BlogEnglishGuide to HSC English Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

Guide to HSC English Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences

hsc english common module texts and human experiences

Can’t get your head around the HSC English Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences?

We’re here to help! Check out the different ways you’ll be assessed by NESA, what you’ll study, what to look for in a related text, and more!

Here’s the 411 on the HSC English Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences!

What is the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences?
How will I be assessed?
What will I study in ‘Texts and Human Experiences’?
What should I be looking for in a related text?
What does the ‘Texts and Human Experiences’ rubric even mean?
What is a human experience and how do I write about it?

What is the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences?

‘Texts and Human Experiences’ is the current Common Module which focuses on deepening students’ understanding of how texts represent individual and collective human experience.

Texts studied in this module, whether they are literary works, films, poetry, or other forms of media, are chosen for their ability to engage with and illuminate different facets of human experiences.

Students are encouraged to explore how these texts comment on the richness and complexities of being human.

This module takes up around a quarter of your course time in HSC English and as the name implies, is common for students of Advanced English, Standard English and English Studies.

It will likely be the first topic you study for HSC English, but hopefully not the hardest one.

If you’re lucky, your teacher may also integrate it with Module C: The Craft of Writing – but more on that later.

How will I be assessed for the Common Module?

You will be assessed for ‘Texts and Human Experiences’ in school-based and external assessments.

Internal assessments look different for every school, but NESA’s sample assessment schedule suggests that Term 1 will involve a multimodal presentation on a prescribed text and related text.

At the end of the year, the internal HSC English Trial Paper 1 and external HSC English Paper 1 Exam for the Common Module will consist of two sections:

  1. A short-answer section in which you respond to a range of unseen texts
  2. An essay about your prescribed text

Unlike in previous years, this exam will not be the same for Advanced and Standard but will include two separate exams targeted at each respective course – an improvement, as it means the exam will be aimed specifically at your ability level.

Check out some sample papers for Texts and Human Experiences. You can also find more practice questions to brush up on your essay writing skills!

What will I study in ‘Texts and Human Experiences’?

For the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences, you will study:

  • ONE prescribed text (check out the prescribed texts in the syllabus)
  • ONE related text of your own choosing
  • And a range of short texts, likely given to you by your teacher

You will be assessed on your prescribed text in both school and external assessments however, you will NOT be assessed on your related text in your external HSC English Paper 1 Exam.

We’ve written up some guides on how to analyse prescribed texts for this module — check them out below:

Your related text should ideally have some connection to your prescribed text for ‘Texts and Human Experiences’ – it is a related text, after all.

However, try to think outside the box a bit in terms of what this connection is.

Remember, this connection can take the form of a similarity or a difference (contrast in human experiences is a compelling point to raise) so you don’t need to search for your prescribed text’s long-lost twin.

Your related text is the one opportunity you will have in HSC English to choose your own text so you may as well pick something you actually enjoy.

Can’t find a related text? Check out our list of suggestions! Or find out how to choose and use one yourself!

What does the ‘Texts and Human Experiences’ rubric even mean?

The Common Module is notably vague in its rubric, so it’s important to be able to pin it down. Human experiences can encompass anything experienced by a human – huge, right?

All essay and short answer questions you complete for this module will in some way be drawn from this rubric so it’s super important to be familiar with it.

Take a look at the first half of the rubric put out by NESA. Read through it carefully and then skim through our table glossaries of keywords and ideas.


hsc english common module texts and human experiences rubric


TextsManifestations of human expression.

These can take the form of a novel, short story, poem, play, film, television series, song, artwork, etc.
ExperienceAn event or occurrence for which an individual is present and which leaves an impression upon said individual.

For example: Although HSC is a nerve-wracking experience for many students, it doesn’t have to be.
Human qualitiesDistinctive attributes or characteristics possessed by an individual.

For example: She shows strong leadership qualities.
Human emotionsStrong feelings deriving from an individual’s circumstances, mood or relationships with others.

For example: Grief is an emotion I know all too well.
Textual formAn umbrella term referring to various elements of a text’s construction, including medium, mode, structure and genre. The emphasis is on how the text is put together, rather than what the text has to say.

For example: Orwell manipulates elements of textual form to create a harrowingly dystopian text.
Textual modeThe style of a text, similar to genre. In order to follow a particular mode, texts display certain prescribed characteristics pertaining to setting, characterisation, and narrative structure.

For example: Billy Elliot navigates the bildungsroman narrative mode in order to connect with audiences both young and old.
Textual mediumText type – e.g. is it a novel? Poem? Play? Etc.

What differentiates one medium from others?
Anomalous behaviourBehaviour that is considered “abnormal” and different in relation to prescribed norms and conventions within a particular social context.
StoryAn account of real or imaginary people and events.


Key statementWhat does it mean?
Individual and collective human experiencesAn individual human experience is one experienced by one individual whereas a collective experience is shared.
Human qualities and emotions associated with, or arising from, these experiencesThe attributes, characteristics and feelings connected to/caused by human experiences.
Anomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivationsAnomalies, paradoxes and inconsistencies in human behaviour and motivations
Anomalies – Behaviour and motivations outside the norms and conventions of a particular social context.

Paradoxes – Behaviour and motivations which on the surface, do not make sense…

Inconsistencies – Behaviour and motivations which changes in some way.
To see the world differently, to challenge assumptions, ignite new ideas or reflect personallyThe ways in which the text affects the audience’s way of thinking – whether by exposing them to new ideas and practices, challenging what they previously thought to be true, creating new ideas or inspiring an assessment of the self.
The role of storytelling throughout time to express and reflect particular lives and culturesThe importance of storytelling in creating shared human experiences and creating a collective fund.

What is a human experience and how do I write about it?

Ever received any of the following comments on your work? 

  • Vague
  • Please explain
  • Such as?
  • ???

If you answered yes, you’re not alone. Heck, even I had this problem.

The best way to get around this for the ‘Texts and Human Experiences’ module is to make sure you understand what a human experience is.

Then, go on to discuss the more complex dimensions of a human experience using the SPIES acronym, coined by one of our own English teachers.

If you’re looking for Common Module help, get in touch with one of our HSC English Tutors who can meet you anywhere in Sydney or online!

So what is a human experience? 

A human experience refers to the diverse range of encounters, emotions, events, and interactions that shape individuals and communities. It encompasses the complexities of human existence, including our relationships, challenges, joys, struggles, beliefs, and personal growth.

Let’s explore what human experiences are highlighted in Arthur Miller’s play The CrucibleIn the play, the community of Salem is torn apart by hysteria and accusations of witchcraft. The characters grapple with their sense of belonging in multiple ways:

  1. Community Belonging: The townspeople initially belong to a tightly-knit community with shared beliefs and values. However, as fear and paranoia spread, this sense of belonging fractures.
  2. Individual vs. Society: Protagonist John Proctor struggles with his place in the community due to his moral conflicts and past transgressions.
  3. Belonging to Self: Characters like Proctor and Elizabeth grapple with their own moral compasses, seeking reconciliation between their personal values and societal expectations.

How should I discuss human experiences in my essays?

No matter the type of human experience, you can use our SPIES acronym to add meaningful detail to your analysis. Check it out!

hsc english common module texts and human experiences






Once you explore these areas, try and go a little further than simply identifying the dimension of the experience, e.g. A physical experience or An emotional experience. Develop a nice big bank of adjectives to describe these experiences.

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with the Texts and Human Experiences rubric, have a go at practice short answer questions to get the hang of it!

Struggling with Module C? Check out our Ultimate HSC Guide to Creative Writing here!

Looking for extra help with the Common Module: Texts and Human Experiences?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC English mentors!

We’ve developed a personalised HSC English Creative Writing Crash Course where our team of expert tutors & coaches work with you 1 on 1 at your home to help you craft a Band 6 creative writing piece!

Understanding Texts and Human Experiences is easy with Epping tutoring, Wollongong English Tutoring, North Shore English Tutoring, or Hurstville HSC English tutoring!

To get started with an inspirational tutor and mentor, get in touch today! 

Give us a ring on 1300 267 888, email us at [email protected] or check us out on TikTok!

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