Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Standard & Advanced Preparation Course - Common Module: 'Billy Elliot'

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

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This HSC English preparation course focuses on Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot (2000) for the English Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences. Through analysis and discussion, this course will enable students to deepen their understanding of how the film represents individual and collective human experiences of adversity, loss, social limitations, as well as self-discovery, self-expression, personal freedom and transcendence.

As part of a small class, this new one-day course begins with an overview of context, purpose, structure, stylistic features, and the visual, verbal and digital elements of the film. Billy Elliot’s 1980s Thatcherism world and the 2000s New Labour era will be explored.

Through analysis and discussion, students will focus on how the film Billy Elliot represents human qualities of resilience, loyalty, courage and moral integrity, and emotions of grief, fear, anger and love associated with, or arising from, these experiences. Exploration of the representation of the human experiences, qualities and emotions of key characters will highlight the film’s insights into the anomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivations that arise from social pressures, conflicting identities, divided loyalties, and moral uncertainty.

Guided by experienced teachers, students will engage in close-analysis of key clips and script extracts that centre on the film’s coming-of-age structure, editing, soundtrack, choreography, its use and subversion of stereotypes, and its blend of social realism and humour.

To complete the analysis, students will focus on the social issues raised by the film and evaluate how Billy Elliot positions the responder to see the wider world differently, challenging assumptions about class and gender identities, and igniting new ideas about history, politics, social justice and art. As they reflect on the film’s narrative construction, students will consider the role of storytelling throughout time, and how the film expresses and reflects particular lives and subcultures within the context of the 1984-5 UK miners' strike.


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

  • articulate their understanding of the ways in which the film shapes meaning for different audiences
  • critically evaluate the aesthetic qualities – or flaws – of Billy Elliot
  • recognise that key scenes in Billy Elliot function as a vehicle for highlighting tensions around social difference and power, and the construction of class, gender and other social identities in the world of the text and in the wider world
  • interpret and respond to sample examination questions and anticipate possible future questions.


  • Critical analysis of the language forms, features and structures of Billy Elliot: its mix of genres (bildungsroman, musical, social realism), its anachronistic 1980s aesthetic, English Northern dialect, and humour.
  • Evaluation of the diverse ways the film represents—and parallels—the personal and public worlds of its central characters: Billy, ‘Dad’, Mrs Wilkinson and Michael, framing them within their small-town ‘Everington’ setting and in contrast to the political centre of London.
  • Explanation of the cultural assumptions and values related to class, gender, social justice, education and the arts in Billy Elliot and their effects on meaning.

Intended audience

HSC English Standard and English Advanced students studying Stephen Daldry’s film Billy Elliot for the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences.

Delivery style

Small classes involving lecture and workshop style delivery, including online learning activities for English Advanced and Standard students.

Note: Online activities will be differentiated for English Standard and Advanced students.


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 12-3, EA 12-7, EA 12-8

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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