Centre for Continuing Education

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

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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.


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

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