Maitland Grossmann High School

Quality Education in a Caring Learning Community

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Human Society and its Environment

Students explore varied subjects in Human Society and its Environment to learn about history, geography, people, societies and culture.

In HSIE the subjects of history and geography are mandatory from Year 7 to Year 10 where students study specific historical and geographical concepts and skills.


The study of geography looks at where things are, why they are there and how humans interact with environments. It involves students investigating geographical issues including contemporary concepts such as sustainability. Students:

  • ask questions
  • acquire information
  • analyse data
  • evaluate consequences
  • contribute to the management of physical, social, cultural and built environments.

Students of geography are encouraged to form and express their own ideas and arguments while critically assessing the opinions of others. This forms a basis for a deep understanding of geographical issues; active and informed civic participation and responsible membership of society.


Year 7 and 8 students learn about a range of human experiences from the ancient past and modern world. Year 9 and 10 students focus on the making of the modern world and Australia through two mandatory depth studies and a choice of at least another two depth studies. An historical site study is mandatory for Year 7, 8 and 9 students.

A study of history examines the past to help explain how people, places and events have shaped our world today. Through a process of historical inquiry, students study the key historical concepts of:

  • cause and effect
  • change and continuity
  • significance
  • perspectives
  • empathy
  • contestability.

Students explore the different stories, perspectives and interpretations of the past using a range of sources. They also use this evidence to provide their own point of view using historical research and skills. 

Senior Subjects

Human society and its environment (HSIE) offers a number of Year 11 and 12 courses that may be undertaken as part of a HSC pattern of study:

  • Aboriginal studies
  • Ancient history
  • Business studies
  • Geography
  • History extension
  • Legal studies
  • Modern history
  • Society and culture
  • Studies of religion

Ancient history examines past societies using a wide variety of written and archaeological sources. A study of ancient history allows students to:

  • investigate past people, societies, events and historical sites using the methods of historians and archaeologists
  • understand the influence the ancient past has on the present and future
  • analyse written and archaeological evidence, question interpretations of available evidence, appreciate the need to conserve historical sites and consider changing interpretations of the past
  • communicate about history in a variety of forms.

Students of Modern History learn about past human experiences, increasing their understanding of society today. Through a study of modern history students are able to:

  • investigate significant features, issues, individuals and events from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries
  • understand the influence the past has on the present and future
  • analyse primary and secondary sources and test their own thoughts and ideas about historical events and issues
  • communicate about history in a variety of forms.

Students of Legal Studies learn about the rule of law, justice and the rights and responsibilities of citizens. Legal studies offers students an opportunity to:

  • learn about Australian and international law
  • the rule of law and how both Australian and international legal systems work
  • inquire into and analyse legal issues and communicate in structured arguments.

Through a study of Geography students learn about human interaction with their environments and the impact of, and responses to, environmental change.

As students develop an understanding of the contribution of a geographical perspective they will study the:

  • characteristics and spatial distribution of environments
  • processes that form and transform the features and patterns of the environment
  • global and local forces that impact on people, ecosystems, urban places and economic activity.

Students learn the skills of geographical investigation and communication through a process of geographical inquiry and propose actions for a just society as active and informed citizens.

Business Studies focuses on the nature and role of business, the internal and external factors of a business environment, the functions and processes of businesses and responsibilities of management.

Students investigate business information and issues, communicate in appropriate formats and apply mathematical concepts related to the business world.

Students use case studies of small and big businesses to identify and discuss the essential concepts of a business, from implementation to management and expansion of the operations. Additionally, students identify business issues, analyse problems and propose solutions.

Key topics of the course include:

  • the nature of business
  • business management
  • business planning
  • operations
  • marketing
  • finance
  • human resources.