The HSC Geography course is based on the Australian Board of Studies NSW Geography Syllabus [1]. Both the preliminary course and the HSC course each require 120 indicative hours of study, with 12 hours of this given to fieldwork. The preliminary course requires the completion of a senior geography project while the HSC course requires the completion of the preliminary course.

The aim of this course, as stated in the syllabus, is to enable students to study the spatial and ecological dimensions of biophysical and human phenomena in a changing world.

Course Contents


HSC Course



Ecosystems at Risk  

ecosystems and their management

  • biophysical interactions which lead to diverse ecosystems and their functioning
  • vulnerability and resilience of ecosystems
  • the importance of ecosystem management and protection
  • evaluation of traditional and contemporary management strategies

case studies of ecosystems

Urban Places  

world cities

  • the nature, character and spatial distribution of world cities
  • the role of world cities as powerful centres of economic and cultural authority
  • the operation of global networks
  • the relationships of dominance and dependence between world cities and other urban centres and the changing role of regional centres and the demise of the small town.

mega cities

  • the nature, character and spatial distribution of mega cities in the developing world
  • the challenges of living in mega cities such as housing, traffic infrastructure, water and power supplies, sanitation services, employment, and other social and health issues
  • the responses to these challenges such as self-help projects, community selfgovernment, cooperation from NGOs, urban protest and the operations of informal economies.

urban dynamics

  • the urban dynamics of change: suburbanisation, exurbanisation, counterurbanisation, decentralisation, consolidation, urban decay, urban renewal, urban village, spatial exclusion
  • a case study of the results of the urban dynamics in a large city selected from the developed world including its
    • social structure and spatial patterns of advantage and disadvantage, wealth and poverty, ethnicity
    • changing economic character, nature and location of residential land, commercial and industrial development
    • culture of place as expressed in the architecture, streetscape, heritage architecture, noise, colour, street life, energy, vitality and lifestyles
    • growth, development, future trends and ecological sustainability
  • a case study showing one of the urban dynamics listed above, operating in a country town or suburb.

People and Economic Activity  

global economic activity

  • a description of the nature, spatial patterns and future directions of ONE economic activity in a global context. The economic activity selected can be from a wide range of activities such as wheat farming, hydroponics, viticulture, textiles, tourism, advertising, retailing, wholesaling, information technologies, financial and business services industries
  • factors explaining the nature, spatial patterns and future directions of the selected economic activity such as
    • biophysical: climate, soils, topography, site
    • ecological: sustainability and resource use
    • economic: competitive advantage, consumer demand, mobility of labour and capital
    • sociocultural: tradition, changing lifestyles, labour participation rates
    • organisational: ownership, decision making and control
    • technological: transportation, information transmission and flows, biotechnology
    • political: quotas, tariffs, compacts, agreements
  • the environmental, social and economic impacts of the economic activity such as pollution, resource depletion, labour exploitation, cultural integration, provision of infrastructure, job creation, transfer pricing.

local case study

  • a geographical study of an economic enterprise operating at a local scale. The business could be an individual enterprise, firm or company such as a family farm, a mine or mining corporation, a hotel, chain of hotels, heritage or tourist site. The case study should explore
    • the nature of the economic enterprise
    • locational factors
    • ecological dimensions including environmental constraints, climate, and human impacts on the environment such as pollution and ecological sustainability
    • internal and external linkages and flows of people, goods, services and ideas
    • effects of global changes in the economic activity on the enterprise.