What it is

Style refers to the characteristic ways in which composers choose to express ideas in a variety of modes. It is born of the confluence of individual freedom and social direction. Style is one of the ways of distinguishing the work of an individual composer, a genre or a context of composition. Style includes semantic choices, form, structure, design and point of view, in combinations arranged to affect the audience for a particular purpose.

Composers working within a particular time or place are, in varying degrees, influenced by characteristic ways of thinking arising out of common social and cultural conditions and are also influenced by each other’s styles, acknowledging that imitation is not the opposite of originality. 

Why it is important

Studying style is important because awareness of stylistic devices can support the development of strategies for reading, It can deepen students’ understanding of why composers might choose to express ideas and feelings in particular ways and how purpose, audience and context influence composition. Through studying the style of a range of composers, students can reflect on and cultivate their own repertoire of styles.

Studying the style of a particular age or country shows the influence of context while at the same time inviting appreciation of the uniqueness of a particular composer’s work.

Stage 6

Students understand that style operates at macro and micro levels of texts and consists of deliberate combinations of elements of language, expression and ideas.

They learn that

  • style influences and has been influenced by other texts
  • style is both aesthetic and dynamic, playing on the relationships between convention, subversion and experiment
  • some styles are privileged over others according to purpose, circumstance and audience
  • style is an identifier of different groups and can have inclusive or exclusive effects
  • style is a means by which composers can create rhetorical identities and personas*

*Advanced and Extension courses

Stage 5

Students understand that styles vary and are valued differently.

They learn that style

  • can be a marker of a particular author, period or genre
  • changes over different historical periods
  • varies according to social and cultural contexts, mode and medium
  • may be distinguished through the details and nuances of expression.

Stage 4

Students understand that style is a way of conveying individuality, specialised knowledge and


They learn that

  • they need a range of styles for their personal, social and academic contexts
  • style can be imitated and adapted
  • particular styles have particular effects
  • style is an important element in the pleasure of the text.

Stage 3

Students understand that particular styles result from the use of identifiable language features appropriate to each mode and medium.

Students learn that

  • style may be changed by manipulating certain elements
  • style creates connections between and among texts
  • literary devices such as sound, images and figurative language can enhance expression.
  • personal style can be cultivated.

Stage 2

Students understand the impact of language choices and deliberately plan and refine their compositions accordingly.

Students learn that

  • there are rules for the development of style 
  • topics may invite particular words and images
  • words, sentences and images vary for particular purposes, audiences and effects.

Stage 1

Students understand that language and it patterns vary in the different modes and media.

Students learn that

  • elements of language create effects in particular contexts, modes and media.


Students understand that arrangements of words and /or images convey information and express feelings and thoughts.

They learn that

  • there are possibilities of choice of words.