A Level Film Studies Course

A level Film Studies at Ashbourne is a very popular subject with students achieving excellent results, winning awards and moving into a career with the film and media industry.

Why study A level Film Studies?

Films are not just about entertainment (although there is that). They offer a view on the world. They are artistic and cultural reflections of their time and place full of underlying social, historical and cultural contexts to explore and decipher.

By studying film you will begin to acquire the tools with which to interpret, analyse and filter the narrative within the films and images that have become so pervasive in today’s culture.

“Film Studies at Ashbourne was a delight to be a part of. The tutors made my experience at Ashbourne. They are people who are evidently truly passionate about the subjects they teach and about intellectually enriching young minds.”

Anton, independent film director and production assistant

The technical, creative and analytical skills you develop in studying and producing film will not only prove invaluable experience for a job in cinema, the media industry and the arts but will also be attractive to employers in a variety of other fields.

From Hollywood and Bollywood to Iranian art house and Italian neo realism, Ashbourne A level Film Studies students are introduced to a wide range of films to explore their themes and contexts, as well as differing styles of writing and directing.

With expert tuition and technical advice from our Multimedia Faculty Head and Film Studies tutor Dennis Fulcher and Latin-American specialist Alberto Lado Rey students get the chance to produce and edit their own films and videos using industry-standard software Final Cut Pro.

This course can be studied alongside other arts and media courses – Art, Graphics, English Literature, Drama and Theatre Studies – but is also an excellent complement to History and Politics.

Award winning student

Former A level Film Studies student Antony won the Best Short Film in the Moving Image Awards for his production Continuum. The judges were particularly impressed by the expert production and tension-building narrative of the story.

The Moving Image Awards was set up in partnership with the British Film Institute to celebrate and reward talented young filmmakers  between 14 and 19. It is open to students undertaking WJEC/Eduqas qualifications in Film and Media across the UK.

Antony graduated from Ashbourne with A level Film Studies A*, English Literature A*, Russian A* and French A and went on to attain a First Class BA Honours degree in Practical Filmmaking. He is now an independent film director who has won awards for his short documentary and also works as production assistant at Big Sky Productions.

Award winning student

Charli won the award for Best Short Film and was selected as Overall Winner for her animation drama ‘8’. She received huge praise from the exam moderator.

“WOW! I am quite breath-taken by this stunning animated masterpiece … it is quite simply brilliant! Undoubtedly the best A Level piece of work I have ever seen. This is an outstanding filmmaker who will go far in the future.” (Exam moderator)

Charli animated the film using photoshop and a graphic tablet, recoloured on Premier Pro and then edited together on Imovie. She composed an original score for the film which she recorded and fully orchestrated using Logic Pro. The voiceovers were performed by Charli and a friend.

Charli went straight into a job as Creative Development Assistant for a music development company after achieving outstanding A level results in Film Studies, Music and Drama.

“I cannot recommend Ashbourne enough for anyone with a drive and a passion to succeed. You will thrive.” Charli, Creative producer of original musical theatre for screen and stage.

Beyond A level Film Studies

Students hoping to pursue a career in this field can choose from a variety of Film Studies and related courses at universities across the UK including at Warwick, King’s College and Queen Mary, Edinburgh, UCL, Oxford, East Anglia, Plymouth and Gloucestershire.

Getting into the film industry is highly competitive but there are plenty of options and directions you can to select. With your creative eye, sharp critical skills and technical expertise you could take centre stage and direct your own blockbuster or art house movie, write screenplays or music scores, review the latest movies, become the visual, sound or music editor, art direct, create props, come up with great ideas for programmes, make video games, promote, market and advertise, or become a youTube phenomenon, for example.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the WJEC Eduqas syllabus for A level Film Studies.

What is covered on the course?

Students will examine and analyse a wide range of films using three core frameworks: Film form, Meaning and response, and Context. They will apply their knowledge to carry out in-depth studies focusing on chosen specialist areas, e.g. narrative, spectatorship, ideology and filmmakers’ theories. And they will also use their technical skills to create their own short film and evaluation.

Film form

Handheld camera shots, lighting, crafting narrative to the shot, setting the scene, choreographing the action and conveying meaning through synergy of sound and movement are just some of the techniques filmmakers use. Students will explore a wide range of methods that help develop meaningful narrative and provoke differing responses from their audience, including cinematography, mise-en-scene, editing, sound and performance.

Meaning and response

How films are interpreted, how they encapsulate a cultural mood and what response they evoke from their audiences is critical to filmmaking production and analysis. Students will look at how characters and concepts are (mis) represented and the impact this can have on the spectators and wider society.


Filmmakers and their films are shaped by and reflect the underlying contexts from which they are created. Students will consider how and to what extent context – social, cultural, political, historical, financial, institutional and technological – has an impact. How audiences react to films is also a critical factor that students will explore.

Specialist areas

Students will study specified films in relation to selected specialist areas: Spectatorship; Narrative; Ideology; Auteur; Critical debates; and Filmmakers’ theories.


Finally students get to reveal what they have discovered about film, demonstrate their technical skill and show off their creative flair. Based on a given brief students produce a high quality short film and screenplay with their own evaluation.
The course is split into three components: Varieties of film and filmmaking; Global filmmaking perspectives; and Production.

Students receive a brief to create a short film (4-5 minutes) or a screenplay for a short film (1600-1800 words). This is accompanied by a digitally photographed storyboard of a key section from the screenplay and an evaluative analysis (1600 – 1800 words).

Students examine six feature length films drawing on their understanding of key concepts and critical analysis. These include two Hollywood films (1930-1960 and 1961-1990), two American films made since 2005 (one mainstream, one independent) and two British films made since 1995.

Hollywood films

Students study one film from each group:

Classical Hollywood (1930-1960)
Casablanca (Curtiz, 1942), U
The Lady from Shanghai (Welles, 1947), PG
Johnny Guitar (Ray, 1954), PG
Vertigo (Hitchcock, 1958), PG
Some Like It Hot (Wilder, 1959), 12

New Hollywood (1961-1990)
Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967), 15
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975), 15
Apocalypse Now (Coppola, 1979), 15
Blade Runner (Scott, 1982), 15*
Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989), 15.
*Learners study Blade Runner in the Director’s Cut version, released 1992.

American film since 2005

This is a two-film study. Students study one film from each group:

Mainstream film
No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007), 15
Inception (Nolan, 2010), 12A
Selma (Duvernay, 2014), 12A
Carol (Haynes, 2015), 15
La La Land (Chazelle, 2016), 12A

Contemporary independent film (produced after 2010)
Winter’s Bone (Granik, 2010), 15
Frances Ha! (Baumbach, 2012), 15
Beasts of the Southern Wild (Zeitlin, 2012), 12A
Boyhood (Linklater, 2015), 15
Captain Fantastic (Ross, 2015), 15.

British film since 1995

This is a two-film study; two films selected from the list below:

Secrets and Lies (Leigh, 1996), 15
Trainspotting (Boyle, 1996), 18
Sweet Sixteen (Loach, 2002), 18
Shaun of the Dead (Wright, 2004), 15
This is England (Meadows, 2006), 18
Moon (Jones, 2009), 15
Fish Tank (Arnold, 2009), 15
We Need to Talk about Kevin (Ramsay, 2011), 15
Sightseers (Wheatley, 2012), 15
Under the Skin (Glazer, 2013), 15.

Global perspectives

Students examine five feature-length films including two global films (one European, one non-European), a documentary film, one silent film and one experimental film (1960-2000).

Global film

This is a two-film study. Students study one film from each group:

European film
Life is Beautiful (Benigni, Italy, 1997), PG
Pan’s Labyrinth (Del Toro, Spain, 2006), 15
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Schnabel, France, 2007), 12
Ida (Pawlikowski, Poland, 2013), 12A
Mustang (Ergűven, France/Turkey, 2015), 15
Victoria (Schipper, Germany, 2015), 15

Outside Europe
Dil Se (Ratnam, India, 1998), 12
City of God (Mereilles, Brazil, 2002),
House of Flying Daggers (Zhang, China, 2004), 15
Timbuktu (Sissako, Mauritania, 2014), 12A
Wild Tales (Szifrón, Argentina, 2014), 15
Taxi Tehran (Panahi, Iran, 2015), 12.


Student study one film from the list below:

Sisters in Law (Ayisi and Longinotto, Cameroon/UK, 2005), 12A
The Arbor (Barnard, UK, 2010), 15
Stories We Tell (Polley, Canada, 2012), 12A
20,000 Days on Earth (Forsyth and Pollard, UK, 2014), 15
Amy (Kapadia, UK, 2015), 15.

Silent cinema

Student study one film from the list below:

One Week (1920), U and The Scarecrow (1920), U and The ‘High Sign’ (1921), U and Cops 
(1922), U, (Keaton, US)
Strike (Eisenstein, USSR, 1924), 15
Sunrise (Murnau, US, 1927), U
Spies (Lang, Germany, 1928), PG
Man with a Movie Camera (Vertov, USSR, 1928), U and A Propos de Nice (Vigo, France, 
1930), U.

Experimental film (1960-2000)

Student study one film from the list below:

Vivre sa vie (Godard, France, 1962), 15
Daisies (Chytilova, Czechoslovakia, 1965), 15 and Saute ma ville (Akerman, Belgium, 
1968), 15
Pulp Fiction (Tarantino, US, 1994), 18
Fallen Angels (Wong, Hong Kong, 1995), 15
Timecode (Figgis, US, 2000), 15.

Who teaches this course?

Dennis Fulcher

Head of Faculty: Multi-media and Social Sciences

MA Government and Political Studies (London Metropolitan University); BSc Hons Sociology (Kingston); NVQ L4 Print Journalism with industry placement (Richmond Adult Community College); PGCE (Post Compulsory Education) (Greenwich)

Dennis combines his passion for film, a multidisciplinary approach to teaching, technical expertise and years of experience to create lively and engaging classes for his students. He uses a wide variety of materials and innovative exercises that encourage students to steer their own learning and development. As a result Dennis’ students consistently achieve excellent grades and rate their overall learning experience highly.

Dennis teaches a broad range of subjects including Film, Government and Politics, Law and Psychology and has been working at Ashbourne for many years. Dennis is also a team leader for Government and Politics A level examiners.

Alberto Lado Rey

Head of Faculty for Modern Foreign Languages

MA Hispanic Studies (UCL); Post Graduate Diploma in Film and TV Studies (Westminster University) ; BA English Language and Literature (Santiago de Compostela)

Alberto has a lifelong passion for film and the world of filmmaking. He specialises in national cinema – Spanish and Latin American cinema in particular – and auteur theory, especially when applied to classic Hollywood directors. In lessons, he uses a number of different interactive teaching methods and always encourages students to develop their own critical views by actively participating in the debates about the texts and films under study.

Alberto teaches Spanish, English Literature and Film Studies. He is also principal examiner for the Spanish AS topics and texts unit.

Reading and resources


British Film Institute (BFI)
Dedicated to supporting and promoting the British film industry. The BFI holds the world’s largest archive of British films and runs the Southbank, London IMAX and River Thames film theatres. It also puts on the annual London Film Festival, Flare Film Festival and the youth-orientated Future Film Festival.
Institute for Contemporary Arts (ICA)
Hosts wide selection of films, exhibitions, talks and events to promote ‘radical art and culture’. The ICA Bookshop stocks a wide range of media products covering ideas and contemporary culture from philosophy to feminism, art theory and writing, radical politics, sound and cinema.
For the latest films, reviews, London cinema listings and interviews.


The Filmmaker’s Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for the Digital Age
Steven Ascher et al..
Essential guide to making films of all kinds.

Story: Substance, Structure, Style and The Principles of Screenwriting
Robert McKee
Excellent and comprehensive guide to writing brilliant stories for the screen.

Rebel without a crew
Save thousands of pounds and teach yourself the ropes of film production, directing and screenwriting. Essential guide by guerrilla filmmaker Robert Rodriguez.

In the blink of an eye
Walter Murch, foreward by Francis Ford Coppola
Celebrated film editor Walter Murch reveals the art of editing for creating compelling films.

More suggested reads:
Goodreads list
Book shops
British Film Institute bookshop
ICA bookshop

Broadcast and online

BBC Film Programme
Latest releases, spotlight on the stars and directors, plus news and views from the film world.
What’s on, features and production news. Film4 is part of Channel 4 TV and champions new talent in innovative filmmaking.
Latest film news, reviews, awards and more to give you an insight into the global film business.

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