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New vs old syllabus: What’s changed?

By Danielle Barakat on 10 April 2019NSWblogSyllabusHSC

With the new syllabus changes coming in this year, we’ve noticed some slight distress amongst year and 11 and 12 students. So, we thought we’d quickly tackle exactly what’s changed and how it might affect you!

Let’s dive right in:


Let’s kick off with Maths, since there’s quite a lot going on here!

General maths has been split into Standard Maths 1 & 2

  • There’s more of a focus on online data and its application in a new topic called Networks.
  • Standard 1 is now an ATAR subject. There’s a new non-ATAR course called Numeracy CEC.
  • There’s a larger focus on practical skills like measurement, finance and how to use digital tools.
  • The new syllabus builds on algebra, geometry and statistics.
  • And, 6 new skills will be taught.

Advanced Maths

  • Advanced Maths (AKA 2 unit) now includes a new topic on financial maths and statistics.
  • Extension 1 (AKA 3 Unit) has two new topics on vectors and combinatorics.
  • Extension 2 (AKA 4 Unit) has replaced circular motion with enhanced calculus content, introducing Euler’s formula.


Overall, in Science you can expect more of a focus on science concepts and mathematics, rather than social context.


  • They’ve introduced ‘depth studies’.
  • There’s less of a focus on science history, and more of a focus on the application of scientific theory.
  • There’s a brand new extension course called Investigating Science.
  • And, Earth and Environmental Science has 3 new modules.


The year 11 and 12 Science courses are divided into modules, which you will work through over the year. Scientific skills isn’t its own module but will be taught in conjunction with each content module, so you have the chance to develop and improve your skills throughout the year.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect:

science modules

New Topics

Time to get into the specifics. Now this may seem a little overwhelming, but here is more of an in-depth breakdown of the content that has changed and the new topics you’ll be covering within those big modules:

Science new topics

Science Extension

Finally, for all you science lovers, there’s a new extension course that is right up your ally. Here’s what you need to know:

  • It involves 3 school-based assessments covering a scientific research portfolio and report.
  • And, you’ll sit an online exam—it’s the first HSC course to ever offer this!


When it comes to English, a few brand new modules are mixing things up.


  • For year 11, there’s a new module in both the Standard and Advanced courses called Reading to Write, which focuses on skill development.
  • The year 12 Area of Study (i.e. Discovery) is gone! It’s been replaced by the Common Module called Texts and Human Experiences.
  • Year 12 Standard and Advanced have a new mandatory Module C called The Craft of Writing, which looks at essay and creative writing skills, sentence structure and grammar.
  • And, there’s a new Common Module for English Extension called Literary Worlds.


  • There's a new year 11 module that focuses on digital literacy skills.
  • You’ll only study 3 prescribed texts.


  • Here, you’ll study 4 prescribed texts.
  • And, there’s a new Module A called Textual Conversations which involves comparative study.


In History, the changes are a bit more subtle but still worth paying close attention to.


  • The new syllabus has a Survey and a Focus of Study for each topic.
  • There’s more of a focus on skills being integrated within each module.
  • And, Asian and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures can finally now be studied.


  • The new syllabus has a Survey and a Focus of Study for each topic.
  • There’s a new core study called Power and Authority in the Modern World 1919-1946.
  • Generally, there's more focus on the impact of WWII on the modern world, as WWI has moved to year 11.
  • You now have to study at least one non-Western or European topic.
  • And, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures can now be studied here too.

Extension History

  • This course is now way more structured.
  • There are new sub-topics under Constructing History.
  • More case studies are available.
  • Only 3 areas of debate are covered as opposed to 5.
  • And, the Source Book of Readings has been removed, leaving teachers open to choose their own resources.


I know that was a lot to take in, and probably confusing for a lot of you who didn’t really know the old syllabus properly! But remember, just because you guys have a new syllabus, it doesn’t mean you have it worse off or are going to find year 11 and 12 harder than the years above. Yes, it’s different, but luckily we’ve already created videos, text lessons and quizzes for a bunch of the new content. It would be super helpful to jump onto your Atomi account and have a browse through your new syllabus subjects and their structure. This means that when you come across the content in class, you’ll know exactly where it fits in. Plus, you’ll know there are some helpful resources waiting for you if you don’t quite understand something.

So, no need to freak out. Stay on top of your syllabus and you won’t have any nasty surprises this year. You’ve got this! 💪

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