Food Studies


This study takes an interdisciplinary approach to the exploration of food, with an emphasis on extending food knowledge and skills and building individual pathways to health and wellbeing through the application of practical food skills. Food Studies provides a framework for informed and confident food selection and food preparation within today’s complex architecture of influences and choices.

Students explore food from a wide range of perspectives. They study past and present patterns of eating, Australian and global food production systems and the many physical and social functions and roles of food. They research economic, environmental and ethical dimensions of food and critically evaluate information, marketing messages and new trends.

Unit 1: Food origins

In this unit of study students explore the origins and cultural roles of food, from early civilisations through to today’s industrialised and global world. Through an overview of the earliest food production regions and systems, students gain an understanding of the natural resources, climatic influences and social circumstances that have led to global variety in food commodities, cuisines and cultures with a focus on one selected region other than Australia. Students also focus on the history and culture of food in Australia. They look at indigenous food prior to European settlement and the attempts of the first non-indigenous settlers to establish a secure and sustainable food supply.

Students consider the development of food production, processing and manufacturing industries and conduct a critical inquiry into how Australian food producers and consumers today have been influenced by immigration and other cultural factors. Students conduct research into foods and food preparation techniques introduced by immigrants over time and consider the resurgence in interest in indigenous food practices, while reflecting on whether Australia has developed a distinctive cuisine of its own.

The practical components explore the use of ingredients available today that were used in earlier cultures, as well as providing opportunities for students to extend and share their research into the world’s earliest food-producing regions. Students are also given the opportunity to extend and share their research into a selected cuisine brought by migrants.

Unit 2: Food makers

In this unit of study students focus on commercial food production in Australia, encompassing primary production and food processing and manufacturing, and the retail and food service sectors. Students apply an inquiry approach, with emphasis on the ever-changing and dynamic nature of our food industries and their ongoing importance to Australia’s economy. Students investigate the characteristics of the various food industries and identify current and future challenges and opportunities. They consider the influences on food industries, and in turn how they influence people. Students investigate new food product development and innovation, and the processes in place to ensure a safe food supply.

Students undertake a practical component, creating new food products using design briefs, and applying commercial principles such as research, design, product testing, production, evaluation and marketing. Students also further explore food production, focusing on domestic and small-scale food production. Students compare similar products prepared in different settings and evaluate them using a range of measures. They consider the influences on the effective provision and preparation of food in the home. Their practical skills are extended through designing and adapting recipes, encompassing a range of dietary requirements commonly encountered by the food service sector and within families. Students propose and test ideas for applying their food skills to entrepreneurial projects that potentially may move their products from a domestic or small-scale setting to a commercial context.

Unit 3: Food in daily life

In this unit of study students focus on the science of food. They investigate the physiology of eating and microbiology of digesting, and the absorption and utilisation of macronutrients. They investigate food allergies, food intolerances and the microbiology of food contamination. By identifying evidence-based principles, students develop their capacity to analyse advice on food choices. Students learn and apply food science terminology relating to chemical changes that occur during food preparation and cooking, and undertake hands-on experimentation to demonstrate techniques and effects. Students also focus on patterns of eating in Australia and the influences on the food we eat.

Students look at relationships between social factors and food access and choice, as well as the social and emotional roles of food in shaping and expressing identity and how food may link to psychological factors. They inquire into the role of media, technology and advertising as influences on the formation of food habits and beliefs, and investigate the principles of encouraging healthy food patterns in children. The practical component of this unit is the development of a repertoire of healthy meals suitable for children and families.

Unit 4: Food issues, challenges and futures

In this unit of study students address debates concerning Australian and global food systems, relating to issues on the environment, ethics, technologies, food access, food safety, and the use of agricultural resources. Students conduct a critical inquiry into a range of debates through identifying issues involved, forming an understanding of current situations and considering possible futures. They research one selected debate in depth, seeking clarity on disparate points of view, considering proposed solutions and analysing work undertaken to solve problems and support sustainable futures.

Students will consider environmental and ethical issues relating to the selected debate and apply their responses in practical ways. Students also focus on food information and misinformation and the development of food knowledge, skills and habits. Students learn to assess information and draw evidence-based conclusions to navigate contemporary food fads, trends and diets. They investigate a selected food fad, trend or diet and assess its credibility and the reliability of its claims, taking into consideration the evidenced-based recommendations of the Australian Dietary Guidelines and the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating. Students practise and improve their food selection skills by interpreting food labels and interrogating the marketing terms on food packaging. The practical component of this unit of study provides opportunities for students to extend their food production repertoire by creating recipes that reflect the Australian Dietary Guidelines.

Assessment activities:

  • Oral presentation on an individually selected region
  • Research tasks
  • Written report
  • Media analysis
  • A range of practical activities with practical records
  • Sensory evaluations of food

Selection advice:

Subject to School Council approval, all Food Studies units incur a food cost of approximately $50 per semester.

Links to further pathways:

This study complements and supports further training and employment opportunities in the fields of home economics, food technology, food manufacturing and hospitality.

Related Subjects

Units 1-4


This subject focuses on the procedures of accounting and finance and the way in which these may be used.