A Level Media Studies (Legacy)

What is Media?

This course is the process of turning you into a media practitioner and analyst-researcher. The subject is about change, and predicting the future. There is a need to keep on top of developments in media and consider the implications for today, and tomorrow. In real world terms, this study focuses on what media change means to business, institutions, societies, our psychologies and almost every aspect of the world as we know it, knew it, or would like it to be.

This course is about the contemporary media landscape, although ventures into the more recent past can illuminate what is happening now, and what may happen tomorrow.

The A level specification in Media Studies will not change until September 2017, meaning that this qualification remains one in which 50% of the examined work is undertaken through practical and research projects assessed within the college. The other half of the award is based on sitting formal, written exams. Preparation for these makes for challenging and rewarding work.

What sort of student does it suit and what will you get out of the course?

Enquiring and creative people with a strong grasp of spoken and written English are most suited to study of the media. The course examines media texts and how they work, which means it is strongly rooted in the study of language. It offers the chance for students to create their own media texts in moving image and print, where you are placed ‘in role’ working for example, a TV production company or music promoter. Knowledge of the media is increasingly valued and is becoming an important aspect to work in most institutions and industries. Senior managers and professionals need to know media power and effects - to be ‘media literate’. This is a subject with excellent opportunities for developing key skills for university and working life – skills such as communicating effectively, IT, working with others and problem solving. The particular skills involved in text analysis are a toolkit of considerable value, as they involve a new ‘way of seeing’. The full two-year A level is one of the obvious first steps for those considering university options in Media and Communication, Marketing, Advertising, Communications, Broadcast, Film or Journalism. There is natural linkage to subjects such as English Literature, English Language, Psychology, Business and Law.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

Small class sizes enable a student-centred approach that builds on the interests and chosen topic specialisms of each individual learner. To foster this, the course aims to provide candidates with a range of supportive concepts, ideas and skills. In particular, it aims to provide candidates with a conceptual framework which will give them the critical tools necessary to carry out their own readings and investigations. Candidates will engage with theoretical ideas relating to the media, develop research skills, and show evidence of independent study. They will learn to communicate effectively via media technologies, and in written form.

AS Specification Number
AQA 1571


Unit 1 (MEST1)

2h exam 50% (25% of full A level)
Investigating Media.

Students answer questions on one unseen media text and write an essay based on a cross-media case study.

Unit 2 (MEST2

Coursework 50% (25% of full A level)
Creating Media.

Students create two linked production pieces and provide a written evaluation.

Reading list

Julia Burton AQA Media Studies: AS Nelson Thornes

A2 Level

MPW approach to A2 study

For the AS qualification the emphasis is on how media texts work. The A2 course focuses on how and why texts are the way they are, glued to the historical, social, political and economic forces that have shaped them. The student-centred approach at AS extends to a chance for
real, personally significant specialism in the second year. The coursework module enables candidates to engage with a negotiated topic for up to six months. Recent studies have investigated the following topics: Russia Today and Soft Power, International News and Neo-Colonialism, Ronaldo and Messi as ‘Superheroes’, Classical Theatre and Operatic Influences on Nolan’s Batman Trilogy.

All media, including print, have converged on single devices. What are the implications of this? Students’ understanding of media concepts and their ability to apply critical ideas are developed through on-going class viewing, analysis, discussion and debate. Students will be expected to read texts developing their understanding of key media terms and concepts. They will also access and understand some of the ‘higher’ theory that is drawn from the wider academic field in which Media Studies exists.

The contemporary and often topical nature of the subject means students will need also to read professional weeklies such as Media Guardian. Students will prepare material and ideas for seminar presentation and group discussion on an almost weekly basis. This will be a useful taster of the University approach to study through independent reading and research.

A2 Specification Number
AQA 2571


Unit 3 (MEST3)

2h exam 50% (25% of full A level)
Critical Perspectives.

Three questions on unseen stimulus materials and an essay question from a choice of two pre-set topics.

Unit 4 (MEST4)

Coursework 50% (25% of full A level)
Research and Production.

Students make a thorough personal research investigation of a contemporary media text, topic or issue and its relevant contexts. The study is questioning and research-based, leading to the creation of a practical production piece.

Reading list

Elspeth Stevenson AQA Media Studies: A2 Nelson Thornes

Full specification details