A Level Film Studies


What is it about at sixth form level?

At the turn of the 20th century, Hollywood was a small and recently-named town that had begun as an agricultural community only fifty years earlier and film was a newly-established industry whose pioneers worked in Europe and America. Today, Hollywood is at the centre of a multi-billion dollar global industry and film is rightly recognised as a form of art in itself.

Film Studies is an academic A level designed to equip you with the critical skills and knowledge to understand film both as an industry and an art form. You examine different genres of film and the film-makers and technology behind them. Study ranges across American, British and world cinema, including documentary and silent cinema, experimental and mainstream film. The coursework will involve your writing a screenplay for a short film and making a digital-photo storyboard for one sequence from it, followed by an evaluative analysis.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will begin your academic examination of film with a focus on contemporary British and American cinema. You will be introduced to the workings of the film industry and learn how to analyse films with reference to genre, representation, narrative structure and historical context. There are films for close study (all set by the exam board) in each topic. You will look at Hollywood films from 1930 to 1990, contemporary American independent film, recent British
cinema and a non-English language European film. You will also work on coursework skills and tasks.

Upper sixth

In the second year, the course broadens and deepens, with study of world-cinema and silent film, together with documentary and experimental film, alongside a further US independent film. For coursework you will submit cross-media production pieces that develop skills first practised in the lower sixth.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

Film Studies will develop your critical skills of analysis, your creative powers of expression, and your capacity to articulate your thoughts on paper in well-written and clear prose. It is a valuable and respected academic course that makes a good companion to other analytical subjects, such as English Literature and History of Art, and prepares you well for further study in any humanities subject at degree level.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You must have a wide-ranging interest in cinema and a desire to learn more. You must have an open mind, as you will be introduced to a broad range of material that covers different genres, periods and industries. You must have a good grade in English GCSE to meet the comprehension and writing demands of the course.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS level is assessed by two written exams, plus a coursework component. Paper 1 (American Film) assesses your understanding of a number of American films from different periods. It is worth 35% of the AS level and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. In Paper 2 (European Film) you write about a pair of British films made since 1995 and one European film. It is worth
35% of the AS level and lasts 1 hour 30 minutes. Component 3, “Production”, involves coursework and is internally assessed. You will write a 1200-1400 word screenplay for an extract from a film highlighting narrative construction, create a digitally photographed storyboard of a key section from the screenplay and write a 1000-1250 word evaluative analysis of your work. It is worth 30% of the AS level.

A level

The A level is assessed by two written exams, plus a coursework component. Paper 1 (Varieties of Film and Filmmaking) assesses your understanding of a number of American and British films from different periods of cinema. It is worth 35% of the A level and lasts 2 hours 30 minutes. Paper 2 (Global Filmmaking Perspectives) examines you on different types of film: global films, documentary films, silent cinema and experimental films. It is worth 35% of the A level and lasts 2 hours 30 minutes. Component 3, “Production”, involves coursework and is internally assessed. You will write a 1600-1800 word screenplay for a short film, create a digitally photographed storyboard of a key section from the screenplay and write a 1700-2000 word evaluative analysis of your work. It is worth 30% of the A level.


Film Art (10th Edition)
By D. Bordwell, K. Thompson
Published by McGraw Hill, ISBN 978-1259253317

Introduction to Film Studies (5th Edition)
Edited by J. Nelmes
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0415582599

Hitchcock’s Films Revisited
By R. Wood
Published by CUP, ISBN 978-0571162260

By R. Altman
Published by BFI, ISBN 978-0851707174

Understanding Film Texts
By P. Phillips
Published by BFI, ISBN 978-0851707990

Genre and Hollywood
By S. Neale
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0415026062

Exam Board and Specification Codes

WJEC specification codes have yet to be confirmed.

Jonathan Luke
Head of Department