How to Find HSC Belonging Related Texts that Stand Out

Rowan Kunz 30th October, 2012 Comments

Hey guys,

So when it comes comes to picking a related text most students don’t give it that much thought – it’s something that often happens last moment, after spending an inordinate amount of time working on/de-constructing the prescribed text.

You need to give your related text some serious thought however. At the end of the day, it represents 30-40% of your essay  (roughly) – so it is a sizeable junk of your essay, and therefore of the marks on table for you to achieve.

With every student having to study English (70,000 in total in NSW), your choice and analysis of your related text gives you a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Despite this opportunity, most students tend to end up using film. Why? Because it’s relatively an easier medium to evaluate/find at the last moment + it’s a different medium to your prescribed text which is recommended. The problem is that while it may be easy to find/use – it doesn’t always lead to you standing out.

So, to help you stand out from the crowd, we have put together a couple of simple guidelines for you to follow when searching for and identifying your HSC Belonging Related text!

Step 1: Start Early & Focus on Common Themes

Start looking for your related text early. As soon as you have finished reading your prescribed text and have identified broadly the themes you will explore in your prescribed text start the hunt for a related text.

Why start early?

It gives you plenty of time to identify 3-4 possible texts (as opposed to merely settling for one last minute). This way, your choice of related text is a carefully thought out one which allows you to stand out, rather than a decision made in desperation.


Why wait until after you have read your prescribed text/identified core themes? 

Your related text needs to be ‘related’ – so it needs to connect somehow with your prescribed text. This means ideally that it should explore the same/similar themes. It doesn’t have to say the same thing about each theme – in fact, if it has a different perspective on the same theme that is actually better, as it will allow you to explore in your essay your themes/ideas about belonging in more depth.

Step 2: Research – Start with a Recommended Related Text List

Yes, you will need to do a bit of research.

My biggest bit of advice is to start your research by reading lists of suggested/recommended related texts that you can use.

A great list/compilation has been compiled by Inside Break – read the list here.

The point of starting with this list is to help you get an idea for the types of texts considered to explore the concept of Belonging, and thus be potential ‘related texts’.

Don’t settle however for a text on the list (at least initially) – why? Because thousands of other students will also be trawling through this list for ideas.

Instead, use this list to prompt you to think about texts that you have read/watched/listened to that potentially are similar to those listed. This way rather than initially jumping into research, you can tap into your existing database of texts and find a couple that you can potentially use.

Write down the 2-3 texts you brainstorm from this exercise that you have already watched/read/listened to – get them out again and go over them.

Do they explore similar themes to your prescribed text? Are they unique/unlikely to be used by other students? If so, then you may have a potential winner!

Step 3: Think about using the following text types/mediums

So, assuming you haven’t found a perfect fit yet from Step 2, what do you do next?

There are a couple of great text types/mediums that you should focus your research on (as they are generally very underused):

  • Short Films
  • Editorials
  • Opinion Pieces
  • Feature Articles
  • Photographs
  • International Films
Why these?
  • There are a lot of them – meaning it’s more likely the one you select will not be used by any other student.
  • They are fairly short –  which means you can read/watch a number (with the exception of International Films)
  • Often they explore concepts of Belonging in quite unique/interesting ways – which again, helps you stand out!

Where can you access these?

  • Short Films – there are two key short film festivals you should mine for potential texts – find them here: 48 Hour Film Festival | Tropfest
  • Editorials/Opinion Pieces – the Sydney Morning Herald Opinion, section has lots of great pieces that can be used.
  • Feature Articles – check out the Big Issue, a magazine sold by homeless people to earn an income – it has a lot of great feature articles and opinion that often touches upon the question of Belonging. Additionally the Weekend Australian Magazine, and the Sunday Magazine are also great starting place. Make a habit of buying the weekend papers each week and within 2-3 weeks you will have a great stash of potential related texts!
  • Photographs – the above suggestions in Feature Articles also have some great photos. Additionally, check out Pinterest, a pin board of images from around the web, categorized to make it easy to find images around specific themes. Also,  Tumblr & Instagram are also great for finding amazing pictures, as is National Geographic.
  • International Films – both the Spanish Film Festival and French Film Festival come to Sydney – so have a night out with friends and get along and check out a couple go films at each festival that look like they could have potential as a related text.

Step 4: Short List 2-3 Texts & Deconstruct

While the HSC exams have generally only asked for 1 related text for Belonging – they could actually ask for more, and potentially specify two.

So, having only 1 related text can potentially be a risky strategy. Additionally, while your related text might connect with the themes in your prescribed text, it may not necessarily comment upon them in a way that allows you to answer particular essay questions that are thrown at you.

As a result, having at least 2 related texts up your sleeve that you have analysed based around your core themes is a smart idea.

So, short list 2-3 texts and then pick 2 of them and do the following:

  • List your themes (from your prescribed text)
  • Find specific examples from the text that connect to each theme – write them down
  • For each theme identify how the related text has similarities/differences in its exploration compared to your prescribed text

All the best finding a unique related text that stands out!

Want more strategies like this for your HSC for English + all your other subjects!
Check out myEd Online :)


  • petri

    Please just give me a relates text. Please.

    • Rowan Kunz

      Hi Petri,

      We have provided a number of links in the article – they will take you to lists/places where you can find great related texts.

      We didn’t include a specific example of a good related text in the article – as this would mean that it would be used by lots of students and therefore not ‘unique’.

      We will post in future article some examples – but with a warning that if posted on the web – its likely lots of other students will use it as well!

      All the best finding your related text!


  • Philip


  • nicole

    Lord, give me strength. I’m not even christian. What does Edvard Munch’s “The cry” (or the scream) have to do with belonging??