A Level Media Studies

 

What is it about at sixth form level?

We are immersed in the products of the mass media on a daily basis. Figures vary wildly, but it is estimated that the average individual is exposed to at least a good few hundred advertisements a day. The best of them – or worst, depending on your point of view – can stay with us for years. Just as it is necessary today to have numeracy and literacy skills, it is increasingly important to have the critical abilities to engage with the media so that we are able to understand the designs it has on us and so that we are able to avoid being naïvely manipulated.

By studying Media Studies A level, you will develop the knowledge and skills needed to analyse the products of the media. You will look at all aspects of their design from their audio-visual presentation to the rhetorical devices and connotations of the language they use. You will examine a wide range of material, ranging from film trailers to print material to internet content.

Lower sixth

In the AS year, you will be studying two units. Unit 1 (Media Representations and Responses) is the examined unit and this will provide you with the critical tools for reading media texts, focusing on narrative, genre, technical codes and the use of language. You will look at a variety of texts and also study issues surrounding representation and various theories of audience responses to the media. Unit 2 (Media Production Processes) is the coursework element of the course and requires the production of three linked items: (i) a pre-production (e.g. an extract from a film script); (ii) a production which has developed out of the pre-production (e.g. a marketing campaign comprising the DVD cover and a poster for the film); (iii) a report of 1200-1600 words, describing your research and giving an analytical evaluation of the production pieces.

Upper sixth

In the A2 year, you will be studying two units. Unit 3 (Media Investigation and Production) is the coursework unit, requiring the production of three linked pieces of work: a research investigation (1400-1800 words) into an area of study which focuses on two media texts and focuses on one of the following concepts: genre, narrative or representation; (ii) a production using audio- visual or print-based media that is informed by your research (45 marks);  (iii) a brief evaluation (500-750 words). Unit 4 (Media – Text, Industry and Audience) is the exam unit and will involve you studying three of the following media industries: television; radio; film; music; newspaper; magazine; computer games; and advertising. Three main media texts (of which at least two must be contemporary and one British) are studied for each industry.

Why study it and what skills does it develop?

An A level in Media Studies provides a good foundation for further study in the humanities. It will develop your analytical skills and develop your ability to express complex ideas in a clear written form. It combines well with other subjects requiring verbal and visual analysis, such as English Literature and History of Art, though the creative coursework element means it makes a good partner for Art, Photography and Graphic Design too. The coursework will develop some photographic skills and the use of Adobe Photoshop.

What prior knowledge and skills are required?

You will need a good level of English because of the comprehension demands and the written nature of the assessments.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS is assessed by a written exam on Unit 1 and the coursework that makes up Unit 2, which is internally assessed. The Unit 1 exam consists of three compulsory questions, one requiring analysis of an unseen audio/visual or print-based extract and two requiring knowledge of representation and audience response issues. It is worth 50% of the AS (25% of the A level) and lasts 2 hours 30 minutes. The Unit 2 coursework is likewise worth 50% of the AS (25% of the A level).

A2 level

The A2 is assessed by a written exam on Unit 4 and the coursework that makes up Unit 3, which is internally assessed. The Unit 4 exam is composed of two sections. In Section A, you answer one question from a choice of two based on media texts. In Section B, you answer two questions from a choice of four based on industry and audience issues. It is worth 50% of the A2 and 25% of the AS and lasts 2 hours 30 minutes. The Unit 3 coursework is likewise worth 50% of the A2 (25% of the A level).

Reading

AS Media Studies: The Essential Introduction for WJEC
By A. Bateman, P. Bennett, S. C. Benyahia, P. Wall
Published by Routledge

A2 Media Studies: The Essential Introduction for WJEC
By A. Bateman, P. Bennett, S. C. Benyahia, P. Wall
Published by Routledge

Advanced Level Media
By A. Bell, M. Joyce, D. Rivers
Published by Hodder Education

WJEC AS Media Studies: Study and Revision Guide
By C Bell, edited by B. Connell
Published by Illuminate Publishing

WJEC A2 Media Studies: Study and Revision Guide
By C Bell, edited by B. Connell
Published by Illuminate Publishing

Exam Board and Specification Codes

AS: WJEC 2291, A2: WJEC 3291 (legacy)

 

Jonathan Luke
Head of Department