Centre for Continuing Education

HSC English Extension 1 Preparation Course - Common Module: Literary Worlds

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

COVID-19 update: arrangement of our courses

We are now delivering courses online and in-person. Please check the delivery format of each class before enrolling.

Please note that course materials (excluding prescribed texts) are shared electronically within 48 hours of course commencement. Printing is not available.

This one-day HSC preparation course for the English Extension Common Module: Literary Worlds will illuminate the complexity of representing individuals and societies through readings of richly diverse texts and selected literary criticism. Theoretical perspectives, including New Historicism, will be brought to bear on a targeted discussion-based inquiry into textual representations of literary worlds.

This course will begin with an overview of the significant contribution of theorists and thinkers from the Romantic period to the literary conception of a secondary world of the imagination, conjured through the defamiliarisation of lived experience and sustained through a logic of its own. Students will be encouraged to explore the implications of more recent disruptions to the genre of speculative fiction through examining the setting of conventions and the breaking of boundaries in the imagining of literary worlds across time.

The facilitator will identify productive links to the Extension English Electives to make explicit the ways in which consolidation of conceptual understanding of the Common Module may enhance readings of the texts prescribed for elective study. Writing activities will encourage experimentation with form through the conscious application of ideas pertaining to critical approaches and literary conventions in various genres, canvassed through short lectures and small group discussion.

Multimodal texts will be deconstructed alongside substantial print texts from literary periods including Romanticism, Modernism and Post-Modernism. The ways voice and point of view are valued or marginalised will inform both critical writing and imaginative responses as students create their own intersecting private and public worlds after evaluating the works chosen for study and engaging with course activities in the classroom and online.


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

  • develop a rich definition of the ‘literary’ and explore contested areas such as canon formation and disruption through unpacking the complex metaphor of constructing a secondary 'world'
  • answer questions suggested by the module’s rubric with confidence and reference to textual dynamics in the examples before them and make connections to texts prescribed in the module’s electives
  • compose critical and imaginative responses drawing on new insights from the discussion and evaluation of a range of complex texts that explore new horizons by imagining literary worlds using distinctive, and often innovative, narrative strategies
  • give precise consideration to the ways texts can powerfully represent individual and collective experience along with noting significant gaps and silences in texts and across genres
  • consider the ways in which language is crafted and form is manipulated to create secondary worlds of the imagination that move beyond realism and its strategies of mimetic representation.


Texts chosen for critical evaluation and discussion include:

  • a contemporary indigenous poem by Zelda Quakawoot, 'If it wasn’t for the footprints'
  • Chimamanda’s 2009 TED talk/podcast 'The danger of a single story'
  • scenes from Alfonso CuarÓn’s dystopic film, Children of Men (2006) and Liev Schreiber’s comic film Everything is illuminated (2005)
  • Arundhati Roy’s feature article, War is Peace (2001)
  • excerpts from Marjane Satrapi’s graphic memoir, Persepolis (2000)
  • Margaret Atwood’s poem ‘Postcard’, published in 1987
  • Joanna Russ' novel The Female Man, published in 1975 and her critical essay How to Suppress Women’s Writing (1983)
  • Shirley Jackson’s short story, The Lottery (1948)
  • scenes from Orson Welles' radio drama The War of the Worlds, broadcast in 1938.

These texts exemplify the ways in which a literary world is shaped by personal, social, historical and cultural contexts hence the insights gathered from critical discussion of complex texts may be applied with forethought to students own creative writing, along with sharper awareness of the ideological implications of their choice of narrative strategies and goals. In this sense, critical and creative thinking will be integrated into both composing and responding to complex texts with a conceptual focus on literary worlds.

Intended audience

HSC English Extension 1 students studying for the English Extension Common Module: Literary Worlds.

Delivery style

The facilitator will model critical evaluation of texts in a blended learning environment that integrates online activities and resources with supplementary materials in a concise course booklet.

A specialist introductory lecture on representation and theory will serve to guide subsequent group discussion of excerpts from a range of complex texts and literary criticism to encourage informed readings across modes in the context of the Common Module.

The facilitator will provide detailed and individual feedback and work with students to establish personal writing goals, and strategies for achieving these, for optimal success in HSC Extension English. Students will also read and discuss the sample HSC examination question provided by NESA.


You will be provided with a course booklet (electronic copy).

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 Extension Stage 6 Syllabus (2017)
EE 12-1, EE12-2, EE12-4 and EE12-5

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 Extension 1 Preparation Course - Common Module: Literary Worlds

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