Year 12 Science?

EP Science has an extensive library of smart Year 11 lessons that are fully aligned to the curriculum and enable students to build their confidence in basic maths skills and grow their problem solving strategies.

Year 12 Science Overview

The big Higher School Certificate year has finally arrived. So what’s on the cards for this year’s studies in the realm of science? Generally, at this point, the big decisions have already been made – it is unlikely students will pick up a science subject in Year 12 that they did not already study in Year 11. 

The reason for choosing Science subjects will depend on the student. Many students will be looking to study subjects that clearly point them in the direction of certain career paths or that are prerequisites to courses they hope to work towards in their post high school years. Others may look at the rating system for certain subjects and hope to gain a better HSC result through taking a Science subject, whether it is useful to them or not.

No matter what the reason, science subjects can have the benefit of helping students to expand their thinking and have a better understanding of the way the world works, which can put them in good stead for life in general.

Science is a choice in Years 11 and 12 and most schools and states have different subjects on offer. For the sake of clarity, we will focus on the content of the main four: Biology, Chemistry, Earth and Environmental Science, and Physics.

All about Year 12 Biology

Biology is the study of life in all its forms. Students may find themselves drawn to this subject if they have a love of animals, a fascination with biological systems, or are interested in a pathway towards healthcare, farming or agriculture. The subject involves investigation into biological systems and their interactions, from cellular processes to the dynamics of the ecosystem and beyond. 

The two main units in Year 12 are Heredity and Continuity of life, and Maintaining the Internal Environment.

For the first unit, students dive deep into genetics, looking at which biochemical and cellular systems and processes are involved in the transmission of genetic material to the next generation of cells and offspring, and how this happens. Patterns of inheritance are investigated through analysis of genotypes and phenotypes.

In Maintaining the Internal Environment, the focus is on homeostatic responses in organisms in the face of environmental change. This will include study of pathogens and how the invasion of an organism’s internal environment challenges the effective functioning of cells, tissues and body systems, and triggers a series of responses or events to maintain homeostasis.

A look at Year 12 Chemistry

Chemistry investigates materials and substances and the ways in which they transform through interactions and transfers of energy. Students may enjoy this subject for its experimental nature, or if they have a penchant for using test tubes and beakers and applying elements while wearing a lab coat. Mathematical brains may also like this subject as it puts mathematics into practice with scientific equations. 

The two main units for Chemistry in Year 11 are Equilibrium, Acids and Redox Reactions, and Structure, Synthesis and Design.

For the former, students use contemporary models to explain the nature of acids and bases, and their properties and uses, and investigate acid-base equilibrium systems and their applications. 

In Structure, Synthesis and Design, the principles and application of chemical synthesis, particularly in organic chemistry, are investigated. Students will consider where and how functional groups can be incorporated into already existing carbon compounds, with the aim of  generating new substances with properties that can be used in a range of contexts.

A quick trip through Year 12 Earth and Environmental Science

With many facets, it is structured as an overarching field of inquiry that studies interactions between the Earth, water, air and living things and the relationships between these components. This subject has much to do with timescales, with work that looks into the history of the Earth in various ways as well as the processes it undergoes in the present day. It draws upon a range of methods from geology, biology, physics and chemistry, so can be seen as a good all round Science subject with real life application. Students with an interest in conservation or land management may be very keen to study this subject for their own interest as well as their future careers and lifestyles.

The two units included in this subject are Living on Earth – Extracting, Using and Managing Earth resources, and The Changing Earth – The Cause and Impact of Earth Hazards. 

For the first unit, students learn how Earth resources are required to sustain and provide infrastructure for life, which then drives demand for biotic, mineral and energy resources. They will explore renewable and non-renewable resources and analyse how resource extraction, use and consumption and associated waste removal affects systems in nature.

In the second unit, students delve into the occurrence of Earth hazards, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and tsunami, over a range of time scales and the impacts on Earth systems these can have. They investigate naturally occurring and human-influenced Earth hazards and make predictions of their impacts, as well as identifying strategies for managing and mitigating this. 


Physics is a fundamental science used to explain a wide range of natural phenomena in the universe. It provides the foundation of much knowledge used as a basis for other sciences and for many innovations and technologies. Students are likely to enjoy the experiments involved in this area of science and for mathematical minded students, the equations. Much of physics involves learning models, laws and theories and investigating them by analysing and interpreting data.

The two units in Year 12 Science are Gravity and Electromagnetism and Linear Motion and Waves Description. 

In the former, students use Newton’s Law of Motion to develop a deeper understanding of motion and its causes, as well as using the gravitational field model to analyse motion on inclined planes, the motion of projectiles, and satellite motion. They will investigate electromagnetic interactions to enable understanding of the operation of direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) motors and generators, transformers, and AC electricity distribution systems. The production of electromagnetic waves will also be investigated.

For Revolutions in Modern Physics, students learn about how the development of the special theory of relativity and the quantum theory of light and matter were formed through the limitations of existing theories in making observations on relative motion, light and matter. They will also look at how these theories went on to develop the quantum theory of the atom and the Big Bang theory.

Whatever branch of science a student chooses to take, they’re sure to need a solid understanding of content. The skills needed to succeed in science will come from in-class activities, experiments and demonstrations but it’s important to hang those skills on a well-built foundation of science knowledge.

Having an online bank of resources and activities that actually motivates students to revise content will come in handy for both Year 11 and Year 12 science. The stakes are higher now, so setting up an independent “little and often” study program will help Year 12 students get through science with a lot more confidence – and better grades. 

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