Not sure what’s new in the Year 11 English Extension course or just want a rundown of the syllabus?

You’ve come to the right place!

In this article, we’ll cover the changes to content and assessments, as well as how to prepare beforehand, and how to study smart while you’re doing this course.

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s jump in!

What’s Different in the New Year 11 English Extension Course?
How to Get an E4 in the Texts, Culture and Value Module
How to Prepare for the Texts, Culture and Value Module
But first, make sure you download your free PDF breakdown of the 2019 Year 11 English Extension Course!

What’s Different in the New Year 11 English Extension Course?

It’s the same content with an exciting new way of expressing and assessing it!

The module of taught content, ‘Texts, Culture, and Value’ will remain the same, but there will be a major independent research project leading to a multimedia presentation towards the end of the course. 

The Common Module ‘Texts, Culture, and Values’ is described as a study of ‘highly valued cultural texts appropriated into and maintained in popular cultures’. It has been the first unit of content studied by Year 11 English Extension students for a long time, and it has been maintained in the new HSC.

‘Texts, Culture, and Value’ examines how a value (like romantic love, for instance, or patriotism) appears in a text (like Romeo and Juliet or Braveheart) and how our culture uses that text (by remaking it, or adding sequels, or using the story outline in new texts).

Here’s the first paragraph of the rubric: it tells you broadly what you’ll be looking for in the texts your school has chosen.

Year 11 English Extension Rubric

Students explore the ways in which aspects and concerns of texts from the past have been carried forward, borrowed from and/or appropriated into more recent culture. The module develops students’ understanding of how and why cultural values are maintained and changed.

You should notice that it’s actually very similar to Module A in Advanced English.

The  Year 11 English Extension module looks at the intersection of ideas or trends, books and movies, and recent culture, and shows you that cultural trends haven’t just popped up from nowhere but appear in the form of a text and produce more texts.

This similarity to the Advanced course benefits you, because you’ll be working the same skills of comparison and contextualisation in two different units.

Change #1: Difference number and value of assessment tasks

Your mark for Year 11 English Extension comprises:

  • 50% on knowledge and understanding of complex texts and of how and why they are valued
  • 50% on skills in complex analysis, sustained composition, and independent investigation

NESA has set firmer rules about how schools can assess you in Year 11 English Extension:

  • There should be THREE assessment tasks set in Year 11
  • Each task can only weigh between 20-40%
  • Schools can only set ONE formal exam during the year
  • The Research Project Presentation has a maximum weighting of 40%

This is good news, because it means the number and type of assessments that Year 11 English Extension students across NSW are given are relatively similar. In other words, there will be less variation in assessments between schools.

Change #2: No set texts for Year 11 English Extension

As in previous years, there are no set texts for the Preliminary course so it’s up to your school to choose the texts that you study in Year 11. 

NESA allows this because they want to give schools as much flexibility as possible to get their students interested and up to the standard required for study in Year 12.

Change #3: Independent Research Project

NESA has introduced a major Independent Research Project, to be presented as an analytical multimodal presentation, to the Year 11 English Extension Course!

Everyone must study ‘Texts, Culture, and Value’, but your school will decide whether you do the research project at the same time as, or after, the module. 

NESA defines ‘multimedia’ as ‘at least one mode other than reading and writing such as listening, speaking, viewing, and representing’. Because this is the Preliminary half of the course, your school will determine the exact parameters of the Research Project, such as its length or duration, what the split between creative and critical analysis should be, and in what form it should be submitted. 

This project provides opportunities for students to develop skills in independent investigation and critical and creative thinking. Students apply their knowledge about texts studied in this module to their own selected texts.


They develop an understanding of research methodologies suitable to support a range of interpretive, analytical and imaginative projects.


Students select a key text and examine and evaluate manifestations of their selected text in other contexts and media, while considering how and whether the values embedded in one text parallel, challenge or offer alternatives to the other.

What’s the point of a Research Project for Year 11 English Extension students?

There are two main benefits in the Research Project:

  • Firstly, it allows students who are passionate about English to formulate and follow their own interests for a defined task
  • Secondly, it tests students’ ability to research and write at length and then communicate their findings in an engaging and relevant way

The content knowledge you’ll accrue by reading and watching a lot about one topic, and the skills in research and extended writing are very valuable real-world skills, which will serve you well if you plan to do research and writing intensive subjects at uni or beyond!

How to Get an E4 in the Texts, Culture and Value Module

The Performance Band descriptors within the new syllabus outline what the work of a top performing student looks like. So let’s go through each descriptor to work out what it means, and how to achieve the top mark for each!

Step 1: Consider your text and its culture

Consider the relationships between the text and its culture

This seems pretty self explanatory, right? I mean, the name of the module is Texts, Culture and Value!

However, it is critically important to be able to recognise and understand that a text is produced within a particular context and a particular culture. You also need to be able to recognise that a culture influences a text, and a text can also influence a culture.

For example, if you read To Kill a Mockingbird or The Hunger Games, you’ll see that these texts are actually written to condemn things in our culture (racism and judicial corruption, and wealth inequality respectively).

These texts were not just written because they’re interesting stories, they were written for a purpose within their culture and context.

Action Point: Do some research on the writer and the historical period when the text was written.

Here are some prompts to get you started:

  1. Write a short paragraph on the writer and his or her life. What was their family background and upbringing like? Where are they from? What was the historical period in which they were writing?
  2. What is the historical period in which this particular text was written?
  3. What are ways in which the text has been influenced by the writer and/or the context in which the text was written?

Step 2: Explore the language and how it reflects values

Explore the language of the text and examine the ways in which language shapes and reflects values

Now you are aware that texts are written within a particular context and culture, it’s time to analyse the use of language in the text to explore the values portrayed by the writer.

To do this well you need to be able to confidently identify and analyse how the writer uses literary techniques to explore and reflect values in the text.

If you need a bit of a refresher course on literary techniques, we’ve got you covered with our literary techniques cheatsheet! 

For example: In The Hunger Games, the catchphrase May the odds be ever in your favour has appeared in memes and songs, t-shirts, and even other books. But it actually comes from ancient Rome, where it was said to those condemned to fight in the gladiatorial arena. It’s used ironically, in the books, because in a humane civilisation surviving shouldn’t be down to luck but to cooperation with your fellow citizens.

Action Point: Create a TEE table and start to fill it with examples from the text

If you’re unsure on how to create a TEE table, or just need a little refresh, check out our article here! 

You should be filling in your TEE table for each text as you work through reading the text for the first time, up until you finish the module in class! The more quality analysis and examples you have, the more comprehensive your responses to the text.

Step 3: Consider how different effects arise from different responses to a text

Consider the effects of different ways of responding to the text

For this step you need to think critically and genuinely about the effect of the text in a broad sense. You need to be thinking about how responses to a text come in different forms.

For example, for The Hunger Games, how do the many memes about it differ from a ‘Letter from Katniss’ condemning her parents for having children in the dreadful society? Is the letter a ‘better’ response because it’s more serious? Can memes have a more immediate effect on a society? These questions are what you can ask about the different forms that responses come in.

Action Point: Research as many responses to the text as you can!

Obviously, really important texts like Bram Stoker’s Dracula have too many responses to count (anything that involves a vampire can be considered a response to that text), but you can begin to build up a multimedia portfolio of images, songs, games, and written texts where the text has had an influence. 

Step 4: Consider how and why the original and later versions of a text are valued

Consider the ways and reasons the original and later manifestations of the text or aspects of the text are valued.

This step is similar to the previous Step 3, however instead of examining different responses to a text, we’re looking at different versions of a text.

For example, The Hunger Games a ‘Young Adult’ novel, but the very similar story of Gladiator considered an adult film. How soon will there be a remake of The Hunger Games series that isn’t considered to be ‘Young Adult’ – and why do we keep remaking things? Why don’t we all just go back and read the historian Plutarch’s story of Spartacus, the original arena-warrior, Spartacus? Why do we need new versions of enduring texts?

Step 5: Explore, analyse and critically evaluate texts

Demonstrates insightful understanding and sophisticated evaluation of the concepts and values in texts and the ways in which these are expressed

Here’s where it all comes together.

By now, you’ve got a whole bunch of knowledge about ‘Texts, Culture and Value’ and it’s time to use it!

Action Point: Use your analysis of context, themes and language to inform your response to the text

A top-band answer will likely:

  • acknowledge the difference between a concept and a value
  • recognise that the values come from the author’s own views, historical context, and literary aims – this will probably involve reading contextually about the author and their other works
  • make bold but well-supported statements actually evaluating how successfully the author has communicated the value, or dealt with the concepts, and whether the value proves persuasive
  • be clear about several distinct strategies used by the author to communicate the value or discuss the concepts

Displays highly developed ability to analyse and evaluate the nature of texts and the relationships between them, and the different ways in which texts are valued

More than simply saying a rote number of things about each individual text, really good students will show that:

  • there’s a conversation going on between different texts across different points in time,
  • that this conversation uses different ways of saying making a point,
  • and that some of these ways are more acceptable at some times in history  than others.
  • They will be aware that one version of a story will be loved by one group, and hated by another, and be able to explain clearly why this is

Most of all, they’ll be able to say these things in correct, clear language which doesn’t just get their point across, but makes their reader agree, laugh, cry, or be interested, depending on what the student is aiming for.

You then need to be able to take your evidence and analysis of the text to inform your personal response. Basically, you need to be able to take what you’ve learnt and write a kickass essay using your knowledge! 

We have an amazing article which outlines step-by-step How to Write a Killer English Essay here!

How to Prepare for the Texts, Culture and Value Module

Step 1: Read your texts!

Ask your teacher what you’ll be reading, and get the texts read ahead of time. Ideally, you will have read your text/s well before you absolutely need to have read them…

Step 2: Get reading to read with purpose, with a pen in hand!

Get used to reading with a pen in hand! Underline or write down quotes and note your reactions to them, even if it’s just a smiley face or a tick in the margin

Step 3: Research your ‘Master Narrative’

Find out and write up a paragraph about what ‘master narrative’ the text uses. Master Narratives are the basic storylines which underpin most texts.

For example, most romantic comedies are retellings of the basic fairy tale of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy undergoes trials to win girl back, they unite in marriage and live happily ever after. How does the text diverge from the master narrative?

Step 4: Get Academic

Start to get familiar with academic databases such as JSTOR, and practice using them to look up critical or academic readings about the text. It’s important to get comfortable with academic writing, if you want to pursue subjects at Extension level and beyond.

Step 5: Ask Questions!

This is what your teacher, tutor, friends and parents are for! Ask as many questions as you can, until you are satisfied with the answers.

In many ways, asking questions is as important as expressing your ideas well. Consider what approaches to the text interest you, and what things you might focus on in your Research Project.

Are you looking for some extra help with Year 11 English Extension in 2019?

We pride ourselves on our inspirational HSC English Extension 1 & 2 coaches and mentors!

We offer tutoring and mentoring for Years K-12 in a large variety of subjects, with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

To find out more and 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 Facebook!

Dr Anna McHugh is a qualified English teacher with 10+ years experience at Sydney’s top schools, with 2 PhDs from The University of Sydney and Oxford University and the author of a number of textbooks for HSC English. Anna works with Art of Smart Education as an on-campus English teacher at the AOS Hornsby campus.