A level Media Studies

 

Introduction

At Ashbourne we are committed to enabling students to explore the world of media through genuine practical engagement and a sustained theoretical analysis and critique of those media and our relations to them, whether as audiences, consumers and increasingly producers. Unlike Film studies Media studies encompasses the study of the whole range of media including the film industry, television, radio, magazines, newspapers, the gaming industry, new media, the music industry and advertising. Media studies has three broad aims in mind when studying media texts including analysis of the text itself (genre, narrative and representations) the media industry (production, marketing and distribution) and the audience (audience tastes and demands, audience targeting and audience response). A wide range of contemporary and historical media texts are used as the basis for all classes and both teaching and learning are conducted collaboratively

We have developed (using a set of ‘web 2.0’ tools and platforms) a cooperative and collaborative method of teaching that reaches out to students whether they are in class, at home or on the bus and allows them to study the very media we are concerned with in an engaged and explorative way. Students also have a great deal of individual input into the texts they wish to study for the exam and their own written and practical coursework projects. This allows them to be confident of their learning because, fundamentally, it comes from them.

Media Studies is theoretical as well as practical. The complexity of some of the concepts covered means that it is a more challenging A Level than is often assumed.

Why study Media?

A-Level Media Studies allows students to engage in a theoretical and practical exploration of the many media that are now so crucial to daily life and to develop a genuine understanding of the position and role of the media. It introduces students to a broad range of theoretical concepts that have cross curricular relevance to the study of other A level subjects including English Literature, Film Studies, History of Art, Sociology, Government and Politics, Business Studies and even Philosophy

Which syllabus do we follow?

We follow the WJEC specification. In respect of the current reform to the A level system the Media Studies specification is unaffected and the current syllabus will be valid until the summer of 2018 for final examination.

How many units are there?

There are four units in total: two at AS and two at A2.

What is each unit about?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
Media Representations and Responses

The aim of this unit is to enable candidates to investigate different media texts and reach an understanding of media language. They investigate how each one is constructed and presented across the media and how audiences consume and respond to them. This is an examined Unit which takes the following form:
Three compulsory questions, including one question on unseen audio-visual or print based material (interactive media will be presented as print-based) (40, 30 & 30).

Students could be asked, for example, to compare two magazine covers in terms of their symbolic and technical codes, representations and audience appeal.

Media Production Processes – (This is a coursework unit)
Work can be submitted in a range of contemporary formats which could include DVD, video, print, website, MP3/podcast or CD-ROM. In previous years we have had students produce film promo websites (complete with trailer); the opening sequence of a new BBC drama; a fashion website, football fanzine blogs, pop videos, perfume and soft drink advertising campaigns and magazine covers and features pages. This year students are making amongst other things TV adverts, film trailers and a graphic comic. All this is done in Ashbourne’s Media Suite, equipped with the latest Apple Macs and creative software such as Adobe CS, Final Cut Pro and Comic Life. Students also have to submit a pre-production piece informed by existing media of the same type for example a storyboard or a series of sketches laying out the proposed design for the website. Finally they must produce a written summary which explores the design decisions made and which justifies those choices.

Some examples of websites produced by our students:

http://kseniasofron.wix.com/nonplacetheatre

http://kseniapominova.wix.com/lmkp

http://nutunesrecords.wix.com/lokiboi

Media Investigation and Production
There are three components: a written investigation into media text(s) based on one or more of the key media concepts – genre, narrative and/or representation (45); a media production (45); and an evaluation of how the production is informed by the investigative research (10). The important factor is that the production needs to arise from the investigation so an analysis of two Sports documentaries would then lead to the production of a piece – perhaps video – utilising the codes and conventions of sports documentaries. An investigation into the genre of Science Fiction might lead to the production of a comic book in the Sci-Fi genre.

In previous years students have explored Fashion and Advertising (leading to the production of a blog on this issue) Arts Documentaries on the BBC (leading to the production of a trailer for a new arts Strand on BBC4) and representations of the working class in film, television and newspapers (also leading to the production of a blog on this subject) This year students are variously exploring Science Fiction, Horror, Arts documentaries (again!) and the crime sub genre film-noir.

Text Industry and Audience.

The starting point for this unit is to settle upon three or four industries from a specified list of 8. These are: Television, Radio, Film, Music, Newspapers, Magazines (including comics), Advertising, Computer Games. All our our students for this year have elected to study the Film Industry, Television and Advertising. The texts studied include the following:

FILM INDUSTRY
Skyfall (Mendes, 2012)
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Alfredson 2011)
Inception (Nolan, 2010)
Goodfellas (Scorsese, 1990)
LA Confidential (Hanson, 1997)
Pan’s Labyrinth (Guillermo Del Toro, 2007)

TELEVISION:
Sherlock (series 3 episode one)
Musketeers (series 2 episode 1)
The Art of Gothic (episode three)
Cosmonauts: How the Soviets Won the Space Race (BBC 4)
Spiral (series 5, episode one)
Peaky Blinders (series 2, episode 6)
Mark Gattis’ A History of Horror- part 3 The American Scream.
Bitter Lake – Adam Curtis documentary

ADVERTISING INDUSTRY
Fabletics
Kellogg’s Special K
Sony Bravia (balls and paint)
Sainsbury’s WWI Christmas ad 2014
John Lewis Christmas ad 2014
Patrick Phillipe watch magazine ad.

Students select from the list three texts for each industry they wish to focus on.

How is each unit examined?

Unit 1Unit 2Unit 3Unit 4
Unit 1: Media Representations and Responses
Three compulsory questions, including one question on unseen audio-visual or printbased material (interactive media will be presented as print-based) (40, 30 & 30). 2 and a half hours written paper.
Unit 2: Media Production Processes
Three components: one pre-production (20); one production which develops from the pre-production (40); and one report on the production process (40).
Unit 3: Media Investigation and Production
Three components: a written investigation into media text(s) based on one or more of the key media concepts – genre, narrative and/or representation (45); a media production (45); and an evaluation of how the production is informed by the investigative research (10).
Unit 4: Text, Industry and Audience
Three questions (30 marks per question). Section A: one question from a choice of two. Section B: two questions from a choice of four. Candidates must answer each question on a different media industry.2 and a half hours written paper.

All units carry equal weighting (25%)

How is the course structured?

Students study for unit 1 and unit 2 concurrently, learning the theory at the same times as working on their practical projects. The same approach is employed at A2.

When do I sit my exams?

AS students sit their examination in late May or early June. There will be opportunities to resit AS unit 1 in January of the A2 year. Practical work must be submitted before the spring deadline and students sit unit 4 in June of their A2 year.

Which Ashbourne teachers teach this course?

Dennis Fulcher – Head of Faculty (Multi Media and Social Sciences)

BSc Hons (Kingston) MA (London) PGCE (Greenwich) Media and Social Sciences (HoD), Psychology, Sociology, Film, Politics and Law

Dennis Fulcher is the College’s polymath and Head of Faculty. Originally a graduate in Sociology, Dennis has also completed a Masters in Government and Political Studies, a PGCE and a Diploma in Print Journalism. Dennis has huge experience of his subject and an excellent track record of getting top grades. Dennis seeks yearly anonymised feedback from his students and consistently scores very highly in the student ratings of his teaching and their learning experiences. Dennis provides stimulating and engaging teaching materials in a variety of formats and uses innovative learning exercises to insist that the students contribute significantly to their own learning and development throughout the course.

Wesley Ryalski

BA History, MA Medieval Studies (UCL) Media Studies

Wesley took his BA and MA at UCL and is working on a PhD in cultural power in the early medieval world at Birbeck. Wesley writes a teaching blog on media studies http://rykalskireadsthemedia.blogspot.com and contributes to a joint research blog on Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project http://arcadespromenades.wordpress.com and the sea-side

Katie Pettitt

MA Contemporary Art Theory and Criticism (Essex), BA English Literature and History of Art (Joint Honours) (Birmingham), Professional Graduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) in Post Compulsory Education and Training (UEL)

Katie studied History of Art and English Literature at undergraduate level at the University of Birmingham and holds a Master’s degree in Contemporary Art Theory from the University of Essex.

Katie has held various roles in the arts sector in London, including working for the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), Anne Thorne Architects and most recently the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), for which she collaborated with internationally acclaimed artists on innovative and high-profile art projects in and around London’s Olympic Park. Before teaching at Ashbourne, Katie worked at the International School of Creative Arts (ISCA), the only specialist day and boarding school run in association with University of the Arts London (UAL). She joined Ashbourne in 2012 and now teaches History of Art, Media Studies and English.

Katie is passionate about engaging students’ interest and encouraging them to develop their enthusiasm for all her subjects both in and outside the classroom. Since taking over the delivery of AS Media Studies Katie has achieved excellent results in exams for her students and has led and facilitated several very impressive coursework productions.

Beyond A level for Media Studies students

The type of degrees or careers that students may go on to pursue may include Advertising, Communication Studies, English, Politics, Public Relations, Psychology, Graphic Design, Journalism, Photography, Broadcasting, Digital Media, Film Studies and Media Production

Beyond A level for Media Studies students

The type of degrees or careers that students may go on to pursue may include Advertising, Communication Studies, English, Politics, Public Relations, Psychology, Graphic Design, Journalism, Photography, Broadcasting, Digital Media, Film Studies and Media Production.

Textbooks

Title – Critical Theories of Mass Media: Then and Now
Author – Paul A. Taylor & Jan Ll. Harris
Web link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Critical-Theories-Mass-Media-Then/dp/0335218113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1277223105&sr=8-1-catcorr

Title – Mythologies
Author – Roland Barthes
Web link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mythologies-Vintage-Classics-Roland-Barthes/dp/0099529750/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277223193&sr=1-1

Title – Key Themes in Media Theory
Author – Dan Laughey
Web link – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Key-Themes-Media-Theory-Laughey/dp/033521813X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1277223376&sr=1-1

A-Level Media Studies A2/AS Scheme of Work