Authorised and published by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Level 1, 2 Lonsdale Street

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Authorised and published by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority

Level 1, 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

ISBN: 978-1-925264-02-9

© Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2015
No part of this publication may be reproduced except as specified under the Copyright Act 1968 or by permission from the VCAA.
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Introduction 4

Administration 4

VCE History Study Design examination specifications, past examination papers and corresponding examination reports can be accessed at: 4

Curriculum 4

Developing a course 4

Historical thinking 4

Employability skills 11

Resources 11

Assessment 11

Scope of tasks 15

Units 3 and 4 16

Authentication 18

Learning activities 19

Unit 3: Transformations: Colonial society to nation 19

Unit 4: Transformations: Old certainties and new visions 25

School-assessed Coursework (SAC): Sample approach to developing an assessment task 34

Unit 3 34

Outcome 1 34

Outcome 2 35

Unit 4 36

Outcome 1 36

Outcome 2 37

Performance Descriptors 41

Appendix 1: Employability skills 46

Appendix 2: Examples of a weekly course outline 47


The VCE Australian history Advice for teachers handbook provides curriculum and assessment advice for Units 3 and 4. It contains advice for developing a course with examples of teaching and learning activities and resources for each unit.

Assessment information is provided for school based assessment in Units 3 and 4 and advice for teachers on how to construct assessment tasks with suggested performance descriptors and rubrics.

The course developed and delivered to students must be in accordance with the VCE History Study Design 2016–2020.


Advice on matters related to the administration of Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) assessment is published annually in the VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook. Updates to matters related to the administration of VCE assessment are published in the VCAA Bulletin.

VCE History Study Design examination specifications, past examination papers and corresponding examination reports can be accessed at:

Graded Distributions for Graded Assessment can be accessed at


Developing a course

A course outlines the nature and sequence of teaching and learning necessary for students to demonstrate achievement of the set of outcomes for a unit. The areas of study describe the learning context and the knowledge and skills required for the demonstration of each outcome.

All units in VCE History are constructed on the basis of 50 hours class contact time.

Example weekly course outlines are provided in Appendix 2. They are not intended as prescriptions.

Historical thinking

Specific historical thinking concepts that underpin the treatment of key knowledge and skills are outlined in the Characteristics of the study on page 10 of the VCE History Study Design. Teachers are advised to explicitly teach the skills that characterise historical thinking. These include: ask historical questions, establish historical significance, use sources as evidence, identify continuity and change, analyse cause and consequence, explore historical perspectives, examine ethical dimensions of history and construct historical arguments. These skills should shape the teaching program and assessment and should not be taught in isolation. They should inform students’ historical inquiry. A single assessment should provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate understanding and application of more than one skill.

Ask historical questions

At the core of historical inquiry is the ability to ask questions about the past. These should be drawn from the key concepts relating to the knowledge and skills which underpin the outcome statements. Teachers are advised to encourage students to examine the questions framing each area of study by asking: What type of question is it? What type of thinking is involved in this question? What is this question asking you to think about? What focus questions do you need to ask to help explain, analyse and evaluate key knowledge? What questions do you need to ask when exploring the outcome?

A good historical question could include the following components:

Type of thinking

Type of question

Historical thinking concepts

Key knowledge






Who... ?

What... ?


Where... ?

How... ?

Why... ?



Continuity and


Cause and



Ethical dimensions

Historical arguments

Use key knowledge from the Study Design when contextualising a question.

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