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VCE Humanities

Philosophy Unit 4: The Good Life


Philosophy Unit 3: Minds, Bodies and Persons.

Course Description

This unit considers the crucial question of what it is for a human to live well. What does an understanding of human nature tell us about what it is to live well? What is the role of happiness in a well lived life? Is morality central to a good life? How does our social context impact on our conception of a good life? In this unit, students explore texts by both ancient and modern philosophers that have had a significant impact on contemporary western ideas about the good life.

Students critically compare the viewpoints and arguments in set texts from both ancient and modern periods to their own views on how we should live, and use their understandings to inform their analysis of contemporary debates.

It is important for students to understand that arguments make a claim supported by reasons and reasoning, whereas a viewpoint makes a claim without necessarily supporting it with reasons or reasoning. Philosophical debates encompass philosophical questions and associated viewpoints and arguments within other spheres of discourse such as religion, psychology, sociology and politics.

Areas of Study

Conceptions of the Good Life

This area of study exposes students to philosophical debates and perspectives on the nature of the good life through a study of philosophical texts from ancient, modern and contemporary sources. As they reflect on the implications of accepting the views and arguments presented by these thinkers, they develop their own critical responses to the authors’ viewpoints and arguments.

Living the Good Life in the Twenty-First Century

An important aspect of the study of philosophical texts is the light that they can shed on contemporary questions and debates. In this area of study students develop and justify responses to debates on consumerism, technology and our obligations to others in relation to the good life. They explore the interplay between the changing conditions of contemporary life and our ability to live a good life, considering how the strength of the interplay is dependent not only on the nature of developments in contemporary life but on the conception of the good life.


Outcomes Assessment Tasks Marks Allocated
(school-assessed coursework)
On completion of this unit the student should be able to discuss concepts related to the good life, and analyse, compare and evaluate the philosophical viewpoints and arguments in the set texts in relation to the good life. Short answer test and/or essay. 50
On completion of this unit the student should be able to discuss contemporary debates related to technological development and the good life, and examine the interplay between technological development and conceptions of the good life Short answer test and/or analytical essay. 50
Total Marks 100

Overall Final Assessment

Graded Assessment Title Assessment Exam Duration Contribution to Study Score (%)
1 Unit 3 Coursework School-assessed   25
2 Unit 4 Coursework School-assessed   25
3 Written Examination November 2 hours 50


Reproduced by permission of the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Victoria, Australia: