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.

Media Studies analyses how media products create meaning, the interaction between media institutions and their audiences, and the different social and cultural possibilities of this interaction. 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 music videos and print advertisements to video games and internet content. Media Studies will develop your creative and critical abilities, and advance your understanding of the power of the creative industries.

Lower sixth

The first year will involve close analysis of a range of media forms, from news to music video, alongside practical work creating your own media products. You will investigate media language and representation in areas like advertising, music video, newspapers, radio, videogames, and film marketing. The messages and values of different media products are analysed and considered in relation to different contexts and ideas about the media. You will also work on audiences and media industries in television, magazines and online media. We will investigate a range of industry examples in depth, and compare and contrast their formal and cultural properties. You will also be applying your ideas and understanding in an individual creative piece. Practical work will develop and consolidate your research and understanding of different media forms.

Upper sixth

In the second year, a wider range of media material is explored. Your understanding is focused more critically on mainstream, minority and cross-media products from different contexts. You will assess media representation in relation to debates around industries and audiences. Case studies will enable analysis and comparison across advertising, marketing, film, newspapers, radio, and video games. You will undertake an in-depth study of the three key areas of global television, mainstream and alternative magazines, and online media. For your creative work, you will produce a cross-media piece. A level study involves a deeper understanding of media debates and the relationship between audiences, industries, messages and values in a range of contemporary contexts.

Why study it and what 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 (although smaller than in the previous syllabus) 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, preferably including English Language GCSE, because of the comprehension demands and the written nature of the assessments.

How is the course assessed?

AS level

The AS level course is assessed by two unit examinations as well as by the coursework production. One unit is on Investigating Media Language and Representation; while the other is on Investigating Media Forms and Products. These units’ exams last 2 hours each and are both worth 35% of the overall AS level. The coursework production accounts for the remaining 30% of the overall marks.

A level

The A level course is assessed by two unit examinations as well as by the coursework production. One unit is on Media Products, Industries and Audiences and the exam lasts 2 hours and 15 minutes. The other unit is on Media Forms and Products in Depth and is examined in 2 hours and 30 minutes. Both exams are worth 35% of the overall AS level. The coursework production accounts for the remaining 30% of the overall marks.


Advanced Level Media
By A. Bell, M. Joyce, D. Rivers
Published by Hodder Education, ISBN 978-0340803967

The Media Student’s Book (5th Edition)
By G. Branston, R. Stafford
Published by Routledge, ISBN 978-0415558426

Exploring the Media: Text, Industry, Audience
By B. Connell
Published by Auteur, ISBN 978-1906733476


Exam Board and Specification Codes

Both AS and A level codes have yet to be confirmed.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Exeter University (International Relations)

I have really enjoyed my time MPW and would recommend this college to anyone. I learnt how to work more efficiently and revise more effectively thanks to the tutorials and weekly Timed Assignments, which also allowed me to prepare myself mentally for the exams from the first day. My history teacher was phenomenal. He managed to get me to reengage with the subject, as well as giving me all the support and help I asked for and more, giving me the knowledge and exams technique needed to achieve an A*."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Southampton University (Business Innovation)

The small class sizes proved invaluable for a number of reasons, some of which I did not anticipate. Aside from the obvious individual attention, the size of the class allowed for a lot of students’ questions to turn into a fruitful academic discussion. I have found the atmosphere at the college far more friendly and supportive than I expected. The support I had from my Personal Tutor was very helpful during the application process for university. I could tell that he really did care about my future and wanted to do everything he could in order to help me secure my place at my chosen university. Overall, I am pleased to say that my high expectations of MPW were fully met.


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Warwick University (Chemistry)

“I have definitely made the right decision to come to MPW - my grades have gone from averaging Es to straight As. Teaching at MPW is much more personal and I felt like talking to teachers. They are very good and give you lots of support if you do not understand something. My Personal Tutor took me through the UCAS process step by step. We went through my Personal Statement many times to make sure it was completely perfect. I am very excited about my firm choice.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Nottingham University (Philosophy)

As a dyslexic student who initially got CCEE for my AS, I was convinced that I could not achieve any higher. My time at MPW proved me wrong. Initially I was reluctant to move from my local school in York to a college so far away from home, my parents, and friends. At the end of my first year I was overjoyed to find that many hours of hard work and renewed revision techniques had resulted in me achieving three A's in my subjects. I wanted to continue at A2 as I knew it would greatly improve my university prospects and encourage me to work even harder. After two fantastic years at MPW I can emphatically say that going to MPW was the best decision I ever made. 


Grades achieved at MPW

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University of York (Law) 

“Having a Personal Tutor to discuss ANYTHING with, from my UCAS application to organising my life in general, really did make life at the college more streamlined and in general less stressful.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Economics) 

“Honestly, I could not imagine when I joined MPW that, due to language and adaptation barriers, I would achieve top grades in my first A-level exam sittings. This view changed completely after only a few weeks in the college’s supportive and motivational environment; with teachers who aimed at finding a personal touch with each student and with my Personal Tutor who made my adjustment to the UK education system not only an easy step in my life but, more importantly, an enjoyable one.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University College London (Mathematics and Statistics)

“International students have many aspects to think about, such as accommodation and guardians, but MPW surprised me by having a highly organised and supportive administration. Also, because most MPW Cambridge students are local, as an ‘international’ student, I found this very useful in both improving my English and in giving me a taste of a genuinely ‘English’ college.”


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (International Relations)

 “The teachers really helped me overcome any difficulties I came across; they always seemed willing to offer support be it inside or outside of the classroom. I could safely say my teachers inspired me to work hard and aim for the best, sometimes simply by being passionate about what they do.”