VCE Outdoor and Environmental Studies provides students with the skills and knowledge to safely participate in activities in outdoor environments and to respect and value diverse environments. The blend of direct practical experience of outdoor environments with theory-based study enables informed understanding of human relationships with nature.

Historically, humans have modified outdoor environments to meet survival, commercial, conservation and recreation needs. Outdoor environments have become places of adventure, relaxation, scientific study, social action and enterprise. Outdoor environments also provide space for connectedness with nature and opportunities for reflection upon the past, present and future. These varying values and approaches generate a range of impacts on outdoor environments and can result in pressures and tensions between user groups, leading to issues concerning the preservation and sustainability of outdoor environments. Outdoor and Environmental Studies enables students to critically analyse these different relationships, effects and issues, providing the knowledge and skills to participate in and contribute to contemporary society.

Outdoor and Environmental Studies offers students a range of pathways including further formal study in areas where interaction with outdoor environments is central, such as natural resource management, nature-based tourism, outdoor leading and guiding, environmental research and policy, education, and agriculture.

Units of Study

Unit 1:

Exploring outdoor experiences

This unit examines some of the ways in which humans understand and relate to nature through experiences of outdoor environments. The focus is on individuals and their personal responses to and experiences of outdoor environments.
Students are provided with the opportunity to explore the many ways in which nature is understood and perceived. Students develop a clear understanding of the range of motivations for interacting with outdoor environments and the factors that affect an individual’s access to outdoor experiences and relationships with outdoor environments.

Through outdoor experiences, students develop practical skills and knowledge to help them live sustainably in outdoor environments. Students understand the links between practical experiences and theoretical investigations, gaining insight into a variety of responses to, and relationships with, nature.
Practical Activities: Coastal Experience, Bushwalking, Camping and Bush Craft application. Approximate cost: $250

Unit 2:

Discovering outdoor environments

This unit focuses on the characteristics of outdoor environments and different ways of understanding them, as well as the human impacts on outdoor environments.

In this unit students study nature’s impact on humans, as well as the ecological, social and economic implications of human impact on outdoor environments. Students develop a clear understanding of the impact of technologies and changing human lifestyles on outdoor environments.

Students examine a number of case studies of specific outdoor environments, including areas where there is evidence of human intervention. They develop the practical skills required to minimise human impact on outdoor environments. Students are provided with practical experiences as the basis for comparison between outdoor environments and reflection to develop theoretical knowledge about natural environments.

Practical activities: Cross country and downhill skiing/snowboarding/snowshoeing (dependent on conditions), Rock Climbing Experience. Approximate cost: $400

Unit 3:

Relationships with outdoor environments

The focus of this unit is the ecological, historical and social contexts of relationships between humans and outdoor environments in Australia. Case studies of impacts on outdoor environments are examined in the context of the changing nature of human relationships with outdoor environments in Australia.

Students consider a number of factors that influence contemporary relationships with outdoor environments. They also examine the dynamic nature of relationships between humans and their environment.

Students are involved in one or more experiences in outdoor environments, including in areas where there is evidence of human interaction. Through these practical experiences students are provided with the basis for comparison and reflection, and opportunities to develop theoretical knowledge and skills about specific natural environments.

Practical activities:Buchan Caves Historical camp trip, Forestry-Maryvale Mill Paper Mill Tour, Mining – Latrobe Valley Coal Mine Tour stations. Approximate cost: $250

Unit 4:

Sustainable outdoor relationships

In this unit students explore the sustainable use and management of outdoor environments. They examine the contemporary state of environments in Australia, consider the importance of healthy outdoor environments, and examine the issues in relation to the capacity of outdoor environments to support the future needs of the Australian population. 

Students examine the importance of developing a balance between human needs and the conservation of outdoor environments and consider the skills needed to be environmentally responsible citizens. They investigate current agreements and environmental legislation, as well as management strategies and policies for achieving and maintaining healthy and sustainable environments in contemporary Australian society.

Students engage in one or more related experiences in outdoor environments. They learn and apply the practical skills and knowledge required to sustain healthy outdoor environments, and evaluate the strategies and actions they employ. Through these practical experiences students are provided with the basis for comparison and reflection, and opportunities to develop and apply theoretical knowledge about outdoor environments.

Practical activities: Marine Coastal Experience. Approximate cost: $200

Suggested activities and environments.
TERM 1Coastal Experience:
Cape Patterson
*overnight trip
*coastal activity- Stand-up paddle Boarding lesson & Surf Lesson, coastal education
Coastal Experience:
Bear Gully
*overnight trip
*coastal activities
* Walkerville walk- Visit the lime Kilns
* Cape Liptrap Lighthouse
* Point Smythe Walk
Historical Relationships Camp:
*Buchan Caves Tour
* Mitchell River National Park Hike
* Den of Nargun Hike
* Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place Tour
*Gunai Kurnai Joint Management plan talk
TERM 2Gippsland National Park Experience:
Tarra Bulga National Park
Morwell National Park
*2 day trips
*Hiking and survival
National Park Experience:
Wilsons Promontory Trip
*2 Night Trip
* Beach activities and selected hikes
*Mt Oberon
* Little Oberon bay
Resource Use –
Walhalla Mining Tour
Walhalla walk/Hike
*Complete a tour of the walhalla mine tour
* Lunch in Walhalla
*Visit to local historical sites
TERM 3Alpine experience:
*Downhill skiing,
*Day Trip
Alpine Experience:
*1 day trip
1 day rock climbing
Mornington Penisula Trip:
*2 Day Trip
* Sea Kayaking, Lighthouse, small day walks
* Tree top climbing
TERM 4Coastal Experience:
Cape Patterson
*overnight trip
*coastal activity-
stand-up paddle
boarding Lesson, Surf Lesson, coastal education
Camp Experience:
*Overnight camping
*Camp skills
Bike riding
No scheduled field excursions

In 2022 we will aim to provide different practical activities at the VCE level, so that students don’t repeat field excursions.

Example pathways
  • Archaeologist
  • Biological Technician
  • Defence Forces
  • Diver
  • Education
  • Environmental Scientist
  • Fitness Instructor
  • Forrester, Park Ranger
  • Gardner
  • Geologist
  • Recreation Adviser
  • Surveyor

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 Outdoor & Environmental Studies are as follows:

  • Unit 3 School-assessed Coursework: 25 per cent.
  • Unit 4 School-assessed Coursework: 25 per cent.
  • End-of-year examination: 50 per cent