St Mary's College

Social Sciences


Head of Department – Mr Mark Hurley

Assistant HOD – Ms Annette Lanigan


Social Sciences comprise five subjects which introduce students to a wide range of ideas and concepts related to people and their interaction with each other and their environment.

Social Studies

Social Studies is taught at Year 9 and Year 10 as part of the core curriculum.  The present programme is taught over two years, using achievement objectives largely from Level 5 of the curriculum.  The Social Studies programme at St Mary’s builds on Social Studies programmes from Years 11 – 13.

Social Studies education is about how societies work and how people can participate as critical, active, informed, and responsible citizens.  Contexts are drawn from the past, present, and future, and from places within and beyond Aotearoa New Zealand.


Classical Studies

Classical Studies is offered as a subject in Year 13.  During this course students are able to see how the ancient civilisations of Greece and Rome have influenced the way we live today.  The main focus of the year is the study of examples of Roman art and architecture.  These range from Augustus to Constantine.  The other focus of the year is two plays by the Greek playwright Aristophanes – The Wasps and The Frogs.  Historical skills will be developed as the topics are taught.



Geography is the study of the Earth’s landscapes, peoples, places and environments.  It is, quite simply, about the world in which we live.            Royal Geographical Society

Geography is offered at Years 11, 12, and 13.  At each level we examine a range of topics both within New Zealand and overseas.  We explore how landscapes are formed, how these natural processes such as earthquakes and erosion impact on people’s lives, how we can use the environment to meet our human needs, in sustainable ways, and how we can analyse and share information about natural and human environments.  At each level the students are offered opportunities to take part in fieldwork activities to deepen their understanding.



History is offered in Years, 11, 12 and 13 and explores a range of ideas related to people and their relationships with others as individuals or in a wider societal context.  Ideas and concepts such as democracy, communism and revolution are explored using relevant examples from the twentieth century and beyond.  A range of historical events are explored, many in the light of a New Zealand context.  The significance of these events both to New Zealand and the wider world is examined.  A wide range of historical skills are developed, in particular the skills of research, note taking, essay writing and resource evaluation.


Art History

The New Zealand Curriculum describes the arts as: powerful forms of expression that recognise value, and contribute to the unique bicultural and multicultural character of Aotearoa New Zealand.  In Art History, students develop skill sin surveying, explaining and analysing relationships between the artist, art works, and the context in which art is created, in New Zealand and beyond, from the past and present.

At St Mary’s College we offer Levels 2 and 3 Art History. The Level 2 course focusses on the area of study: Towards Modernism (1780 – 1900).  This course features well known artists, art movements and trends in architecture in 19th century France.  The Level 3 course focusses on the area of study:Late Renaissance to Mannerism in Italy, exploring painting, sculpture in public places and current exhibitions, especially at the City Gallery and Te Papa.  Many students have gone on to study Art History at tertiary level and found employment in the creative industries in New Zealand.

Art History sculpture trip