned the applicability of the idea of empire to dynastic Chinese states, the session will also explore how much cultural and organizational commonality and how much divergence there was between the various large-scale states in different parts of Ancient Eurasia. A key reference work will be Mark Edward Lewis’s 2007 volume The Early Empires: Qin and Han.
This session will firstly broadly discuss the socio-political and economic features of Archaic Greece (from ca. 800 BC-479 BC). This will include coverage of the development of Athens and Sparta, and the establishment of tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies throughout Greece. The institution of slavery and the impact of Persia on Greece will also receive coverage. This will then be followed by discussion of the Classical Period of Greek history up to 454 BC: the growth of the Athenian controlled Delian league; the causes and impact of the subsequent Peloponnesian War; and the development of historiography which has affected our understanding of Greek History (Herodotus and Thucydides).
Ancient Rome - Living in republican Rome
The dramatic political and military changes Rome experienced over the long years of its history as a republic (ca. 509-31 BC) also led to huge economic and social transformations. Our aim in this session is to explore these aspects in terms of the realities of life: what was it actually like to live during this period? We shall focus on the city of Rome and consider a wide range of types of evidence, both literary and material, in an attempt to reconstruct what life was like and how life changed as Rome’s empire and Romans’ perceptions of their place in their world expanded. We shall look at the topography of the city – what did Rome look like, how did it change, and how did it feel to live there? – and at Romans’ lived experience, especially at the ‘private’ and individual level, from a range of perspectives – for it mattered a good deal whether you were citizen or non-citizen, slave or free, male or female, young or old, rich or poor. We shall also talk a little about toilets.
Dr Brent Davis completed his PhD in 2011 at The University of Melbourne, where he now teaches Ancient Egyptian, after receiving his undergraduate degree in Linguistics from Stanford University. With a background in both archaeology and linguistics, his interests include not only the cultures of the ancient eastern Mediterranean, but their languages as well. His recent works include an influential monograph on Minoan Stone Vessels with Linear A Inscriptions (Peeters 2014), as well as numerous articles and chapters on ancient cultures and scripts, and on archaeological theory.
Associate Professor Andrew Jamieson, Classics and Archaeology lecturer in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, has worked on excavations in Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Australia. In 2014 he was invited to represent Australia on an international committee for Safeguarding and Protection of Syrian Heritage. He has more than 80 publications to his credit, is the editor of the academic journal Ancient Near Eastern Studies, the recipient of numerous research grants, presented many keynote or invited lectures, and curated 22 exhibitions in the Classics and Archaeology galley at the Ian Potter Museum of Art. In 2015 Andrew won the prestigious Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence.
Dr Lewis Mayo was born and educated in New Zealand. He studied Southeast Asian and Chinese history and the history of late antique and medieval Europe at the University of Auckland, before going on to Peking University to study medieval Chinese history. He continued his studies of Chinese medieval history at the University of Hawaii focusing on the legal and social history of the Song dynasty, while also studying Qing and Han dynasty history, Buddhism, Southeast Asian and Islamic History. His PhD, undertaken at the Australian National University, was a political history of birds in the oasis of Dunhuang in the Chinese-Inner Asian borderlands between the 9th and 11th centuries. In recent years, his work on medieval Chinese and Inner Eurasian history has been supplemented by work on Pacific and Asian history, with a particular focus on creole and settler cultures and the problem of feudalism.
Dr Hyun Jin Kim is Senior Lecturer in Classics in the discipline of Classics and Archaeology, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies (SHAPS), The University of Melbourne. He took his DPhil in Classical Languages and Literature from the University of Oxford, UK. His areas of specialisation include Greek historiography; Greek and Roman ethnography; Greeks and Barbarians; Greece and China comparative studies; and Late Antiquity. He is the author of: Ethnicity and Foreigners in Ancient Greece and China (Duckworth, 2009) and The Huns, Rome and the Birth of Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2013).
Professor Tim Parkin joined the Classics and Archaeology program at The University of Melbourne in 2018 as the inaugural Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair in Classics. Before this he had spent eleven years as Professor of Ancient History at the University of Manchester (UK). He is a New Zealander by birth who was awarded a DPhil at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and who, since 1989, has worked in universities in New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, as well as spending 14 months in Germany as an Alexander von Humboldt research fellow. Tim's teaching covers both Greek and Roman history and classical languages. His main research is in ancient history, particularly Roman social, cultural, and demographic history. Among his publications are Demography and Roman Society (1992), Old Age in the Roman World: A Social and Cultural History (2003), Roman Social History: A Source book (2007), and The Oxford Handbook of Childhood and Education in the Classical World (2014). He is currently working on ancient sexual health, in particular sexually transmitted diseases.
Dr Gijs Tol is employed as a Lecturer in Classical Archaeology at The University of Melbourne since 2016. He obtained his PhD from the University of Groningen (Netherlands) in 2012, and subsequently worked as a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer in the Netherlands and Italy (La Sapienza University, Rome). His main research interests are Roman period economic networks and settlement dynamics. He currently leads landscape archaeological fieldwork in the Pontine Plain (southern Lazio, Italy), investigating the role of nucleated rural settlements in local and regional economies and co-directs excavations at the multi-craft production site of Podere Marzuolo in Tuscany. His most recent publications include 'An integrated approach to the study of local production an exchange in the lower Pontine Plain' (Journal of Roman Archaeology 29, 2016) and a co-edited volume titled Rural communities in a globalizing economy: new perspectives on the economic integration of Roman Italy (Brill, 2017).
John Whitehouse is Lecturer in History/Humanities in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education. A Fellow of the Australian College of Educators, he is the recipient of the Barbara Falk Award for Teaching Excellence (The University of Melbourne) and a national Award for Teaching Excellence (Australian Learning and Teaching Council). His research interests include discipline-based pedagogy in history, curriculum studies and historiography. He is international consulting editor for Learning and Teaching. His work appears in leading publications such as Educational Practice and Theory and Springer’s International Handbook of Research on Teachers and Teaching.
Caterina Sciacca, Community Education Manager
Phone: +61 3 8344 3996