VCE Science Electives


Psychology is a multifaceted discipline that seeks to describe, explain, understand and predict human behaviour and mental processes.
It includes many sub-fields of study that explore and seek to better understand how individuals, groups, communities and societies think, feel and act. VCE Psychology applies a biopsychosocial approach to the systematic study of mental processes and behaviour.

The study is made up of four units, framed to answer the following questions:

Unit 1: How are behaviour and mental processes shaped?

Unit 2: How do internal and external factors influence behaviour and mental processes?

Unit 3: How does experience affect behaviour and mental processes?

Unit 4: How is mental wellbeing supported and maintained?

Unit 3: How does experience affect behaviour and mental processes?
In this unit, students investigate how the human nervous system enables a person to interact with the world around them, considering the contribution of classical and contemporary research.

They explore how stress may affect a person’s psychological functioning, consider stress as a psychobiological process, and relationship between the gut and the brain in psychological functioning. Students also investigate how mechanisms of learning and memory lead to the acquisition of knowledge and the development of new and changed behaviours.

They consider models to explain learning and memory and brain regions involved in memory.
Students investigate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ use of place as a repository of memory.

Unit 4: How is mental wellbeing supported and maintained?
In this unit, students explore the demand for sleep and the influences of sleep on mental wellbeing. They also study the impact that changes to a person’s sleep-wake cycle and sleep hygiene have on psychological functioning and consider the contribution that classical and contemporary research has made to the understanding of sleep.

Students explore the concept of mental wellbeing as a continuum and apply a biopsychosocial approach, as a scientific model, to understand specific phobia. They explore how mental wellbeing can be supported by considering the importance of biopsychosocial protective factors and cultural determinants as integral to the wellbeing of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.


Unit 1
In this unit, students will investigate the chemical structures and properties of a range of materials. They consider how manufacturing innovations lead to more sustainable products being produced for society.

Students conduct practical investigations involving the reactivity series of metals, separation of mixtures by chromatography, use of precipitation reactions. A student directed research investigation into the sustainable production or use of a selected material is to be undertaken.

Unit 2
In this unit, students take the role of chemists to analyse the materials and products in everyday use. They will analyse and compare different substances dissolved in water and the gases that may be produced in chemical reactions.

Students conduct practical investigations involving the specific heat capacity of water, acid base and redox reactions, solubility, molar volume of a gas, volumetric analysis, and the use of a calibration curve.

A student designed investigation involves the generation of primary data and is directly related to the science skills and knowledge exhibited throughout the course.

Unit 3
In this unit, students will investigate the global demand for energy and materials and the chemical production of energy and materials. They explore how innovation, design and sustainability principles and concepts can be applied to produce energy and materials while minimising possible harmful effects of production on human health and the environment.

Students will investigate how the rate of a reaction can be controlled so that it occurs at the optimum rate while avoiding unwanted side reactions and by products.

Unit 4 How are organic compounds categorised, analysed and used?

In Area of Study 1 students learn to name and deduce the structure of organic compounds by interpreting data from various spectroscopic methods. In Area of Study 2 students explore the importance of food from a chemical perspective. In Area of Study 3 students design a practical investigation related to content from Unit 3 and/or Unit 4. Career Options Anaesthetist, Physician, Biochemist, Physiotherapist, Geochemist, Pharmacologist, Industrial Chemist, Pharmacist, Medical Practitioner, Psychiatrist, Neurologist, Radiologist, Obstetrician/Gynaecologist, Surgeon, Pathologist, Paediatrician, Ophthalmologist, Biomedical Scientist, Dentist, Research Scientist


Unit 1
Students examine the cell as the structural and functional unit of life, from the single celled to the multicellular organism, including the requirements for sustaining cellular processes. Students focus on cell growth, replacement and death and the role stem cells in differentiation, specialisation and renewal of cells.

Students explore how systems function through cell specialisation in vascular plants and animals.

Unit 2
Students explore current biotechnology tools used to modify the DNA of different organisms. From here, students gain an understanding of reproduction and the transmission of biological information from generation to generation and the impact this has on species diversity.

They apply their understanding of chromosomes to explain the process of meiosis. Students consider how the relationship between genes and the environment and epigenetic factors influence phenotypic expression.

They explain the inheritance of characteristics, analyse patterns of inheritance, interpret pedigree charts and predict outcomes of genetic crosses.

Students consider how the relationship between genes and the environment and epigenetic factors influence phenotypic expression. They explain the inheritance, interpret pedigree charts and predict outcomes of genetic crosses.

Unit 3 How do cells maintain life?
Biology is the study of living things and how they survive. It serves as a suitable subject to prepare for many careers such as medicine, botany, genetics and many more.

Area of study 1:

  • The relationship between nucleic acids and proteins
  • DNA manipulation techniques and applications

Area of study 2:

  • Regulation of biochemical pathways
  • Photosynthesis
  • Cellular Respiration

Unit 4  How does life change and respond to challenges?

Area of study 1

  • Responding to antigens
  • Acquiring immunity
  • Disease challenges and strategies

Area of study 2

  • Genetic changes in a population over time
  • Determining the relatedness of species
  • Human change over time

Area of study 3

  • Investigation design
  • Scientific evidence
  • Science communication


VCE Physics provides students with opportunities to explore questions related to the natural and constructed world. The study explores selected areas within the discipline including atomic physics, electricity, fields, mechanics, thermodynamics, quantum physics and waves. Students examine classical and contemporary research, models and theories to understand how knowledge in physics has evolved and continues to evolve in response to new evidence and discoveries. An understanding of the complexities and diversity of physics leads students to appreciate the interconnectedness of the content areas both within physics, and across physics and the other sciences. An important feature of undertaking VCE Physics is the opportunity for students to engage in a range of inquiry tasks that may be self designed, develop key science skills and interrogate the links between theory and practice.

Unit 1 What ideas explain the Physical World?

In this unit students undertake three comprehensive areas of study. These are:
1 How can thermal effects be explained?
This topic investigates thermodynamic principles related to heating and cooling, including concepts of temperature, energy and work.
2 How do electric circuits work? This includes practical investigations of circuits, conceptual models to analyse electricity and electrical safety.
3 What is matter and how is it formed? Students will explore the nature of matter, the origins of atoms, time and space (the big bang theory) and how energy is derived from the nucleus (fission and fusion).

Unit 2 What do experiments reveal about the physical world?

In this unit students will undertake two core areas of study and one detailed study.
1 How can motion be described and explained? This topic covers force, Newton’s laws, centre of mass, momentum, work and energy.
2 Practical Investigation. The students will plan and carry out their own experimental investigation relating to appropriate physics concepts.
3 Detailed study. The students will undertake a detailed study on topics such as stars, the solar system, how objects fly, and nuclear energy as a viable energy source or how musical instruments work.

Unit 3 How do fields explain motion and electricity?

In this unit students explore the importance of energy in explaining and describing the physical world. They examine the production of electricity and its delivery to homes. Students consider the field model as a construct that has enabled an understanding of why objects move when they are not apparently in contact with other objects. Applications of concepts related to fields include the transmission of electricity over large distances and the design and operation of particle accelerators. They explore the interactions, effects and applications of gravitational, electric and magnetic fields. Students use Newton’s laws to investigate motion in one and two dimensions, and are introduced to Einstein’s theories to explain the motion of very fast objects. They consider how developing technologies can challenge existing explanations of the physical world, requiring a review of conceptual models and theories. Students design and undertake investigations involving at least two continuous independent variables.

Unit 4 How can two contradictory models explain both light and matter?

In this unit, students explore the use of wave and particle theories to model the properties of light and matter. They examine how the concept of the wave is used to explain the nature of light and explore its limitations in describing light behaviour. Students further investigate light by using a particle model to explain its behaviour. A wave model is also used to explain the behaviour of matter which enables students to consider the relationship between light and matter. Students learn to think beyond the concepts experienced in everyday life to study the physical world from a new perspective. Students design and undertake investigations involving at least two continuous independent variables. A student designed practical investigation.

Career Options

Aeronautical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer, Airline Pilot, Photonics, Architecture, Radiology, Audio Engineer, Telecommunications, Avionics, Biomechanics, Civil Engineer, Geophysics