Years 11 – 12

The McDonald College is the perfect place for senior students to undertake their HSC and prepare for life beyond school, whether that means tertiary education, vocational training, or immediate entry into their industry of choice.

We take a holistic approach to students’ education by building on the academic, creative, physical, and social aspects of their development.

The range of performance streams and opportunities that we offer coupled with a strong emphasis on academic outcomes equates to a well-rounded education.

What you can expect

In Senior School, students are expected to engage in a greater level of self-directed learning, which is scaffolded by expertise facilitation from our experienced and dedicated staff.

In Years 11 – 12, our teaching and learning process is collaborative. We continue to build on the critical enquiry and problem-solving skills that we developed in previous years.

In their senior years, students really start honing their skills as performers (whether on a court or on a stage)—skills such as discipline, focus, and teamwork—and they bring these skills to the classroom.

We ensure that each student has the support they need to optimise their performance both academically and in their performance stream of choice.

Senior School prepares students in Years 11 – 12 for the NSW Higher School Certificate (HSC) – the highest level of attainment you can reach in school.

Discover The McDonald College

The Higher School Certificate

The HSC is for students who

  • want an Australian Tertiary Admissions Rank (ATAR) enabling direct entry to Australian universities
  • are seeking admission to overseas universities
  • who want an HSC that includes nationally recognised qualifications through vocational education and training (VET) and TAFE courses
  • do not want an ATAR, but do want a recognised school credential.

HSC course requirements

All courses have a value of 1 unit or 2 units. Most courses are 2 units.

All 2 Unit courses are divided into

  • a Preliminary Course, which is completed in Year 11 (Terms 1 – 3), and
  • an HSC course, which begins in Term 4 of Year 11.

All 2 Unit courses conclude with the final HSC exams at the end of Year 12.

To take an HSC course, a student must have successfully completed the corresponding Preliminary course.

Year 11 students must successfully complete a minimum of

  • 12 units plus
  • 2 units of English.

In Year 12, students must successfully complete a minimum of 10 units to qualify for the HSC award.

These 10 units must consist of a minimum of 4 courses, and at least 3 of the courses must be at least 2 units long.


The Mcdonald College Student Support 6 Edited

Senior students can specialise in a particular academic area or choose a diverse combination of subjects.

HSC subjects in Dance, Drama and Music may be the perfect partners for those students who are dedicated to pursuing tertiary studies in their area of specialty.

The McDonald College currently offers the following subjects

  • Business Studies
  • Design and Technology
  • English – Standard
  • English – Advanced
  • English – Extension 1 & 2*
  • History – Ancient
  • History – Modern
  • Dance (HSC)
  • Drama (HSC)
  • Music 1 (HSC)
  • Music 2 (HSC)
  • Music Extension (HSC)*
  • Legal Studies
  • Mathematics – Standard
  • Mathematics – Advanced
  • Mathematics – Extension 1 & 2*
  • Personal Development, Health and Physical Education
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Visual Arts.

* Dependant on enrolment numbers

Vocational Education & Training (VET) courses
for the HSC

We also offer access to VET courses at TAFE.

These courses will count towards the HSC and will also lead to qualifications recognised across a range of industries. Read more here.

Performance streams

9 Mcd Musical Theatre 2024 Edited

Students in Years 11 – 12 participate in 2 hours of performance training per day.

At the beginning of each year, students nominate one of the following streams as their core study area:


Additionally, each week, all students have an Elective day.

Performing arts students (except Musical Theatre students) have the choice of

  • maintaining their core study area on this day or
  • choosing a second performing arts stream to pursue on this day.

Performance sports students use their Elective day for further training.

Variations to individual performance timetables may be negotiated in exceptional circumstances.

Voyager Tennis program

Chase Zhao The McDonald College Elite Tennis Program Student

Working in partnership with Voyager Tennis Academy, this integrated program allows students to engage in daily training in tennis at the highest level, alongside their pursuit of academic excellence.

The program is designed for students who are already demonstrating a strong level of play.

  • Students participate in 2 hours minimum training per day
  • Training sessions are conveniently based at Sydney Olympic Park, less than 10 minutes from the College and students are transported by the  private Voyager shuttle.

Rhythmic Gymnastics

Working in partnership with Synergy Gymnastics Academy, this integrated program allows students to engage in daily training in rhythmic gymnastics at the highest level, alongside their pursuit of academic excellence.

This program is suited to those who are already performing at an elite level in rhythmic gymnastics.

Students participate in 2 hours of performance training per day.

Get in touch with our Registrar

02 9752 0507 |

The McDonald College Performing Arts Primary and Secondary School in Sydney