VCE Physical Education

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This information is based on the study information provided by VCAA.


Physical Education examines the biological, physiological, psychological, social and cultural influences on performance and participation in physical activity.  Theory and practice are integrated in this study, as students participate in physical activities that allow them to reflect on factors affecting performance and participation in physical activity.

This subject is relevant to students with a wide range of expectations including those who wish to pursue further formal study at the tertiary level or in vocational and training settings.  This subject prepares students for such fields as human movement, nursing or physiotherapy as well as providing valuable knowledge and skills for participating in their own sporting and physical activity pursuits.


The study is made up of four units:

  • Unit 1: Bodies in motion
  • Unit 2: Sports coaching and physically active lifestyles
  • Unit 3: Physical activity participation and physiological performance
  • Unit 4: Enhancing performance

Unit 1

This unit explores how the body systems work to provide effective sport performance.  Biomechanical principles and their impact on efficient movement are also studied, and students are introduced to the concepts of aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways.  Students also conduct more detailed study into one of the areas covered earlier in the unit. 

Areas of Study

  1. Body systems and human movement:    The musculoskeletal, cardiovascular and respiratory systems of the human body are examined and their relationship to movement is explored.  An understanding of aerobic and anaerobic energy pathways is introduced.
  2. Biomechanical movement principles:      Students develop an understanding of the application of biomechanical principles to effective movement.  Practical activities are used to explore and demonstrate these principles. 
  3. Detailed study: Students expand their understanding of one of the earlier areas of study by examining one of the following:
    • Technological advancements from a biomechanical perspective – students examine the changes made to sporting techniques and equipment.  The biomechanical effect of these changes and the result on performance is explored.
    • Injury prevention and rehabilitation – students focus on risk management strategies used is sport and the rehabilitation practices and processes applied to enable athletes to reenter sport.

Unit 2

This unit explores a range of coaching practices and their contribution to effective coaching and improved performance of an athlete.  Physical activity and the role that it plays on a population’s health is also explored.  Students also increase their depth of knowledge in one of these two areas by conducting a detailed study.

Areas of Study

  1. Effective coaching practices: Students focus on the roles and responsibilities of a coach and also look at coaching pathways and accreditation.
  2. Physically active lifestyles: Students look at the range of physical activity options in the community, health benefits of participation in regular activity and consequences of inactivity. The Physical Activity and Sedentary Behaviour Guidelines are also introduced.
  3. Detailed study: Students expand their understanding of one of the earlier areas of study by examining one of the following:
    • Decision making in sport – students analyse and interpret different strategies and tactics used within game situations, as well as coaching strategies.
    • Promoting active living – students develop an understanding of the practical uses of surveys and questionnaires in the collection of data, using this to compare activity levels to national guidelines.  Media communication tools are also explored.

Unit 3

This unit introduces students to an understanding of physical activity and sedentary behaviour from a participatory and physiological perspective.  Interplay of energy systems, mechanisms of fatigue and promotion of recovery are also studied.  

Areas of Study

  1. Monitoring and promotion of physical activity: Students use objective and subjective methods for assessing physical activity levels, learning about the advantages and limitations for using each method.  Government and non-government strategies to promote physical activity levels are critiqued by students. 
  2. Physiological responses of physical activity: Students study the roles that the cardiovascular, respiratory and muscular systems play in supplying oxygen and energy to working muscles.  The interplay of energy systems, factors contributing to fatigue and recovery strategies are also explored.  

Unit 4

For this unit, students undertake an activity analysis of a sport to identify key components of fitness, energy systems and muscle groups used.  This information is then used to develop a training program that the students completes, with the aim to improve their performance in the key fitness elements of that sport.  Nutritional, physiological and psychological strategies that are used to enhance performance are also studied.

Areas of Study

  1. Planning, implementing and evaluating a training program: Students complete an activity analysis of a sport to determine the fitness requirements.  They complete a fitness testing battery and consider the manner in which fitness can be improved by the application of appropriate training principles and methods.  Students are required to be involved in training for the sport studied for a number of weeks as a part of this unit. 
  2. Performance enhancement and recovery practices: Students examine nutritional, physiological and physiological strategies used to enhance performance and recovery.  Both legal and illegal methods are studied and different anti-doping codes are examined.


Satisfactory Completion

Demonstrated achievement of the set of outcomes prescribed in the areas of study, as specified for each unit.  Assessment tasks may include any of the following:  written reports, tests, structured questions, oral reports, laboratory reports, case study analysis, video analysis, data analysis and media analysis.

Levels of Achievement

Units 1 and 2

Satisfactory completion of the outcomes and levels of achievement are determined by the school.

Units 3 and 4

School assessed coursework and an end of year examination:

  • Unit 3 school assessed coursework (25%)
  • Unit 4 school assessed coursework (25%)
  • Units 3 and 4 examination (50%)