A level Media Studies

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 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 specification for AS and A level Media Studies. Second year Media Studies A level students will continue with this syllabus. All new Media Studies students will follow this revised syllabus from Sept 2017.

What is covered in the course?

Students will study three industries: Television, Film and Advertising. The set texts will be Paddington, The Lego Movie, Skyfall, Spectre and LA Confidential for Film; River, The Game, The Living and the Dead and The Great British Bake Off for television. Students are introduced to a wide range of theoretical perspectives and are taught to apply these to the set texts.

Students also complete a critical investigation of approximately 1800 words. Typically this focuses in on a single genre and attempts to address a specific question.

Previous students have explored the use of jump scares in horror films, the nature of scripted reality TV shows and the codes and conventions of neo-noir films. Ashbourne students’ work received very high praise from the 2017 exam moderator:

"… it was very pleasing to see real engagement with theoretical perspectives across the centre, particularly in the exceptional work produced by Murray and Keelan, who were rightly awarded full marks."

The practical project students are required to create must show a clear, explicit link with their critical investigation. Again the 2017 exam moderator was impressed by the level of technical and creative skill and understanding of current theory and debate exhibited by Ashbourne students:

"Candidates were on the whole successful in making links with their research and there was much to admire in their confident technical and creative skills. I particularly enjoyed Keelan’s supernatural horror which was very successful in drawing on the iconography of the genre. Murray produced a very thoughtful and technically accomplished interpretation of her investigation into postmodernist theories. I very much enjoyed moderating the work of this centre, as it was pleasing to see the level of informed engagement with media theory and debates, as well as the confident application of these ideas through technically strong production work."

Component 1Component 2Component 3

Media Products, Industries and Audiences

This component is split into two sections and examines media language, representation, media industries, audiences and media contexts.

The written exam is 2 hours 15 and constitutes 35% of the overall result.

Media Forms and Products in Depth

This component is split into three sections: Television in the Global Age; Magazines: Mainstream and Alternative Media; and Media in the Online Age.

The written exam is 2 hours 15 and constitutes 35% of the overall result.

Cross-Media Production

For this component students will need to apply their knowledge and understanding of theory and digital convergence to create a cross-media production based on two forms in response to a chosen brief. The following media forms will always be set:

Create a cross-media production to include a sequence from a new television programme and related print or online* products.

Advertising and Marketing: Music
Create a cross-media production to include an original music video for a new or local/unsigned artist or band and related print or online* products.

Advertising and Marketing: Film
Create a cross-media production to include a print marketing campaign for a new film, and related audio-visual or online* products.

The cross-media production must not include a complete short film, film sequence or trailer.

Create a cross-media production to include a new print magazine and related audiovisual or online* products.

In order to ensure that an undue amount of time is not spent on the production, all phases of the production – aims, research and planning and the production itself – should be completed over a period of no longer than sixteen weeks.

*Website production
Students are not required to create websites through programming languages such as HTML; they can use web design software or templates but must give relevant and documented credit. Students must also take responsibility for the design of the website, and all content (such as language, images, audio-visual material) must be original.

This a non-exam assessed component constituting 30% of the overall qualification.

These websites were created by previous students: Theatre and Fashion.



Who teaches this course?

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.

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.

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.

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

The Scheme of Work

A level Media Studies