Extension History What Is History Essays




2016 Extension Essay Prize Winners: (L to R) Gladys Lai - 1st Place (Sydney Girls' HS);
Susie Dodds - 2nd Place (St Scholastica's); Alvin Chung - 3rd Place (Killara HS)


1st - $500, 2nd - $300, 3rd - $200

The Extension History Essay Prize is open to essays that:

• Satisfy the requirements of the NSW HSC Extension Project
• Are the product of genuine research
• Represent ‘interesting and well written history’



1. 'Generation to Generation' 1st - $300, 2nd - $150

The Sydney Jewish Museum is offering a prize for essays on the topic of Holocaust history and/or the related area of genocide studies.


2. 'American Studies' 1st - $300, 2nd - $200

The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney is offering a prize for essays on topics related to US History or American Studies.

NOTE: Special Category essays will be selected by the judging panel from essays entered in the HTA NSW Extension Essay Prize.


Use / Download 2017 Entry Form

Closing date 15 September 2017




1st Place - Hannah Monk, Penrith Selective High School
2nd Place - Bridget Kirwan, Our Lady of Mercy College, Parramatta
3rd Place - Patrick Ryan, Sydney Grammar

During 2018  prizewinning essays will be published in the March, June, September issues of our Teaching History journal respectively.

Generation to Generation Category:
1st Place - Celine Nalbandian, Brigidine College St Ives
2nd Place - Isabelle Joy, Tara Anglican School

American Studies Category:
1st Place - Katherine Cheng, James Ruse High School
2nd Place - Cassidy Ainsworth-Grace, Ascham



Certificates of Excellence were awarded to the following students (in alphabetical order):

Sally Adams
SCEGGS Darlinghurst
Alyssa Christian

St John Bosco College

Deni Hoxa

Elderslie High School

Callum Lewis

Turramurra High School

Samuel McIntyre

Merewether High School

Elizabeth McTaggart


Varun Rao

NBSC Manly Selective Campus

Genevieve Websdale

St Vincent's College


Knowing the historical narrative is the easier part. Developing a historical argument and drawing in relevant sources, interpretations or debates are key to showcasing your historical thinking and skills and securing higher marks.

Darren Tayler, BOSTES Inspector, HSIE

Modern History

To succeed in Modern History you need to go beyond retelling a series of past events. Think about how you will go about explaining bigger issues to do with change and continuity, causes and consequences, significance and the role of individuals and groups.

Preparing for the National Study and the International Study

The Modern History exam requires an extended response for both the National Study and the International Study.

  • Be prepared to develop a detailed, well-supported argument for these extended response questions.
  • Look carefully at how questions are constructed. If a question requires you to answer "To what extent", you need to formulate an argument and demonstrate skills in evaluation, backed up by evidence.

Preparing for the Personalities Study

For the structured essay's two parts, remember:

  • Part a) requires description, outline or narrative, such as the personality's life or biographical details.
  • Part b) requires a more analytical approach. This may involve an evaluation of the personality's contribution or legacy.

Preparing for the World War I – Core Study

Analysing sources is the key. Do this by considering usefulness, perspective and reliability, and address them directly in the question. Write the source you are referring to.

A question may require you to explore sources and your own knowledge. Refer clearly to relevant sources and ensure that a good proportion of your response includes your own knowledge about the topic.

Last but not least, answer the question asked in the paper, not the one you would have preferred.

See boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/modern-history.html


Paula Reed, History teacher, Rosebank College.

Ancient History

Interpreting sources and using evidence carefully to support your responses is something you should be aiming for to triumph in Ancient History. Making reference to relevant historical interpretations in your responses will also show you have a real handle on your Ancient History.

You are required to use the sources provided in the exam – make sure you integrate them into your responses by citing and interpreting them.

Include reference to 'other sources' – archaeological and written –where relevant to the question. Identify them explicitly and comment on their usefulness. This will raise the quality of your responses and is a critical historical skill that markers look for.

Section I – The Core

The core topic on Pompeii and Herculaneum is about more than the evidence for how people lived. Make sure you have a thorough understanding of relevant issues to do with archaeological excavation, new research and technologies, conservation, reconstruction and ethical issues as outlined in the syllabus.

Know your written sources. While they are not as plentiful as the archaeological sources, they contain significant evidence of life in Pompeii and Herculaneum. It's one way you can demonstrate the thoroughness of your knowledge about these ancient cities.

Sections II – IV Societies, Personalities and Historical Periods

For Section II, learn the details of each aspect of the society you have studied, for example, society and government, the economy, religion, culture and everyday life.

In Section III, for the personality you have studied, be prepared to provide an "evaluation" supported with arguments and evidence.

In Section IV, when studying for the historical period, devise your own questions that draw on various aspects of the topic you have studied. Be prepared for questions that focus on, for example, change and continuity, significant features and developments, and the role and impact of individuals.

See boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/ancient-history.html

Michael Hayes, Senior Ancient History Teacher, Domremy College.

History Extension

You need to explain, analyse and evaluate different approaches and interpretations of history to show the sophistication of your thinking. Understanding how history is constructed is critical.

The number one discriminator that markers always refer to is the ability to answer the question directly in a sustained way. You need to develop a clear thesis in your introduction that drives your entire response.

You will need a detailed knowledge of the five key questions from the syllabus and their content as they are the basis for exam questions. The exam has two sections so complete practice essays for each to develop your key skills.

Question one

  • Answer the question directly and have a clearly articulated thesis.
  • Use sustained integration of, and explicit reference to, the source provided.
  • Choose pertinent issues from the source to support your answer.
  • Draw on useful and relevant historians and other sources that address the question.
  • Make explicit and sustained judgments that indicate the "extent" to which you agree with the question.

Question two

  • Deal with the statement provided in the exam question holistically, rather than just inserting stock phrases from it. Be able to articulate the "view" of the source.
  • Clearly identify the debate/s you are dealing with.
  • Demonstrate detailed understanding of the interpretations and producers of history.
  • Answer the question directly and make consistent judgments.

History Extension requires an understanding of how and why approaches to history and interpretations of history have "changed over time". In question one, use a range of sources and histories to complement your argument, including contemporary debates and issues.

In Question Two, refer to a range of interpretations of your case study debates, including recent ones, and make sure you sustain the integration of the source provided throughout your response, not just in your introduction and conclusion.

See boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabus_hsc/history-extension.html

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