Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Advanced Preparation Course - Module B: T.S. Eliot's 'Selected Poems'

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

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This HSC English preparation course focuses on the poems of T. S. Eliot selected for study for the Advanced English Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

This one-day course begins with an overview of Eliot’s life and career and close study of the set poems in relation to their meaning, style and context. Throughout the course there is special focus on understanding each poem in its entirety and in relation to the concept of ‘textual integrity’ as well as the context and the life and ideas of the poet.

The close study of the poems begins with the early poems: ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’, ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. This includes comment on Eliot’s period in Paris and its influence on poems such as ‘Preludes’ and ‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’. Close analysis considers the balance between traditional lyrical form and abstraction, and between traditional values and the Parisian decadence of the period. Study of ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’ includes providing an overview of the structure and meaning of this longer and more complicated poem as well as Eliot’s further exploration of stream of consciousness devices, poetic abstraction and intertextual wit. Students will explore these poems in relation to the wider historical context of modernism and its combination of radical challenges to traditional belief and literature.

Study of the later poems ‘The Hollow Men’ and ‘Journey of the Magi’ concentrates on Eliot’s journey to Christianity from with the context of Modernism. ‘The Hollow Men’ is analysed in close detail in relation to its dark lyricism and its complicated intertextual wit that includes Biblical references and classical epic and mythology. Students will be guided to consider the poem in terms of it verbal patterns, essential ambiguity and allusions to the history of Western literature and belief. Close study of ‘Journey of the Magi’ further polishes understanding of Eliot’s combination of Christianity, detailed allusion, and variations on the tradition of dramatic monologue.


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

  • analyse and discuss the selected Eliot poems in relation to an overview of Eliot’s career and the concept of ‘textual integrity’ including poetic form, structure, context, themes, literary style, key words and motifs
  • analyse and discuss the selected poems in relation to their special intellectual and aesthetic interest in identity, history and the history of literature, society and culture in the first half of the twentieth century
  • analyse and discuss Eliot’s interest in ideas, history and human identity in complex texts that reflect his understanding of a twentieth-century conflict between war, a failure of tradition, and continuity that includes traditional literary values and religion.


  • Critical study of the selected poems as a record of Eliot’s personal development in relation to poetry and values in his twentieth century context including the concept of modernism.
  • An overview and analysis of each selected poem in relation to context, themes and aesthetic range, with particular focus on Eliot’s development of poetic ambiguity and variations on the traditional poetic monologue.
  • An overview and analysis of selected passages in relation to literary style and meaning in order to establish confidence with reading and critical responses in response to the combination of dramatic narrative, allusion, lyrical intensity and intellectual range of Eliot’s poetry.

Intended audience

HSC English Advanced students studying the poems of T.S. Eliot for the Advanced English Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

Delivery style

A combination of lecture and group discussion of the selected poems and selected literary criticism as a basis for interactive exploration of the text to help you make informed personal 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

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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