Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Standard & Advanced Preparation Course - Common Module: 'Nineteen Eighty-Four'

HSC English. The smart way to prepare for your HSC.

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This new one-day HSC English preparation course focuses on George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) for the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences.

The review of the novel begins with context: Orwell’s response to the Cold War period led to a dark, dystopian, science fiction satire that is both a puzzle about the history of Communist Russia and a warning against totalitarianism. Analysis and discussion of selected passages focuses the representation of totalitarianism and raises questions about the relevance of propaganda, socialism and capitalism to the present.

Analysis of Winston’s story and its range from realism to fable and dream focuses conformity, dissent, and surveillance and technology. Detailed analysis of selected passages focuses exploration of doublethink, Room 101, O’Brien’s vision of a future of propaganda and torture, whether the proles offer any hope, and pessimism versus optimism.

Comparison to other texts further encourages personal responses about individual and collective human experience. For example, the White Rabbit exhibition Republic of Jing Bang – influenced by Nineteen Eighty-Four - raises the issue of the construction of identity in relation to the present world of television, news and social media.


By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • analyse and discuss Nineteen Eighty Four in relation to the concept of ‘textual integrity’ including context, narrative, structure, themes, literary style, key words and motifs
  • analyse and discuss Nineteen Eighty Four as a special case of literature as a representation of individual and collective human experience, with a focus on twentieth-century history, totalitarianism and propaganda
  • make informed and personal connections between key experiences and themes in Nineteen Eighty Four and the present, including O’Brien and the proles.


  • Critical study of Nineteen Eighty-Four as a complex text in relation to the concept of 'textual integrity, including narrative and genre, with attention to the hybrid form – dystopian science fiction, realistic fable, satire, dream, variation on propaganda.
  • Critical study of Nineteen Eighty Four in relation to context and meaning in order to explore its particular interest as a representation of individual and collective human experience, including the focus on twentieth-century history and politics, totalitarianism and propaganda.
  • An overview and analysis of selected passages of Nineteen Eighty-Four in order to encourage students to challenge assumptions and explore new ideas about individual and collective human experience in confrontation with the pessimism of the novel. The selected passages include doublethink, Room 101, O’Brien’s vision the future, and the proles.

Intended audience

HSC English Standard and Advanced students studying George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four for the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences.

Delivery style

A combination of lecture and group discussion with selected passages and selected literary criticism and related texts used as a basis for interactive exploration of the text to provide informed personal student responses.


You will be provided with a course booklet (electronic copy). Please bring along your own copy of the text.

Bring your own device

You are required to bring your own device (Windows or Mac) and a power chord. Please ensure your device is fully charged as access to power is limited.

Please note that University does not carry any responsibility for your lost, stolen, or damaged devices whilst on the University premises.


NESA English Advanced Stage 6 Syllabus (2017)
EA 12-1, EA 12-2, EA 12-3, EA 12-4, EA 12-5, EA 12-6, EA 12-7, EA 12-8, EA 12-9

Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide

While you progress through this journey and also the conclusion of your schooling life, we know you’ll have a lot on your mind – exams, future study, careers – but remember, while keeping focused on these bigger goals and aspirations, it’s also important not to forget your own health and well-being.

For tips on staying motivated and keeping focused, dealing with anxiety, keeping healthy, relaxation, pre-study exercise and more, read our article Getting Through Your HSC: A Practical Guide.


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