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A guide to the revised Stage 6 Business Studies Syllabus

The revised Stage 6 Business Studies Syllabus replaced the Stage 6 Business Studies Syllabus (1999). It commenced with Preliminary students in 2011 and first examined in the HSC in 2012.

The syllabus provides:

  • three topics in the Preliminary course and four topics in the HSC course with reduced content in both courses
  • a logical flow of learning from the Preliminary course to the HSC course with each topic providing coherence and engagement for students
  • course outcomes organised in relation to the syllabus objectives, with 10 Preliminary course outcomes and 10 HSC course outcomes
  • ‘Learn about’ and ‘Learn to’ content that is contemporary and effectively reflects the dynamic nature of business in Australia and globally
  • a focus on business strategies and business performance
  • formulae for the key financial ratios provided in the HSC topic Finance
  • focused content across the syllabus related to ethical business behaviour and corporate responsibility
  • clarification of the depth of study required, including actual and/or hypothetical business case studies and a section in each topic requiring students to examine contemporary business issues
  • a small business plan incorporated within the ‘Learn to’ statements in topic 3 in the Preliminary course which allows students to develop their small business plan for either a hypothetical or an actual business.

The syllabus emphasises:

  • objectives and outcomes that focus on the nature and role of business, the internal and external factors of a business environment, the functions and processes of businesses and the responsibilities of management
  • skills, objectives and outcomes that require students to investigate business information and issues, communicate in appropriate formats and apply mathematical concepts
  • values and attitude objectives concerning ethical and responsible business behaviour
  • small and medium enterprises in the Preliminary course and large and global businesses in the HSC course
  • key business functions
  • business case studies
  • analysing business problems.

Course structure

Preliminary Course
Topic Indicative Hours % of course time
Nature of Business 24 20
Business Management 48 40
Business Planning 48 40
HSC Course
Topic Indicative Hours % of course time
Operations 30 25
Marketing 30 25
Finance 30 25
Human Resources 30 25

The content in the revised Stage 6 Business Studies Syllabus provides Students learn about and Students learn to statements to describe the scope and depth of course content. Teachers can decide when the Students learn to content statements examining contemporary business issues and business case studies should be applied for the Students learn about content statements in each topic.

The content has been written in clearer language and is presented in a logical sequence across all topic areas. Opportunities to investigate current, relevant and engaging issues in the world of Australian and global business have been incorporated across the syllabus. Opportunities to develop a range of skills, including research skills, are included across the syllabus.

An aspect of the syllabus is the contemporary business issues section in each topic. The key issues which should be examined in contemporary situations are:

  • competitive strategy
  • coordinating key business functions and resources
  • globalisation
  • the role of government
  • corporate social responsibility.

This could involve students examining contemporary news stories relating to the above issues. The management of change is a key aspect in the investigation of competitive strategy, the efficiency of resource use should be examined with key business functions, global business should be incorporated with globalisation, the legal framework, incorporating the taxation system, should be regarded as a key aspect of the role of government and the environment and social well-being should be considered as key components of corporate social responsibility. These issues are also incorporated into the investigation of business case studies.


The HSC course components and weightings are located on the Board's website. It is advised that there be three to five assessment tasks in both the Preliminary and HSC courses.

A specimen examination paper package available from late 2011 on the Board’s website at www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/business-studies.html

Support to implement the revised syllabus

A Business Studies Stage 6 Support Document has been published on the Board of Studies website. It aims to assist teachers in implementing the revised syllabus and includes programming and assessment advice.

School systems and Economics and Business Educators NSW (EBE) will provide ongoing support for the implementation of the Stage 6 Business Studies Syllabus.

The following is a sample from the revised syllabus showing key aspects of the content pages.

8.1 Preliminary topic 1: Nature of Business

20% of indicative time

The focus provides the broad overview of the topic.

The focus of this topic is the role and nature of business in a changing business environment.


The student:

The outcomes provide the focus for learning and assessment within the topic.

P1 discusses the nature of business, its role in society and types of business structure
P2 explains the internal and external influences on businesses
P6 analyses the responsibilities of business to internal and external stakeholders
P7 plans and conducts investigations into contemporary business issues
P8 evaluates information for actual and hypothetical business situations


There is a requirement in each topic to examine contemporary business issues and use business case studies (hypothetical and/or actual).

Students learn to:
examine contemporary business issues to:
  • discuss the global expansion of one Australian business
  • discuss the expansion into Australia of one global business
  • explain how changes in external influences have contributed to the growth of the tertiary, quaternary and quinary industries in Australia
  • identify problems that arise for stakeholders when companies go into liquidation

investigate aspects of business using hypothetical situations and actual business case studies to:

  • distinguish between the different types of businesses
  • identify actual businesses at different stages in the business life cycle
  • outline possible business strategies appropriate for different stages in the business life cycle

Students learn about statements detail the subject matter to be studied.

Students learn about:
role of business

  • the nature of a business
    • producing goods and services
    • profit, employment, incomes, choice, innovation, entrepreneurship and risk, wealth and quality of life

types of business

  • classification of business
    • size – small and medium enterprises (SMEs), large
    • local, national, global
    • industry – primary, secondary, tertiary, quaternary, quinary
    • legal structure – sole trader, partnership, private company, public company, government enterprise
  • factors influencing choice of legal structure
    • size
    • ownership
    • finance

influences in the business environment

  • external influences – economic, financial, geographic, social, legal, political, institutional, technological, competitive situation, markets
  • internal influences – products, location, resources, management and business culture
  • stakeholders
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