St Clair High School logo

St Clair High School

St Clair High School

Personal Best for Everyone

Telephone02 9670 6700

Human society and its environment

In human society and its environment (HSIE), both subjects of history and geography are mandatory from Kindergarten to Year 10.

Students learn specific historical and geographical concepts and skills in history and geography. They also have an opportunity to learn more about people and the societies and environments in which they live through elective subjects in Years 7 to 10 (Stages 4 to 5).

A large number of individual subjects make up the key learning area of HSIE in which students:

  • research, gather and analyse information
  • question and make judgements
  • write for a variety of purposes. 

In Year 11 and 12, students can choose from a range of HSIE courses. These include:

  • Aboriginal Studies
  • Ancient History
  • Business Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • History Extension
  • Legal Studies
  • Modern History
  • Society and Culture
  • Studies of Religion.

HSIE (Human Society and Its Environment) is currently the largest faculty area at St Clair HS, covering 15 different subject areas. The mandatory courses are History, Geography and Languages (currently either German or Japanese) in Yr 7-10. Electives in Stage 5 include Elective History, Commerce, Aboriginal Studies and Work Education. Preliminary/HSC courses include Ancient History, Modern History, Society and Culture, Business Studies, Legal Studies, Business Services and Work Studies.

The HSIE faculty also facilitates the school commemoration ceremonies for ANZAC and Remembrance day, the St Mary’s RSL sub-branch scholarship competition, the Running a Business day and the History Mastermind competition, hosting teams from around 25 other schools at St Clair HS.


History and Geography are mandatory subjects for students from Year 7 through to 10. In HSIE we semesterise the subjects, meaning each year students will spend one semester (two terms) studying History and one semester studying Geography. Both History and Geography have recently moved to a new syllabus based on the Australian Curriculum

History encompasses a range of topics, from Ancient Australia, China, Rome and Egypt, through the Vikings in the Middle Ages, the Industrial Revolution and the Settlement of Australia, to more contemporary topics such as Human Rights Movements and WWI and WWII. The skills focus not so much on rote learning the past, but challenging students to think critically about the past and to make judgements based on available sources and evidence.

Geography focuses more on the processes that shape the world in which we live. The topics cover a mix of Physical Geography (the natural world) and Human Geography (the ‘built’ environment). Topics include Landscapes and Landforms, Human Wellbeing, Global Interconnections and Environmental Change and Management. The focus of the course is to develop skills used in Geography – using maps, data, statistics, GIS (Geographical Information Systems) and to think critically about issues that will affect the world in the future.


We are fortunate in HSIE to have teachers capable of teaching German and Japanese. Depending on timetabling, your student will study either one or both of these, in either Year 7 or 8 for the whole year.

Stage 5 electives (Year 9-10)

Before entering Year 9, students are able to choose three elective subjects for a 200-hour course of study across Year 9 and 10. In HSIE we offer:

·         Commerce – learn broadly about money, business, finance and law. Topics include Personal Finance, Travel, Law and Society and Running a Business. This last topic is combined with Marketing in Year 10 in a project-based approach where student work in groups to run a business for a day at school. They are able to generate profits from this and are then required to donate the profits to a chosen charity.

·         Elective History – an additional topic of study from the mandatory course, for students who wish to pursue their passion for history. Topic options are many, and students often follow a project-based learning approach or an independent study pattern. Teachers will often facilitate student choices when choosing topics to study

·         Aboriginal Studies – allows students to study a wide range of topics associated with the cultures of the First Peoples of Australia. Combines history, tradition, culture, modern day challenges, sport and work opportunities.

·         Work Education – a more practical, work-focused alternative to Commerce. Allows students to explore a number of issues applicable to gaining entry into the workforce, such as composing a resume, applying for jobs, WHS and much more

HSC options

Ancient History - The study of Ancient History engages students in an investigation of life in early societies based on the analysis and interpretation of physical and written remains. In the Preliminary course, students study a range of case studies across Archaeology and Ancient societies, as well as completing an individual Historical Project. In HSC, student study four components – Pompeii and Herculaneum; an Ancient Society (usually Sparta); an Historical Period, which can come from Rome, Egypt, Greece or the Near East; and  a Personality study, which could include Caesar, Hatshepsut, Xerxes or others.

Business Services – a TVET course run at St Clair HS. Students work through a range of Business-focussed components, being marked off on competencies throughout the course. Involves practical activities that teach students how to work in a business environment. Students must complete a work placement, and this course can contribute to an ATAR through the completion of an exam.

Business Studies – An exploration of a range of issues facing the contemporary business world today. Business Studies investigates the role, operation and management of businesses within our society. Factors in the establishment, operation and management of a small business are integral to this course. We are lucky in that our teachers have real-world experience in the world of business as well as their academic training.

Modern History - Modern History is the study of crucial events, people and issues that have formed the modern world, from the French Revolution until the 21st century. The Preliminary course is structured to provide students with opportunities to investigate key features, individuals, groups, events, concepts and historiographical issues in a range of historical contexts as background for their HSC studies. Examples of courses studied include the Assassination of JFK and an individual Historical Investigation (Preliminary) and Power and Authority (including Hitler) and the Cold War in the HSC.

Legal Studies - Legal Studies is the study of our laws and how and why they are made, and how they work. This allows students to develop an awareness of their role in society. It is an interesting and informative course for all young people. It deals with both civil and criminal law, the role of courts and juries, the constitution, and examines significant legal cases.

Society and Culture - Society & Culture is the study of people and how they live in communities together. Areas of interest such as the challenges of adolescence, the family, gender roles, the media and globalization are explored in this subject. Students develop an understanding of how to do social research and undertake research in an area of particular interest to them. The research findings are presented for external assessment in the Personal Interest Project (PIP).

Work Studies - The Work Studies CEC syllabus is designed to assist students in their transition from school to work. It develops knowledge and understanding of the issues faced by students in the transition to work and the skills needed for effective career planning and performance of tasks in the work environment. Integral to the Work Studies syllabus is a focus on the development of essential workplace skills. They are central to the core module and each of the elective modules. Students have an opportunity to practise these skills in appropriate work contexts.