Course Planning

VCE Course Planning Documents for 2016 - 2021

Note:The study design for 2020 has been adjusted due to the impact of COVID-19. Some dot points have been removed for 2020 only and the conduct of the Practical Investigation has been changed. Some of the questions in the past papers will not be relevant in 2020. Check below for the adjusted study design, a summary of the changes and the exam questions that do not apply.

In 2016 the new study design began. The document can be downloaded from the VCAA website. There were implementation briefings held in 2015. The powerpoint and a video of the presentation by Michael Rosenbrock can be seen here.

This website already has webpages for the two new Areas of Study in Unit 1, Thermodynamics: How can thermal effects be explained? and What is matter and how is it formed?. The content on the current webpages for Electricity and Motion should suffice. The webpage Investigations and Practical Activities has useful information on EPI's including lists of topics and templates for an electronic poster.

These course planning resources for Units 1 and 2 have been developed so far.

Planning for Units 3 & 4

There are links between the three Areas of Study in Unit 3, which leads to the question 'In which order do you teach them?'. At a Unit 3 Course Planning workshop at the 2016 Physics Teachers' Conference, three presenters each outlined how they would plan their course for 2017. All three came up with the same order, that is, start with Area of Study 3 'How fast can things go?' on Motion, but leaving Relativity to the end of the semester. Then do Area of Study 1 'How do things move without contact?' on fields, but starting with the gravitational field, followed by electric, then magnetic fields, which leads on to Area of Study 2 'How are fields use to move electrical energy?' on electromagnetism with the Relativity section of Area of Study 3 linking electromagnetism to motion.

In Unit 4 the two Areas of Study on Light have a natural sequence. While the Area of Study on Experimental Investigations is likely to be done last, but it could be done at any time of the year.

This week by week course planning document has been prepared from this perspective.

Note: The assessment tasks are drafts with questions incorporated to guide discussion at the Unit 3 Course Planning Days. Final versions wil be available in December. These drafts have been prepared by Milorad Cerovac, Jane Coyle, Neil Champion, Barbara McKinnon and Dan O'Keeffe.

Note: If you want to comment, make suggestions, etc, please use our Facebook account or our Twitter account.

Other resources on this website that are of value when designing your course are:

VCE Course Planning Documents for Units 3 and 4 for 2013 - 2016

Beginning in 2013 there was a significant change to the Unit 3 & 4 assessment procedures and to the Unit 3 & 4 content.

  • There is only one exam at the end of the year. This exam will assess the whole year's work. The exam will be a two and a half hour exam with 15 minutes reading time. Students can take in 4 A4 pages of notes.
  • Only one Detailed Study needs to be studied. The exam paper will contain questions for all six Detailed Studies. Students must do questions from only one Study.

Note: There are minor changes to only a few dot points, as well as the procedures for school assessed coursework. For example, the compulsory assessment tasks, the EPI and the Summary Report, can now be done on any of the topics across Units 3 & 4. Teachers should ensure that they are working from a 2013 version of the study design

Implications: Class time freed up

With one less Detailed Study and no mid year break for Unit 3 exams, up to 5 - 6 weeks of class time are now available for other purposes. This time can be used in one or more ways:

  • Additional revision time at the end of the year. With the exam covering the full year's work, that is five discrete topics, an extra two weeks of revision seems appropriate. However, to avoid a monotonous routine, some thought should be given to including a range of revision activities.
  • The Extended Practical Investigation (EPI) could be given an extra week, so that it is not only less rushed and but that students can have more responsibility for planning and more time for data analysis.
  • An informal mid year exam, done in class time, on the first three topics would be a useful assessment for student and teacher alike.
  • More class time for each topic, particularly for the early ones, to ensure a good grounding.

Implications: Which Detailed Study? and when do you do it?

Come the exam, student can choose any one of the six Detailed Studies, so it possible for a teacher to offer two or more Detailed Studies at the one time and simultaneously support the independent learning of the students in the class. However this would only be feasible in a very small class. Most teachers would either select the topic they most enjoy or offer their class a choice from two studies with the majority determining which one is done.

As each Detailed Study is nominally linked to the core Areas of Study in either Unit 3 or Unit 4. It may be best to keep to the natural sequence. Alternatively it could be argued that doing all four core Areas of Study first before the Detailed Study, gives the core content a chance to bed down before it is revisited later in revision.

For some Detailed Studies, their content overlaps or links with one or more core Area of Study so cohesively that the much of the Detailed Study can be covered along side the core Areas of Study, and so, saving time. Examples of this are:

  • 'Further Electronics' with 'Electronics and Photonics',
  • 'Synchrotron' with 'Electric Power',
  • 'Photonics' with 'Electronics and Photonics',

The activities and resources listed below for previous course changes still have relevance as the content changes are minimal.

VCE Course Planning Documents for 2009 - 2012

VCE Physics Implementation Workshops: Activities and Powerpoint presentation

VCE Physics Implementation Workshops: Resources package

Beginning Physics In-Services: Material

Relevant papers from recent Physics Teachers Conferences

Useful Websites