The study of VCE Physical Education enables students to integrate a contemporary understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of performance and participation in physical activity with practical application. Through engagement in physical activities, VCE Physical Education enables students to develop the knowledge and skills required to critically evaluate influences that affect their own and others’ performance and participation in physical activity.

This study equips students with the appropriate knowledge and skills to plan, develop and maintain their involvement in physical activity, sport and exercise across their lifespan and to understand the physical, social, emotional and cognitive health benefits associated with being active. The study also prepares students for employment and/or further study at the tertiary level or in vocational education and training settings in fields such as exercise and sport science, health science, education, recreation, sport development and coaching, health promotion and related careers.

Units of Study

Unit 1:

The human body in motion

In this unit students explore how the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems work together to produce movement. Through practical activities students explore the relationships between the body systems and physical activity, sport and exercise, and how the systems adapt and adjust to the demands of the activity. Students investigate the role and function of the main structures in each system and how they respond to physical activity, sport and exercise. They explore how the capacity and functioning of each system acts as an enabler or barrier to movement and participation in physical activity.

Using a contemporary approach, students evaluate the social, cultural and environmental influences on movement. They consider the implications of the use of legal and illegal practices to improve the performance of the musculoskeletal and cardiorespiratory systems, evaluating perceived benefits and describing potential harms. They also recommend and implement strategies to minimise the risk of illness or injury to each system.

Unit 2:

Physical activity, sport and society

This unit develops students’ understanding of physical activity, sport and society from a participatory perspective. Students are introduced to types of physical activity and the role participation in physical activity and sedentary behaviour plays in their own health and wellbeing as well as in other people’s lives in different population groups.

Through a series of practical activities, students experience and explore different types of physical activity promoted in their own and different population groups. They gain an appreciation of the level of physical activity required for health benefits. Students investigate how participation in physical activity varies across the lifespan. They explore a range of factors that influence and facilitate participation in regular physical activity. They collect data to determine perceived enablers of and barriers to physical activity and the ways in which opportunities for participation in physical activity can be extended in various communities, social, cultural and environmental contexts. Students investigate individual and population-based consequences of physical inactivity and sedentary behaviour.

They then create and participate in an activity plan that meets the physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines relevant to the particular population group being studied.

Students apply various methods to assess physical activity and sedentary behaviour levels at the individual and population level, and analyse the data in relation to physical activity and sedentary behaviour guidelines. Students study and apply the social-ecological model and/or the Youth Physical Activity Promotion Model to critique a range of individual- and settings-based strategies that are effective in promoting participation in some form of regular physical activity.

Unit 3:

Movement Skills & Energy for Physical Education

This unit introduces students to the biomechanical and skill acquisition principles used to analyse human movement skills and energy production from a physiological perspective. Students use a variety of tools and techniques to analyse movement skills and apply biomechanical and skill acquisition principles to improve and refine movement in physical activity, sport and exercise. They use practical activities to demonstrate how correct application of these principles can lead to improved performance in physical and sport.

Students investigate the relative contribution and interplay of the three energy systems to performance in physical activity, sport and exercise. In particular, they investigate the characteristics of each system and the interplay of the systems during physical activity. Students explore the causes of fatigue and consider different strategies used to postpone fatigue and promote recovery.

Unit 4:

Training to Improve Performance

In this unit students analyse movement skills from a physiological, psychological and sociocultural perspective, and apply relevant training principles and methods to improve performance within physical activity at an individual, club an elite level. Improvements in performance, in particular fitness, depend on the ability of the individual and/or coach to gain, apply and evaluate knowledge and understanding of training. Students analyse skill frequencies, movement patterns, heart rates and work to rest ratios to determine the requirements of an activity. Students consider the physiological, psychological and sociological requirements of training to design and evaluate an effective training program.

Students participate in a variety of training sessions designed to improve or maintain fitness and evaluate the effectiveness of different training methods. Students critique the effectiveness of the implementation of training principles and methods to meet the needs of the individual, and evaluate the chronic adaptions to training from a theoretical perspective.

Example pathways
  • Defence Force Member
  • Dietitian
  • Education
  • Farming
  • Fitness Instructor
  • Gardener
  • General Practitioner
  • Nutritionist
  • Performing Arts
  • Physiotherapist
  • Sports Coach
  • Sports Scientist

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 Physical Education 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