VCE History course structure

vce history course
The attack on the Bastille, Paris in July 1789

History (Revolutions) is a senior secondary history subject offered in Victoria, Australia. It is one of several history courses in the Victorian Certificate of Education or VCE.

Like other VCE courses, History (Revolutions) is accredited and managed by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority or VCAA. Students who enrol in History (Revolutions) undertake an intensive study of two modern revolutions. These two revolutions are chosen by teachers or schools from four options: the American Revolution (1754-1789), the French Revolution (1774-1795), the Russian Revolution (1896-1927) and the Chinese Revolution (1912-1971).

This page contains a brief overview of the VCE History course, its content and structure. For more detailed information, please consult the VCAA Study Design.

Broadly speaking, students study their first revolution in Unit Three (usually completed in the first semester, between January and June) and their second revolution in Unit Four (usually in second semester, between July and early October).

For the purposes of course structure and assessment, all four revolutions are divided into two Areas of Study. Each Area of Study takes around eight or nine weeks to complete. Students will complete two assessment tasks in each unit, one assessment task for each Area of Study. 

The fifth and final assessment task is a written examination, held in early to mid-November. This exam tests all four Areas of Study across both revolutions. The exam paper is set by VCAA and student papers are assessed by VCAA appointed history teachers. The Areas of Studies for all four revolutions are:

Area of Study One: Causes of revolution. 

This Area of Study, as its name suggests, focuses on the conditions and causal factors that led to revolution.

Students will examine the government and society of the old regime, its social organisation, its classes and groups, its interests, inequalities and grievances. They will study the conditions, factors, policies and events that led to the outbreak of the revolution. Students will examine how the revolution unfolded, developed, gained support and, eventually, came to succeed.

Students will also investigate and evaluate the specific people, groups, ideas and events that contributed to revolution – as well as those who tried to resist it. The timeframes for this Area of Study, as specified in the VCAA Study Design, are:

Area of Study One: Causes of Revolution
American Revolution 1754 to July 1776 From the French and Indian War to the signing of the Declaration of Independence
French Revolution 1774 to October 1789 From the ascension of King Louis XVI to the October Days of 1789
Russian Revolution 1896 to October 1917 From the coronation of Tsar Nicholas II to the Bolshevik Revolution of October 1917
Chinese Revolution 1912 to October 1949 From the formation of the Chinese republic to the communist victory in 1949

Area of Study Two: Consequences of revolution

This Area of Study focuses on the effects of the revolution and the evolution of post-revolutionary government and society.

Students will learn about the new government, its attempts to consolidate power and its various attempts at reform. There should be scrutiny of the nature of government, leadership and power in the new society. Students will also evaluate the effectiveness of the new regime at implementing the revolution’s goals and ideals.

As an endpoint, students consider whether particular people, groups or classes were better or worse off after the revolution. The timeframes for this Area of Study, as specified in the VCAA Study Design, are:

Area of Study Two – Consequences of Revolution
American Revolution July 1776 to 1789 From the Declaration of Independence to the acceptance of the Bill of Rights
French Revolution October 1789 to 1795 From the October Days to the dissolution of the Convention in Year III
Russian Revolution October 1917 to 1927 From the first Sovnarkom decrees to the end of the New Economic Policy
Chinese Revolution October 1949 to 1971 From the communist victory to the death of Lin Biao

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