Social Sciences

The Social Sciences prepare you for the world! – in all its aspects. You will get the most out of our wonderful world if you understand its diversity, its development, its issues and its humanity.

The Social Sciences provide students with a wide range of opportunities to broaden their experiences and skills to enable them to be engaged and socially aware members of society. In Year 9 and Year 10 all students study Junior Social Science; this is a combination of all of our senior subjects, Geography, History, Art History, Classics, Sociology and Tourism. From Year 11, students can specialise in one or more of these subjects.

Junior Social Sciences (Year 9 and Year 10)

Junior Social Science aims to enable students to participate in a changing society as informed, confident, and responsible citizens. Students will achieve this by developing knowledge and understanding about human society as they study how cultural interaction impacts on cultures and societies. Students will achieve this by developing conceptual understandings of Globalisation, Migration, Sustainability, Government, Human Rights and the Treaty of Waitangi. Skills and Concepts learnt in Junior Social Science provide a foundation to the Senior Social Science Subjects.

Social Sciences Department


Geography studies people in their environment and uses a wide variety of settings and techniques, both New Zealand and globally based. Over the three years topics such as Sustainability, Resource Use, Natural Hazards, Rivers, Urban Development, Land Use, Beaches, Migration, Tourism and Geographic Information Systems are covered. Several field trips are held each year, with Year 13 students travelling to Rotorua for an overnight stay. Skills taught include; research, essay writing, critical analysis, perspectives and using insight. Scholarship Geography can be taken at Year 13.

Josh Sumpter

I took Geography because I enjoy learning about the interactions between people and environments around the world.  Geography also gives me a good understanding of how different places in the world are all linked.  This gives me a deeper understanding of the society we live in.

Josh Sumpter
Year 12 - Geography
Career Goal 
In the future I can see myself in the Tourism industry. I think that my understanding of how people and their environments interrelate will help me when communicating with people from all over the world.


History develops research and communication skills such as the ability to examine, select, and record information and ideas, and to present findings effectively in written, visual and oral forms. History focuses on critical evaluation and encourages students to think perceptively and insightfully about events, perspectives and actions in the past. Scholarship History can be taken at Year 13. 

Tim Kwon

What is History? Sadly, the popular conception is that History is a subject that teaches the facts of past events.  But how wrong the popular conception is.  History is exciting, enlightening, it is an analysis of the quarks and foibles of humanity, peoples passions and lives.  History opens your eyes revealing from Matin Luther King to Adolf Hitler, The Vietnam War to the Springbok Tour!  Study History to understand the world.

Tim Kwon
Year 12 - History

Art History

Art History looks at how humans have used art as a way to communicate ideas that are beyond the scope of mere words. From gilded Renaissance masterpieces to abstract conceptual performances, art history seeks to analyse how humans have communicated complex ideas about religion, race, gender and modernity.

Art History is a key subject among the Social Science subjects offered at the college. Many students choose to study art history as an alternative to English or to complement their love of history, classical studies or their visual art subjects of painting or photography. Scholarship is offered at Year 13.

Erin Steyn

I chose Art History because I have always been interested in art and how it has shaped society and what we know about previous cultures and events.  Art History also teaches base artistic techniques which are helpful in all art forms.  It is a very visual subject which definitely adds diversity from the average literacy based subject.  It is by far my favourite subject.

Erin Steyn
Year 12 - Art History
Career Goal 
I would like to pursue a career in makeup artistry and special effects.

Classical Studies

Classical Studies explores the fascinating societies of Ancient Greece and Rome. A wide range of disciplines are covered including history, literature, art history and philosophy. We focus on the personalities and issues of that era. There is much the Ancient Greeks and Romans did which we still benefit from today. Scholarship is offered at Year 13.


Sociology is the subject for students with a strong desire to make a change in their world. Our course provides opportunities for students to take action against inequalities, develop their confidence and their own voice for change.

Compassion is at the core of our course, which has a focus on current social issues such as conflict, rights and crime. Sociology draws heavily on written, inquiry and aural skills, preparing students for tertiary study, as well as giving them the skills to contribute to society and be a truly global citizen. 


Tourism is one of the most exciting and dynamic industries available to have a very rewarding and challenging career in for those who want to. The hospitality and tourism industries contribute more than $4 trillion in gross global output, which translates into millions of jobs worldwide. There is over 1 million New Zealand residents travelling and living overseas at any one time. Tourism plays a significant role in the New Zealand economy in terms of the production of goods and services and the creation of employment opportunities. Tourism at Rangitoto College provides students with an introduction into this incredible industry and provides extra tertiary qualifications with the National Certificate in Travel and Tourism. Field trips, tertiary visits and guest speakers provide opportunities for students to make an educated choice for future career aspirations.

What can you do with these Subjects?

Social Sciences provides students with a wide range of opportunities to broaden their experiences and skills to enable them to be engaged and socially aware members of society. Some examples of the skills and abilities that can be gained in Social Sciences are:

  • Develop conclusions.
  • Respect diversity.
  • Identify processes.
  • Understanding perspectives.
  • Take social actions.
  • Develop enquiry skills.
  • Understand values.
  • Develop self analysis.
  • Be able to relate to others different to ourselves.
  • Use social interaction skills.
  • Developing and applying literacy.
  • Use innovative technology skills.
  • Build problem solving skills.
  • Create solutions to issues.
  • Engaging with other countries.
  • Understand today's world.

Where can it take you in the Future? What can you do with it?

The BBC reported on the 28 October 2013 that 'Students with an eye on their job prospects should take social science degrees', research suggests. Social science graduates are more likely to be in paid employment than arts or science graduates, according to analysis of official data. They are also more likely to be in managerial or senior roles, says a Campaign for Social Science study. Some areas of potential employment are:

  • Journalist.
  • Librarian.
  • Conservator.
  • Diplomat.
  • Translator.
  • Social Worker.
  • Archivist.
  • ​Demographic Planner.
  • Market Researcher.
  • Teacher.
  • Curator.
  • Broadcaster.
  • Linguist.
  • Travel Consultant.
  • Anthropologist.
  • Lawyer.
Head of Department 
Grahame Cope

Bachelor of Science with a Geography Major from Auckland University
Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching
Post Graduate Diploma of Educational Leadership (with Distinction) - Auckland University

I started my teaching career at Rangitoto College in 2003. Between 2005 and 2009, I was a Dean and worked across all year levels. 2009 also saw me become the Assistant Head of Department for the Social Sciences, before being appointed to the role of HOD at the end of 2013. In 2011 I received a Woolf Fisher Fellowship - for excellence in Teaching and Leading, which gave me the opportunity to travel to Australia for three weeks for a series of Professional Development opportunities. Other roles of significance that I have been involved in at Rangitoto College are; co-head of Geography, Head of Junior Social Science, running of the Emerging Leaders Breakfast sessions, the timetabling team and presenting to staff as part of the Middle Leadership Programme.
Personal Statement 
I have a really clear personal philosophy when it comes to education and this is what really drives me. It is to enjoy the challenge of leading others and inspiring the professional will and personal humility in staff, to ensure that the students we teach are successful as global citizens. On a more informal level, I enjoy playing golf, running marathons, a wide range of music and pretty much any sport, especially Football, Rugby and Cricket. I have a young daughter called Harper and my partner is also a Teacher.