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titleHandbook Transition

Our VCE Handbook content is undergoing a transition to a new, improved, consistent and easy to read format. We are working to transition our content from the original handbook format to the new format and you may see both formats below until we complete the transition. Apologies for any inconvenience, but we should be done with the transition soon.

NEW HANDBOOK STRUCTURE/CONTENT

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ORIGINAL HANDBOOK STRUCTURE/CONTENT

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titleBiology

Biology is the study of living things from familiar, complex multi-cellular organisms that live in the many different habitats of our biosphere to single-celled micro-organisms that live in seemingly inhospitable conditions. It is a study of the dynamic relationships between living things, their interdependence, their interactions with the non-living environment, and the processes that maintain life and ensure its continuity. Biology enables students to understand that despite the diverse ways of meeting the challenges of survival, all living things have many structural and functional characteristics in common. Modern biology draws on increasingly specialised fields of bioscience such as biochemistry, neuroscience, genetics, evolutionary biology, behavioural science, and cell and molecular biology, including studies of genomics and proteomics.

Students of Biology acquire knowledge and skills of inquiry that help them to examine critically issues that arise in their own lives and in the public domain, to contribute to debate and to take part in making decisions about their own health and wellbeing and that of society. They build an understanding of the interconnectedness of all living things and their environment. The values and attributes that students develop will help them to recognise the strengths and limitations of science, respect evidence and be sensitive to differences in views and beliefs held by others. They will be able to work collaboratively and yet state their own views from an informed position.

The study of Biology prepares students for continuing studies in bioscience and entry into the workforce in a wide range of careers, including those not normally thought of as depending on bioscience. Much of our economic activity is generated through advances in bioscience research, in environmental, medical and associated biotechnologies, and in parallel sciences such as bioinformatics. Students develop knowledge of bioscience and skills of science inquiry and the values and attributes that will help them to consider issues and implications associated with the application of biological techniques and technologies.

Unit 1: Unity and Diversity

The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavor

Assessment

Practical work plays a large role in the exploration of science and as such is reflected in the assessment schedule.

The four school-assessment coursework (SACs) are outlined below:

  • SAC 1: Poster - Digestive system comparison
  • SAC 2: Practical task - Rat dissection
  • SAC 3: Practical task - Enzyme rate of reaction
  • SAC 4: End-of-semester exam

Unit 2: Organisms and their environment

The rich diversity of Australian ecosystems provides a variety of contexts for students to study the relationships between living things and their environment. Students investigate particular sets of biotic and abiotic factors that operate in different places in the biosphere, and how these factors influence the kinds of organisms that live there. They examine how organisms in their particular habitats are part of the integrated and naturally self-sustaining systems in which energy flows and matter is cycled between the living and non-living components of the environment.

Students also investigate how features possessed by organisms affect their fitness and reproductive success, in relation to their habitats. They consider how species are affected by changes in environmental conditions, whether natural or human-induced. In this unit students investigate what changes have taken place in selected ecosystems, how ecological principles can be applied to conserve natural ecosystems, to restore damaged ones and to ensure sustainability of the biosphere. Students investigate how technologies are being applied to monitor natural ecosystems and to manage systems developed to provide resources for humans.

Assessment

Assessment results are drawn from a range of activities as shown below:

  • SAC 1: Practical task - Photosynthesis
  • SAC 2: Multimedia/poster presentation - Adaptations of organisms
  •  SAC 3: Oral presentation - Organism case study
  • SAC 4: End-of-semester exam.

Unit 3: Signatures of Life

In this unit students consider the molecules and biochemical processes that are indicators of life. They investigate the synthesis of biomolecules and biochemical processes that are common to autotrophic and heterotrophic life forms. Students consider the universality of DNA and investigate its structure; the genes of an organism, as functional units of DNA; and code for the production of a diverse range of proteins in an organism. They also investigate the significant role of proteins in cell functioning; how technological advances have enabled scientists to determine differences in the molecular structure of proteins; how the structure of a protein relates to its function in an organism’s tissues; and how technological advances have given rise to applications such as the design of proteins for specific purposes.

Students consider advances in proteomics applied, for example, to medical diagnosis and thedevelopment of specific proteomic medications, new pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and vaccines. They investigate how cells communicate with each other at molecular level in regulating cellular activities; how they recognise ‘self’ and ‘non-self’ in detecting possible agents of attack; and how physical barriers and immune responses can protect the organism against pathogens. Students consider the technological advances that have contributed to our knowledge and understanding of molecular biology. They investigate how the development of bioinformatics makes it possible to store and analyse large volumes of biological information. Students apply concepts relating to cell structure and function, the needs of cells and their activities. 

Assessment

Contribution to final assessment

School-assessed Coursework for Unit 3 will contribute 20% to the study score. It will be made up of 5 SACs. The level of achievement for Units 3 and 4 is also assessed by a 2.5 hour end-of year examination which will contribute 60% to the study score.

Unit 4: Continuity and Change

In this unit students examine evidence for evolution of life forms over time. They explore hypotheses that explain how changes to species have come about. In addition to observable similarities and differences between organisms, students explore the universality of DNA, and conservation of genes as evidence for ancestral lines of life that have given rise to the present biodiversity of our planet. Students investigate how the study of molecular genetics has expanded into genomics - the study of whole sets of genes possessed by an organism.

Information obtained by studying genomes and functional genomics has provided insight into gene expression and regulation, and relationships between species. Students study how genes are transmitted from generation to generation by examining meiosis and patterns of inheritance including pedigree analysis. Students consider the relationship between heritable variations a the environment in accounting for changes to species over time, and for speciation and extinction.

Students examine the interrelationships between biological, cultural and technological evolution. As they consider the historical development of ideas and technological advances that have contributed to our knowledge and understanding of inheritance and evolutionary biology, students come to understand the dynamic nature of science, the human factors that influence developments in science and its increasing reliance on evidence. Students investigate emerging technological applications and the implications of advances in molecular genetics. They consider how developments in bioinformatics assist in collecting and interrogating large volumes of biological data. The ability to apply technologies that can change the genetic composition of individual organisms and species, including humans, raises controversial issues for individuals and society. Students examine these issues and consider their implications from a variety of perspectives.

Assessment

Contribution to final assessment

The VCAA requirements state that five items of Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework (SACs) (20%) and one end of year exam (60%) contribute towards the year's assessment mark. Practical work plays a large role in the exploration of science and as such is reflected in the assessment schedule.

The four school assessment tasks (SACs) are outlined below:

  • SAC 1: Practical task Mitosis and Meiosis
  • SAC 2: Practical task - DNA structure: gel electrophoresis 
  • SAC 3: Mitosis/Meiosis
  • SAC 4: Research task - Genetic engineering: a case study
  • SAC 5: Comprehension/research activity - Finches of the Galapagos Islands. 

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titleChemistry

Chemistry is a key science in explaining the workings of our universe through an understanding of the properties and interaction of substances that make up matter. Most processes, from the formation of molecules in outer space to the complex biological interactions occurring in cells, can be described by chemical theories. Although there are no sharp boundaries between sciences such as chemistry, physics and biology, chemistry is used to explain natural phenomena at the molecular level, as well as create new materials such as medicines and polymers.

The development of modern society has been intimately linked with the successful integration of chemical knowledge into new technologies. This continues with emerging fields such as biotechnology and nanotechnology.

There are many unanswered questions in science, and many unexplained phenomena such as the language of the brain and the evolution of climate. Over time, chemistry will play a key role in answering some of these questions as well as providing a sustainable environment for the future.

Studying Chemistry can enrich students’ lives through the development of particular knowledge, skills and attitudes, and enable them to become scientifically capable members of society. It will also provide a window on what it means to be a scientific researcher, working as a member of a community of practice, including insight into how new ideas are developed and investigated, and how evidence or data collected is used to expand knowledge and understanding of chemistry. 

Many people develop an ‘applied’ knowledge of chemistry through their careers and day-to-day pursuits. Chemistry permeates numerous fields of endeavour, including agriculture, art, biochemistry,dietetics, engineering, environmental studies, food, forensic science, forestry, horticulture, law, medicine, oceanography, pharmacy, sports science and wine making.

The chemistry undertaken in this study is representative of the discipline and the major ideas of chemistry. Some students will develop a passion for chemistry and be inspired to pursue further studies. All students, however, should become more informed, responsible decision-making citizens, able to use chemical knowledge and scientific arguments in their everyday lives and to evaluate and debate important contemporary issues such as the future of our environment and its management.

Unit 1: The Big Ideas of Chemistry

The development and use of materials for specific purposes is an important human endeavour. In this unit students investigate the chemical properties of a range of materials from metals and salts to polymers and nanomaterials. Using their knowledge of elements and atomic structure students explore and explain the relationships between properties, structure and bonding forces within and between particles that vary in size from the visible, through nanoparticles, to molecules and atoms.

Students examine the modification of metals, assess the factors that affect the formation of ionic crystals and investigate a range of non-metallic substances from molecules to polymers and giant lattices and relate their structures to specific applications.

Students are introduced to quantitative concepts in chemistry including the mole concept. They apply their knowledge to determine the relative masses of elements and the composition of substances. Throughout the unit students use chemistry terminology including symbols, formulas, chemical nomenclature and equations to represent and explain observations and data from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.

Students use the language of chemistry, its symbols and chemical formulas and equations, to explain observations and data collected from experiments. 

Unit 2: Environmental Chemistry

Water is the most widely used solvent on Earth. In this unit students explore the physical and chemical properties of water, the reactions that occur in water and various methods of water analysis.

Students examine the polar nature of a water molecule and the intermolecular forces between water molecules. They explore the relationship between these bonding forces and the physical and chemical properties of water. In this context students investigate solubility, concentration, pH and reactions in water including precipitation, acid-base and redox. Students are introduced to stoichiometry and to analytical techniques and instrumental procedures, and apply these to determine concentrations of different species in water samples, including chemical contaminants. They use chemistry terminology including symbols, units, formulas and equations to represent and explain observations and data from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena. Students explore the solvent properties of water in a variety of contexts and analyse selected issues associated with substances dissolved in water.

Assessment: Units 1 and 2

The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit. This decision will be based on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s performance on attendance, and completing and submitting set work requirements designated for the unit.

 Unit 1: The big ideas of chemistry

  • SAC One: Experimentally based tasks on selected topic
  • SAC Two: Research Poster
  • Topic tests
  • Exam one. 

Unit 2: Environmental Chemistry Assessment

  • SAC 3: Experimentally based tasks on selected topic
  • SAC 4: Experimental design Poster
  • Topic Tests
  • Exam 2

Unit 3: Chemical Pathways

The global demand for energy and materials is increasing with world population growth. In this unit students explore energy options and the chemical production of materials with reference to efficiencies, renewability and the minimisation of their impact on the environment.

Students compare and evaluate different chemical energy resources, including fossil fuels, biofuels, galvanic cells and fuel cells. They investigate the combustion of fuels, including the energy transformations involved, the use of stoichiometry to calculate the amounts of reactants and products involved in the reactions, and calculations of the amounts of energy released and their representations. Students consider the purpose, design and operating principles of galvanic cells, fuel cells and electrolytic cells. In this context they use the electrochemical series to predict and write half and overall redox equations, and apply Faraday’s laws to calculate quantities in electrolytic reactions.

Students analyse manufacturing processes with reference to factors that influence their reaction rates and extent. They investigate and apply the equilibrium law and Le Chatelier’s principle to different reaction systems, including to predict and explain the conditions that will improve the efficiency and percentage yield of chemical processes. They use the language and conventions of chemistry including symbols, units, chemical formulas and equations to represent and explain observations and data collected from experiments, and to discuss chemical phenomena.

 Area of study 1: Chemical analysis

In this area of study students focus on analysing and comparing a range of energy resources and technologies, including fossil fuels, biofuels, galvanic cells and fuel cells, with reference to the energy transformations and chemical reactions involved, energy efficiencies, environmental impacts and potential applications. Students use the specific heat capacity of water and thermochemical equations to determine the enthalpy changes and quantities of reactants and products involved in the combustion reactions of a range of renewable and non-renewable fuels.

Students conduct practical investigations involving redox reactions, including the design, construction and testing of galvanic cells, and account for differences between experimental findings and predictions made by using the electrochemical series. They compare the design features, operating principles and uses of galvanic cells and fuel cells, and summarise cell processes by writing balanced equations for half and overall cell processes.

Area of study 2: Organic chemical pathways

In this area of study students explore the factors that increase the efficiency and percentage yield of a chemical manufacturing process while reducing the energy demand and associated costs.

Students 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. They explain reactions with reference to the collision theory including reference to Maxwell-Boltzmann distribution curves. The progression of exothermic and endothermic reactions, including the use of a catalyst, is represented using energy profile diagrams.

Students explore homogeneous equilibrium systems and apply the equilibrium law to calculate equilibrium constants and concentrations of reactants and products. They investigate Le Chatelier’s principle and the effect of different changes on an equilibrium system and make predictions about the optimum conditions for the production of chemicals, taking into account rate and yield considerations. Students represent the establishment of equilibrium and the effect of changes to an equilibrium system using concentration-time graphs.

Students investigate a range of electrolytic cells with reference to their basic design features and purpose, their operating principles and the energy transformations that occur. They examine the discharging and recharging processes in rechargeable cells, and apply Faraday’s laws to calculate quantities in electrochemistry and to determine cell efficiencies.

Assessment: Outcomes 1 and 2

  • Assessment 1: A written report of one practical activity - Electrolysis.
  • Assessment 2: An analysis of first- or second-hand data using structured questions - Spectroscopy.
  • Assessment 3: An extended student-designed experimental investigation based on energy.

Unit 4: Chemistry at Work

The carbon atom has unique characteristics that explain the diversity and number of organic compounds that not only constitute living tissues but are also found in the fuels, foods, medicines and many of the materials we use in everyday life. In this unit students investigate the structural features, bonding, typical reactions and uses of the major families of organic compounds including those found in food.

Students study the ways in which organic structures are represented and named. They process data from instrumental analyses of organic compounds to confirm or deduce organic structures, and perform volumetric analyses to determine the concentrations of organic chemicals in mixtures. Students consider the nature of the reactions involved to predict the products of reaction pathways and to design pathways to produce particular compounds from given starting materials.

Students investigate key food molecules through an exploration of their chemical structures, the hydrolytic reactions in which they are broken down and the condensation reactions in which they are rebuilt to form new molecules. In this context the role of enzymes and coenzymes in facilitating chemical reactions is explored. Students use calorimetry as an investigative tool to determine the energy released in the combustion of foodsI

Area of study 1: Industrial chemistry

In this area of study students explore why such a vast range of carbon compounds is possible. They examine the structural features of members of several homologous series of compounds, including some of the simpler structural isomers, and learn how they are represented and named.

Students investigate trends in the physical and chemical properties of various organic families of compounds. They study typical reactions of organic families and some of their reaction pathways, and write balanced chemical equations for organic syntheses.

Students learn to deduce or confirm the structure and identity of organic compounds by interpreting data from mass spectrometry, infrared spectroscopy and proton and carbon-13 nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy.

Area of study 2: Supplying and using energy

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Students study the major components of food with reference to their structures, properties and functions. They examine the hydrolysis reactions in which foods are broken down, the condensation reactions in which new biomolecules are formed and the role of enzymes, assisted by coenzymes, in the metabolism of food.

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Assessment: Outcomes 1 and 2

  • Assessment 1: An analysis of first- or second-hand data using structured questions - Spectroscopy.
  •  Assessment 2: A written report of one practical activity - How much ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is in vitamin C tablets?

In the study of Chemistry the student’s level of achievement will be determined by school-assessed coursework (SAC), and an end-of-year examination. Percentage  contributions to the study score in Chemistry are as follows:

•   Unit 3 SAC: 16%

•   Unit 4 SAC: 24%

•   End-of-year examination: 60% 

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titlePhysics

Physics is a theoretical and empirical science, which contributes to our understanding of the physical universe from the minute building blocks of matter to the unimaginably broad expanses of the Universe. This study is designed to enhance the scientific literacy of students in the specialised area of physics.

Physics students demonstrate interest in and understanding of the Universe, engage in debate about the nature of evidence, theories and models, and appreciate the value of physics in society. They can describe and use theories and models, propose and investigate hypotheses, collect data, analyse the limitations of that data, draw conclusions, make recommendations, and select and use a range of appropriate technologies and mathematical techniques.

The knowledge gained through physics will enhance students’ ability to be innovative and contribute to the intelligent and careful use of resources. This knowledge can be used, for example, in industrial, medical, engineering and technical applications.

Unit 1

Unit 1 focuses on Physics as a human endeavour. Observations and ideas about the physical world related to aspects of energy are organised and explained through the use of conceptual models. The detailed studies provide opportunities to explore the application of energy concepts and models in nuclear energy, sustainable energy sources, flight, space and medical contexts.

Students undertake regular experimental work in the laboratory starting with simple observations and measurements. A quantitative investigation involving the collection and analysis of sufficient data points for at least one independent variable will be undertaken. The investigation should be at least partly student designed.

The use of simple mathematical modelling, including calculations, is introduced to organise firsthand and second-hand data in order to make predictions and link concepts.

Unit 1 consists of two prescribed areas of study

   Nuclear physics and radioactivity

   Electricity.

Students will complete a third area of study to be chosen from one of six detailed studies:

   Astronomy

   Astrophysics

   Energy from the nucleus

   Investigations - flight

   Investigations - sustainable energy sources

   Medical physics.

Assessment

Following the criteria set out by the VCAA, assessment occurs within the school and is based on student’s performance on a selection of assessment tasks such as tests, practical activities, data analysis, presentations or reports. Students must complete at least one practical investigation (student designed or adapted).

The award of Satisfactory Completion for Unit 1 is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit. This decision will be based on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s overall performance on assessment tasks. 

Unit 2

Unit 2 focuses on the application of models to more complex phenomena - motion and light - developed within contexts that are familiar to students and relevant to their experiences. Newtonian ideas of motion are extended to include a range of movements and more abstract ideas, while the wave and particle models of light provide a framework for exploring light phenomena in real world applications. The detailed studies provide opportunities to explore motion and/or light in nuclear, sustainable energy, flight, space and medical contexts.

Students continue to undertake extensive and regular experimental work in the laboratory. They design and undertake more complex investigations involving at least one independent, continuous variable, and take increasing responsibility for the design of investigations.

Unit 2 consists of two prescribed areas of study:

   Motion

   Wave-like properties of light.

Students will complete a third area of study to be chosen from one of six detailed studies:
   Astronomy

   Astrophysics

   Energy from the nucleus
   Investigations - flight

   Investigations - sustainable energy sources

   Medical physics.

 The detailed study chosen in Unit 2 must be different from that chosen in Unit 1.

Assessment

Following the criteria set out by the VCAA assessment occurs within the school and is based on student’s performance on a selection of assessment tasks such as case studies, tests, media analysis, analytical exercises and research reports.

The award of satisfactory completion for Unit 2 is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit. This decision will be based on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s overall performance on assessment tasks. 

Unit 3

Unit 3 focuses on the ideas that underpin much of the technology found in areas such as communications, engineering, commerce and industry. Motion in one and two dimensions is introduced and applied to moving objects on Earth and in space. Circuit models are applied to further aspects of electricity and electronics, and the operation and use of photonic devices is introduced. This area of study offers examples of theoretical and practical applications of these technologies.

Students continue to have regular experience in experimental investigation in the laboratory. They design and carry out an extended practical investigation. They collect accurate data, evaluate the quality of data and measurement processes, and make conclusions based on the data. Mathematical modelling, including calculations, is applied to all areas of study to organise first-hand and secondhand data, make predictions and link concepts. Students analyse and solve more complex qualitative and quantitative problems. Computer and/or graphics calculator programs are used to collect and analyse first-hand and second-hand data, and to present investigation findings.

Unit 3 consists of two prescribed areas of study:

   Motion in one and two dimensions

   Electronics and photonics.

Students will complete a third area of study to be chosen from one of six detailed studies:
   Einstein’s special relativity                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Synchrotron and its applications

   Materials and their use in structures                                                        

   Photonics                            

   Further electronics                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

 Sound                  

Unit 4

Unit 4 focuses on the development and limitations of models in explaining physical phenomena. A field model of electromagnetism is applied to the generation of electricity, and the development of models that explain the complex interactions of light and matter are considered. The detailed studies provide examples of innovative technologies used for research and communication. Students continue to undertake extensive and regular experimental work in the laboratory. They design and carry out investigations, collect accurate data, evaluate the quality of data and
measurement processes, and make conclusions based on the data. 

Mathematical modelling, including calculations, continues to be used to organise first-hand and second-hand data, to link concepts, to make predictions and to identify trends. Students analyse and solve more complex qualitative and quantitative problems. Computer and/or graphics calculator programs are used to collect and analyse first-hand and second-hand data, and to present investigation findings.

Unit 4 consists of two prescribed areas of study:
   Electric power

   Interactions of light and matter.

 Assessment: Units 3 and 4

The award of satisfactory completion for a unit is based on a decision that the student has demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes specified for the unit. This decision will be based on the teacher’s assessment of the student’s performance on designated assessment tasks.

The VCAA will supervise the assessment of all students undertaking units 3 and 4. In the study of VCE Physics, students’ level of achievement will be determined by school-assessed Coursework (SAC), a mid-year examination and an end-of-year examination. Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Physics are as follows:

•   Unit 3 SAC: 24%  (including the detailed study)

•   Unit 4 SAC: 16%

•   End-of-year examination: 60% 

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titlePsychology

Psychology is the scientific study of mental processes and behaviour in humans. In the VCE study of Psychology, students explore complex human behaviours and thought processes. They develop
empathetic understandings and an understanding of mental health issues in society. Students are given the opportunity to apply psychological principles to everyday situations such as workplace and
social relations.

Psychology provides students with a sophisticated framework for understanding the complex interactions between biological, behavioural, cognitive and socio-cultural factors that influence thought, emotions and behaviour. The study assists students to further develop effective language skills for communication, and numeracy skills for research, data analysis and other applications. In addition, students develop a range of broader skills including those of problem solving, critical evaluation and the application of processes of scientific inquiry.

The study of Psychology leads to opportunities in a range of careers that involve working with children, adults, families and communities in a variety of settings. These include academic and research institutions, management and human resources, and government, corporate and private enterprises. Fields of applied psychology include educational, environmental, forensic, health, sport and organisational psychology. Specialist fields of psychology include counselling and clinical contexts, as well as neuropsychology, social psychology and developmental psychology.

Unit 3: The Conscious Self

Unit 3 focuses on the study of the relationship between the brain and the mind through examining the basis of consciousness, behaviour, cognition and memory. Advances in brain research methods
have opened new ways of understanding the relationship between mind, brain and behaviour. The limitations of traditionally invasive approaches in human research have given way to the use of non-
invasive methods such as brain imaging technologies, including positron emission tomography (PET), functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS).

Students study the structure and functioning of the human brain and nervous system, and explore the nature of consciousness and altered states of consciousness including sleep. They also consider
the function of the nervous system in memory and investigate the ways in which information is processed, stored and utilised. They apply different theories of memory and forgetting to their
everyday learning experiences. Students analyse research methodologies associated with classic and contemporary theories, studies and models; consider ethical issues associated with the conduct of
research and the use of findings; and apply appropriate research methods when undertaking their own investigations.

Assessment

A student’s level of achievement in unit 3 will be determined by school-assessed coursework (SAC) and a mid-year examination. The SAC for unit 3 will contribute 17%. The mid-year examination will contribute 33%. 

The SACs are outlined below:

   SAC 1: Test on states of consciousness    SAC 2: Essay on sleep

   SAC 3: Test on central and peripheral nervous systems    SAC 4: Empirical research activity on memory.

Unit 4: Brain, Behaviour and Experience

Unit 4 focuses on the interrelationship between learning, the brain and its response to experiences, and behaviour. The overall quality of functioning of the brain depends on experience, and its plasticity means that different kinds of experience change and configure the brain in different ways.

Students investigate learning as a mental process that leads to the acquisition of knowledge,development of new capacities and changed behaviours. Understanding the mechanisms of learning, the cognitive processes that affect readiness for learning, and how people learn informs both personal and social issues. Students build on their conceptual understanding of learning to consider it as one of several important facets involved in a biopsychosocial approach to the analysis of mental health and illness. They consider different concepts of normality, and learn to differentiate between normal responses such as stress to external stimuli, and mental disorders. Students use a biopsychosocial framework - a conceptual model which includes psychological and social factors in addition to biological factors in understanding a person’s mental state - to explore the nature of stress, simple phobia and a selected mental disorder.

The intent of the study is not that of diagnosis and treatment, but to explore causes of mental illness, avenues of assistance and factors that promote mental wellbeing. Students analyse research methodologies associated with classic and contemporary theories, studies and models; consider ethical issues associated with the conduct of research and the use of findings; and apply appropriate research methods when undertaking their own investigations.

Assessment

A student’s level of achievement in unit 4 will be determined by school-assessed coursework (SAC) and a mid-year examination. The SAC for unit 4 will contribute 17%. The mid-year examination will contribute 33%. 

The SACs are outlined below:

   SAC 1: Annotated folio of practical activities

   SAC 2: Essay on the comparison of two learning theories

   SAC 3: Test on the neural basis of learning

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