Year 11 Outdoor and Environmental Studies Unit 1 & 2
In Unit 1 you will learn about some of the ways in which humans understand and relate to nature through experiences of outdoor environments.
You will explore the many ways in which nature is understood and perceived and develop a clear understanding of the range of motivations for interacting with outdoor environments. You will also learn about the factors that affect an individual’s access to outdoor experiences and relationships with outdoor environments.
In Unit 2 you will learn about the characteristics of different outdoor environments and different ways of understanding them, as well as the impact humans have on outdoor environments.
Throughout the course you will participate outdoor experiences to develop practical skills and knowledge to help you live sustainably in outdoor environments and connect the theoretical course content with the real world.
Who is it for?
VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies is ideal for anyone who loves hiking, skiing, paddling or other outdoor pursuits, and wants to learn more about the natural environment and our interactions with it.
The course is a mix of sociology and science with a dash of PE and geography, so while it does have a significant practical component, it is an academic subject that is suitable for people with a broad range of interests.
This subject includes three practical outdoor experiences. These trips will involve spending five days participating in adventurous outdoor activities with Rubicon Outdoor School and are an essential part of your learning.
Outdoor and Environmental Studies prepares you for further study in fields such as outdoor recreation, environmental science, geography, and education, and it also provides you with skills and knowledge for pursuing your own outdoor interests.
What do you do?
In this course you will complete:
- Reading articles, watching videos and exploring websites to learn about outdoor environments, outdoor experiences and our interactions with them.
- Quizzes, interactive activities and other online learning tools.
- Regular discussion forums and polls
- Online classes
- Weekly assigned tasks primarily consisting of short answer questions but also including research and multimedia tasks.
- Three practical experiences. During these experiences you will complete a journal that will form the basis for 50% of your assessment in this subject.
Assessment in this subject is primarily in the form of structured, short-answer questions – 50% of which relate directly to your journals from practical experiences.
What skills do you need?
There are no pre-requisites for this subject however:
- The practical experiences are a key component of the course and its assessment, so an ability and desire to attend these trips is essential.
- While there is a significant practical component, this is also an academic course. An interest in learning about science, geography and the social sciences, as they relate to the outdoors, is also important.
What skills do you develop?
This course enables students to
- Develop skills and knowledge for safe and sustainable participation in outdoor experiences.
- Analyse motivations for seeking outdoor experiences
- Analyse different ways of knowing, experiencing and responding to outdoor environments
- Analyse risk in outdoor environments and our responses to it.
- Explain a range of factors that affect outdoor experiences.
- Describe, compare and contrast the characteristics of different outdoor environments
- Identify and evaluate the impacts of different types of activities on outdoor environments
- Identify and apply practices for promoting positive impacts on outdoor environments
Textbook: Nelson Outdoor and Environmental Studies VCE Units 1-4 (4th edition) Nelson Cengage Learning 2018
The ability to attend the practical component of the course is also a requirement of the subject
Complete the pre-enrolment form: https://www.vsv.vic.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/OES_PreEnrolment-1.pdf
PART A: Student Form- to be completed by the student and guardian
PART B: School supervisor form- this form should be completed by the school supervisor when appointed.
‘Please note that student enrolments for this subject are limited by the availability of spaces at the outdoor education camps VSV is partnered with. Early enrolments will be given priority. Late enrolments may be asked to consider an alternate subject.’
It is also important to note that students will need to undertake Unit 1 and 2 in the same year, and no transfers will be accepted.
Things to think about
While this course has a significant, and highly engaging practical component, and aspects of the content will involve investigating adventurous outdoor sports like climbing, skiing and mountain biking, it is also a rigorous academic subject. It requires students to investigate and analyse scientific, geographic and sociological information. And all assessment tasks require written responses to prompt questions. You will not be assessed on your ability to put up a tent or hike long distances. Rather on your understanding of how modern tent technology impacts outdoor experiences and what might motivate someone to hike long distances.
Equally, an interest in the natural environment and a desire to learn about it will be of much greater use than mad MTB skills, a bomber roll or the ability to stomp a 540 spin-out in the park. And if you don’t know what any of that means, and just love spending time in the bush, that might be sign that you’ve come to the right place. (Although if you can bust out an back pan am on a big stopper or you learned to telemark before you learned to walk, you’re still welcome)
Things you can do now
For a detailed understanding of what the content of this course includes go to the VCAA website and OES study design.
If you’d like to get your outdoor adventure on from the comfort of your couch, these films/books are all referred to at some point in the course but are listed as optional viewing – so if you have some time over the summer, you might want to get some extra credit in the bank. And they are all outdoor classics. The films were all streaming on various services at the time of writing.
Meru (2015) – Conrad Anker, Jimmy Chin and Renan Ozturk take on the most technically difficult peak in the Himalayas. An excellent study in one kind of motivation.
Blood Road (2017) – The mysteries surrounding her father’s death in the Vietnam war lead ultra-endurance mountain biker Rebecca Rusch on an emotional journey as she pedals 1200 miles of the Ho Chi Minh trail. Lots in here but a good insight into different understandings of outdoor environments.
Into Thin Air – This one’s a book. The mountaineering classic by Jon Krakauer about the 1995 disaster on Everest. There’s lot in here about motivation, risk, commercialisation of outdoor experiences and human impact. It was made into a 1997 movie of the same name, or you could watch the 2015 film Everest about the same set of events in which Jon Krakauer is a character.
127 Hours (2010) – Aaron Ralston gets stuck in a Utah Canyon. A study in one key aspect of outdoor safety.
Into the Wild (2007) – Another Jon Krakauer book made into a movie – the true story of Christopher McCandless’ journey into the Alaskan wilderness. This is fascinating from a motivation perspective, but there is also plenty in here about risk and the way people interact with outdoor places (and each other).
Free Solo (2018) – Alex Honnold climbs El Capitan in Yosemite National Park without ropes. A case study in risk and motivation.