A level Media Studies course

Ashbourne Media students get hands-on experience creating their own media products like film promos, websites, videos and blogs, using industry standard software whilst developing their theoretical understanding of the industry and ability to critically analyse media as an audience, consumer and producer.

Students examine a wide range of contemporary and historical media ‘texts’ from across the industry to analyse key concepts such as genre, narrative and representations, explore the production, marketing and distribution of media and consider audience tastes and demands, targeting and response.

Both teaching and learning are conducted collaboratively using specially designed web tools and a platform that allows students to explore and share their views on any media wherever they are, not only in the classroom. This engages students and encourages them to be confident in their independent learning.

Some sample work by Ashbourne Media students:

Media Studies challenges students to explore a wide range of cultural, social, political and linguistic issues and provides them with the creative and analytical tools to be successful in the modern media era.

Why study A level Media ?

Media, in all its forms, is a powerful and pervasive entity that not only determines our cultural diet but also shapes the way we engage socially, economically and politically.

From the papers we read, videos we watch and the way we communicate to what and how we buy, how we do business, who we vote for and how we behave, the media plays a significant role in our daily lives. Learning how the media functions and understanding its language is vital for us to begin to interpret and filter the wealth of information, implicit messages and hidden agendas we encounter every day. And developing the practical skills to produce our own media provides us with a solid platform to share our own news, views and perhaps change the way others think.

Exploring the world of media also opens gateways to a wide variety of research and career options including into language, literature, film, history, art, sociology, politics, business, philosophy and cultural theory.

Which syllabus do we follow?

Ashbourne follows the WJEC Eduqas specification (pdf) for AS and A level Media Studies.

What is covered in the course?

Students learn how to interpret, analyse and create a wide range of media - advertising and marketing, film, magazines, music video, newspapers, online media, radio, television and video games - by focusing on three key frameworks: media language (forms, codes and techniques for conveying messages), representation (portraying events, issues, people and groups), industry (processes, distribution, circulation and platforms) and audience (targeting, responses and interaction). They will consider how context - social, cultural, political, economic and historical - can influence and underpin media, and look at how media overlaps and shares platforms.

Using all the technical skills and theory they have learned over the course students will create their own high quality media product.

The course has three components: Media products, industries and audiences; Media forms and product; and Cross-Media Production

Media products, industries and audiences Media forms and productCross-Media Production

Analysing Media Language and Representation
Each piece of news you read, film you watch, Instagram feed you check, even video game you play, will usually contain an underlying message, viewpoint or opinion. Students will learn what media language is and how it is used to convey ideas and messages. They will also explore the ways in which events, issues and people are represented through media. Using media language and representation as their theoretical lens students will focus in on different media products from specific industries and audiences to analyse and interpret. They will also learn how to identify and explore the social, cultural, historical, political and economic contexts influencing the media production.

Understanding Media Industries and Audiences
Who owns the media? From news sites and TV channels to internet search and AI, the media is owned largely by giant corporations. Control over the media can confer huge political, cultural and economic power and influence.

According to the Media Reform Coalition, corporate billionaires Rupert Murdoch (New Corp UK) and Jonathan Harmsworth (Daily Mail Group) control more than 50% of UK national newspapers. The public service BBC makes up almost three quarters of all TV viewing, but Rupert Murdoch’s Sky has a huge share of broadcasting overall. Google dominates online search and also owns DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company whose cutting edge neural networks and resulting programmes have taken video gaming to another league, changed the face of machine learning, developed super algorithms that feed Google search capabilities, and created applications used in a hospital near you. And Facebook, itself one of the most used social media platforms, owns 74 other companies including Instagram and WhatsApp.

Media, and new media in particular, is transforming the global landscape not only in terms of media distribution and production but also in its scope as it permeates into almost every area of human life. With this fast-changing environment comes complex issues of diversity, responsibility, privacy, accountability, ethics and regulation.

Students will explore the significance of ownership and funding, the role of regulation in global production and distribution, the impact of digitally convergent platforms and the effect of individual producers on media industries.

They will also look at how media targets audiences and creates them, as well as how those audiences use and respond to media to shape and validate their own identities.

Students draw from their understanding of the key theoretical frameworks - media language, representation, media industries and audiences - to carry out in-depth studies focusing on three media forms: broadcast, print and online, in particular looking at TV in the global age; mainstream and alternative media magazines; and media in the online age.

Students now get the chance to produce their own cross-media product. They will need to use their technical skills and apply their knowledge and understanding of theory and digital convergence to create a cross-media production based on two forms, from the choices below, in response to a chosen brief.

Create a product that includes a sequence from a new television programme and related print or online* products.

Advertising and Marketing: Music
Include the use of an original music video for a new or local/unsigned artist or band and related print or online* products.

Advertising and Marketing: Film
Design a print marketing campaign for a new film, and related audio-visual or online* products. This does not include a complete short film, film sequence or trailer.

Students will need to create a production schedule - aims, research and planning and the production - so that the work can be spread over a maximum of sixteen weeks. The production should include a new print magazine and related audiovisual or online* products.

*Website production
Students can use web design software or templates to create websites, and are not required to use HTML. Every aspect of the design and content must be original, including language, images and audio-visual material.

Who teaches this course?

Todd Dedman

PhD Media and Cultural Studies (Christ Church University, Canterbury); PGCE Post-compulsory Education (Christ Church University, Canterbury); BA (Hons) Radio, Film and Television Studies with Sport Science (Christ Church University, Canterbury)

Todd has many years’ experience as head of sixth form and teaching a range of subjects including Sociology, Media Studies, Film Studies and PE. He has also written a variety of journal articles, papers and a book about cultural issues. He is an avid online gamer, reviews films and loves graphic novels. He also creates his own experimental electronic music.

Dennis Fulcher

Head of Faculty: Multimedia and Social Sciences
BSc (Kingston), MA (London), PGCE (Greenwich), Media and Social Sciences (HoD), Psychology, Sociology, Film, Politics and Law

Dennis is Faculty Head for Multimedia and Social Sciences at Ashbourne. He teaches a broad range of subjects including Film, Media, Government and Politics, Law and Psychology.

Dennis takes a multidisciplinary approach to teaching and combines his 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.

Katie Pettitt

MA Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism (Essex); BA English Literature and History of Art (Joint Honours) (Birmingham); PGCE Post-Compulsory Education and Training (UEL)
Katie has been at Ashbourne since 2012 and teaches Media Studies, History of Art and English. She is passionate about inspiring students to embrace their interests and explore their subjects inside and outside the classroom.

Katie has been involved with some of London’s major art sector organisations including the Institute of Contemporary Arts, Anne Thorne Architects and the Olympic Delivery Authority helping to produce innovative and high-profile projects. She has also worked at the International School of Creative Arts, the only specialist day and boarding school run in association with University of the Arts London.

Wesley Rykalski

BA History (UCL); MA Medieval Studies (UCL)
As well as teaching Media and History at Ashbourne Wesley runs a very popular Critical Theory seminar with James Wykes, (Head of English Faculty) that offers students a different perspective from which to approach their studies.

He also produces a teaching blog on Media Studies and contributes to a joint research blog on Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project and the sea-side.

Wesley is currently studying for a PhD in Cultural Power in the Early Medieval World at Birkbeck, University of London.

Beyond A level Media Studies

The degree and career options for Media Studies are many and varied including Advertising, Communication Studies, English, Politics, Public Relations, Psychology, Graphic Design, Journalism, Photography, Broadcasting, Digital Media, Film Studies and Media Production.

In the fast moving and ever evolving world of media you could find yourself behind the camera, directing the show, researching and creating content across platforms, becoming a super technician, illustrating and animating, producing documentaries, going undercover for news, designing your own websites, forums, networks and platforms, and more besides.


BooksOnlineNews, views and jobs

Popular media studies and social media books from goodreads website.

The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects
Marshall McLuhan explores the nature of media and how communication is shaping the ‘global village’, as he coined the phrase. His book was originally published in the 1960s but still resonates today.

Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media
Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman argue that the social, economic and political agenda of globally privileged groups are sustained by biased and propagandist US media coverage.

The Media show
Topical BBC radio 4 programme about the fast-changing media world.


Title – Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now
Authors – Paul A. Taylor & Jan Ll. Harris
Web link – Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now

Title – Mythologies
Author – Roland Barthes
Web link – Mythologies

Title – Key Themes in Media Theory
Author – Dan Laughey
Web link – Key Themes in Media Theory

Why Choose Ashbourne College?
During my three-year ride as an Asher, new doors opened up for me to a new world in which I found my true passion. It is encouraging independent learning while providing students with sufficient support when needed, along with its active, lively and friendly atmosphere that give Ashbourne its uniqueness. The location is great and adds to the liveliness of the atmosphere. As far as academia is concerned, the necessary platform for success in most subject areas one might be interested in is provided. The rest is up to the individual
DanialMedicine at UCL
Academic excellence in a relaxed atmosphere! Small classes means that the teachers are able to give the students the dedicated attention that they need not only to succeed but also to understand the material taught.This is a nurturing institution that equips students with all the tools they need in future. I would certainly recommend this school to anyone – but saying this I do not want Ashbourne to lose the close knit family relationship that my daughter enjoys with faculty staff, teachers and students. So I want this to remain as a closely guarded secret!!
I see Ashbourne as a place which I feel comfortable to express myself and it creates an environment that encourages me to develop as a leader. I am constantly looking for ways to improve. I am determined to continue to develop myself and I know that this is made more attainable with Ashbourne’s fantastic support and encouragement. I am very lucky to find myself at Ashbourne. It is a truly remarkable place to work.
Dennis FulcherHead of Multi-Media and Social Science Faculty