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2009 HSC Notes from the Marking Centre – English Extension 2



This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 English Extension 2 course. It contains comments on the Major Works for the 2009 Higher School Certificate, indicating the quality of the Major Works and highlighting their relative strengths and weaknesses.

These notes should be read along with the relevant syllabus and the marking guidelines. Reference should also be made to the 2002 English Extension 2 Standards Package.

Teachers and students are advised that, in December 2008, the Board of Studies approved changes to the examination specifications and assessment requirements for a number of courses. These changes will be implemented for the 2010 HSC cohort. Information on a course-by-course basis is available on the Board’s website.

General comments

Identification of the parts of the project

Candidates are reminded to label the discrete sections of the Major Work and to ensure that all pages are printed. The Reflection Statement should be at the end of the Major Work.

The role of the Major Work journal

Candidates submit their journal with their Major Work. Journals are not marked. However, journals document the independent investigation and the composition process. Markers are required to access the journal if, for example, questions are raised about the authenticity of the work. Candidates should not identify themselves, their teachers or their schools in the journals. Lists of texts used for the work may be attached to the Major Work but annotated bibliographies should be in the journal. It is particularly important for candidates to remember that the journal should reflect the detailed process of their own research, investigation and development of the Major Work.

The role of the Reflection Statement

The Reflection Statement explains and evaluates both the process and the completed Major Work. The English Stage 6 Syllabus (p 131) and the English Extension 2 marking guidelines outline the requirements for the Reflection Statement.

The quality of the Reflection Statement has a significant impact on the overall success of the Major Work. Audience and purpose are integrally related and candidates must explicitly explain how they have manipulated form, feature and structure of text in order to position audiences. It is imperative that candidates identify the relationship between the investigation and the Major Work. Specific texts should be cited and the direct influence on the Major Work must be highlighted. Candidates are reminded that there needs to be a meaningful explanation of how the skills and knowledge gained in the Stage 6 English courses underpinned the Major Work. Reflection Statements should be synthesised works of prose rather than written in report style with subheadings and bullet points.

The use of footnotes needs to be kept to a minimum and should be justified in the Reflection Statement.

Links with the English (Advanced) and English Extension 1 courses

Candidates compose a Major Work as an extension of the knowledge, understanding and skills developed in the English (Advanced) and English Extension 1 courses (p 92, English Stage 6 Syllabus). Candidates need to demonstrate that their work is an extension of their other English courses and not an imitation of the modules and electives studied.

Better Major Works were characterised by:

  • experimentation with form based on research of contemporary short stories and literary theory
  • controlled writing, understated rather than melodramatic
  • a clear authentic voice
  • interesting range of topics, particularly in relation to setting and time frames
  • emotional engagement with the responder
  • evidence of greater background reading; not just within the HSC confines
  • original concepts explored with conviction
  • clearly drawn characters – an empathic understanding of human nature.

Weaker Major Works were characterised by:

  • overwritten work, often verbose and ostentatious in an attempt to impress
  • claims made in the Reflection Statement that were not always clearly evident in the Major Work
  • a struggle to create authentic voices for their characters
  • lack of awareness of contexts to which the texts alluded. Little awareness of literary traditions/theory
  • uneven or careless editing
  • inadequate investigation into concept or form, resulting in a lack of depth and credibility
  • adoption of a ‘postmodern’ style in the belief that this would add sophistication, causing a disruption of textual integrity and limited engagement.


Short Stories

General comments

Successful short stories were sustained responses that were insightful and competent in the use of language and were engaging to the audience. The most successful responses demonstrated insightful use of investigation and seamlessly integrated this into the Major Work. They developed an effective use of voice and had a strong narrative that was cohesive.

Candidates commonly used a variety of structural forms. They may have employed a single story or alternatively used a series of vignettes. While there is no obvious advantage of one over the other, successful candidates were capable of sustaining a thread through the work such that there was a sustained thematic or conceptual approach.

While some candidates were successful in composing with a postmodern approach there were those that branded their work postmodern, using this to veil a disjointed and incoherent Major Work.

There was generally a wide range of ideas explored including:

  • stories based in historical periods, eg WWI, 1800s
  • stories regarding mental health issues; often lacking sufficient research
  • stories containing offensive and gratuitous violence with very little beyond the shock value
  • stories of family breakdown/violence/incest/multiple personality disorder
  • science fiction/fantasy genres
  • teen angst is still a common topic, but often inadequately investigated
  • a predominance of crime fiction, often with little research base
  • religious themes.

Candidates are reminded that independent investigation into the concept, form and style of the Major Work should be clearly demonstrated and detailed in the Reflection Statement.

Candidates are reminded that the short story should be substantially a prose work. While exploration of form can enhance a text, candidates should avoid including too much poetry or other text types which may interfere with engagement with the work.


  • experimentation with form based on research of short stories and literary theory
  • controlled writing, understated rather than melodramatic
  • subtle expression of emotion and carefully nuanced character and plot development
  • many extraordinary emotional insights
  • interesting range of topics, particularly in relation to setting and time frames
  • evidence of interest in particular historical periods, which involved thorough research to create authentic narrative voices
  • effective attempts at humour
  • clear concept linked to audience and purpose, realised effectively through thoughtful manipulation of techniques
  • control of language, evocative imagery
  • concept appropriate for word length
  • pleasing evidence of range of theoretical bases in the work


  • lacked an original idea or focus was a cliché
  • reliance on personal experience and consequently lacked depth or variety of approach
  • multiple voices were poorly handled
  • inadequate investigation into form
  • scant evidence of any connection to English course work
  • overwritten, verbose and ostentatious work in an attempt to impress
  • non-linear plot can be overdone, impacting negatively on meaning and coherence
  • postmodern attempts often disorganised, contrived and meaningless
  • lack of awareness of contexts to which the texts alluded, or little awareness of literary traditions/theory
  • inadequate or over long scripts
  • claims made in the Reflection Statement not always clearly evident in the Major Work
  • narrow thematic and textual bounds affecting the depth and impact of the work
  • crime fiction led to a propensity for stereotyping, predictability and cliché
  • too ambitious with the scope of their work, attempting to be too ‘clever’, or to integrate too many critical theories/styles, rather than perhaps focusing on crafting a simple ‘human’ story
  • citing texts/material that had little or no impact on the work
  • use of footnotes when not needed
  • works which did not exhibit elements of a short story, eg biography, memoir
  • attaching annotated bibliographies which is not a course requirement and should be in the journal
  • inadequate journals which do not show engagement with investigation – downloads/photocopies simply pasted in is not sufficient to demonstrate process
  • general deterioration in the quality of writing (the mechanics) including:
    • problems with the use of prepositions
    • poor control of tense
    • words used imprecisely (apart from obvious malapropisms)


General comments

Concepts explored

Candidates explored a wide range of concepts in their work. Better works had a clear, developed and sustained conceptual focus in the poetry as well as considerable skill in the purposeful manipulation of poetic form and language. Exploration of human experience(s), historical moments and various stances on philosophical concepts were popular choices of concepts. Most candidates submitted a suite of poems linked by a philosophical position, place or context, theme, issue or idea.

Comments on style and form

Some candidates submitted extended poems based on established forms like the epic, sonnet, haiku and ballad or in some form of extended narrative variants of free verse. Candidates should be aware that the constraints of the structure or format must not take precedence over poetic style, as this could prove detrimental to the overall effect. Suites of poetry that featured pictures, photographs, artworks, graphics and/or drawings were not as frequent this year, a positive development as these do not feature in the course specifications. While better works that use these have integrity and coherence without the visual element, many other suites and the individual poems in them were heavily reliant on the visual to make meaning. This was also the case with quotations used as epigraphs, structural or framing devices which were again popular. While the quotations from other texts may be integral to the candidate’s work, the work should offer some new or developed insight or perspective that is linked to the quotation. Candidates should be aware of the importance of editing their work carefully. Those who elect not to use punctuation or lineation need to be able to justify that choice. The verse novel is a problematic form as many of the Major Works in this form struggle to sustain poetic qualities of a high standard throughout the work as a whole.


  • Candidates who attempt to imitate older styles and forms of poetry, for instance writing in the style of the Romantics, epic narrative or appropriating forms from other cultures or countries, need to consider contemporary sensibilities when attempting pastiche, parody or homage and need to justify their choice when employing archaic language and other stylistic conventions of the specific form.
  • Sophistication and complexity of ideas are important but candidates need to be aware that the work is marked on its success as poetry. Investigation into poetic form and techniques is, therefore, necessary to ensure ideas are transformed successfully into poetic language.
  • Candidates should edit the entire collections carefully and be prepared to delete weaker poems from their suites. Varying font type and size and/or formatting of poetry on the page should not be substitutes for adept word choice and poignant imagery, and are outside the ‘specifications’ for the medium.
  • Candidates should be encouraged to thoughtfully redraft and refine their work. Candidates need to be aware of the specifications for A4 pages and double spacing as some works did not adhere to these requirements.
  • Bibliographies and annotations of them are not part of the Major Work or Reflection Statement. Connections between investigation and the work must be made clear in the Reflection Statement.


  • There were some discerning and purposeful uses of imagery, rhythm, sound devices, form and structure to shape meaning and influence response. In some cases, there was evidence of adventurous experimentation with language and form.
  • Poems were carefully arranged in the suite, demonstrating not only the development of concept but also the careful rearrangement or alignment of poems in the final stages of the composition process.
  • In some collections in the higher range, there was also evidence of structurally intelligent poetic resolution in the final poems, indicating a unity of design and affording the work integrity, coherence and a satisfying sense of completion.
  • The best works were exceptional in their attention to rhythm, balance and lyricism in the suites as a whole, but equally so in the individual poems themselves which were often varied or individually distinctive in a way that sustained engagement.
  • Reflection Statements supported the work, indicating how extensive and relevant independent investigation into poetic form and concept had informed the poetry and showing how their concepts/themes/ideas were clear extensions of other English courses.


  • Reflection Statements generally revealed a lack of investigation into the poetic form and an inability to reflect on the creative process. These works often did not show evidence of intensive reworking, rewriting and editing of either the suite or individual poems.
  • Some works explored intellectual subject matter (supported by extensive investigation into philosophical ideas) but candidates were unable to translate this into engaging poetic form.
  • Too often ‘free verse’ was merely prose broken into lines. Stream of consciousness was often used as a justification for poorly considered, ineffective writing. Similarly, layout such as centring the poem on a page or shape poetry was not explained in the Reflection Statement and it was rarely found to be an effective method of engaging the reader. Works that experiment with form must have a reason for the experimentation and this should be addressed in the Reflection Statement.
  • Narrative poems need to relate an engaging story and work as poetry; change and development is integral.
  • There is no lower word limit but brevity can be an issue when the poetry Major Work does not seem substantial enough to reflect the sustained development of concepts or techniques over the period of the course.
  • Reflection Statements often displayed a greater sense of control and explanatory prowess than the actual Major Works for some candidates. The Young Writers Showcase series is a useful guide, but some candidates seem to use it as a substitute for wider investigation of poetry or to compose poetry that seems derivative or imitative of previously published Major Works. Often the investigation is haphazard, not directed by a clear purpose or intent.
  • Overly sentimental, emotional and depressing material compromised many good ideas. Some candidates wrote about intensely powerful and personal experiences but this in itself did not always make the poetry successful. Voices must be authentic, developed and sustained.
  • It is the quality of the poetry itself that is marked. Many poems using rhyme and rhythm did not use them in a sophisticated way that enhanced the effectiveness of the poetry, often working against the intent of the poem.

Candidates should be encouraged to redraft and refine their work thoughtfully. Candidates need to be aware of the specifications for layout, page size and spacing.

Critical Responses

General comments

The best responses applied frames of reference to the contextual material selected for study in their response. Candidates had varied success in applying critical theory to either canonical texts or other material of their selection. It is important to realise that responses needed to have a strong literary connection to perform well. The best responses in Critical Response were able to demonstrate this.

Candidates need to conform to the syllabus requirements of this form. Candidates who performed well demonstrated ability to research and convey material with sophistication and flair. Candidates need to draw on both their course work and research to reveal the scope and depth of their investigation and understanding.

The better Reflection Statements addressed all the criteria. Such responses reflected on process as well as product and were conscious of how a specified audience had shaped their response. Candidates need to clearly articulate how the investigation of form is evident in the Major Work.

Some candidates focused too much attention on presenting an annotated bibliography and the essence of their argument could be strengthened if they had included some of this knowledge of the text in the marked content of their work.


  • Effective critical responses were well-integrated, concept-driven investigations of paradigms, genres and texts.
  • The content, texts and methodology were clearly an extension of other Stage 6 English courses. These Major Works had a clear thesis, evident in the Critical Response as well as in the Reflection Statement.
  • The thesis was elaborated systematically and supported by effective textual analysis.
  • There was careful selection of texts and a well-judged balance in their treatment if more than one text was chosen.
  • Form was manipulated skilfully, providing structural clarity which enhanced coherence.
  • Footnotes and bibliographies were pertinent and economical.


  • Some were not an extension of the ‘knowledge, skills and understanding of English (Advanced) and (Extension) courses’. Many others would have been more suited to History or HSIE. It is important that the work has a literary focus and that this focus is sustained throughout the response.
  • Some works began with an exploration into a literary or language-based topic but moved into an examination of social issues.
  • Some were overly ambitious in terms of the Extension 2 Critical Response specifications. Many failed to provide close textual support for their arguments, while others were weak in their critical methodology.
  • In the Reflection Statement, weaker texts often failed to indicate how research shaped the realisation of the Major Work.
  • Other weaknesses include:
    • a mismatch of investigation concept and chosen text
    • confused structure
    • overuse of footnotes
    • description rather than analysis
    • reference to literary theory without real understanding of the theory or its terminology
    • failure to observe the word count requirements.

Popular issues, texts, themes and approaches in 2009 critical responses

  • postmodern texts
  • archetypes
  • gender studies (varied focus)
  • reader authority identity (Barthes)
  • children’s literature
  • female voice in literature
  • film
  • character analysis
  • author analysis (Works)
  • ficto-criticisms
  • Oscar Wilde
  • Gonzo journalism
  • post-structuralism
  • Sylvia Plath/feminism

Scripts – Radio, Film, Television and Drama

General comments

Candidates are required to develop a script for an ‘intended performance time of 20–30 minutes’ (English Stage 6 Syllabus, p 133). While investigation into the longer and more readily available forms can be useful, research into the form of short scripts is essential and should be evident in the Major Work.

Some candidates struggled to control content and form. They submitted scripts which reflected misunderstanding of their chosen medium and misjudgement in their shaping of textual features. The short film and short play forms should challenge candidates to compose scripts with focus and economy in their construction.

Manipulation of textual features requires careful judgement. Dialogue, for example, should shape character, reflect time and place and sustain the rhythmic flow of the work. The more engaging film and television scripts integrated the visual and the spoken. Video back projections in play scripts need to be well integrated and should not dominate the work.

Script subjects included contemporary life, domestic tensions, abuse, mental illness, racial prejudice, history, text appropriations, religion and technology. These subjects were approached in a range of styles and forms including satire, parody, absurdism, realism, naturalism and expressionism. Musical and visual elements were used to varying effect. Candidates should note that if they choose to use relevant theorists and theories, they need to be referenced clearly.

Reflection Statements were generally insightful and appropriate; however, some were not specific enough in the explanation of the intention or identification of audience. Others lacked an explanation of links between investigation and the realisation of the finished product and did not demonstrate meaningful links to the other English courses.


  • Responses demonstrated a superior understanding of the script form, both as it reads on the page and as it is intended for stage, radio or screen performance.
  • Scripts were highly original and sustained, demonstrating assured control of the medium.
  • Textual features were skilfully integrated and sustained.
  • Technical proficiency in film scripts was outstanding, particularly when constructing mise-en-scène, dialogue and shot composition.
  • Effective dialogue captured the rhythm, energy and flow of speech, supporting mood, tension and characterisation.
  • All major compositional decisions were acknowledged specifically in the Reflection Statement.
  • Responses demonstrated extensive investigation that was substantial and rigorous and was clearly evident in the Major Work. Research was highly appropriate in relation to purpose, audience and medium.
  • The development of concepts was also clearly articulated.
  • Links between the project and the Advanced and/or Extension 1 courses were clearly discernible.
  • Reflection Statements showed a critical understanding of process and explained the intention, development and realisation of the Work.


  • Often the structure was confusing or there was a limited understanding of form.
  • Scripts often suffered from weak characterisation, unconvincing dialogue and improbable situations.
  • Insights and ideas were often predictable.
  • Candidates demonstrated some control of language for their medium and intended audience. However, lapses in these areas interfered with audience engagement.
  • Reflection Statements explained some aspects of the work in a limited way, lacking critical reflection.



General comments

Speeches were generally engaging, thoughtfully structured and organised showing a development of student understanding of the concept(s) investigated. Some candidates explored concepts closely aligned with the English syllabus, in particular literary texts and ways of responding to various texts. These tended to be a more effective choice than speeches unrelated to English. Additionally, most candidates successfully created personae and contexts, often having an imaginative component or recreation, re-enactment or re-contextualisation of aspects of literary or historical events.

Conference papers, court scenes or trials, eulogies, and political gatherings were popular forums for delivering speeches. Better responses married the language of the speakers to the audience and contexts adeptly. In weaker responses, candidates briefly alluded to an audience but did not satisfactorily adapt the language of the speakers to the contexts presented. Many candidates did not attempt any variation to their voices even when delivering speeches by ‘different’ speakers. These speeches were often monotonously delivered.

Multiple speeches allowed candidates the opportunity to represent a range of perspectives on a concept, or conversely, to sustain a single thesis across a range of historical, cultural, social or workplace contexts. Better responses developed theses and antitheses or variations on a thesis. Weaker responses simply rebutted or asserted opposing points of view rather than developing arguments. Very few candidates presented single speeches and there was a marked tendency for speeches to be oral essays with limited attention to techniques of speech writing.

Concepts explored were diverse and included:

  • extensions of modules, electives or paradigms studied in other English courses
  • the nature and types of rhetoric and/or speechmaking
  • contemporary issues and global challenges with focus on racial and environmental aspects
  • politics, media analyses and representations of gender, identity, characters and/or concepts in texts.

Candidates engaged with a range of textual forms such as prose fiction, poetry, novel, film, non-fiction and media drama texts to underpin the speeches.

When they were used, sound bytes, interjections, SFX and music were seamlessly integrated in a professional manner. Use of software, including free public software, to vary voice (especially gender) must be documented in the Reflection Statement. Choice of accents should also be documented and used convincingly and for a purpose. All spoken text constitutes part of the time limit even if not presented by the primary speaker. There were several speeches in which the speeches were of equal length and were delivered by two speakers, one of whom was obviously not the candidate. It must be remembered that the candidate must be the main speaker in the work.


  • imaginative recreation of people, places, characters, events or stories
  • focus on literary topics
  • well-developed arguments
  • intellectual depth and rigour accompanied by extensive independent investigation into the topic and the form
  • well-paced, audible and sometimes evocative delivery
  • engaging content and delivery with good variation of pitch and tone
  • creating and experimenting with different personae
  • effective integration of speech-making techniques without being too obvious or clichéd
  • congruent and well-written Reflection Statements


  • uninventive or overused concepts or ideas
  • lack of development of personae or contexts or using contexts inappropriate to speechmaking
  • speeches based on opinion not investigation
  • concepts repeated rather than developed
  • melodramatic works accompanied by loud and emphatic voice
  • research into form was limited to the work done for Speeches in Module B of the Advanced paper
  • candidates did not effectively incorporate the linguistic features of a speech
  • too many speeches beginning ‘I stand before you today...’
  • candidates should consider whether or not an audience would turn up to listen to the speech
  • a tendency to list every text studied in other English courses in the Reflection Statement without an evaluation as to how they related to this work
  • clarity of the speech was occasionally poor and volume very low

Radio Drama

General comments

Candidates presented works in a variety of ways and most of the works were technically sound, experimental and inventive. The integration of music and sound effects was often seamless, demonstrating superior editing skills. Layering of sound and music was often purposeful and effective in shaping meaning and the listeners’ response. In better Major Works, candidates validated their choice of special effects and/or music in their Reflection Statements.

Research into the ideas or concepts of the work is necessary and important, but in order to develop a sustained and original Radio Drama candidates must do intensive research into form. Concepts explored included satire, appropriating texts or famous characters, language, crime fiction, and comedy. A number of crime fiction satires were neither experimental nor inventive. Forms appropriated included narrative, parodies of Cosy Crime, Hard-Boiled Crime and Tart Noir as well as traditional dialogue-based radio drama.


  • effective use of humour and word play to engage the listener
  • intellectually stimulating and thoughtfully developed concepts
  • depth of research which was broad-based, wide-ranging and across-media, including research into radio drama
  • use of a variety of forms/structures or concepts within a piece
  • effective and stimulating use of parody, satire and allegory
  • effective use of intertextuality
  • manipulation of individual voices (often their own) in a range of contexts
  • well-rehearsed acting, seamless transitions
  • sound effects that added to the impact of the work
  • development of narrative through dialogue with little recourse to voice-over
  • authentic vernacular or use of dialect


  • poor recording quality
  • extending beyond the time limit of 15 minutes
  • pacing too slow or too fast
  • dialogue that was flat and demonstrated little delineation or variation between voices
  • dialogue that sounded unrehearsed and unconvincing
  • discrepancies between the print and aural versions of the text
  • depth of research into the concept not evident
  • disorganised and confusing sound effects
  • little or no research into form
  • unoriginal, literal, derivative concepts or predictable plots

Performance Poetry

General comments

Many candidates in Performance Poetry could have investigated the medium more thoroughly and used the resources of the medium to greater effect. Many works seemed uncertain of the conventions of Performance Poetry and did not effectively explain why the choice of Performance Poetry was appropriate to the Major Work. While some works were quite engaging it was not always certain whether the works were really Performance Poetry and candidates should have justified their choice of the form more clearly in the Reflection Statement.

The use of poetic sound features such as alliteration, consonance, assonance, dissonance, rhyme and rhythm is usually integral to the success of Performance Poetry. There is ample scope also for effective use of clever wordplay in Performance Poetry. Many candidates, however, substituted music, adopted or original, in place of manipulating through a variety of pace, pitch and tone of the spoken voice, the effective rhythms evident in the poetry itself. Often the work became too dependent on the music and in some cases the music and/or effects detracted from the poetry and its performance.

Most candidates have grasped the importance of voice manipulation in Performance Poetry but weaker projects presented poetry which did not allow for a range of expressive techniques. This often resulted in a lacklustre performance even if the poetry itself had merit. Generally speaking, there was a correlation between poor poetry and poor performance. There were some candidates unaware of the difference between dramatic monologues, creative recitations, speeches and the form of Performance Poetry.

There was a diverse range of concepts this year such as historical events or appropriation of existing myths or narratives, social and cultural issues, along with common concepts such as identity, conformity and individuality. Most projects had conceptual frameworks that unified the poetry and informed the performance.


  • Some candidates experimented with modern trends researched or experienced live, on the internet or in slam poetry competitions on radio.
  • The influence of cultural trends, such as free-style, was evident in some projects and generally worked well.
  • Projects were presented as complete performances demonstrating an awareness of the audience and the context for the performance and using the technology at their disposal to engage the listener in meaningful and interesting ways.
  • The production quality was excellent. Some stronger works used sound accompaniment to enhance performance rather than to carry or compensate for the poor performance techniques.
  • There was an obvious use of a variety of voice effects such as pace, rhythm, modulation, accent, and pitch to demonstrate a passionate and dramatically skilful use of voice to enhance characterisation, theme or effect.
  • A high level of awareness of the conceptual framework of performance was noticeable and research into concepts that enhanced the development and scope of ideas was evident at this higher range.
  • The skilful manipulation of language and of lyrical imagery in this aural medium was demonstrated.
  • Articulate and sophisticated Reflection Statements which demonstrated a depth and breadth of research into the form of Performance Poetry and the candidates’ chosen subject matter were always a feature of the stronger performances.


  • There was often a lack of awareness, understanding and knowledge of how important the use of voice is in the medium of Performance Poetry.
  • Candidates did not use the conventions of the form effectively. There was often over-dramatisation – to the point of melodrama and/or shouting.
  • Some works had an over-reliance on background music and/or sounds to convey meaning or used them in such a way that they did not significantly add to the quality of the work.
  • At times, music was used for no apparent purpose. Its use as segue between parts of the poetry or between poems within the suite was often ineffective, given that the music or sound chosen was preceded by silence and followed by silence and the music had no tonal or thematic connection to the work itself.
  • A choice of clichéd, undeveloped or unsophisticated concepts was evident.
  • Some candidates simply recited poems, not an effective and dramatic use of the form of Performance Poetry.



General comments

Some projects could not be viewed on ordinary DVD players. It cannot be stressed highly enough that teachers at school view the films on an ordinary DVD player before the due date, perhaps incorporating this as part of the certification process.


  • Excellent control of the medium was evident through aptly selected soundtracks.
  • There was an outstanding control over technical video/film elements, and a fluent integration of the three processes of film production – pre, shooting and post. This tended to result in a consciously developed structure and careful manipulation of pace and tone.
  • Research into genre yielded some positive results in terms of constructing plot, music selection and insertion and limiting the number of characters.
  • There was fluency of camera work, and use of different shots (CU/MS/LS) but thoughtfully edited in rhythm with the story.
  • Clarity of focus was outstanding in the best videos.
  • Editing was excellent with smooth transition between shots and no empty frames.
  • Age-appropriate actors were used.
  • More candidates are choosing to convey simple narratives rather than ‘Hollywood blockbusters’ in the allocated 6–8 minutes.
  • Use of sound, editing transitions and lighting was strong.
  • There were some outstanding animations demonstrating a willingness to experiment purposefully with concepts and technology resulting in works of high originality, eg a fully animated work, claymation, CGI.


  • A large number of videos tended to be topic- or theme-based rather than conceptually based and therefore lacked intellectual rigour. This was particularly evident in the reflection statements.
  • There was an overuse of long sequences which lacked tension or direction.
  • Linking to texts or rubrics from Advanced/Extension was often tenuous.
  • The weakest videos had little or no conceptual underpinning.
  • Some videos needed to be reshot, to edit out poorly acted sequences. Candidates should build in time for this in the pre-production planning.
  • Candidates sometimes claimed auteur theory or film noir through use of fuzzy filters, blinding lights or black colouring with little purpose.
  • Some candidates claimed documentary status but without real insight or input on a personal level.
  • There were too many long shots of actors walking into the distance with little purpose in terms of narrative, character or plot development.
  • There was repetition of shots.
  • Insufficient attention was given to creating effective twists, climaxes and resolutions.
  • Some beautifully shot films were uneven in terms of conceptual development.
  • There were some claims of postmodernism and existentialism – both conceptually and technically – with little evidence candidates had insight into these theories.
  • Little regard for audience was evident in the work.
  • Very limited discussion/analysis/investigation into film theory was evident in the Major Work itself and/or the Reflection Statement.
  • There were major inconsistencies between the script submitted and the work itself.
  • Reflection Statements often lacked evidence of extensive research of concept and/or film technique.
  • There was limited shaping of some shots – overly used visual metaphors resulting in cliché; for example, clocks, mirror reflections, close ups of eyes, fades to black and white to represent loss of hope, and water as a symbol of healing.
  • Few candidates used credits or referenced the sources for images, music, programming equipment, software, or other aspects of film-making.


General comments

The multimedia works presented were varied and covered websites, graphic novels, e-picture books and games. Websites were still the most popular form with a general trend for website material to reflect a critical issue. These often raised concern about the originality of the concept and the appropriate choice and use of the medium.

Specific analysis of the visual elements, screen design, navigation and role of the reader also needed to be more fully addressed. While some works were adventurous in their concept and use of the form, the majority did not fully exploit the potential of the medium, giving the impression that it was viewed as a shorter alternative to the Critical Response.

Candidates’ reflections on the choice of multimedia need to be articulated, and to move beyond the identification of a younger audience that is used to information being digital. Reflections on the choice need to demonstrate the integral link between the text produced and the medium.

Candidates are also encouraged during the production of the work to ensure that it is an extension of the Advanced and/or Extension 1 courses. The multimedia work should move beyond the creation of an information site of a topic of interest to the student, in order to fulfil the requirements of a Major Work in English.

Candidates must ensure that their Work runs, that they provide clear instructions to install and configure the application, a hard copy of the logic map, clearly define navigation, provide ‘home’ for website and ‘esc’ for other multimedia forms, cite sources for all graphics used and acknowledge professional advice.


  • The concepts were original.
  • The form was creative.
  • The work was coherent and the insights formed through investigation were communicated with flair.
  • Control of the media was effective in combining sound, movement, images, written text and video into a well-designed piece of multimedia that illustrated elegant screen design and intuitive navigation.
  • The focus of the work was clearly articulated and sustained.
  • There was a self-conscious exploration of the potential of the medium in the creation of the work.


  • There was a lack of independent investigation into the concept and the form. The works were fragmented or unfinished.
  • There was a lack of interactivity with screens of information being substituted for creative exploitation of the medium.
  • There was a failure to include a logic map.
  • There were either tenuous links to the Advanced and/or Extension 1 courses or, occasionally, no links.
  • There was no acknowledgement of material, especially graphics.
  • Investigation into the concepts represented in the Major Works often lacked depth and rigour.
  • Many Reflection Statements lacked self-reflexive elements, generally omitted to identify and analyse the choice of this media and provided limited evidence of investigation into the form.


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