A Level Media Studies (Reformed 2017)

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, creative people with a strong interest in learning and applying new ideas are most suited to the study of the media. There is a good deal of reading to do, and that includes chapters in books that outline the ideas of key theorists. You will also need to 'read' a lot of media, which is to say that newspapers and radio need to become a part of your life, as 'traditional' media texts are mandatory to study in the new A level and you will write about them in exams. At the same time, there is still plenty of scope to analyse texts such as music videos and console games. Although Media Studies has become more academic, the value of practical work remains broadly the same, weighted at 30% of both the AS and A level.

AS Level

MPW approach to AS study

Unlike many schools, the media tutors at MPW are specialists that have either media or media related first degrees, plus experience of working in the industry and in creating media texts. There is now much more theory to learn, so classes will benefit from tutor academic backgrounds that create added value and security in delivery of this, as well as in developing your ability to apply it. Students will also commence writing a weekly blog about their own media use, and posts that analyse texts studies in and out of class.

AS Specification Number
AQA 7571


Paper 1 - 70%
Written exam: 2 hours 30 minutes
112 marks
70% of AS

Media Industries and Audiences are covered in the first paper, that includes questions on Film, PSB, Radio, Magazines, Music Video. There are major questions on case study newspapers, and set text TV dramas that may include shows such as Humans and Game of Thrones.


• An unseen source.
• Multiple choice questions testing breadth of knowledge of the framework.
• Short answer questions testing in depth knowledge of the framework.
• An extended response question assessing the understanding of the issues relating to the theme of the non-exam assessment (NEA) and the theoretical framework.

Non-Exam assessment - 30%

60 marks
30% of AS
Assessed by teachers. Moderated by AQA.
Choice of briefs around media forms such as game shows, radio, magazines, web and music video.

Reading list

Peter Barry Beginning Theory MUP

A Level

MPW approach to A Level study

For the AS qualification, the emphasis is on how media texts and industries work. The A level 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. 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, Marketing, and Media Week. 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.

A Level Specification

Paper 1 - 35%
Questions will focus on issues and debates in the media. A topic will be released in advance of the exam. Students will be expected to use any relevant elements of the theoretical framework in order to explore the ideas in the paper.

How it's assessed
Written exam: 2 hours
84 marks
35% of A Level

• An argument relating to the theme.
• Short answer questions relating to the theme.
• 2 x 15 mark questions testing in depth knowledge of two areas of the theoretical framework.
• 2 x 25 mark questions assessing in depth knowledge of the two remaining areas of the theoretical framework.

Paper 2 - 35%
Questions will focus on the analysis of media products, through the lens of the theoretical framework. Students will be expected to refer to the Close Study Products (CSPs) provided by AQA and other products they have studied. They will also be expected to demonstrate understanding of the contexts in which the products were created.

How it's assessed
Written exam: 2 hours
84 marks
35% of A Level

• Contrasting points of view relating to a particular CSP.
• Short answer questions assessing breadth and depth of knowledge of aspects of the theoretical framework in relation to particular media products.
• 2x30 mark questions assessing depth of knowledge of the theoretical framework and/or contexts in relation to media products.

Non-Exam Assessment: Creating a media product- 30%
Application of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework.
Practical skills relating to the media format of their choice.

How it's assessed
A choice of topics related to the over-arching (annually changing) theme
72 marks
30% of A Level
Assessed by teachers. Moderated by AQA.

Students produce:
• A statement of intent.
• Cross-media products made for an intended audience.

Reading list

Peter Barry Beginning Theory MUP

Please note – At the time of writing, AQA are still waiting for final accreditation of this specification. As such, the structure of the course may ultimately vary from what is printed here.