The humanities and social sciences enable students to analyse human behaviour in its social and cultural aspects, developing a deeper understanding of their place in the world and considering challenges for the future.

Geography (Years 7 to 12)

Year 7
The unit ‘Place and Liveability’ focuses on the concept of place through an investigation of liveability. This unit examines factors that influence liveability and how it is perceived It develops students' ability to evaluate the liveability of their own place and to investigate whether it can be improved through planning. The liveability of places is investigated using studies drawn from regional Australia and the local area. 

The second unit, Water in the world focuses on water as an example of a renewable environmental resource. This unit examines the many uses of water, the ways it is perceived and valued, its different forms as a resource, the ways it connects places as it moves through the environment, its varying availability in time and across space, and its scarcity.

The content of this year level is organised into two strands: Geographical Knowledge and Understanding and Geographical Inquiry and Skills. The key inquiry questions for Year 7 are:

  • How do people's reliance on places and environments influence their perception of them?
  • What effect does the uneven distribution of resources and services have on the lives of people?
  • What approaches can be used to improve the availability of resources and access to services?

Year 8
The unit Landforms and landscapes focuses on investigating geomorphology through a study of landscapes and their landforms. This unit examines the processes that shape individual landforms, the values and meanings placed on landforms and landscapes by diverse cultures, hazards associated with landscapes, and management of landscapes. The distinctive aspects of landforms and landscapes are investigated using studies drawn from the local region.

The second unit, 'Changing Nations' investigates the changing human geography of countries, as revealed by shifts in population distribution. The spatial distribution of population is a sensitive indicator of economic and social change, and has significant environmental, economic and social effects, both negative and positive. The unit explores the process of urbanisation and draws on a study of a country of the Asia region to show how urbanisation changes the economies and societies of low and middle-income countries.

The content of this year level is organised into two strands: Geographical Knowledge and Understanding and Geographical Inquiry and Skills.

The key inquiry questions for Year 8 are:

  • How do environmental and human processes affect the characteristics of places and environments?
  • How do the interconnections between places, people and environments affect the lives of people?
  • What are the consequences of changes to places and environments and how can these changes be managed?

Year 9
The unit Biomes and food security focuses on investigating the role of the biotic environment and its role in food and fibre production. This unit examines the biomes of the world, their alteration and significance as a source of food and fibre, and the environmental and social challenges and constraints on equitable practices both now and in the future. These distinctive aspects of biomes, food production, food security and fair trade are investigated using studies drawn from Australia and across the world.

The second unit, Geographies of interconnections focuses on investigating how people, through their choices and actions, are connected to places throughout the world in a wide variety of ways, and how these connections help us work towards global consensus. This unit examines the interconnections between people and places through international sporting events. These distinctive aspects of interconnection are investigated using studies drawn from Australia and across the world.

The content of this year level is organised into two strands: Geographical Knowledge and Understanding and Geographical Inquiry and Skills.

The key inquiry questions for Year 9 are:

  • What are the causes and consequences of change in places and environments and how can this change be managed?
  • What are the future implications of changes to places and environments?
  • Why are interconnections and interdependencies important for the future of peoples and environments?

Years 10
Students study the phenomenon of Terrorism and how people perceive and respond to the challenge it represents.  In a study of sustainability students focus on the school and its immediate environs to assess our ongoing impact.  They conduct fieldwork and devise strategies to reduce our school's ecological footprint.  Further studies on Geographies of wellbeing on a local and global scale focuses on investigating differences in human wellbeing between places. This unit examines the different concepts and measures of human wellbeing, and the causes of global differences in these measures between countries from a variety of perspectives. They explore programs designed to reduce the gap between differences in wellbeing.

Year 10 Geography provides an excellent foundation for Senior studies in Geography, Biology, Chemistry, English, Legal Studies, Modern or Ancient History and Economics. It leads to a vast number of career opportunities such as architecture, town planning, environmental law, environmental science, tourism and recreation, real estate, cartography, geographic information systems, heritage/national park planning and management, resource/land management, environmental consulting and spatial science careers such as imagery, engineering and surveying.

Years 11 and 12
Students investigate places in Australia and across the globe to observe and measure spatial, environmental, economic, political, social and cultural factors. They interpret global concerns and challenges including responding to risk in hazard zones, planning sustainable places, managing land cover transformations and planning for population change. They develop an understanding of the complexities involved in sustainable planning and management practices.

Students observe, gather, organise, analyse and present data and information across a range of scales. They engage in real-world applications of geographical skills and thinking, including the collection and representation of data.

Big History (Year 9)

Big History is an elective Year 9 Social Science subject that was developed at Macquarie University in Australia and is now taught worldwide. It is resourced through the Big History Project website and has links to the International Big History Institute.

At Somerville House, students study Big History over a full year – covering 10 units which encompass the known history of the Universe – from ‘Big Bang’ through to the current day. The course is organised into thresholds of increasing complexity and has a strong focus on Historical skills of critical thinking and source analysis and a strong focus on literacy and technology.

Students will also cover one Australian Curriculum History unit (World War I) and one Australian Curriculum Geography unit (Biomes and Food Security) to ensure they are prepared to make informed subject choices leading into year 10.

The key questions of the Big History course are:

  • How has the Universe and life within it grown more complex over the past 13.8 billion years?
  • How do we know what we know about the past?
  • How can we judge claims about the past?
  • Why does what we “know” change over time”?
  • How what does happened during the early days of the Universe, the Solar System and the Earth shape what we are experience today?
Christian Education (Years 7 to 9)

Year 7
Christian Education is based on the teachings of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ. It recognises the importance of a reasoned approach to the Christian faith and to the development of a Christian worldview. Assessment is in the form of short exams, research assignments, group work, oral presentations and participation in class activities and discussions. Topics covered in Year 7 Christian Education include: Friendship, Using the Bible, Biblical Characters, Life, Shalom, Prayer, Themes from Narnia and Christmas.

Year 8
Topics covered in Year 8 Christian Education include: The Bible, Judaism, Jesus' Life and Teachings, Puberty, Poverty, Dealing with Disabilities and Christmas.

Year 9
Topics covered in Year 9 Christian Education include: Bible Overview, Science & God, Self-image and Self-Esteem, Hinduism, Ethics, Relationships and Changing Direction.

Year 10
Topics covered include: Jesus' Parables, Jesus' Resurrection, Forgiveness & Justice, Is the Bible Reliable, Personal Identity, Identity of Christ, Christ’s Resurrection, Forgiveness and Justice, Buddhism, Character & Decision-making.

Year 11
The Christian Education curriculum is based on the teachings of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ and recognises the importance of a reasoned approach to the Christian faith and to the development of a Christian worldview. Assessment is in the form of short exams, research assignments, group work, oral presentations and participation in class activities and discussions. Topics covered include: Book of James, Suffering & the Hiding Place, Islam, Managing Stress, History of Christianity, Cults, Dealing with Death & Grief, Does God Exist?

Year 12
The Christian Education curriculum is based on the teachings of the Bible and the person of Jesus Christ and recognises the importance of a reasoned approach to the Christian faith and to the development of a Christian worldview. Assessment is in the form of short exams, research assignments, group work, oral presentations and participation in class activities and discussions. Topics covered include: Extraordinary People, Technology & Ethics, the Search for Meaning and the Impact of Christianity on Western Culture.

History (Year 10)

History is a people-focused subject that explores motivations, identities, cultures and hopes for the future and views of the present that people have held from the ancient to modern times. Original evidence is analysed to explore what it can reveal about the past and so critical thinking with new perspectives is promoted.

In each semester, there is one research task and one examination task. The tests involve analysis of written and visual historical evidence on short response or essay format. During the research tasks, students are assisted to frame their own research questions, locate and analyse relevant material and synthesise it into an essay or independent source interrogation. Instrument-specific marking guides will be used that are reflective of criteria and standards appropriate to Year 10 but based in the Instrument-specific marking guides format to be used in summative assessment.

Ancient History (Years 11 and 12)

Ancient History provides opportunities for students to study people, societies and civilisations of the past, from the development of the earliest human communities to the end of the Middle Ages. Students explore the interaction of societies, and the impact of individuals and groups on ancient events and ways of life, and study the development of some features of modern society, such as social organisation, systems of law, governance and religion.

Students analyse and interpret archaeological and written evidence. They develop increasingly sophisticated skills and understandings of historical issues and problems by interrogating the surviving evidence of ancient sites, societies, individuals and significant historical periods. They investigate the problematic nature of evidence, pose increasingly complex questions about the past and formulate reasoned responses.

Students gain multi-disciplinary skills in analysing textual and visual sources, constructing arguments, challenging assumptions, and thinking both creatively and critically.

Subject recommendation: While a minimum of a B standard in Year 10 History is desirable, students studying Ancient History for the first time in Year 11 will have the opportunity to develop the skills and to acquire the knowledge base necessary to complete the course successfully.

Modern History (Years 11 and 12)

Modern History provides opportunities for students to gain historical knowledge and understanding about some of the main forces that have contributed to the development of the Modern World and to think historically and form a historical consciousness in relation to these same forces.

Modern History enables students to empathise with others and make meaningful connections between the past, present and possible futures.

Students learn that the past is contestable and tentative. Through inquiry into ideas, movements, national experiences and international experiences they discover how the past consists of various perspectives and interpretations.

Students gain a range of transferable skills that will help them become empathetic and critically-literate citizens who are equipped to embrace a multicultural, pluralistic, inclusive, democratic, compassionate and sustainable future. 

Subject recommendation: While a minimum result of a B standard in Year 10 History is desirable, students beginning Modern History for the first time in Year 11 will have opportunities to review and develop the relevant knowledge and skills that they acquired during their Years 7 to 9 studies in social science subjects. Usually all that is required is a curiosity about the past and some emerging interest in current events.