America: Prophecy, Power, Politics


Start University in Year 11 - Applications for 2016 now open! 

Applications submitted before 30 November 2015 will be considered for scholarhsips.

All other applications must be submitted by 31 January 2016.

America: Prophecy, Power, Politics is a Board of Studies endorsed HSC course that offers Year 11 and Year 12 students the opportunity to develop university-standard writing and critical thinking skills, and earn credit towards a tertiary degree. Offered by the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, America: Prophecy, Power, Politics covers new and exciting ground outside the HSC curriculum to enrich the study and understanding of the United States.

About the course

The course will provide a conceptual overview of major issues in contemporary and historical American society, politics, and culture. As the partisan divide in American politics demonstrates, the United States is a nation deeply divided by disagreements over: the role and size of government; religion and the separation of church and state; foreign policy and the nation’s role in the global order; and the balance of individual liberties with collective justice.

The course is designed to give students the conceptual tools, research skills and critical methodologies they can apply to understanding contemporary political and policy debates—global, American, and Australian. It will complement other HSC subjects in the humanities and political sciences—regardless of whether they have an American focus—and will provide excellent preparation for humanities and political science at the university level.

The benefits

  • Knowledge and understanding of the United States and its impact on the world. 
  • Contextual knowledge that will enrich topics in the HSC Modern History syllabus. 
  • Skills in oral and written expression of conceptually difficult ideas; skills in independent critical thinking; and skills in developing evidence-based arguments. These skills will prove useful for essay-based HSC subjects (including History, English, Geography, Legal Studies and Society and Culture) and debating. 
  • After successful completion of the course, students will gain one subject (a six credit point semester-length unit of study) towards a degree in Arts or other combined degree programs at the University of Sydney. The course may be counted towards a major in American Studies at the University of Sydney. 
  • The course fee is approximately one-third of the full fee rate for one subject (a six credit point Arts unit of study) at the University. Students who gain admission to a degree—which this subject can be credited toward—will not incur a HECS-HELP debt or be liable for the full fee for this subject.

Course outline

The course consists of the following core modules:

This module introduces and examines foundational and enduring American beliefs including American exceptionalism, the frontier, Manifest Destiny, the American dream, and freedom and equal opportunity for all.

This module discusses America as both a nation and an empire. It considers the rise of American imperialism and expansion; the migration and movement of peoples; borders, security, media, and technology.

This module discusses the impact of the founding ideas of republicanism, liberalism, and democracy on responses to economic crises, using the GFC and connecting it back to the Great Depression. It analyses the battles over the separation of church and state, and the relationship between conservatism, religion, and politics.


Research essay 50% (including essay proposal and annotated bibliography)
Exam 30%
Group presentation and class participation 20%

How is this course recognised?

America: Prophecy, Power, Politics is endorsed as a one-unit option. The course is recognised by the Board of Studies as a Year 11 preliminary unit and forms part of a student’s final HSC record. Board Endorsed Courses are designed for high-achieving students to supplement and extend the HSC curriculum, though the results in these courses are not included in the calculation of the Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR). The result for America: Prophecy, Power, Politics will appear on a student’s Record of Achievement and is worth one subject toward an undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney.

Session times

Contact hours: 1 x 1 hour lecture and 1 x 2 hour tutorial each week
Time: 4.00 – 7.00pm each Tuesday throughout Semester 1 (29 Feb to 3 Jun 2016)
Location: University of Sydney campus, Darlington (exact venue TBC)

Course costs

The 2016 course costs for America: Prophecy, Power, Politics is $782. Plus the University’s Student Services and Amenities (SSA) fee $108.75* (charged at part-time student rate).

Detailed information on the SSA fee is available at the University of Sydney website. The total fee of $890.75* was payable upon being accepted and enrolled into the course. See information about available scholarships below.

*Please note fees are indicative and subject to change.


The United States Studies Centre is offering two scholarships: one merit scholarship to a student with an outstanding academic record and one equity scholarship to a student who can demonstrate financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage.

All students applied before 30 Nov 2015 will be considered for a merit scholarships based on their principal’s report and school report. If students wish to be considered for an equity scholarship please email a statement addressing financial hardship and/or educational disadvantage to Amelia Trial at or call 02 9036 5086.

Who should apply?

Any student who has an interest in the topics covered and the ability and aptitude to undertake university-level study is welcome to apply. Only students who will commence Year 11 or Year 12 in 2016 may apply to enrol in the course.

Selection process

Applications are assessed by the course convener on the basis of a student’s past academic record and their school principal’s recommendation that the student has the capacity to meet the demands of the course. This takes into account a candidate’s potential to work at university-level and their ability to work both in a team and independently.

How to apply

Application instructions for the 2016 course.


For more information

Dr Rodney Taveira
Phone: (02) 9114 2617  

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