Software Engineering 11-12 (2022) Syllabus – information for school leaders

The Software Engineering 11-12 (2022) Syllabus replaces the Software Design and Development (2010) Syllabus from 2024.

The NSW Software Engineering Syllabus (2022) recognises the critical importance of thinking creatively to develop and program software solutions. Students enhance their understanding of project management through collaboration, communicating ideas, engaging in processes, and designing solutions.

What you need to know


  • Engage, plan and prepare to teach the new syllabus.

2024, Term 1

  • Enact implementation, with the new syllabus taught to Year 11.
  • Continue to teach the Software Design and Development Stage 6 Syllabus (2010) for Year 12.

2024, Term 4

  • Enact implementation, with the new syllabus taught to Year 12.


  • First Higher School Certificate (HSC) examination for new syllabus.

The Software Engineering 11-12 Syllabus (2022) is a complete rewrite of the previous syllabus. Changes include:

  • A new digital platform for disseminating information. The syllabus, teaching advice and documents, such as course specifications, are now found on the digital platform. It is important to regularly check the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) digital platform website for updates.
  • The removal of option topics.
  • Students perform project work and apply their knowledge and skills in new and contemporary ways, including programming fundamentals, the object-oriented paradigm, programming mechatronics, secure software architecture, programming for the web, software automation and a software engineering project.
  • In software automation, learning to program machine learning and artificial intelligence, and recognising and applying structures in code, are completely new content.
  • The outcomes describe the various stages of using and examining programming code and an ability to apply knowledge, understanding, and thinking skills to develop and communicate solutions to real-world problems.
  • The introduction of an individual Software Engineering project in Year 12 for 30 indicative hours.
  • The introduction of a computer-based HSC examination where an understanding of the Python programming language is also assumed.
  • The HSC examination has been shortened to 2 hours and 30 minutes including 10 minutes reading time.
  • HSC examination questions may contain stimulus material. Headphones will be required for questions with video and audio stimulus.
  • The computer-based HSC examination will be worth 80 marks. This is a decrease from 100 marks.
  • The structure of the final examination has changed:
    • Approximately 20 marks will be objective-response items, with each item worth 1 to 4 marks.
    • Approximately 60 marks will be short-answer items worth 4 to 8 marks. These may share a stimulus with other items.
Image: This image represents the organisation of content for Software Engineering 11–12 Syllabus

Overview image is from the Software Engineering 11–12 Syllabus© NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, (2022)

Prior to implementing the Software Engineering 11-12 Syllabus (2022), leaders will need to consider the following:

  • a venue that allows for the HSC examination to be run as a computer-based exam and devices that can run Minimum Standards examinations
  • complexities for staff working to implement multiple new syllabuses and curriculum
  • growth and interest in the new subject increasing student enrolment due to the innovative content
  • timetabling, staffing, and rooming to support the use of technology and resources required in the syllabus
  • logistical changes, such as updating the name of the subject in published documentation, subject selection information, and assessment schedules
  • building teacher understanding of updated content such as, programming fundamentals, the object-oriented paradigm, programming mechatronics, secure software architecture, programming for the web and software automation
  • building teacher knowledge of multiple programming languages, including Python, which is expected understanding in the HSC examination
  • supporting teachers’ understanding of effective project-based learning pedagogies required to meet the intent of the course, including support for students to choose an appropriate Software Engineering project in Year 12
  • resource and budget implications:
    • Learning spaces – the practical nature of the course will require access to a computer lab or laptops.
    • Equipment and software for topics such as Programming mechatronics may be required.
    • New resources may need to be purchased to support course delivery.
    • Additional professional learning for teachers may be required to effectively deliver new content in the course.

The syllabus for Software Engineering 11-12 (2022) is based on evidence highlighting that:

  • Many features of Python facilitated both teaching and learning (for instance, a simple and flexible syntax, immediate feedback, easy to use modules and strict requirements on proper indentation). Our findings support results from previous studies in that students have difficulties in dealing with abstract concepts - even though the syntax for implementing these is simple. In addition, compared to university students, high school students are young and have necessarily not yet developed the writing skills required for producing proper documentation.

Grandell L, Peltomäki M, Back RJ, and Salakoski T (2006) 'Why complicate things? Introducing programming in high school using Python' [conference proceedings], The 8th Australasian Conference on Computing Education.

  • ‘Teacher-led direct instruction and a student-centred, project-based approach are compatible. A project-based approach requires students to work together as they tackle complex, real-world problems that emphasize uncertainty, iterative thinking, and innovation. It fosters a sense of purpose in young learners, pushes them to think critically, and prepares them for modern careers that prize skills like collaboration, problem-solving, and creativity.’

Terada, Y (21 February 2021) 'New Research Makes a Powerful Case for PBL (Project Based Learning)', Edutopia, accessed 14 April 2021.

Software Engineering 11-12 © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2022.

  • What opportunities are there to connect technology leaders and industries in the community to students completing the Software Engineering project?
  • Do the parents and community appreciate the value of technology skills and digital literacy for our students' futures?
  • How might the school build a culture of digital literacy to lay the foundations for this course in the future?
  • How can students best use their knowledge and skills in using and understanding technology and project-based learning to enrich all aspects of their connection to learning?
  • How can opportunities be increased to investigate tertiary education and employment in Information Technology (IT) fields and sectors to meet future demand?
  • ·Where students are unable to access the course within the school, will there be options to attend remotely or via another high school?

Further support

See the NSW Department of Education Curriculum Reform webpage for updates and additional information.


  • Teaching and learning

Business Unit:

  • Curriculum and Reform
  • Educational Standards
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