Matrix Blog

English 11-12

The New English Advanced Syllabus – What it Means For You!

In this post, we explain what's changing in the English Syllabus from 2018.

The HSC for English has undergone its first major change in a decade. The English Advanced Syllabus is changing. The current Year 11 students will be the last to sit down to the current modules and texts. In 2019, the first cohort of students will sit the HSC for the New English Advanced Syllabus.

In this post, we will look at the new modules to see what current Year 10 students have in store from 2018!


What’s Changing in HSC English?

The NSW Education and Standards Authority (NESA) have released their prescriptions and syllabus descriptions for the 2019 HSC for English. Most of the modules are changing.

  • Area of Study has been removed as the common module between standard and advanced English. It will be replaced with Text and Human Experience.
  • Module A remains a comparative study, but it is now Textual Conversations.
  • Module B remains the critical study of Literature. But the module rubric has undergone some changes.
  • Finally, Module C: Representation and Text has been replaced with a practical module that focuses on composition. Module C: The Craft of Writing is concerned with creation rather than criticism and analysis.


Another change is reduction in supplementary texts to one. Rather than needing two for AOS and at least one for module C, students need only pick one for the common module – Text and Human Experience.

Additionally, a cap to the number of in-school assessments for Year 12 English has been introduced. There can now be no more than four school assessments.

At this stage, it is unclear as to exactly what this will mean for students. But it would suggest that students will do HSC trials and three other assessment tasks – one on each of the common module, Module A, and Module B. It is likely that the creative component, currently in AOS, could also be incorporated into Module A or Module B.

Let’s have a look at these modules and what they require students to do:

Text and Human Experience:

AOS: Discovery Text and Human Experience
Who studies it? English Standard and Advanced English Studies, English Standard, and English Advanced
Number of supplementary texts required Two One
What is it? Students explore and discuss how discovery is represented in the core and supplementary texts. Students examine and discuss how various aspects of human experience influence composers. They explore how composers represent these ideas in their texts.

According to The NSW Education and Standards Authority (NESA) the new common module is meant to “deepen [students] understanding of how texts represent individual and collective human experience.” This is similar to what Area Of Study was doing. But rather than focusing on one idea – such as discovery, belonging, or journeys – this module explores the totality of human experience and emotion. The focus is now on “how texts represent human qualities and emotions associated with, or arising from” human experiences. This allows students to investigate the broad range of experiences that may be present in their core texts. In class, students will also explore some shorter texts that explore similar themes to be chosen by their teachers.

These changes will grant students more range and independence with their analysis of their core and supplementary text.

The new Text and Human Experience rubric states that “[s]tudents explore how texts may give insights into the anomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivations, inviting the responder to see the world differently, to challenge assumptions, ignite new ideas, or reflect personally. They may also consider the role of storytelling throughout time to express particular lives and cultures.” This outline instructs students to examine how human experience drives human behaviour to be inconsistent, erratic, or unpredictable. Human experience if often unique because of the stresses or opportunities individuals face. Students are asked to consider whether these ideas challenge their perspectives, lead to new ideas about human experience and behaviour, result in a personal reflection on their own experiences, or perhaps all of these.

Students will study a core text and then must choose a supplementary text to complement it. The supplementary text should be drawn from a range of media. If the core text is a novel, students should look to poetry, drama, or short film for their supplementary texts.

Module A – Textual Conversations:

Comparative Study of Texts and Context Textual Conversations
Who studies it? English Advanced students English Advanced students
What is it? Students explore and discuss the relationship between text and context. They explore how composers are influenced by context and also how composers represent their context in texts. A comparative study of two connected texts. Students examine how the reframing or reimagining of a text can shape its meaning.
Does it have different electives? Yes: Intertextual Perspectives and Intertextual Connections No
Number of texts? Two Two

The new comparative unit also moves away from a closely prescribed way of analysing the texts. Textual Conversations allows for greater student independence in how they read and critique their pairs of set texts. This module requires students to analyse “the ways in which the comparative study of texts can reveal resonances and dissonances between and within texts.” According to NESA, the point of this module is examine the relationship between texts from different periods and composers.

All the texts in this unit have a connection, either thematically or as a direct comment, critique, or engagement with an earlier text. Students are required to explore this connection.

Students are expected to do this by looking at “the ways that a reimagining or reframing of an aspect of a text might mirror, align or collide with the details of another text.” What does this mean? When composers appropriate earlier texts or write texts that comment on earlier texts they are often trying to make the earlier text relevant to contemporary audiences because they feel it has an important message or idea. In this module, students are asked to examine what this might be and whether the composer is considering the earlier text, or context, in a positive or negative light. This module require a degree of personal engagement, as students will be asked to draw on their personal experiences when considering and discussing the ideas present in the texts.

Module B – Critical Study of Literature:

Module B will the same. It requires students to consider one text, or a suite of texts such as poems, in their entirety. They are expected to weigh the texts critical reputation and significance against their own analysis of it. There is a still a focus on whether the texts have “textual integrity” – that is a sense of unity between form and meaning (you can find a detailed explanation of this in our Essential Guide to Textual Integrity). Module B requires students to research the text and formulate their own opinions and readings. Students need to consider how the context of a text’s composition, publication, and reception shape its meaning and value.

Students are asked whether the meaning and value of the text has been consistent throughout time or whether the events or perspectives of different contexts have seen its meaning shift or its value and reception change.

Students are also required to “investigate and evaluate the perspectives of others; and explore the ideas in the text.” This means that students must research others’ opinions of the text and see if they agree with them, or if these perspectives change their own. They must also explore and research the key ideas in the texts to see if they agree with the composer’s perspective on them.

Module C – The Craft of Writing:

The new Module C is incomparable to the previous Mod C. The Craft of Writing is not taught as a separate module, but one that is interpolated throughout the year. This module can be viewed as a year-long writing workshop. Additionally, there are elements of this module interspersed throughout other modules.

This Craft of Writing is concerned with students developing their critical and creative writing skills. In this module, students will examine a selection of written works to see how they are constructed and to investigate how they use literary forms, genres, and techniques. Students will use this knowledge to compose their own critical and imaginative texts. Their compositions will need to reflect the needs of a variety of different audiences and purposes. The module will also guide the students through the drafting and editing process.

Students will be expected to produce first drafts and refine and edit them throughout the year.

This will require experimenting with various literary or poetic forms and figurative devices – such as metaphors, motifs, or contrast – and using correct grammatical forms punctuation. The aim of this module is to teach students how to write in a hands-on manner. This is a great improvement on previous iterations of the syllabus where composition was largely taken for granted.

This Craft of Writing also connects to the other modules. The module A rubric states that “[b]y composing critical and creative texts in a range of modes and media, students develop the confidence, skills and appreciation to express a considered personal perspective.” While the module B outline states that, “[s]tudents have opportunities to appreciate and express views about the aesthetic and imaginative aspects of the text by composing creative and critical texts of their own. They draft, appraise and refine their own texts, applying the conventions of syntax, spelling and grammar appropriately.” This means that NESA expects that the skills developed in this module to be practically applied in the other three. Which module(s) is used for assessing the creative component will likely be left to individual teachers. This module has exciting possibilities for students to produce their own works in a way that was previously restricted to AOS.

Want to Start Acing HSC English?

Are You Ready For Your Year 11 Multimodal Presentations?

Develop your writing and speaking skills for mulitmodal presentations. In our course, you will:

  • Learn how to produce a speech
  • Create visual accompaniments
  • Develop presentation and speaking skills that will give you the confidence to nail your oral tasks.

Written by Patrick Condliffe

Patrick has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons. 1st Class - Australian Literature) from USYD. His poetry, short stories, and essays have been published online and in print and he regularly reviews film and other media. Patrick is the editor of the popular Matrix blog and has been an English teacher at Matrix since 2012.


© Matrix Education and, 2018. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Matrix Education and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Get free study tips and resources delivered to your inbox.

Join 75,893 students who already have a head start.

Our website uses cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies. Read our cookies statement.

OK, I understand