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VCE Humanities

Geography Unit 4: Human Population – Trends and Issues


Geography Unit 3: Changing the Land.

Course Description

In this unit students investigate the geography of human populations and explore the patterns of population change, movement and distribution, and how governments, organisations and individuals have responded to those changes in different parts of the world.

Students study population dynamics before undertaking an investigation into two significant population trends arising in different parts of the world. They examine the dynamics of populations and their economic, social, political and environmental impacts on people and places.

The growth of the world’s population from 2.5 billion in 1950 to over 7 billion since 2010 has been on a scale without parallel in human history. Much of the current growth is occurring within developing countries while the populations in many developed countries are either growing slowly or are declining.

Populations change by growth and decline in fertility and mortality, and by people moving to different places. The Demographic Transition Model and population structure diagrams provide frameworks for investigating the key dynamics of population.

Population movements such as voluntary and forced movements over long or short terms add further complexity to population structures and to economic, social, political and environmental conditions. Many factors influence population change, including the impact of government policies, economic conditions, wars and revolution, political boundary changes and hazard events.

Areas of Study

Population Dynamics

Students undertake an overview of world population distribution and growth before investigating the dynamics of population change over time and space. Through the study of population dynamics students investigate growth and decline in fertility and mortality, together with population movements. Students study forced and voluntary, and internal and external, population movements and how they can be long term or short term. The study is supported with examples from within and between countries with different economic and political conditions and social structures that illustrate the dynamics of population. Students develop understanding of the Demographic Transition Model and its applications, and the Malthusian theory of population.

Population Issues and Challenges

Students undertake investigations into two significant population trends that have developed in different parts of the world: a growing population of one country and an ageing population of another country.

Students place these trends and resulting issues and challenges in their world regional context. Issues resulting from these population trends include, among others, meeting healthcare and social service needs. Students investigate issues arising from each population trend, the challenges that arise in coping with the issues, and their interconnection with population dynamics. They evaluate the effectiveness of strategies in response to these issues and challenges. Strategies can be selected from government and/or non-government organisations. Comparison of strategies is undertaken within each selected country.


Outcomes Assessment Tasks Marks Allocated
(school-assessed coursework)
Analyse, describe and explain population dynamics on a global scale.  Analysis of geographic data (approximately 50–60 minutes). 40
Analyse, describe and explain the nature of significant population issues and challenges in selected locations and evaluate responses. Structured questions (approximately 100 minutes) 60
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: