Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Advanced Preparation Course - Module B: 'Henry IV Part 1'

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

This new one-day HSC English preparation course focuses on Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 (1598) for Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

Close analysis and discussion focuses on Henry IV Part 1's construction, content and language: its genre as both history and a morality play; its three plot strands; the play extempore as metatheatrical device; comic scenes; the use of doubles, foils and stock characters (including Falstaff and Henry, Hal and Hotspur); and alternations between verse and prose.

This critical study of the play evaluates the literary value of Shakespeare’s play as the most popular of his career in his lifetime: the popularity of its anti-hero, Falstaff; its engagement with history, politics and ideologies; and its intertextual links to Shakespeare’s earlier Richard II, and his later works Henry IV Part 2 and Henry VI.

Attention returns to the themes, meaning and alternative interpretations of Henry IV Part I as the story of the education of a prince, a critique of medieval ideas about honour and virtue, and an examination of Kingship and lineage during the fall of English feudalism and rise of the modern nation-state.


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

  • analyse and discuss Henry IV Part 1 in relation to context, narrative, structure, themes, aesthetic style, key words and motifs
  • analyse and discuss Henry IV Part 1 as a Shakespearean history and morality play that critically explores political and moral values in its Early Modern context
  • analyse and discuss the value of Henry IV Part 1 as a political commentary, and an ideological and culturally-significant interjection into discourses related to feudalism, the medieval Code of Chivalry, the Divine Right of Kings, democracy, statehood, and humanism: the role of Hotspur as foil to Hal; the rebels' plot; Hal’s political grooming as future king.


  • Critical study of Henry IV Part 1 that explores context, genre, style, and the form of Shakespearean drama.
  • Critical study of Henry IV Part 1 in relation to context, style and meaning in order to explore its form as a Shakespearean ‘History’ play; the themes of power, conflict, leadership, morality and moral development, duty, and epicurean pleasure in life; sub-plots of domestic conflicts incited by or intertwined with political events; and shifting social power and hierarchies, as England transitioned from feudalism to a modern nation-state.
  • Group discussion about selected critical comment and NESA examination material to enhance independent students' critical responses as a basis for students' own writing.

Intended audience

HSC English Advanced students studying Shakespeare’s Henry IV Part 1 for the Advanced Module B: Critical Study of Literature.

Delivery style

A combination of lecture and group discussion with selected passages and selected literary criticism will be used as a basis for interactive exploration of the texts and informed personal student responses. You will also read and discuss sample HSC examination material provided by NESA.


A course booklet is included. Please bring along a copy of your text to class.


NESA English Advanced Stage 6 Syllabus (2017)
EA12-1, EA12-2, EA12-3, EA12-4, EA12-5, EA12-6, EA12-7, EA12-8

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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