Years 11 & 12

Board of Studies’ Requirements for the HSC

Students must undertake a programme of study which consists of a minimum of:

  • 12 units of Preliminary Courses
  • 10 units of Higher School Certificate Courses

Both the Preliminary course pattern and the HSC course pattern must include:

  • At least 6 units of Board Developed Courses
  • At least 2 units of a Board Developed Course in English
  • At least 3 courses of two units in value (or greater), and
  • At least 4 subjects

No more than 6 units of courses in Science can contribute to Higher School Certificate eligibility.

Students must satisfactorily complete the Preliminary course before they are eligible to commence the corresponding HSC course.

Pattern of Study requirements for the HSC at Edmund Rice College

  • Minimum units of study in the Preliminary Course = 13
  • Minimum units of study in the HSC Course = 11 (NB Students who wish to pursue programmes less than the above units of study must make individual application to the Director of Studies)
  • Compulsory subjects in Preliminary Course
    • at least 1 unit of Studies of Religion I or Catholic Studies
    • at least 2 units of English
    • at least 2 units of Mathematics
  • Compulsory subjects in HSC course
    • at least 1 unit of Catholic Studies/Studies of Religion I
    • at least 2 units of English


What do you consider when choosing your Programme of Study?

A number of variables impact on your selection of subjects for your HSC. Consider:

  • Your abilities Assess your grades on your Year 9 and 10 reports. Select subjects that are within your level of ability. A realistic appreciation of your abilities is essential.
  • Your career aspirations beyond Year 12 Select subjects that would help you to pursue this vocation. Before you select your subjects you might need to research in the Careers Room, study requirements for this career interest.
  • Your interests Select subjects whose contents you would find interesting. Ask the Head of Department about the content. A profile of each subject is included in this booklet.
  • Matriculation requirements (entry to University) Research prerequisites for courses of study at University and ensure that you are meeting these requirements. Select the subjects that will help you gain a Australian Tertiary Admission Rank (ATAR) for entry to a particular course of study.
Preliminary & HSC Subject (2 Units) Additional Information Year in Which Extension Course Studied (1 Unit) Timetable Details University Details
Ancient History    In HSC Year only    
Biology Refer to *      
Business Studies        
Chemistry Refer to *      
Construction Vocational Education and Training: work placement compulsory     Category B Course
 Refer to **
Design & Technology Refer to ***      
Drama Refer to ***      

English Standard, or

English Advanced, or                   English Studies
English Extension

Prerequisite for all Extension Courses in English
 1 Unit  Preliminary English Extension 
(3rd unit Yr 11)

HSC English Extension 1 (Yr 12)

HSC English Extension 2 (Yr 12) 
All Extension subjects studied after normal finish time   
Hospitality Vocational Education and Training: work placement compulsory   Practical lessons before normal start Category B Course
 Refer to **
Industrial Technology Automotive or Graphics Industries or Timber Products focus areas must be selected. Refer to ***     Category B Course
Information Processes and Technology        
Legal Studies        
Chinese Continuers        
General Mathematics
Mathematics Extension
1 Unit Preliminary Mathematics Extension (3rd Unit – Yr 11)

HSC Mathematics Extension 1 (Yr 12)

HSC Mathematics Extension 2 (Yr 12) 
All Extension Subjects studied after normal finish time  
Metal and Engineering Vocational Education and Training: work placement compulsory     Category B Course
 Refer to **
Modern History   In HSC Year only    
Music 1 Refer to ***      
PD Health PE        
Physics Refer to *       
Senior Science Refer to *      
Software Design and Development        
Studies of Religion 1 Unit      
Visual Arts Refer to ***      

Additional Information

  1. Science *
    • In the Preliminary Year (Yr 11), Senior Science cannot be studied in combination with Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
    • In the HSC Year (Yr 12) students who choose not to continue with either Biology, Chemistry or Physics may elect to do the HSC Senior Science Course instead, if the timetable permits.
    • Also, in the HSC year (Yr 12) students who have studied Preliminary HSC Biology, Chemistry and/or Physics can, at the beginning of their HSC Year, retain these subjects and commence studying HSC Senior Science, if the timetable permits.
    • However you may not count more than 6 units of Science Courses towards Preliminary units or HSC units for the award of the HSC.
  2. Vocational Education and Training** An optional written examination will be offered for the HSC. If students want the results from this course to be available for inclusion (subject to ATAR rules) in the calculation of their ATAR, they must undertake the optional written examination. This decision does not have to be made until the HSC Year.
  3. Completion of a Major Work*** in the HSC year is required. A major work requires a long term commitment for the student in order to reach a satisfactory standard. Therefore, students should not choose more than two courses involving major works.
  4. Assessment Handbooks

Y11 Assessment Handbook 2018

Yr 12 Assessment Handbook 2019

Vocational Education and Training (VET) Courses

The following Board Developed VET courses are offered as part of the Higher School Certificate:

  • Construction (2 unit) (Certificate II in Construction Pathways (CPC20211))
  • Hospitality (2 unit) (Certificate II in Hospitality Food and Beverage (SIT20212))

They enable students to study courses which are relevant to industry needs and have clear links beyond high school.

The courses allow students to gain both Higher School Certificate qualifications and accreditation with industry at the workplace as part of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF). The national framework is recognised across Australia and helps student to move easily between the various education and training sectors and employment. All of the VET courses offered are accredited by the Australian Skills Quality Authority (ASQA).

  • Each course has a specific workplace component and a minimum number of hours students must spend in the workplace.
  • Students receive special documentation showing competencies gained.
  • Students who undertake the optional written HSC examination in any of the above courses may have the result of that course included in the calculation of their ATAR.
  • Other models of delivering VET courses are possible but these options need to be discussed with  Mr Ireland and their suitability will be assessed on an individual basis.

(Please note that the Training Packages listed above are frequently reviewed and modified by ASQA and hence the numbering and naming of the qualifications are subject to change.)

The VET subjects are delivered by qualified Edmund Rice College teachers under the authority of the Wollongong Catholic Education Office acting as our Registered Training Organisation.

Matriculation to University

Matriculation means satisfying the minimum educational requirements necessary for admission to a University in NSW and ACT. This implies that the following two requirements are satisfied:

  • That subject prerequisite(s) for a course of study has been met.

  • That the student gains an Admission Rank (ATAR) high enough to gain entry into a particular course of study.

The Australian Tertiary Admission Rank

Eligible students receive an ATAR which informs them of their relative position within the overall ranking of HSC candidates. The ATAR is the basis of admission to tertiary institutions. It is represented as a rank between 0.00 and 100 with increments of 0.05 for the purpose of assisting institutions to rank applicants for tertiary selection.

Eligibility for a ATAR

To be eligible a student must:

  1. satisfactorily complete at least 10 units of ATAR Courses ie Board Developed Courses for which there are formal examinations conducted by the Board of Studies that yield a graded assessment.
  2. include (in the minimum 10 units) at least two units of English and
  3. include at least 8 units of Category A Courses
  4. complete at least three Board Developed Courses of 2 units or greater and
  5. complete at least 4 subjects

Calculation of the ATAR will be based on an aggregate of scaled marks in 10 units of ATAR Courses comprising:

  1. the best 2 units of English, and
  2. the best eight units from the remaining units subject to the provision that no more than two units of Category B courses will be included.

Board Developed Courses are classified by the Universities as Category A or Category B. The criteria for Category A courses are academic rigour, depth of knowledge and understanding and the degree to which the course contributes to assumed knowledge for tertiary studies. The subjects that have been classified as Category B are indicated as such in the Table of Subjects on pages 4 and 5. All of the other listed subjects are classified as Category A Courses.

Sample Programmes of Study

For the Preliminary Course (Year 11)

Humanities/Social Science 
Focus   Maths/Science Focus   Balanced Breadth of Study 

Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English (Standard or Adv) 2

Mathematics 2

Business Studies 2

Modern History 2

Legal Studies 2

Biology 2


Total: 13


Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English Standard 2

Mathematics 3

Physics 2

Chemistry 2

Information Processes and technology 2

Design & Technology 2


Total: 14

  Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English Standard 2

Mathematics 2

Physics 2

Ancient History 2

PD Health PE 2

Geography 2


Total: 13

Technology Focus   Focus Creative Arts Focus   Education Focus  

Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English Standard 2

Mathematics 2

Physics 2

Design & Technology 2

Industrial Technology 2

1 VET course 2


Total: 13

  Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English (Standard or Adv) 2

Mathematics 2

Visual Arts 2

Drama 2

Music 1 2

1 Additional Course 2


Total: 13

  Subject Units

Studies of Religion 1 1

English Standard 2

General Mathematics 2

Senior Science 2

2 VET courses 4

1 More Course 2



Total: 13



Board Developed Courses (BDC): These courses are developed by the Board of Studies. These courses are examined externally at the end of the HSC course and can count towards the calculation of the Universities Admission Index (ATAR).

Board Endorsed Course (BEC): One type of a BEC is a Content Endorsed Course (CEC). CECs are endorsed by the BOS to cater for areas of special interest not covered in the BDC. These courses do not have external examinations therefore they do not contribute to an ATAR. However, they count towards the HSC and appear on the Record of Achievement.

ATAR Courses (ATAR): Are Board Developed Courses for which there are examinations conducted by the NSW Board of Studies that yield a graded assessment. These are the only courses that can be included in the ATAR Calculations. ATAR courses are classified as either Category A courses or Category B courses.

Preliminary Course: A programme of study undertaken mainly in Terms 1, 2, 3 of Year 11. The same subjects are then taken in Year 12 for the HSC course of study with the possible discontinuation of 2 Units.

Higher School Certificate Course: A programme of study that builds on the Preliminary Course and basically commences in Term 4 of Year 11. The Preliminary Course must be completed before the HSC course can commence.

Extension Course: Extension study is available in a number of subjects. Extension courses build on the content of the 2 Unit course and carry an additional value of 1 unit. Extension Courses are available in English, Mathematics, History, Music, Languages and Vocational Education and Training (VET).