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Structure of the VCE

​How the Victorian Certificate of Education is structured

The VCE (Victorian Certificate of Education) is normally undertaken over two years, and is structured around the completion of units of work. Each unit relates to a 'study' and has a number 1, 2, 3 or 4. A VCE 'study' is more commonly referred to as a 'subject', and most studies are made up of four sequential units. Some studies have a slightly different structure, and this is explained in the individual descriptions and pathway charts throughout this guide. Each unit lasts for one semester (half a year) and represents approximately 100 hours of work of which about 50 hours will be covered in class time and about 50 hours outside of class time, i.e. homework.

Students may enter studies at Units 1, 2 or 3, however there are many studies where it is not advisable to attempt Units 3 & 4 without first having completed both Units 1 and 2, e.g. Physics, LOTE, Mathematical Methods, Music Performance. In other cases it can be quite easy to change from one study in Units 1 & 2, to a different study for Units 3 & 4, where there is a common link or similar knowledge base. For example, a student completing Units 1 & 2 of Economics would also be prepared by that course to enter Business Management Units 3 & 4 because the content and skills across the units are quite similar.

Units 1 and 2 are mainly taught at the Year 11 level. Usually, Unit 1 will be offered in the first half of the year and Unit 2 in the second half of the year. Students may be able to change studies at the end of Unit 1 if they choose to do so, however this is subject to places being available in the study they wish to move to, and the change being possible within the constraints of the timetable for that year.

Units 3 & 4 must be taken as a sequence. Unit 3 must be in Semester 1 and Unit 4 must be in Semester 2. This means that if you enrol in Unit 3 of a study, you are expected to continue through to Unit 4 and complete the sequence. A Study Score will not be awarded unless the outcomes for both Unit 3 and Unit 4 are satisfied in the one year, except for students with Interrupted Studies status.

The VCAA expects that all students will complete the scored assessment that leads to an ATAR. While students can be awarded with their VCE with or without an ATAR score, the vast majority University of courses as well as many TAFE courses require a student to have a calculated ATAR. For information about the requirements of an ATAR or how the ATAR is calculated, students should consult the VICTER guide or ask for advice at the Careers Centre. The 2016 VICTER, however, will not become available until August 2015.

From 2014, the Victorian Government is awarding a new qualification called the VCE Baccalaureate to students who include Mathematical Methods and/or Specialist Mathematics as well as a LOTE in their VCE, both at the Units 3 and 4 level, as well as meeting certain standards in their English studies. This award does not replace the standard VCE or require the study of non-VCE units, but rather it is a special recognition that a student has successfully completed a VCE including the challenges of advanced mathematics and languages. For more details please refer to the VCE Baccalaureate page.