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VCE Humanities

Geography Unit 3: Changing the Land


Geography Units 1 and 2 are recommended.

Course Description

This unit focusses on two investigations of geographical change: change to land cover and change to land use. Land cover includes biomes such as forest, grassland, tundra and wetlands, as well as land covered by ice and water. Land cover is the natural state of the biophysical environment developed over time as a result of the interconnection between climate, soils, landforms and flora and fauna and, increasingly, interconnections with human activity. Natural land cover has been altered by many processes such as geomorphological events, plant succession and climate change. People have modified land cover to produce a range of land uses to satisfy needs such as housing, resource provision, communication, recreation and so on. Students investigate major processes that are changing land cover in many regions of the world.

  • Deforestation.
  • Desertification.
  • Melting glaciers and ice sheets.

Students investigate the distribution and causes of these three processes. They select one location for each of the three processes to develop a greater understanding of the changes to land cover produced by these processes, the impacts of these changes and responses to these changes at different scales.

At a local scale students investigate land use change using appropriate fieldwork techniques and secondary sources. They investigate the scale of change, the reasons for change and the impacts of change.

Areas of Study

Land Use Change

Students select a local area and use appropriate fieldwork techniques and secondary sources to investigate the processes and impacts of land use change. This change may have recently occurred, is underway or is planned for the near future.

Land Cover Change

Students undertake an overview of global land cover and changes that have occurred over time. They investigate deforestation, desertification, and melting glaciers and ice sheets. They analyse these processes, explain their impacts on land cover and discuss responses to these land cover changes at three different locations in the world – one location for each process. They also evaluate three different global responses to the impacts of land cover change, one global response for each process.


Outcomes Assessment Tasks Marks Allocated
(school-assessed coursework)
Analyse, describe and explain land use change and assess its impacts.

Structured questions (approximately 50–60 minutes).

Fieldwork report (approximately 1500–2000 words).

Analyse, describe and explain processes
that result in changes to land cover and
discuss the impacts and responses resulting from these changes.
Analysis of geographic data (approximately 50–60 minutes). 50
Total Marks 100

Overall Final Assessment

Graded Assessment Title Assessment Exam Duration Contribution to Study Score (%)
1 Unit 3 Coursework School-assessed   25
2 Unit 4 Coursework School-assessed   25
3 Written Examination November 2 hours 50


Reproduced by permission of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: