skip to Main Content

The New HSC English Syllabus Explained

The Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

What is this module?

The Common Module is completed by all levels of English (Advanced, Standard and the HSC English Studies course) and is used to moderate the other sections of the English exam. In the HSC exam, there are two parts: unseen short answer questions based on ideas from the rubric and an essay question, both worth 20 marks each. Most of the paper is common to all levels of English, although there may be some variation in up to two of the short answer questions.

How has this module changed from previous years?

The common module is now much broader – there is no specific “area of study”. Rather, this module wants you to become familiar with a wide range of patently human concepts that exist in texts. According to the rubric, these include “anomalies, inconsistencies and paradoxes” in human behaviour, as well as “individual” and “collective” experiences. These are the terms that should direct your analysis.

The module has also changed in that you are no longer required to produce a creative piece in Paper 1. However, there is the possibility of using your Common Module text as inspiration for your Module C response.

How can we help in this module?

At Master Coaching, we focus on the nuances of each module, to ensure that all your essays get to the crux of what the marker is looking for. The new common module is particularly different to any common module in previous years as it specifies “TEXTS AND human experiences”. What this is directing you towards is effectively justifying why it is that we tell stories, and what parts of telling stories make us human. The answers to these questions vary depending on your prescribed texts, but generally speaking most texts will seek to do at least one of these:

  • Question the progression of society/speculate on the future (eg Orwell, 1984)
  • Explore the interaction between time, memory and experience (eg Rosemary Dobson’s poetry)
  • Provide a voice for those silenced in society/Inspire change (eg Yousafzai, I am Malala)
  • Reflect on historical events and draw attention to human empathy (eg Doerr, All the Light we Cannot See)

The notion of a human experience can be confusing for some students, as the term is incredibly broad. However, at Master Coaching will we teach you how to use this to your advantage, so you can answer any essay question with sophistication. By using rubric terms to direct your responses and staying focused on the central question of why we tell stories, these broad ideas should facilitate a convincing explanation of the relationship between texts and human experiences.

Advanced Modules

Module A: Textual Conversations

What is this module?

This is the comparative study, where you will need to write about and compare two prescribed texts. You will receive one essay question on it in Paper 2, which will be worth 20 marks. The question could be a general module question, or one specific to the themes or form of your text.

How has the module changed from previous years?

Although it has a new name, this module is fairly similar to the Textual Connections module in the previous syllabus. However, the module now covers more relationships between the texts. You will need to be prepared to discuss not only how the contexts of each text influenced their construction, but also how studying both texts illuminate ideas about each other.

Nuances in the Module

At the centre of this module is the question of why do composers choose to reinterpret texts, and what effects do these reinterpretations have. For each major theme, consider if the reinterpretation demonstrates how attitudes, values and experiences have changed over time (for better or for worse), or if they have endured or been enhanced. You may find your text demonstrates something in the middle. For example:

  • Mrs Dalloway reveals the limited role women were granted in public life during the early 20th The Hours reinterprets Mrs Dalloway to prove how women have achieved a higher level of freedom in the later 20th century, but are still faced with limitations in their personal lives due to the complex nature of responsibility.

This module is also highly focused on the influence of context and form on the meaning the texts convey. At Master Coaching, we will enhance your understanding of both to move your analysis beyond simple thematic comparison to target the purpose of Module A. By doing this, your Module A responses will more effectively compare your texts as a whole to justify the central question of why it is that composers choose to reinterpret texts and what effects this has.

Module B: Critical Study

What is this module?

This is the critical study, where you will need to produce a personal and well informed understanding of your text. You will also receive one essay question on it in Paper 2, which will be worth 20 marks. Likewise, the question could be a general module question, or one specific to the themes or form of your text.

How has the module changed from previous years?

This module is virtually untouched, except that almost all the prescribed texts have been changed. This means it will be more difficult to source HSC specific material, past papers and notes for your prescribed text than previously. On the contrary, this may also mean that HSC Module B questions will be broader as the questions have not been exhausted yet. This means that, in comparison to previous years, this module may be more difficult to prepare for, but not necessarily harder to complete in the exam.

Nuances of the Module

Questions in this module can become quite specific, and may want to test your understanding of certain ideas in the texts. However, all arguments should feed into a justification of why your text is considered to have high “textual integrity”. Essentially, this is asking why your text is considered to be well written and worth studying. At Master Coaching we will explore critical readings of your prescribed texts to demonstrate how to express your ideas about the text in a personal and confident manner. We will also break down the text into key sections to ensure you present a holistic understanding. By approaching the text structurally, we will teach you how to make your analysis versatile so that you can adequately answer any essay question whilst asserting a clear perspective on the text.

Module C: The Craft of Writing

What is this module?

This is a brand new module for Advanced English. It is focused on developing the technical and aesthetic skills involved with writing a variety of text types. There are no prescribed texts in this module, but you will explore a series of short texts that you may be asked to draw on in the exam. This Module is worth 20 marks in Paper 2, may be in one or two parts, and may involve a stimulus.

How has this module changed?

Largely speaking, this is the first module to emphasise why being a writer is important, rather than the focus on reception as in other modules. This module has also changed in that it will probably request an imaginative (creative) response in Paper 2, and never an analytical essay. There is a range of text types that you may be specified or given the option to write in: imaginative, discursive, informative or persuasive. Finally, this section of the exam may contain up to two parts, the most likely being a shorter creative piece worth 12 marks and an 8 mark reflection on the creative.

 Nuances in the Module

This module is all about what makes good writing and less so on the critical aspects of texts. Although this module is still interested in the techniques and themes of your prescribed text, it does not require analysis per se of your texts. Rather, this module wants you to reflect on its construction and stylistic features to explain how you have been inspired in your own writing.  This means that a personal voice is paramount in this module. However, this also indicates that you have the opportunity to be less formal in your writing, using first person and a less decisive register. At Master Coaching we will take a pragmatic response to creative writing to make sure you have a practical method to approach the stimulus. We will also focus closely on how to structure a reflection to purposely justify creative decisions.  We will explore the full range of Mod C text types – including the dreaded discursive – and help to foster your confidence in your writing.

Back To Top