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VCE Philosophy


This study enables students to:

  • understand the nature of western philosophy and its methods

  • identify and articulate philosophical questions

  • understand and analyse significant philosophical ideas, viewpoints and arguments in their historical contexts  

  • explore ideas, responding to central philosophical questions, viewpoints and arguments with clarity, precision and logic

  • understand relationships between responses to philosophical questions and contemporary issues

  • cultivate open-mindedness, reflecting critically on their thinking and that of others, and exploring alternative approaches to philosophical questions. 


Units 1 and 2:  Demonstration of achievement of outcomes and satisfactory completion of a unit is determined by evidence gained through the assessment of a range of learning activities and tasks. 

Units 3 and 4: School assessed coursework (50%)  

End-of-year Examination (50%)

UNIT 1: Existence, knowledge & reasoning

UNIT 2: Questions of value

What is the nature of reality? How can we acquire certain knowledge? These are some of the questions that have challenged humans for millennia and underpin ongoing endeavours in areas as diverse as science, justice and the arts. This unit engages students with fundamental philosophical questions through active, guided investigation and critical discussion of two key areas of philosophy:  

epistemology and metaphysics.  Students investigate relevant debates in applied epistemology and metaphysics, and consider whether the philosophical bases of these debates continue to have relevance in contemporary society and our everyday lives.  

This unit enables students to explore these questions in relation to different categories of value judgment within the realms of morality, political and social philosophy and aesthetics. Students also explore ways in which viewpoints and arguments in value theory can inform and be informed by contemporary debates. They study at least one primary philosophical text, using the complete text or an extract, and develop a range of skills including formulating philosophical questions and informed responses. For the purposes of this study a primary text is defined as offering a positive argument or viewpoint rather than mere critique.  

UNIT 3: Minds, bodies and persons

UNIT 4: The good life

This unit considers basic questions regarding the mind and the self through two key questions: Are human beings more than their bodies? Is there a basis for the belief that an individual remains the same person over time? Students critically compare the viewpoints and arguments put forward in philosophical sources to their own views on these questions and to contemporary debates.  

This unit considers the crucial question of what it is for a human to live well. What does an understanding of human nature tell us about what it is to live well? What is the role of happiness in a life well lived? Is morality central to a good life? How does our social context impact on our conception of a good life? In this unit, students explore philosophical texts that have had a significant impact on western ideas about the good life.  Students critically compare the viewpoints and arguments in set texts to their views on how we should live, and use their understandings to inform a reasoned response to contemporary debates.

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