Year 12 and 13 Media Studies
A Level Media Studies is a two year course where students will develop their knowledge of how media has developed through time and how it continues to develop at a rapid pace. They will also develop analytical skills, exploring how to ‘read’ and decode a piece of media.
As a contemporary subject, Media Studies offers students excellent opportunities to develop and shape their own perception of the media that surrounds them, and invites them to come up with original and supported judgements and conclusions about the products we consume every day. Additionally, students will also gain creative skills in creating their own media within the coursework component of the qualification.
Underpinning the entire course is an extensive ‘theoretical framework’ where, over the course of two years, students study 19 academic theorists/theories and learn how to apply these to a range of media texts. There are also 18 set media texts to study called ‘Close Study Products’ (CSPs). These fall under the nine media areas of: TV, film, magazine, newspaper, radio, advertising, video games, music video and online, social and participatory media. Students receive a booklet of these at the beginning of their studies, and these are updated on a yearly basis by the exam board to include relevant and up-to-date media products.
Examples of some set products are: studying the original 1938 ‘War of the Worlds’ radio broadcast in conjunction with BBC Radio One’s ‘Newsbeat’ programme; studying TV crime drama through an episode of British TV series ‘The Missing’ in conjunction with an episode of French TV series ‘Witnesses’; studying a recent YouTube advertisement for Maybelline mascara in conjunction with a print advertisement for men’s hair cream from the 1960s.
In applying the theoretical framework to media products, students will produce insightful, extended essay responses to these, as well as take part in exciting debates about the past, present and future of media products.
In the first year of the course students will study the underpinning theory of Media Studies, alongside beginning to study the CSPs. They will also be taught necessary academic skills to form insightful written essays. At the end of this year, students will be given their coursework booklet and be asked to choose a brief and begin research in order to create their own media.
In the second year of the course, students will study the remaining CSPs, complete their coursework and revise for formal examinations in the summer.
Resources to support students:
- An extensive media library of all set theorists, plus texts covering wider reading and creative skills. These are available within the media department, and additional copies are available for students to take out from the main school library;
- A suite of computers for students to complete research tasks and coursework;
- Various equipment to support students with coursework creation e.g. microphones, lighting, cameras etc.
- A subscription to the English and Media Centre’s ‘MediaMag’ with digital and print access to monthly copies for all students.
Exam Board: AQA
70% Exam: 2x 2 hour Paper (84 marks each)
30% Coursework (60 marks)
Paper 1 – Unseen sources and CSPs
Paper 2 – 1 unseen short question and 3 long form essay question on theoretical framework and CSPs
Coursework – Choose one media ‘brief’ to fulfil from an optional six published yearly by AQA. Each brief asks students to create two linked media products e.g. an online advertising campaign and three pages of a print magazine based on a social activism area of their choice, or a short YouTube trailer and three billboard posters to advertise and market a ‘coming of age’ film.
Four areas of theoretical framework:
- Media language
- Media representation
- Media industries
- Media audiences
Contexts of the media:
- Film – (N.B. films may only be studied in the context of media industries)
- Advertising and marketing
- Online, social and participatory media
- Video games
- Music videos
AO1: Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:
- The theoretical framework of media
- Contexts of media and their influence on media products and processes
AO2: Apply knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media to:
- Analyse media products, including in relation to their contexts and through the use of academic theories
- Make judgements and draw conclusions
AO3: Create media products for an intended audience, by applying knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media to communicate meaning.
Media Studies Theoretical Framework
- Roland Barthes: Semiotics
- Tzvetan Todorov: Narratology
- Steve Neale: Genre
- Claude Lévi-Strauss: Structuralism/binary oppositions
- Jean Baudrillard: Hyperreality, simulacra and simulation
Suggested wider reading for Media Language:
- Propp: Narratology (character types)
- Saussure: Signs and signifiers
- Thomas Schatz: Genres of order and integration
- Jason Mittell: Genre as cultural category
- Dudley Andrew: Genre as blueprint
- Stuart Hall: encoding and decoding/’New Ethnicities’
- David Gauntlett: Fluidity of identity
- Liesbet Van Zoonen: Gender as discourse
- Judith Butler: Gender as performativity
- bell hooks: Intersectionality
- Paul Gilroy: Post-colonial identity
Suggested wider reading for Media Representations:
- Laura Mulvey: The male gaze
- Ariel Levy: Raunch culture
- Manuel Alverado: Racial stereotypes
- Edward Said: Orientalism
- Paul Hunt: Representations of disability
- Alison Bechdel: The Bechdel test
- James Curran and Jean Seaton: Power without responsibility
- Sonia Livingstone and Peter Lunt: Issues of media regulation
- David Hesmondhalgh: Cultural industries
Suggested wider reading for Media Industries:
- Galtung and Ruge: News Values
- Albert Bandura: Social learning/media effects
- George Gerbner: Cultivation theory
- Stuart Hall: Reception theory
- Henry Jenkins: Fandom
- Clay Shirky: End of audience
Suggested wider reading for Media Audiences:
- Blumler and Katz: Uses and gratifications
- Harold Lasswell: Hypodermic needle theory
- Paul Lazarsfeld: Two step flow theory
- Abraham Maslow: Hierarchy of needs
- Skinner: Operant conditioning
- Young and Rubicam: 4 Cs
- Miguel Sabido: Positive cultivation
- Stanley Cohen: Moral panics
- Richard Dyer: Utopian Solutions