This is a GCSE course in which all students consider various media texts from a critical viewpoint recognising technical, aesthetic and cultural aspects. It will also consider production, distribution and controversy.

Students then move on in each case to produce their own work evaluating that in the light of the same critical parameters.

GCSE Assessment by Coursework and Examination

  • Examination: Unit 1 (40%)
    The examination is not tiered and each candidate takes one examination of 90 minutes on a topic selected by AQA (previous years' topics have included TV Crime drama, Broadcast News, Sci-fi, Game Shows, and the Marketing of Video Games), based on research and planning of two or more pre-released tasks.
  • Coursework: Unit 2 (60%)
    The coursework comprises two theory projects which have associated practical exercises and one practical task accompanied by a written evaluative commentary. You will cover a minimum of three different topic areas as part of the coursework, ranging from radio, film, photography, TV, advertising and marketing, print, web-based media, news and music promotion. Students will work on a pre-set brief, with a pre-determined audience in mind, from a range of set assignments. For example:
  • Assignment 1 - Analyse the cover pages of two popular magazines. How do the covers appeal to their audiences? Practical assignment - Design the cover for one edition of a magazine aimed at a specific audience.
  • Assignment 2 - Explore the way in which one product, band or artist is represented and promoted across at least two different media e.g. music video, magazine interviews or advertisements, internet sites.
  • Practical assignment A (Print or web-based/new media) - Mock-up design for a magazine article or a web page promoting a band or artiste.
  • Practical Assignment B (Audio-Visual media) - Devise a storyboard for a music video promoting the same band or artiste.
  • Assignment 3 - Construct a 120 second trailer (or two 60 second teaser trailers) for a feature film aimed at a specific audience.

Inventiveness and willingness to participate and experiment will be essential for all students.

Students must be prepared to work with others developing negotiating skills as they engage in teamwork as well as working individually.

This is an invaluable precursor to AS and A2 media work in the Sixth Form.

Why study Media Studies?
It is impossible to over-emphasise the significance of the media in our lives. The very fact that many in our society have come to regard the subject as somehow inferior to other subjects, and "not a proper GCSE" reflects the power of the media in influencing the way we think about certain topics! Studying the media will give you the skills to analyse media texts critically, understand how texts are produced, find out who owns media companies and observe how technologies are changing the way we consume the media. You will reflect on how the media has changed over time, and how our ideas and beliefs can be shaped by media images and messages. Coursework will allow you to become a creative media producer in your own right. In addition, students who study GCSE Media report improvements in the ability to analyse and write critically in their English exams, as well as improvements to their practical creative skills in ICT.

Completing a GCSE in Media Studies can lead to further study of the media, either at AS/A2 Level Media or AS/A2 Film Studies (both of which contain both theory and a lot of practical elements) and will equip you with many of the skills required for a career in the media and other creative industries, such as computer games, marketing and PR.

You will study:

  • Textual Analysis (how to 'deconstruct' texts and their meanings);
  • Cross-Media Topics (how institutions use a range of media to promote products);
  • Media Languages, Producers and Production Techniques.

You will learn:

  • How to analyse the 'language' of media texts;
  • How to reflect on the cultural messages and values presented in texts;
  • How to compare different texts, their institutions and their audiences;
  • How to use production techniques, technical skills and evaluative skills to create media products.

You will sit a non-tiered exam based on a case study approach. You will need to consider aspects of style, presentation, values, audience and representation and show their understanding of the relevant codes and conventions. You also need to be aware of new technologies involved in the production and consumption of the media.

Useful Links



Unit 1 - Investigating The Media
Exam (40%)

Unit 2 - Understanding The Media
Coursework (60%)

Unit 1 - Investigating the Media
External Assessment 1 hour 30 minutes

  • Based on set topic of AQA's choice (changed every year) Examination of:
  • The history of the genre
  • The institutional context behind the popularity of the genre
  • The conventions of the genre: Mise-en-scene, camera work, sound editing
  • Narrative structure in the genre
  • Representation and characterization in the chosen genre
  • The approach is case study based, and involves simulation of real production exercises as well as written questions.
  • The tasks and stimulus material are released four weeks in advance
Assignment Bank 1 - (500 words)
Topic: Magazine Covers

  • Analytical task: Analyse the audience appeal of TWO magazine or newspaper covers.
  • Planning task: Design a magazine cover for a publication targeted at a specific audience
  • Due date: 30th January

Assignment 2 - Cross-Platform Study (1000 words)
Topic - Promotion and Advertising

  • Analytical tasks - Explore how one product, band or artiste is represented and promoted across at least two different media e.g. TV adverts, radio or TV appearances, magazine interviews or adverts, internet sites
  • 2 Planning tasks - Print or web-based/new media - mock-up design for a magazine article or a web page promoting a product, band or artiste.
  • Audio-visual media - devise a storyboard for an advert or music video or a script for a television or radio interview promoting the same product, band or artiste.
  • Rationale behind the work
  • Due date: 30th April

Assignment 3 - Practical Production

  • Practical production from conception to realization

Topic choice 1 - Moving Image

  • Production task - A 120 second trailer (or two 60 second teaser trailers) for a feature film or television programme aimed at a specific audience
  • Four candidates may work together: Each candidate should edit the shared images individually

Topic choice 2 - Advertising and marketing

  • Production task - An advertising campaign realized as either three 30-second TV or three 30-second radio advertisements, or three full page magazine advertisements
  • Four candidates may work together on the moving image components, though the radio and magazine adverts should all be tackled individually.
  • Individual evaluation of 700-800 words
  • Due date: 30th December