Australia has a varied and abundant food supply, and food and cooking have become prominent in digital media and publishing. Globally, many people do not have access to a secure and varied food supply and many Australians, amid a variety of influences, consume food and beverage products that may harm their health. This study examines the background to this abundance and explores reasons for our food choices.

VCE Food Studies is designed to build the capacities of students to make informed food choices. Students develop their understanding of food while acquiring skills that enable them to take greater ownership of their food decisions and eating patterns. This study complements and supports further training and employment opportunities in the fields of home economics, food technology, food manufacturing and hospitality.

Units of Study

Unit 1:

Food Origins

This unit focuses on food from historical and cultural perspectives. Students investigate the origins and roles of food through time and across the world. In Area of Study 1 students explore how humanity has historically sourced its food, examining the general progression from hunter-gatherer to rural-based agriculture, to today’s urban living and global trade in food. Students consider the origins and significance of food through inquiry into particular food-producing regions of the world.

In Area of Study 2 students focus on Australia. They look at Australian indigenous food prior to European settlement and how food patterns have changed since, particularly through the influence of food production, processing and manufacturing industries and immigration. Students investigate cuisines that are part of Australia’s culinary identity today and reflect on the concept of an Australian cuisine.

They consider the influence of technology and globalisation on food patterns. Throughout this unit students complete topical and contemporary practical tasks to enhance, demonstrate and share their learning with others.

Unit 2:

Food makers

In this unit students investigate food systems in contemporary Australia. Area of Study 1 focuses on commercial food production industries, while Area of Study 2 looks at food production in small-scale domestic settings, as both a comparison and complement to commercial production. Students gain insight into the significance of food industries to the Australian economy and investigate the capacity of industry to provide safe, high-quality food that meets the needs of consumers.

Students use practical skills and knowledge to produce foods and consider a range of evaluation measures to compare their foods to commercial products. They consider the effective provision and preparation of food in the home, and analyse the benefits and challenges of developing and using practical food skills in daily life. In demonstrating their practical skills, students design new food products and adapt recipes to suit particular needs and circumstances. They consider the possible extension of their role as small-scale food producers by exploring potential entrepreneurial opportunities.

Unit 3:

Food In Daily Life

This unit investigates the many roles and everyday influences of food. Area of Study 1 explores the science of food: our physical need for it and how it nourishes and sometimes harms our bodies. Students investigate the physiology of eating and appreciating food, and the microbiology of digestion. They also investigate the functional properties of food and the changes that occur during food preparation and cooking. They analyse the scientific rationale behind the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating (see and develop their understanding of diverse nutrient requirements. Area of Study 2 focuses on influences on food choice: how communities, families and individuals change their eating patterns over time and how our food values and behaviours develop within social environments. Students inquire into the role of food in shaping and expressing identity and connectedness and the ways in which food information can be filtered and manipulated. They investigate behavioural principles that assist in the establishment of lifelong, healthy dietary patterns.

The practical component of this unit enables students to understand food science terminology and to apply specific techniques to the production of everyday food that facilitates the establishment of nutritious and sustainable meal patterns.

Unit 4:

Food Issues, Challenges & Futures

In this unit students examine debates about global and Australian food systems. Area of Study 1 focuses on issues about the environment, ecology, ethics, farming practices, the development and application of technologies, and the challenges of food security, food safety, food wastage, and the use and management of water and land. Students research a selected topic, seeking clarity on current situations and points of view, considering solutions and analysing work undertaken to solve problems and support sustainable futures.

Area of Study 2 focuses on individual responses to food information and misinformation and the development of food knowledge, skills and habits to empower consumers to make discerning food choices. Students consider how to assess information and draw evidence-based conclusions. They apply this methodology to navigate contemporary food fads, trends and diets. They practise and improve their food selection skills by interpreting food labels and analysing the marketing terms used on food packaging.

The practical component of this unit provides students with opportunities to apply their responses to environmental and ethical food issues, and to extend their food production repertoire reflecting the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.

Example pathways
  • Catering
  • Dietitian
  • Chef
  • Chemistry Technician
  • Food Processing
  • Nutritionist
  • Wine Maker
  • Retail Industry
  • Education

This is a guide only, please see the careers team for pathway planning advice.


There are no prerequisites for entry to Units 1, 2 and 3. Students must undertake Unit 3 prior to undertaking Unit 4.


Unit 3 and 4 Assessment

Percentage contributions to the study score in VCE Food Studies are as follows:

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework: 30 per cent.
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework: 30 per cent.
  • End-of-year examination: 40 per cent