Authorised and published by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority Level 1, 2 Lonsdale Street

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Authorised and published by the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority
Level 1, 2 Lonsdale Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

ISBN: 978-1-925264-05-0

© Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority [year]
No part of this publication may be reproduced except as specified under the Copyright Act 1968 or by permission from the VCAA.
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Introduction 5

Administration 5

VCE Literature Study Design examination specifications, past examination papers and corresponding examination reports can be accessed at: 5

Curriculum 5

Developing a course 5

Text selection 5

Units 1 and 2 5

Units 3 and 4 8

Employability skills 8

Resources 9

Assessment 9

Scope of tasks 10

Units 1 and 2 12

Units 3 and 4 12

Authentication 15

Learning activities 16

Unit 1: Approaches to literature 16

Unit 2: Context and connections 20

Learning activities and School-assessed Coursework (SAC) 24

Unit 3: Form and transformation 24

Unit 4: Interpreting texts 28

Performance Descriptors 32

Appendix: Employability skills 39


The VCE Literature Advice for teachers handbook provides curriculum and assessment advice for Units 1 to 4. It contains advice for developing a course with examples of teaching and learning activities and resources for each unit.

Assessment information is provided for school based assessment in Units 3 and 4 and advice for teachers on how to construct assessment tasks with suggested performance descriptors and rubrics.

The course developed and delivered to students must be in accordance with the VCE Literature Study Design Units 1 and 2: 2016-2020, Units 3 and 4: 2017–2020.


Advice on matters related to the administration of Victorian Certificate of Education (VCE) assessment is published annually in the VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook. Updates to matters related to the administration of VCE assessment are published in the VCAA Bulletin.

VCE Literature Study Design examination specifications, past examination papers and corresponding examination reports can be accessed at:

Graded Distributions for Graded Assessment can be accessed at


Developing a course

A course outlines the nature and sequence of teaching and learning necessary for students to demonstrate achievement of the set of outcomes for a unit. The areas of study describe the learning context and the knowledge and skills required for the demonstration of each outcome.

Teachers must develop courses that include appropriate learning activities to enable students to develop the knowledge and skills identified in the outcomes in each unit.

Text selection

Units 1 and 2

The requirements for text selection for Units 1 and 2 are provided on page 8 of the VCE Literature Study Design.

Students are encouraged to read widely in Units 1 and 2 to support the achievement of all outcomes.

A range of texts that could be considered are provided below.

Unit 1 Area of Study 1

Brittain, Vera, Testament of Youth (non-fiction)

Drewe, Robert, Stories of the Beach (short stories)

Fitzgerald, F. Scott, The Great Gatsby (novel)

Frame, Janet, An Angel at my Table (non-fiction)

Funder, Anna, All That I Am (novel)

Garner, Helen, Postcards from Surfers (short stories)

Kinsella, John, Peripheral Light (poetry)

Lanagan, Mango, Black Juice (short stories)

Levi, Primo, If This Is A Man (non-fiction)

Miller, Arthur, A View From the Bridge (play)

O'Brien, Tim, The Lake of the Woods (novel)

Pierre, DBC, Vernon God Little (novel)

Poetry of TS Eliot

Poetry of Dorothy Porter

Poetry of Glen Harwood

Rayson, Hannie, Glass Soldiers (play)

Salinger, JD, Catcher in the Rye (novel)

Winton, Tim, Scission (short stories)

Zusak, Markus, The Book Thief (novel)

Unit 1. Area of Study 2

Altmann, Robert, The Player (film)

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice (novel)

Bennett, Alan, The History Boys (play)

Bolt, Robert, A Man For All Seasons (play)

Camus, Albert, The Outsider (novel)

Capote, Truman, Breakfast at Tiffany's (novella)

Dickens, Charles, A Christmas Carol (novel)

Hamid, Mohsin, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (novel)

Heiss, Anita, I'm Not Ugly (poems)

Jolley, Elizabeth, The Newspaper of Claremont Street (play)

Sophocles, King Oedipus (play)

Shakespeare, William, Much Ado about Nothing (play)

Tan, Shaun, Tales from Outer Suburbia (graphic text)

Torday, Paul, Salmon Fishing in the Yemen (novel)

Walker, Alice, The Colour Purple (novel)

Williams, Tennessee, A Streetcar Named Desire (play)

Unit 2, Area of Study 1

Abouet, Marguerite, Aya of Yop City (graphic text)

Akutagawa, Ryunosuke, Rashomon and Other Stories (short stories)

Allende, Isabelle, Of Love and Shadows (novel)

Becket, Samuel, Endgame (play)

Conrad, Joseph, The Secret Agent (novel)

Durrenmatt, Friedrich, The Visit (play)

Eliot, George, Silas Marner (novel)

Fo, Dario, Accidental Death of an Anarchist (play)

Fugard, Athol, Master Harold and the Boys (play)

Huong, Duong Thu, Paradise of the Blind (novel)

Ibsen, Henrik, A Doll's House (play)

Kafka, Franz, Metamorphosis (short story)

Lahiri, Jhumpa, Interpreter of Maladies (short stories)

O'Brien, Tim, The Things They a Carried (novel)

Poetry of Emily Dickinson

Poetry of William Blake

Poetry of William Wordsworth

Rostand, E., Cyrano de Bergerac (play)Satrapi, Marjane, Persepolis (graphic text)

Sophocles, Antigone (play)

Takahata, Isao, Grave of the Fireflies (film)

The Best Stories of Edgar Allen Poe (short stories)

Wharton, Edith, Ethan Frome (novel)

Yoshimoto, Banana, Kitchen (novella)

Unit 2, Area of Study 2

Austen, Jane, Emma and McCall-Smith, Alexander, Emma

Austen, Jane, Pride and Prejudice and Fielding, Helen, Bridget Jones' Diary

Barker, Pat, Regeneration and the poetry of Wilfred Owen

Bradbury, Ray, Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell, George, Nineteen Eighty-Four

Bronte, Charlotte, Jane Eyre and Rhys, Jean, Wide Sargasso Sea

Capote, Truman, In Cold Blood and Garner, Helen, Joe Cinque's Consolation

Forster, EM, A Passage To India and Jhabvala, Ruth Prawer, Heat and Dust

Lawrence, Ray, Jindabyne and Carver, Raymond, So Much Water So Close to Home

Malouf, David, Ransom and Atwood, Margaret, The Penelopiad or Homer, The Iliad or Carey, Peter,
The Greek Tyrant

Milestone, Lewis, All Quiet on the Western Front and Malouf, David, Fly Away Peter

Russell, Willy, Educating Rita and Ibsen, Henrik, Peer Gynt

Shakespeare, William, Hamlet and Stoppard, Tom, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

Shakespeare, William, Richard III and Tey, Josephine, The Daughter of Time or Loncraine, Richard, Looking For Richard or Willimon, Beau, House of Cards

The poetry of Yeats and The Waterboys, An Appointment With Mr Yeats

Units 3 and 4

The requirements for text selection for Units 3 and 4 are provided on page 15 of the VCE Literature Study Design. The prescribed lists of texts for each year are published on the study page on the VCAA website.

Students are expected to read widely in Units 3 and 4 to support the achievement of all outcomes.

Employability skills

The VCE Literature study provides students with the opportunity to engage in a range of learning activities. In addition to demonstrating their understanding and mastery of the content and skills specific to the study, students may also develop employability skills through their learning activities.

The nationally agreed employability skills are: Communication; Planning and organising; Teamwork; Problem solving; Self-management; Initiative and enterprise; Technology; and Learning.

The table links those facets that may be understood and applied in a school or non-employment related setting, to the types of assessment commonly undertaken within the VCE study.


A list of resources is published online on the VCAA website and is updated annually. The list includes teaching, learning and assessment resources, contact details for subject associations and professional organisations.


Assessment is an integral part of teaching and learning. At the senior secondary level it:

identifies opportunities for further learning

describes student achievement

articulates and maintains standards

provides the basis for the award of a certificate.

As part of VCE studies, assessment tasks enable:

the demonstration of the achievement of an outcome or set of outcomes for satisfactory completion of a unit

judgment and reporting of a level of achievement for school-based assessments at Units 3 and 4.

The following are the principles that underpin all VCE assessment practices. These are extracted from the VCAA Principles and guidelines for the development and review of VCE Studies published on the VCAA website.

VCE assessment will be valid

This means that it will enable judgments to be made about demonstration of the outcomes and levels of achievement on assessment tasks fairly, in a balanced way and without adverse effects on the curriculum or for the education system. The overarching concept of validity is elaborated as follows.

VCE assessment should be fair and reasonable

Assessment should be acceptable to stakeholders including students, schools, government and the community. The system for assessing the progress and achievement of students must be accessible, effective, equitable, reasonable and transparent.

The curriculum content to be assessed must be explicitly described to teachers in each study design and related VCAA documents. Assessment instruments should not assess learning that is outside the scope of a study design.

Each assessment instrument (for example, examination, assignment, test, project, practical, oral, performance, portfolio, presentation or observational schedule) should give students clear instructions. It should be administered under conditions (degree of supervision, access to resources, notice and duration) that are substantially the same for all students undertaking that assessment.

Authentication and school moderation of assessment and the processes of external review and statistical moderation are to ensure that assessment results are fair and comparable across the student cohort for that study.

VCE assessment should be equitable

Assessment instruments should neither privilege nor disadvantage certain groups
of students or exclude others on the basis of gender, culture, linguistic background, physical disability, socioeconomic status and geographical location.

Assessment instruments should be designed so that, under the same or similar conditions, they provide consistent information about student performance. This

may be the case when, for example, alternatives are offered at the same time for assessment of an outcome (which could be based on a choice of context) or at a different time due to a student’s absence.

VCE assessment will be balanced

The set of assessment instruments used in a VCE study will be designed to provide a range of opportunities for a student to demonstrate in different contexts and modes the knowledge, skills, understanding and capacities set out in the curriculum. This assessment will also provide the opportunity for students to demonstrate different levels of achievement specified by suitable criteria, descriptors, rubrics or marking schemes.

Judgment about student level of achievement should be based on the results from a variety of practical and theoretical situations and contexts relevant to a study. Students may be required to respond in written, oral, performance, product, folio, multimedia or other suitable modes as applicable to the distinctive nature of a study or group of related studies.

VCE assessment will be efficient

The minimum number of assessments for teachers and assessors to make a robust judgment about each student’s progress and learning will be set out in the study design. Each assessment instrument must balance the demands of precision with those of efficiency. Assessment should not generate workload and/or stress that unduly diminish the performance of students under fair and reasonable circumstances.

Scope of tasks

For Units 1–4 in all VCE studies assessment tasks must be a part of the regular teaching and learning program and must not unduly add to the workload associated with that program. They must be completed mainly in class and within a limited timeframe.

Points to consider in developing an assessment task:

1.List the key knowledge and key skills.

2.Choose the assessment task where there is a range of options listed in the study design. It is possible for students in the same class to undertake different options; however, teachers must ensure that the tasks are comparable in scope and demand.

3.Identify the qualities and characteristics that you are looking for in a student response and design the criteria and a marking scheme

4.Identify the nature and sequence of teaching and learning activities to cover the key knowledge and key skills outlined in the study design and provide for different learning styles.

5.Decide the most appropriate time to set the task. This decision is the result of several considerations including:

the estimated time it will take to cover the key knowledge and key skills for the outcome

the possible need to provide a practice, indicative task

the likely length of time required for students to complete the task

when tasks are being conducted in other studies and the workload implications for students.

Units 1 and 2

The student’s level of achievement in Units 1 and 2 is a matter for school decision. Assessments of levels of achievement for these units will not be reported to the VCAA. Schools may choose to report levels of achievement using grades, descriptive statements or other indicators.

In each VCE study at Units 1 and 2, teachers determine the assessment tasks to be used for each outcome in accordance with the study design.

Teachers should select a variety of assessment tasks for their program to reflect the key knowledge and key skills being assessed and to provide for different learning styles. Tasks do not have to be lengthy to make a decision about student demonstration of achievement of an outcome. Note that for Unit 2, Outcome 2 students must complete an extended piece of writing of 1000–1500 words.

A number of options are provided in each study design to encourage use of a broad range of assessment activities. Teachers can exercise great flexibility when devising assessment tasks at this level, within the parameters of the study design.

Note that more than one assessment task can be used to assess satisfactory completion of each outcome in the units.

Units 3 and 4

The VCAA supervises the assessment for levels of achievement of all students undertaking Units 3 and 4.

There are two main forms of school based assessment: School-assessed Coursework (SAC) and in some studies, the School-assessed Task (SAT).

School–assessed Coursework

A SAC is selected from the prescribed list of assessment tasks designated for that outcome in the study design. A mark allocation is prescribed for each SAC. Teachers may develop their own marking schemes and rubrics or may use the performance descriptors

The VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook provides more detailed information about School-assessed Coursework.

School-assessed Task

A SAT is a mandated task prescribed in the study design. The SAT is assessed using prescribed assessment criteria and accompanying performance descriptors published annually on the relevant study page on the VCAA website. Notification of their publication is given in the February VCAA Bulletin. Teachers will provide to the VCAA a score against each criterion that represents an assessment of the student’s level of performance. Details of authentication requirements and administrative arrangements for School-assessed Tasks are published annually in the current year’s VCE and VCAL Administrative Handbook.

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