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Authorised and published by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Level 1, 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

ISBN: 978-1-922082-99-2 

© Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority 2015
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Introduction 5

Administration 5

Curriculum 5

Developing a course 5

Historical thinking 5

Employability skills 11

Resources 11

Assessment 11

Scope of tasks 15

Units 1 and 2 15

Authentication 17

Learning activities 18

Unit 1: The making of empires 1400 –1775 18

Unit 2: Empires at work 1400 –1775 20

Appendix 1: Employability skills 22

Appendix 2: Example of a weekly course outline 23


The VCE Global empires Advice for teachers 2016–2020 provides curriculum and assessment advice for Units 1 and 2. It contains advice for developing a course with examples of teaching and learning activities and resources for each unit.

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.


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.

Teachers must develop courses that include appropriate learning activities to enable students to develop the knowledge and skills identified in the outcomes in each unit.

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 that 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.

Historical questions could include: What caused the expansion of New Kingdom Egypt? What were the perspectives of the coloniser and the indigenous peoples in North America? Who significantly contributed to change during the Enlightenment? What were the consequences of post-World War One reparations for Germany? How did the Bauhaus movement influence cultural change? What were the consequences of the Boston Massacre? Why did Mao Zedong introduce the Great Leap Forward? How did the anti-war movement change attitudes to international involvement in the Vietnam War? Who significantly contributed to changing attitudes towards Australian immigration policy? How did differing conceptions of identity within American settler societies affect their actions and choices during the American War of Independence?

Establish historical significance

Ascribing historical significance involves applying evaluative judgments about the past. To establish the historical significance of an event, an idea, an individual or a group, students should use questions or criteria to construct an evidence-based historical argument. When making an evaluative judgment, students could ask questions such as:

How important was it to people who lived at that time?

How many people were affected?

To what extent were people’s lives changed?

What does it reveal about the period?

How long lasting were the consequences?

Can the consequences still be felt today?

What is its legacy?

Establishing historical significance often requires the application of other historical thinking skills. For example, the question: What were the most significant causes of the American Revolution? requires students to identify and analyse multiple causes, organise them into the conditional factors (social, cultural, historical, economic, environmental, political causes), use questions or criteria to judge, and draw on multiple sources of evidence to construct their historical arguments, establishing the most significant. This is an example of using multiple historical skills to engage students’ historical thinking.

Use sources as evidence

Developing historical thinking requires students to apply the historian’s method of interrogating and corroborating sources so that they can be used as evidence when constructing historical inquiry.

Primary sources are the building blocks of historical thinking and are fundamental to students’ understanding and interpretation of the past. They are created at the time of the event or shortly afterwards and may be visual, written, audio, audiovisual and artefacts. Secondary sources, such as textbooks or historical interpretations made by historians or commentators, often draw on primary sources to present an argument or interpretation of the past. Students should be encouraged to find, collect, select and evaluate the significance of sources to illuminate the historical questions they ask.

Just as they ask historical questions, students should ask questions of sources, such as: What type of source is it? Who wrote or created it? When and where and who was the intended audience? This can be followed by questions that contextualise the source in a time and place: When and where was it written? What was happening at the time of creation? What events are described in the source? Who is represented? How might the events or conditions at the time in which the document was created affect its content? Teachers are advised to teach students to read sources not only as a means of finding information, or ‘proof’ or evidence for an argument, but also to investigate the language and meaning in the context in which they were created.

Students should also read sources closely, asking questions about literal and symbolic elements, and considering questions such as: What claims does the author make? and How does the author use language, words, symbols, gestures, colours to persuade the audience? Students can then pose questions about the purpose, accuracy and reliability of sources: What is the author’s perspective or intention? What claims is the author making? Why did they create it? Can the source be corroborated by other sources? What do other sources say? Do they agree or contradict this source? Is it an accurate representation? Is it a reliable source? Why or why not? Corroborating sources is an important skill for developing historical thinking. It is advised that students use multiple sources when drawing on key knowledge or constructing arguments; for example, an assessment task could include a primary visual, primary written, and two contrasting historical interpretations.

Identify continuity and change

Developing students’ ability to make judgments and construct arguments about the past requires developing the ability to identify when change occurred or when things continued unchanged, as well as causes of change. Students’ ability to make sense of the past requires discerning patterns, such as the ability to place events in chronological order and to understand the sequence and order of events as a process of change. Students can link causation and turning points to the moments of change in direction, change in pace and depth of change.

To identify and then construct arguments about continuity and change, students should understand the key knowledge, events, ideas, individuals, movements and turning points. The use of narratives and timelines as a starting point helps support students’ understanding of the sequence of events. When exploring, for example, how the storming of the Bastille changed the political conditions in France, students could discuss questions such as: How would you describe the changes? How did X event change Y? What changed most? Least? Why did some things change while others stayed the same? Did the changes improve things or did they make things worse? What do historians X and Y identify as the most significant change? Turning points are a useful way of identifying change; for example, students should think about an event such as the October Revolution 1917 as a turning point. Students should be able to identify the type of change and whether, for example, it was social, cultural, economic, environmental, political, and/or technological.

When evaluating the impacts of change, students should think about: What was the direction of change (progress, decline, erosion of conditions)? What was the quality of change, were things better or worse? What was the rate or speed of change? What was the impact of change? Exploring questions like these allows students to understand that continuity and change are multifaceted and involve ongoing processes that have a variety of patterns and speeds.

Analyse cause and consequence

Students are required to identify chains of cause and consequence, to identify turning points and explore how and why things happened in the past. In so doing, they should be able to identify many different kinds of causes, including social, political, economic, short-term catalysts and long-term trends, and immediate and underlying causes. They should also be able to organise causes and consequences using chronology and to examine the role of individuals and movements in shaping, promoting and resisting change. It is advised that teachers avoid suggesting an event was inevitable because of a series of causes and that they encourage reflection on the unpredictability of events by asking 'What if…' questions that encourage students to develop analytical and evaluative thinking.

Narratives are a good starting point for identifying significant causes. Students should use timelines to map and organise events, people, ideas, movements and turning points to identify links between causes and consequences and to distinguish between long-term (trends) and short-term (triggers) causes of events. Listing causes or consequences and grouping them according to conditional factors can help support analytical thinking. When evaluating the most significant cause, it is helpful to ask students to rank causes or consequences and to use questions (outlined above under ‘Establish historical significance’) to justify their choice.

Getting students to identify causes or consequences that were intended and unintended can be useful discussion points. Using graphic organisers such as concept maps, causal spider webs, fishbone or ripple effect charts are useful in the organisation of thinking. Students could use a selection of primary sources, organising them in chronological order in relation to causes and annotating how each piece of evidence triggered the next event or cause. Students should also use multiple primary sources or historical interpretations as a way of identifying causation or corroborating consequences. Students’ understanding of causation allows them to construct evidence-based arguments.

Explore historical perspectives

Exploring historical perspectives requires students to consider the mindsets of historical actors and to understand how context shaped the ways they saw and acted in the world. It involves the identification and description of the viewpoints of witnesses to dramatic events who experienced the consequences or lived with their changes. It invites students to consider, for example, what it was like for someone who was a member of the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution, or who lived in ancient Egypt, Greece or Rome, or how ordinary people’s lives were affected by the Enlightenment or Scientific Revolution, or what it was like to be a slave in the American colonies, or why boys and girls joined the Hitler Youth. It is advised that in exploring historical perspectives, teachers also explore with students the risks of imposing contemporary experiences onto historical actors and of making assumptions that they know how people in the past thought or felt.

Student’s exploration of historical perspectives is grounded in close reading of a range of historical sources and making inferences about the ideas, values and beliefs of historical actors, their thoughts and feelings or reasons for action. Using historical sources to make inferences allows students to value the role of human actions in contributing to historical causes, the consequences they have for individuals or groups within society and the changes brought to their everyday lives.

Students should be encouraged to engage with multiple and if possible contradictory perspectives. People in the past may have seen and interpreted events differently from different perspectives. Students could also explore the silent voices of the past such as Indigenous and Torres Strait Islander peoples, the illiterate, or women, to provide a rich narrative and inquiry. This allows students to critically challenge or corroborate sources and to assess their reliability. Constructing arguments about the experiences of those in the past must be grounded in evidence-based arguments drawn from historical sources.

Examine ethical dimensions of history

As students develop understanding of people in the past, their actions and their intended and unintended consequences, they may begin to make ethical judgments about the beliefs, values and attitudes of historical actors. The making of implicit or explicit judgments can be problematic and teachers are advised to remind students not to impose contemporary moral standards upon the actions of those in the past, and to understand that it is too simplistic to label actions as right or wrong or reduce historical individuals to 'goodies' or 'baddies'. Often people in the past acted according to different moral frameworks and understanding this context can allow students to make informed judgments. Students who can make informed ethical judgments of the actions of those in the past can better explain and evaluate the consequences of those events, how people responded and the changes brought to society.

It is advised that students engage in close reading of sources, narratives and historical interpretations and ask questions about the implicitly and explicitly expressed beliefs, values and attitudes of the author and about the audience and purpose of the source. Exploring the context that informed the actions of people in the past should help students understand the ethical dimensions of history.

Construct historical arguments

Developing well-supported arguments is the culmination of historical inquiry. Students’ arguments should be based on the questions asked, the establishment of historical significance, the use of sources as evidence, identification of continuity and change, the analysis of cause and consequence, the exploration of historical perspectives and the examination of ethical dimensions of history. Students should develop their own narratives and historical interpretations about the past that demonstrate understanding of key knowledge and key skills of the outcomes. Constructing an argument is a creative process grounded in and restrained by source-based evidence. It is through this creative and communicative process that students demonstrate historical understanding.

Employability skills

This study provides students with the opportunity to engage in a range of learning activities. In addition to demonstrating their understanding and mastery of the content and skills specific to the study, students may also develop employability skills through their learning activities.

The nationally agreed employability skills are: Communication; Planning and organising; Teamwork; Problem solving; Self-management; Initiative and enterprise; Technology; and Learning.

The table links those facets that may be understood and applied in a school or non-employment related setting, to the types of assessment commonly undertaken within the VCE study.


A list of resources is published online on the VCAA website and is updated annually. The list includes teaching, learning and assessment resources such as texts, websites and films and documentaries.


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. At the senior secondary level it:

identifies opportunities for further learning

describes student achievement

articulates and maintains standards

provides the basis for the award of a certificate.

As part of VCE studies, assessment tasks enable the demonstration of the achievement of an outcome or set of outcomes for satisfactory completion of a unit.

The following are the principles that underpin all VCE assessment practices. These are extracted from the VCAA Principles and guidelines for the development and review of VCE Studies published on the VCAA website.

VCE assessment will be valid

This means that it will enable judgments to be made about demonstration of the outcomes and levels of achievement on assessment tasks fairly, in a balanced way and without adverse effects on the curriculum or for the education system. The overarching concept of validity is elaborated as follows.

VCE assessment should be fair and reasonable

Assessment should be acceptable to stakeholders including students, schools, government and the community. The system for assessing the progress and achievement of students must be accessible, effective, equitable, reasonable
and transparent.

The curriculum content to be assessed must be explicitly described to teachers in each study design and related VCAA documents. Assessment instruments should not assess learning that is outside the scope of a study design.

Each assessment instrument (for example, examination, assignment, test, project, practical, oral, performance, portfolio, presentation or observational schedule) should give students clear instructions. It should be administered under conditions (degree of supervision, access to resources, notice and duration) that are substantially the same for all students undertaking that assessment.

Authentication and school moderation of assessment are to ensure that assessment results are fair and comparable across the student cohort for that study.

VCE assessment should be equitable

Assessment instruments should neither privilege nor disadvantage certain groups of students or exclude others on the basis of gender, culture, linguistic background, physical disability, socioeconomic status and geographical location.

Assessment instruments should be designed so that, under the same or similar conditions, they provide consistent information about student performance. This may be the case when, for example, alternatives are offered at the same time for assessment of an outcome (which could be based on a choice of context) or at a different time due to a student’s absence.

VCE assessment will be balanced

The set of assessment instruments used in a VCE study will be designed to provide a range of opportunities for a student to demonstrate in different contexts and modes the knowledge, skills, understanding and capacities set out in the curriculum. This assessment will also provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate different levels of achievement specified by suitable criteria, descriptors, rubrics or marking schemes.

Judgment about student level of achievement should be based on the results from a variety of practical and theoretical situations and contexts relevant to a study. Students may be required to respond in written, oral, performance, product, folio, multimedia or other suitable modes as applicable to the distinctive nature of a study or group of related studies.

VCE assessment will be efficient

The minimum number of assessments for teachers and assessors to make a robust judgment about each student’s progress and learning will be set out in the study design. Each assessment instrument must balance the demands of precision with those of efficiency. Assessment should not generate workload and/or stress that unduly diminish the performance of students under fair and reasonable circumstances.

Scope of tasks

For all VCE studies assessment tasks must be a part of the regular teaching and learning program and must not unduly add to the workload associated with that program. They must be completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe.

Points to consider in developing an assessment task:

1.List the key knowledge and key skills.

2.Choose the assessment task where there is a range of options listed in the study design. It is possible for students in the same class to undertake different options; however, teachers must ensure that the tasks are comparable in scope and demand.

3.Identify the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in a student response and design the criteria and a marking scheme

4.Identify the nature and sequence of teaching and learning activities to cover the key knowledge and key skills outlined in the study design and provide for different learning styles.

5.Decide the most appropriate time to set the task. This decision is the result of several considerations including:

the estimated time it will take to cover the key knowledge and key skills for the outcome

the possible need to provide a practice, indicative task

the likely length of time required for students to complete the task

when tasks are being conducted in other studies and the workload implications for students.

Units 1 and 2

The student’s level of achievement in Units 1 and 2 is a matter for school decision. Assessments of levels of achievement for these units will not be reported to the VCAA. Schools may choose to report levels of achievement using grades, descriptive statements or other indicators.

In each VCE study at Units 1 and 2, teachers determine the assessment tasks to be used for each outcome in accordance with the study design.

Teachers should select a variety of assessment tasks for their program to reflect the key knowledge and key skills being assessed and to provide for different learning styles. Tasks do not have to be lengthy to make a decision about student demonstration of achievement of an outcome.

A number of options are provided in each study design to encourage use of a broad range of assessment activities. Teachers can exercise great flexibility when devising assessment tasks at this level, within the parameters of the study design.

Note that more than one assessment task can be used to assess satisfactory completion of each outcome in the units.


Teachers should have in place strategies for ensuring that work submitted for assessment is the student’s own. Where aspects of tasks for school-based assessment are completed outside class time teachers must monitor and record each student’s progress through to completion. This requires regular sightings of the work by the teacher and the keeping of records. The teacher may consider it appropriate to ask the student to demonstrate their understanding of the task at the time of submission of the work.

If any part of the work cannot be authenticated, then the matter should be dealt with as a breach of rules. To reduce the possibility of authentication problems arising, or being difficult to resolve, the following strategies are useful:

Ensure that tasks are kept secure prior to administration, to avoid unauthorised release to students and compromising the assessment. They should not be sent by mail or electronically without due care.

Ensure that a significant amount of classroom time is spent on the task so that the teacher is familiar with each student’s work and can regularly monitor and discuss aspects of the work with the student.

Ensure that students document the specific development stages of work, starting with an early part of the task such as topic choice, list of resources and/or preliminary research.

Filing of copies of each student’s work at given stages in its development.

Regular rotation of topics from year to year to ensure that students are unable to use student work from the previous year.

Where there is more than one class of a particular study in the school, the VCAA expects the school to apply internal moderation/cross-marking procedures to ensure consistency of assessment between teachers. Teachers are advised to apply the same approach to authentication and record-keeping, as cross-marking sometimes reveals possible breaches of authentication. Early liaison on topics, and sharing of draft student work between teachers, enables earlier identification of possible authentication problems and the implementation of appropriate action.

Encourage students to acknowledge tutors, if they have them, and to discuss and show the work done with tutors. Ideally, liaison between the class teacher and the tutor can provide the maximum benefit for the student and ensure that the tutor is aware of the authentication requirements. Similar advice applies if students receive regular help from a family member.

Learning activities

Unit 1: The making of empires 1400 –1775

Area of Study 1: Exploration and expansion

Outcome 1:

Examples of learning activities

Explain the reasons for European voyages of exploration and analyse
the motivations of new globally oriented empires.

create a timeline of significant events in the Venetian and Ottoman Empire’s and the Ming dynasty’s economic, territorial and political development

develop an ongoing glossary of the key terms and concepts that underpin an understanding of empires, including terms like empire, early modern, hegemony, cultural exchange, imperialism, tribute, conquistador

map the territorial expansions of each empire; overlay the resources acquired in ports of exchange and the distribution of commodities

undertake an inquiry into European exploration which considers motivations, routes, territorial claims and cultural impacts

create a timeline of key voyages of exploration by emerging nation-states

prepare a written response which examines the distinctive features of and motivations for empire-building of an empire in the fifteenth or sixteenth century

Detailed example


Choose one of the following:

Spanish exploration

Portuguese exploration

English exploration

Dutch exploration

Develop and research the nature of exploration including:

Motivations of explorers, including trade, values, attitudes and beliefs

Routes of exploration

The extent of the territory claimed

Relationships with indigenous peoples

Cultural exchange resulting from exploration.

Area of Study 2: Social and cultural change

Outcome 2:

Examples of learning activities

Explain how new ideas and discoveries challenged old certainties and strengthened European empires.

analyse the impact of new technologies on voyages of exploration

in a table compare the views of Catholic Church regarding the world and the ‘Divine order of things’ with Copernicus’ discovery of heliocentrism

research, analyse and record the Reformation ideas which gave rise to dissent against the authority of the Catholic Church; discuss in class, including factors such as the establishment of the Inquisition in Spain or Rome to suppress new ideas and the establishment of the Index of Prohibited Texts; individually make oral presentation of reports

write an essay about the Counter-Reformation movement and the motivations of ‘new’ evangelical Christian movements into New World territories, for example Jesuit missionaries; Calvinists and Huguenots, English Puritans

in groups research mercantilism and analyse charters given by European monarchs to companies for the purpose of New World trade; each group presents to class and discusses

investigate the interpretations of the changing ‘world view’ in the Early Modern period, such as those of the Enlightenment philosophes Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire, Mirabeau and Montesquieu, and concepts of ‘social contract’, religious tolerance, the ‘noble savage’, free will and laissez faire trade

in groups, analyse disruptive ideas during the Scientific Revolution or Protestant Reformation

Detailed example


Students in groups analyse the nature of one or more sources of ‘disruptive ideas’ during the Scientific Revolution or Protestant Reformation. These could include:

Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and/or Newton

Martin Luther, John Calvin and/or Henry VIII

Students analyse the significance of the ideas in terms of:

Impact on European society

Challenges to traditional beliefs

Changes to daily life

Impact on the expansion of European empires.

Unit 2: Empires at work 1400 –1775

Area of Study 1: New colonies, new profits

Outcome 1:

Examples of learning activities

Analyse the methods used by European powers to establish colonies and the historical significance of new global systems of exchange.

annotate a map of French and Dutch claims in North America and the thirteen English colonies in North America

develop a chart which summarises the colonies of New England, the Middle Colonies and the South; include motivations for settlement as well as the charters which established the colonies

research causes and consequences of conflict involving indigenous peoples and Europeans

annotate maps of triangular trade between Europe, Africa and the Americas, showing how goods and slaves were exchanged

undertake a historical inquiry into the nature and machinery of the slave trade

develop a case study of a slave plantation or plantations in the American South

Detailed example


Students undertake an inquiry into slavery in the New World.

The focus of the inquiry could include one or more of:

Justification for enslaving Africans

The nature of the slave trade in Africa

The triangular trade

The ‘Middle Passage’

British slave-trading companies

Slave auctions

Revolts and rebellions

Plantation life in the American South

Primary sources and historical interpretations should be used to support historical research. A bibliography should be included in the report.

Area of Study 2: Challenges of empires

Outcome 2:

Examples of learning activities

Analyse the effectiveness of a global empire in dealing with colonial challenges and assess the empire’s global standing by 1775.

undertake a mapping task illustrating the theatres of conflict of the Seven Years’ War across the globe; map and chart the imperial powers in conflict and settlements made

undertake a historical inquiry into the relationships between settlers and indigenous populations within and beyond the Appalachian Mountains during and/or after the French and Indian War in North America

explore the role of indigenous peoples in the French and Indian War

individually, undertake a primary source analysis of the responses of American colonists to British actions in tightening control and raising taxes in the American colonies, or undertake an overview of significant laws enacted to pay for losses and economic decline following the Seven Years’ War, such as the Quartering Acts (1765) and the Tea Act (1773)

evaluate the manner in which Imperial powers strengthened their power or lost power over colonies; using primary source evidence from settlers in colonies, extract the key ideas of settler resistance to imperial power; this evaluation could include a comparison of the key differences between British society and the culture of the settler societies, or the motivations behind fighting for rights against absolutism and tyranny; refer to Thomas Paine’s Common Sense (1776) to understand the ‘stirrings’ of freedom

evaluate the consequence and significance of imperialism in the Early Modern era

Detailed example


Using primary sources which contain the views of colonists, students explain the principal ideas underlying the attempt to gain freedom from ‘tyranny’ in the American colonies.

Extracts can include:

1. Letters from a Farmer in Pennsylvania, John Dickinson (1767–1768)

2. The Rights of the Colonists, Samuel Adams (1772)

3. Remonstrance of the Distressed and Bleeding Frontier inhabitants of the Province by Smith and Gibson, addressed to Pennsylvania Assembly (1764)

4. Common sense, Thomas Paine (1776)

Appendix 1: Employability skills

Assessment task

Employability skills selected facets

A historical inquiry

Initiative and enterprise (generating a range of options; being creative)
Planning and organising (planning the use of resources including time management; collecting, analysing and organising information)
Problem solving (developing practical solutions; testing assumptions taking the context of data and circumstances into account)
Self-management (evaluating and monitoring own performance; taking responsibility)
Communication (listening and understanding; reading independently; writing to the needs of the audience; persuading effectively)

An analysis of primary sources

Planning and organising (collecting, analysing and organising information)
Problem solving (testing assumptions taking the context of data and circumstances into account)
Communication (reading independently; writing to the needs of the audience; persuading effectively)

An analysis of historical interpretations

Planning and organising (collecting, analysing and organising information)
Problem solving (testing assumptions taking the context of data and circumstances into account)
Communication (reading independently; writing to the needs of the audience; persuading effectively)


Planning and organising (collecting, analysing and organising information)
Problem solving (testing assumptions taking the context of data and circumstances into account)
Communication (reading independently; writing to the needs of the audience; persuading effectively)

The employability skills are derived from the Employability Skills Framework (Employability Skills for the Future, 2002), developed by the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Business Council of Australia, and published
by the (former) Commonwealth Department of Education, Science and Training.
Appendix 2: Example of a weekly course outline

All units in VCE History are constructed on the basis of 50 hours of class contact time. Consistent with this the following weekly outlines are suggested.

The example weekly course outlines below are provided as guides. They are not intended as prescriptions. Teachers should use these outlines in conjunction with the outcome statements and key knowledge and skills in the study design.

Unit 1: The making of empires 1400–1775

Area of Study 1: Exploration and expansion

Weeks 1–2

Geographical limits of Venetian, Ottoman and Ming empires; broad political and economic structures, trade routes and commodities exchanged by empires (Venice as entrểpot, Ming and Silk Road, Ottomans and Byzantine exchanges/warfare); cross cultural exchanges between established empires; economic foundations and financial mechanisms used by Empires to sustain economies and merchant classes; ports of Nanjing, the Adriatic, Aegean, Mediterranean and Bosphorus; tributes and duties; living arrangements in cities for merchants exchanging goods in ports.

Weeks 3–4

Catalysts for European exploration and expansion: Collapse of Venetian economy due to Fall of Constantinople and expansion of Ottoman Turks; overriding of Silk Road route and end of Ming Dynasty hegemony; end of Hundred Years’ War; trade routes blocked by advance of Turks.

Overview of the emergence of nation states such as the Habsburg, Bourbon, Aragon and Castile dynasties through marriage, war or treaty; key figures of nation-building and their political, cultural, religious and economic motives.

Weeks 5–6

Routes of exploration undertaken by the Spanish, Dutch and Portuguese to Africa, the Americas and Asia and the emergence of ideas and concepts of global ‘imperialism’, conquest and conquistador; the Spanish and Portuguese conquistadors.

Weeks 7–8

Cultural, economic and political impacts in Europe of exploration and discovery of the New World; the impact of new resources in Europe and indigenous people who returned to Europe with explorers; the extent of change as reflected in world maps between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Area of Study 2: Disruptive ideas

Weeks 9–10

Overview of the role, authority and power of the Catholic Church in Western Europe prior to sixteenth century; its worldview and how new intellectual movements changed cultural attitudes and ideas about the world and human ‘spirit’ in the face of exploration; the Scientific Revolution: the significance of discoveries and testing of theories through experimentation and observation; dissemination of ideas and theories; new technologies which enabled or accompanied the voyages of exploration: caravel ships, loxodrome, astrolabe, map-making, printing press.

Weeks 11–12

Challenges to the Catholic Church’s power and authority; Erasmus and Luther (religious and spiritual); Galileo, Kepler and Newton (scientific theories which shattered the ‘Earth-centred’ world-view); overview of Reformation wars in sixteenth century and Counter-Reformation; proclamation by the Catholic Church that it was ‘Universal’ and hence global; links with ‘expanding’ Christianity into New World territories.

Weeks 13–14

The theory of mercantilism and the role of colonies as providers of raw materials and markets for manufactured goods; establishment of charters to ‘colonise’ the globe; the aims of Britain, France and the Netherlands in developing and pursuing these goals and monopolies; enactment of the Navigation Laws (commenced in 1651) and Charters (royal, colony and property) for establishing colonies and trading companies (such as East India Company, Hudson’s Bay Company, Massachusetts Bay Company).

Weeks 15 –16

Enlightenment including liberalism, empiricism, free will, the social contract, science, scepticism, reason, interrogation of the place of humans in the natural world of the practice of slavery; the socio-political ideas of the ‘individual’ in relation to the ‘state’ and the concept of the absolutist monarchy; the 1689 Bill of Rights as an example of emerging conceptions of freedom of speech, electoral rights and the limits of royal power.

Unit 2: Empires at work 1400 –1775

Note: In Unit 2 students study at least one European colony in the Americas, Africa and/or the Caribbean. This course outline uses the example of England’s colonisation of the Atlantic (East) Coast of America from 1609.

Area of Study 1: New colonies, new profits

Weeks 1–2

Chronological overview of settlements and key resources, groups and individuals who created the thirteen colonies on the Atlantic coast of America; motivations for creating colonies and the charters which established them; characteristics of the New England colonies, the Middle Colonies and the Southern Colonies; the significance of mercantilism as a driver for the establishment of colonies; the role of colonies in relation to the mother country according to mercantilist economic theory.

Weeks 3–4

Relationships between indigenous peoples and French, Dutch and British settlers; French and Dutch possessions and competition for resources and trade in North America; the Iroquois Wars (‘Beaver Wars’) 1630s–1660s; the motives of the colonisers, trade with Europeans and the impacts on other eastern tribes including loss of land; King Philip’s War (1675–78) – armed conflict between Native American inhabitants of present-day New England and English colonists allied with other Native American peoples; examples of relationships between colonists and indigenous people: Plymouth Colony and the first ‘Thanksgiving’ (1621); Anglo–Indian hostilities in Virginia involving Pocahontas, John Smith and John Rolfe; Quaker William Penn (Pennsylvania) and his treaty with the Delaware Indians.

Weeks 5–6

Motivations for the transatlantic slave trade; the machinery of the ‘triangular trade’ which saw goods exported from Europe to Africa in exchange for enslaved Africans, the export of enslaved Africans to the Americas and the export of products from slave-labour plantations to Europe; the infamous ‘Middle Passage’ and slave markets in America.

Weeks 7–8

The nature of slave plantations in the American South such as crops grown, experiences of slaves and families, slave owners, women, families; plantation life in the South; statistics of the slave trade, laws passed to justify the trade and human property such as Virginia Slave Code Laws (1702); responses of slaves to slavery such as rebellion, for example the Stono River Rebellion, and legal appeals; views of individuals and groups about the morality of slavery, for example petitions in Georgia (1730s) and Pennsylvania and Rhode Island (1750s), to prohibit the slave trade; arguments about the economic benefits of slavery.

Area of Study 2: Challenges of empires

Weeks 9–10

Interactions and conflicts between colonists and Native Americans: preservation of hunting and agricultural lands versus the desire for expanded settlements; forced relocation as a result of European settlement; the impact of European diseases such as measles and smallpox; the introduction of missions and schools and the loss of indigenous culture; conflicts with settlers and the loss of traditional territory; cross cultural exchanges between the English and French with Native American peoples (Huron, Iroquois, Mohawk) and their economic and social implications.

Weeks 11–12

The extent to which people identified with the mother country or their own colony/the thirteen colonies; the experiences of people in different regions, for example New England or the South, and the social and economic reasons for such differences; the extent of British control of the American colonies such as limits placed on colonial manufacturing and trade through the Navigation Acts; financial and military challenges in running colonies: maintaining trade monopolies, exerting economic and political power; the outcomes of the Seven Years’ War; overview of motivations for expanding west of the Appalachian Mountains (from 1765); beliefs and attitudes about indigenous peoples and interactions with them.

Weeks 13–14

The Seven Years’ War/French and Indian War (1756–63): overview of theatres of war in Europe and the Americas; the imperial powers involved; religious differences; North American outcomes for England and France, for example Canadian settlements and the Quebec Act (1774), and the Proclamation Line (1763); the involvement of Native Americans; provisions of the Treaty of Paris (1763); outcomes of the war.

Weeks 15–16

British and American responses to the Seven Years’ War: emerging conflict over the restriction of settlement and trade/taxation/revenue; duties and regulations imposed by Britain and American responses to these; arguments for and against British control of the American colonies; evidence of key ideas of the Early Modern period in the American colonies, such as liberalism, capitalism and challenges to absolutism; for example, Thomas Jefferson’s challenge to British imperial rule in Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774).

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