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 and media forms, ranging from television and film to online media, music, print and advertising. Case studies on a selection of products will be used to support essay answers in the exams.
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 and video skills and the use of digital manipulation and editing software.
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?
At the end of the lower sixth year there is an AS assessment, which is half coursework and half exam. Component 1 is a Foundation Portfolio of coursework, worth 50 marks. Candidates produce a media product that includes digital evidence of the process of their work and a creative critical reflection. Internally assessed and externally moderated, this is worth 50% of the AS level and 25% of the A level. Component 2 is a 2-hour exam (Media texts and contexts), worth 50 marks. Candidates answer one question analysing an unseen moving-image extract and one essay question from a choice of two on Media contexts. Externally assessed, this is worth 50% of the AS level and 25% of the A level.
At the end of the upper sixth year there is an A level assessment, which is half coursework and half exam. Component 3 is an Advanced Portfolio of coursework, worth 50 marks. Candidates produce a campaign of media products that includes digital evidence of the process of their work. They also reflect upon their finished products, in the form of an evaluative essay of around 1000 words. Internally assessed and externally moderated, this is worth 25% of the A level. Component 4 is a 2-hour exam (Media texts and contexts), worth 60 marks. Candidates answer two from a choice of three essay questions on Media debates and one essay on Media ecology. Externally assessed, this is worth 25% of the A level.
Mythologies (Vintage Classics)
By Roland Barthes (2009)
Published by Vintage Classics, ISBN-13: 978-0099529750
Media, Gender and Identity: An Introduction
By David Gauntlett (2008)
Published by Routledge, ISBN-13: 978-0415396615
Introduction to Media Ecology: Thinkers, schools of thought, key concepts
By Paolo Granata
Exam Board and Specification Codes
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