Hi everyone, I’m Gabriella—so, I guess some of you must be wondering what NESA’S NEW SYLLABUS is like and how that’s going to impact on your approach to the HSC texts. In a nutshell, the new syllabus thankfully places a very strong emphasis on personal perspective something I’ve always believed to be essential to all subject areas; In other words, What Why + How have your texts led you to form your point of view. What you, not the critics, not the tutors, not your teachers, think!

What if what I think About HSC new Syllabus for Advanced English in 2019 is wrong?

The way we respond is deeply personal and of course it is influenced by our culture and our belief system. We all think differently so the trick is to be able to provide evidence or imaginative stories to convey our thoughts.

Common Module – Texts and Human Experiences

This module will allow you to explore other people’s perspectives and experiences influenced by culture and personal values. Now your job will be to identify “what ideas and assumptions are embedded in the text?” Yaiks! – All this means is that if you write a story it might reflect your personal attitude or view of the world which will be based on how you have been raised, your gender, culture and life experience; so, you as a student will understand that this is your view or perspective – therefore your set of assumptions. They are assumptions became they reflect your interpretation only.

By ideas we mean concepts and ways of looking at the world or people.

The purpose of this module is to encourage you to identify types of human behaviour conveyed in your text and consider what this suggests and how the suggestion is represented.

Problems with analysis

Common to all the syllabus (Advanced) is the way form shapes meaning and the use of metalanguage. Ok, so you just need to understand the following:

Just as all of us have a dress code, we all have our own unique style of speech. Some of us use language which is hip and some old fashioned. Some of us use a lot of hyperbole when we speak and others of us are understated. Choice of words and expressions might also reflect our prejudices and personal tastes. So, the form our language takes, or style used in texts is designed to convey personality, attitudes and beliefs just like clothes.

Metalanguage is a name we give to features of language. Whilst we might say he’s wearing a cool cap, we can just as easily say that the adjective “cool” is used to reflect a fashionable person.

Module A: Textual Conversations

Module A: Textual Conversations is almost entirely similar to the previous intertextual perspective put out by the Board of Studies in 2015. NESA’s textual conversations for the new syllabus is almost entirely identical – but for the exception of a few tricky terms! Ok, so the most important element is of course any answer you arrive at must be your own personal response! What, Why & How has your text led you to form an understanding of the way your two texts have provoked greater insight for you – not your teacher, critical material or your tutor.

Textual Conversations

  • You will study two texts from two entirely different time frames and consider What Why + How these texts reflect similar ideas or differences. This is referred to as resonances and dissonances.
  • The context or the time period in which your texts have been composed such as 20th or 19th Century for example, will of course influence its:
    • theme
    • the composer’s concerns
    • the composer’s style
  • For example, if you were to create costume for war in the medieval times we know it would be influenced by the nature of warfare. You might have a costume made of steel with the emblem of a cross upon it. The purpose of warfare may have been derived by a desire to spread Christian values, for example,
    • If we were to create a costume for war today, its style would undoubtedly reflect technological advancements in war, and certainly the motivations and purpose would differ from medieval times—reflecting the political and cultural values of today.

Composers’ Concerns

So, what does the module mean by composer’s concern? any writers and artists convey matters of concern in their texts – concerns re usually a reflection of the composer’s cultural context. Concerns of today might be:

  • environmental
  • fear of warfare
  • concern with religious factions
  • dictatorships

Some things don’t change and stay the same, in terms of concerns between texts, for example Romeo and Juliet or marriage between Muslim and a Christian both reflecting forbidden love.

Form + style and the shape of learning

Both texts make use of form.


Form relates the type of text. It may take the form of poetry, film or prose. Through form, composers are able to convey their concerns.


Refers to features of language, symbolism and other allusions (references to other texts). When style and form are used together they can communicate powerful views and representations of their writer’s concerns and fears.

Module B: Critical Study of Literature

A Critical Study of Literature (Module B) is almost entirely the same as the 2015 Close Study of Texts. At the core of this module is your ability to:

  1. Reflect on the ideas presented in the text through analysis.
  2. Compose creative and critical responses to your close study.
    1. Textual Integrity: By textual integrity, we really are referring to the cohesive elements of form and meaning that allow a text to “stand up tall”, and in doing so, stand the test of time. Most significant to this module is the student’s capacity to convey their understanding of the effectiveness of textual form. This includes the nature of characterisation, the power of language, and the integration of ideas. These elements, when composed effectively, allow a text integrity and the ability to be appreciated throughout time.
      1. I want you to imagine a beautiful chocolate cake with integrity. What gives the cake integrity is the quality of the chocolate, the flour, the eggs and butter, and finally, the cook’s capacity to put all the ingredients together. The success of the cake is dependent upon its ingredients and the way it’s been put together.
  3. The syllabus also requires a study of critical material as well as an understanding of the contextual and historical backdrop of your text. For example, if you were studying Merchant of Venice, you would need to be familiar with the nature of Venetian values and attitudes towards other religions. Most importantly, before you can study critical material you need to:
    1. Formulate your opinion based on your understanding of the integrity of your text
    2. Compare and contrast your views against your teacher’s, and other critical evaluations

Module C: The Craft of Writing

This is a great implementation on the part of NESA’s new syllabus. The module requires students to produce:

  • Imaginative: fictional creatively inspired stories
  • Discursive: writing pieces that drive opinions and allow for structured arguments.
  • Persuasive: writing to persuade your readers through crafting a writing piece that encourages them to agree with your perspective.

To excel in this module students are required to not only analyse prescribed texts but read a wide range of different texts. By examining artistic forms of writing and how writers provoke interest, feeling and speculation; you will be able to find and compose your ow style of crafted responses.

If you want to learn more about creative writing for HSC English check my article here.

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