Visual arts 11–12

Stage 6 visual arts students use frames, conceptual frameworks and practice to learn about art, its development and history.

Students develop their knowledge and skills in a broad range of art making techniques and use a process diary as they develop a body of work. The HSC involves both a written exam and submitted artwork.

Sample scope and sequences

The sample Preliminary and HSC scope and sequence documents provide teachers with overviews for programming and assessment in visual arts.

Sample assessment schedule

The assessment schedule sample provides an outline of the assessment tasks that could be delivered during the visual arts HSC course.

HSC Visual Arts sample assessment schedule (DOCX 82.1 KB)

Frames, conceptual framework and practice resources

As students' progress from Stage 5 to Stage 6 they learn about the frames in increasingly more inter-related ways. Teachers can use this resource as a scaffold (PDF 5.83 MB) through which students can investigate and understand the layering of meaning in and beliefs about the visual arts. Students can use the frames to adopt a point of view, or interpretive lens through which they can account for their own artmaking and that of others.

In this resource the word artist can refer to: designer, photographer, film-maker, animator, architect and so on

The conceptual framework (PDF 146 KB) provides a model for understanding the artworld agencies of the artist, artwork, audience and world. This document is not definitive but provides a useful scaffold for understanding the network of relationships in the artworld.

Students learn about the nature of practice in the visual arts in artmaking, art criticism and art history. This scaffold (PDF 359.22 KB) can be used to build student understanding of practice and the network of relationships that inform practice. Students learn about the practice in increasingly relational ways as they progress through Stage 6.

Body of work

This resource is designed to assist Stage 6 visual arts teachers to make informed and valid judgements when marking HSC bodies of work. It has been written to complement the NSW Standards Authority (NESA) Visual Arts – 2020 HSC Marking Support Pack.

Teachers can use the resource to:

  • familiarise themselves with the characteristics of the benchmarks and language of the marking guidelines
  • understand the importance of undertaking critical dialogue with a colleague in the lead up to independently marking bodies of work
  • develop confidence when making judgements through practice using the work samples
  • ensure that marks awarded to bodies of work reflect the standard demonstrated.​

When completing this short unit of work, students will learn from a range of former students who have successfully completed their body of work. They will also take a virtual tour of ArtExpress 2020 at the Art Gallery of NSW, and will investigate the role of the curator in creating the ArtExpress exhibition. By completing these activities, students will identify and understand the qualities of successful HSC bodies of work.

Advice for teachers on approaching the development of the body of work and the role of the visual arts process diary (VAPD). This page contains a termly plan of teaching and learning activites outlining the key stages of the development of the body of work and a digital VAPD scaffold.

In these videos available on the body of work webpage, seven Year 12 students discuss the development of their body of work including their use of a visual arts process diary, their inspiration, ideas, use of materials and techniques. They reflect upon their journey, the successful completion of their works and inclusion in ARTEXPRESS.

These videos are derived from a forthcoming professional learning resource titled Visual Arts Stage 6 and the body of work. Participants completing this course will find a correlating set of filmed teacher interviews unpacking the teaching and learning process.

Writing about visual arts in Stage 6

Writing about Visual Arts in Stage 6 is a resource for students to develop skills and understanding about the Visual Arts HSC examination structure and how to develop responses.

Case studies

The stage 6 HSC case study 'Free snags with tabouli' focuses on Australian visual artists who provide a platform to address multiculturalism, tolerance and equality in Australia. It references to the Cronulla Riots and artists who reflect on this in their practice. This study links to the NSW Stage 6 Visual Art syllabus by addressing the frames, conceptual framework and practice developing students’ knowledge and understanding of visual arts in their critical and historical accounts.

These documents can be used as one of the five case studies taught in stage 6. The case study contains a HSC visual arts program, case study booklets, yearly assessment schedule, scope and sequence, practical assessment task, art criticism / history assessment task and stage 6 visual arts life skills modified assessment tasks for both practical and art criticism or history.

This 6-week case study explores an ongoing conversation in the artworld about the use of Aboriginal motifs in Australian art and design by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists. Students investigate Margaret Preston's appropriation of Aboriginal artefacts in her artmaking, and the ways that contemporary Aboriginal artists Tony Albert and Gordon Bennett have re-appropriated these images to challenge and comment on her practice. The case study resource features a digital student workbook (DOCX 772 KB), and a comprehensive teacher guide (DOCX 209 KB).

Interpreting sculptural practice (DOCX 124 KB) is a learning sequence designed to support Stage 6 visual arts students in their critical and historical studies.

A student-centered online unit investigating the history and genre of still life through the practice of four contemporary Australian artists.


The NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) Visual Arts Stage 6 Syllabus (2016) contains the syllabus and helpful materials including a sample assessment schedule, HSC advice, specimen exams, HSC marking guidelines, standards materials, past papers additional support information.


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