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 music videos and print advertisements to video games and internet content. Films are only studied in the context of marketing and production, to avoid overlap with the sister subject, Film Studies.

Lower sixth

In the first year, you will begin looking at the topics of media language and representation. You will look at how they feature in the media through studying examples of music video and video games, advertising and film marketing, together with newspapers and radio news/current affairs programmes. Representations are related to ideology and are also studied in relation to social, cultural, historical and industry contexts. You will also look at the topics of audiences and media
industries, and further examples of media forms will be studied, specifically television, magazines and online media. Most of the examples studied are set by the board, though further examples are looked at for contrast and context and to prepare for the unseen exam analysis. You will also complete the first of two media productions for coursework, following a brief set by the exam board.

Upper sixth

In the second year, you deepen your study of media language, representation, audiences and media industries. Further examples of all the media types are studied in greater depth, considering industry and audience issues alongside representation and media language. Case studies are considered in a variety of industry, cultural and social contexts; at this level, you now need not only to understand and apply key theories but also to evaluate them. You also complete the coursework component by making a second individual cross-media production.

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, preferably including English Language GCSE, because of the comprehension demands and the written nature of the assessments.

How is the course assessed?

A level

There are two exams along with a coursework component. The Component 1 exam, “Media
Products, Industries and Audiences” assesses media language, representation, media industries, audiences and media contexts. It is worth 35% of the A level and lasts 2 hours. The Component 2 exam, “Media Forms and Products in Depth”, consists of three questions. It assesses language, representation, media industries and audiences and the forms to be studied in depth are television, magazines and blogs/websites (using examples set by the board). It is worth 35% of the A level and lasts 2 hours 30 minutes. Component 3, “Cross-Media Production”, involves coursework and is internally assessed. Candidates produce individual work following one of the briefs set by the exam board, relating to the production of print and online marketing materials for film. It is worth 30% of the A level.


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

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

The Media in Britain
By J. Stokes, A. Reading
Published by Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0333730638

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

Exam Board and Specification Codes

A level: WJEC A680AL

Jonathan Luke
Head of Department


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
Royal Veterinary College (Veterinary Medicine)

"I have loved MPW. The class sizes are very small and it is easy to ask questions. The teaching is really interactive and they all care so much about the students. My Director of Studies helped a lot with my UCAS statement, suggesting what to include and perfecting it with me. I honestly don’t think I would have go any university offers without her help."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bristol (Law)

"I’ve had three fantastic years at MPW: I’ve had a happy time; I’ve met some amazing people; and, most importantly, I’ve left school knowing that I have fulfilled my potential, leaving with GCSE and A Level grades that I can be proud of. I feel that the teachers and Directors of Studies all care deeply about their students' futures and performance."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Edinburgh (History and Politics)

"All of my teachers have been great; they are experienced, friendly and treat us all like adults rather than teenagers. I’ve also enjoyed being in a city. There is so much to do and we’ve been on a lot of theatre trips after school which is something I hadn’t been able to do before. My favourite thing about MPW has been the people I have met."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
King's College London (Biology)

"I would like to say a big thank you to my teachers. Everyone at MPW has been so warm towards me and my teachers are so friendly and willing. They also adapt to learning styles and have been sensitive about responding to my needs; they provide extra help when I need it but also give me space to absorb new topics or information when I need that."


Grades achieved at MPW

Progressed to
University of Bath (Mechanical Engineering)

"One of my favourite things about MPW is the people I have met, who are all really nice and really fun to be with. My Director of Studies was really enthusiastic which rubbed off on me. She also helped enormously with UCAS, taking the time to clearly explain what I needed to do and supporting me."