About this handbook
This booklet will give you most of the essential information you will need about the
course. It provides details about what you will study, the structure of the course and
information and tips on study skills which will help you to write essays and give
presentations. The exam board for media studies at Park College is WJEC.
Always refer to this booklet first, but feel free to ask your teachers any questions
which may arise from its contents! Check iLearn regularly!
Introducing the staff
What is A Level Media Studies?
Course structure and content
Tracking your achievement
Rights & responsibilities in the learning environment
Appendices, including homework policy.
“The ideas of the ruling
class are, in every age, the
Introducing the staff
Welcome to media studies! By the time you receive this booklet, you will have met
your teachers and the other students with whom you will spend the next year or
two. The media department is one of the largest in college, with up to200 students
engaged in media or film studies over a one or two year period. Our exam results
remain excellent, so we have high standards and aspirations for your success.
The staff teaching for these courses are:
Jon Searle: Jon is Course Leader for media and film studies. He is responsible for the
overall management and operation of the curriculum area. If you have any particular
problems or concerns you can discuss these with him, personally.
Tim Dams: Tim teaches on both media and film studies.
Saffron Swansborough: teaches BTEC and AS Level Media Studies
Sam White: Sam is a Personal Tutor in college and has long experience of teaching
media and film. She currently teaches GCSE Film Studies
What isA LevelMedia Studies?
Some of you will already have studied the media at GCSE level but for those of you
who have not, the following brief description will remind you what the subject is
Students study a range of media texts and topics, as well as the construction and
deconstruction of media products, in the context of the key conceptual areas of
media texts& conventions, media institutions, media audiences and media
The AS & A2 courses combine theory and practical work, aimed at developing your
understanding of how the media create messages. You will learn new skills but
importantly the method of your development will be based on both teamwork and
the ability to motivate yourself and work independently. Your willingness to engage
wholeheartedly with the course will be vital to your success. In media studies we
explore and challenge many of the assumptions that underpin the very nature of our
society and its outlook. Frank and open discussion is a crucial part of media studies.
“The medium is the message”
Course structure and content – WJEC Media Studies
The AS & A2 courses are made up of two units each. A complete Advanced GCE in
media studies consists therefore, of four units. For full details check the WJEC
syllabus oniLearnor via the web link. The AS (Advanced Subsidiary 2291) comprises
Unit MS1: Media Representations & Responses (Written Exam 2 ½ hrs)
This unit assesses the student’s skills in textual analysis of the codes and conventions
of media forms and the role of representation. The unit will allow you and your
teachers to look at a number of different media, including; TV, film, print and digital
Unit MS2: Media Production Processes (Coursework)
A practical unit in which students demonstrate a range of technical skills and
understanding of media concepts by creating their own production. Analytical skills
developed in MS1 will help students to evaluate their product (from planning
through to outcome).This is a print-based exercise, which students produce
individually. Options include: Lifestyle magazine or comic, advertising campaign for a
new film or pages from a new social networking site.
The A2 Advanced GCE course (3291) comprises the following:
Unit MS3:Media Investigation &Production (Coursework)
This unit is aimed at assessing a student’s ability to originate and construct a media
text, demonstrating technical skills and conceptual understanding. It is more
advanced than the foundation production by dint of the fact that students must
make connections between the key conceptual areas of the course, their related
debates and the product they create. It includes asubstantial investigation and
research element which informs the final product.This is an audio-visual production
and completed as a group exercise. Options could include: Complete short film,
extract from a film, or a musicvideo.
Unit MS4: Media – Text, Industry & Audience (Written exam 2 ½ hours)
The purpose of this unit is to assess how students are able to develop critical
arguments about a range of media debates and issues covered by the syllabus over
the full two years of the course. Students answer three questions from two sections
covering texts, industries and audiences. The media industries chosen will be:
Television, Newspapers and Music Industry. Students will explore three textual
examples from each industry e.g. The Sun, Daily Mail and The Guardian.
„Seeing comes before words.
The child looks and recognizes
before it can speak‟
John Berger, Ways of Seeing, 1972
Key dates – a guide
Induction (2 weeks) – first assignment set.
Unit MS2 – initial research& intro.
Unit MS1– Texts – semiotics introduced.
Induction (2 weeks) – Intro to course. MS3
research element set up. Consider options
and team. Self –directed study in GH226
Turing Suite & completion of proposal
Unit MS2 introduced – students commence
planning & research through the preproduction phase. Proposal form completed
Main theory and texts introduced for MS4
TV & Press.
MS4 TV & Press. MS3 Research assignment
and planning for AV c/w. Choose teams.
Unit MS1 – Combined & comparative work
for texts and representation.
MS3 Research assignment draft completed
and submitted to staff by Xmas.
Unit MS2 Production phase – independent
study & workshop sessions in GH226 Turing
MS3 Media production work commences
based on MS3 research.
Unit MS2 – final production phase for
MS3 Media production work continues –
post production phase.
Unit MS2 Deadline – see ILearn for details
Unit MS1 – Audiences & Genre/Narrative
MS3 Media production & research
assignment deadline (date TBC on iLearn).
MS4 – Texts – final case study on Music
MS1 - Revision and mock exam practice
MS4 – Revision and mock practice.
Moving On programme
Use the above table to help you plan and organise your time throughout the course.
Record any significant dates, such as deadlines for work, appointments, exams or
trips. We have provided some details to help you structure your modular work,
especially production work. Above all check iLearn for specific deadline dates.
Completing an Advanced Level subject requires significant study and commitment.
At school, your performance in class was perhaps most important but as you move
into further and higher education, how you spend your time outside of class
becomes just as crucial to your success.
Firstly, you need to have the right state of mind and recognise how hard you will
need to work to achieve your aims. Many students drop out of courses early or fail
right at the end because they do not get the balance right between their college
work and their other commitments. As soon as you start your college courses you
should sit down and plan how you will allocate your time. You may have a part-time
job or other domestic responsibilities at home, in which case you need to appraise
how you can balance these with your A levels.
Secondly, private study at home and in college should at least reflect the amount of
time you spend in class. So you should prepare to work 4-5 hours a week on media
studies work. This might simply involve background reading/note taking or scanning
the daily press. It might also mean working on your production exercises, writing
essays or putting together a class presentation. Here is a tip list of things you should
do as soon as you have settled into the course:
Background reading of the subject area – using books/journals from the LRC and
especially your textbook (see end of section)
Specific reading for a task (essay, project, etc)
Note taking from films and documentaries in the LRC or from iLearn
Note taking from television or radio programmes at home
Working on your production project – both research and IT tasks
Read the media section of The Guardian on a Monday in the LRC or check
mediaguardian.co.uk. on a regular basis.
Read Sight and Sound and The Media Magazine available in the LRC
Create a folder of photocopies and notes based on the above.
Sign up to our twitter feed @parkmediandfilm.
In the appendices at the back of this booklet you will find guidance on a whole range
of useful skills and tips. These include:
Guide to research
Guide to class presentations
Planning your studies
Thirdly, the buddy system is a rather simple but effective idea. Although your
teachers are available to help and guide you, you are given more responsibility for
your time and learning in further education. This can be a little disconcerting at first
if you are accustom to the school environment. For this reason we encourage
students to help each other in areas where they have skills or knowledge. Most of
you, for instance, have a PC at home and are proficient in, DTP, photo shop or other
net based skills. Others may have practical photography skills. The key thing in media
studies is the ability to work in groups or pairs and the buddy system is simply an
extension of that. Of course, you may feel inhibited at first, but we have found from
experience that sharing ideas and skills helps to achieve results across the board.
Finally, if you are serious about the course then we recommend you purchase a
decent media studies text book. A good general text book is:
The Media Student’s Book (4thed) Gill Branston& Roy Stafford(Routledge)
Tracking your achievement
Throughout the course, whether you do it for one or two years, you will need to
have a coherent sense of how you are doing. This can be done using the tracking
sheet you will find in your introduction pack or on iLearn. On it, you record marks,
grades or feedback you have received from your teachers to build up an overall
picture of how you are progressing. It can be highly useful, for instance, in pin
pointing weaknesses in your work. This then allows you to concentrate on improving
that part of your performance.
Over the period of your course you will be regularly reviewed. In the autumn term
you will meet your teacher for a formal review to discuss your progress. There will
also be an opportunity for you and your parents to discuss these issues with the
teaching staff. The work you do over the period of the course will form the basis of
the grade prediction we make for you. If you go on to the A2 course, that prediction
will form the basis of your UCAS application to higher education institutions. Your
MTG(minimum target grade) will also act as an indicator.
Assessment by definition is the key to this process. You will be assessed from the
beginning using WJEC grading criteria either to represent a level or a grade. The
assessment objectives (AOs) take into account how you would be expected to
develop from the AS to the A2 course. Details on how assessment works are outlined
Grade descriptions for Advanced level work cover A to E or U if the work is below
Advanced level standard.
Grade A: Candidates will demonstrate a detailed &sophisticated knowledge and
understanding of the key conceptual areas, media texts and their contexts. There
will be evidenced a high degree of argument, perception and clarity from such
candidates. All material will be well organised, with written communication being
fluent, accurate and concise. There will be a firm grasp of appropriate terminology.
Excellent work. (Level 4).
Grade C: Candidates will demonstrate a sound knowledge and understanding of the
key conceptual areas, media texts and their contexts. Work will reflect a competent
grasp of the relationships between texts and issues of representation and audience.
It will be thoughtful and conscientiously produced, suggesting the candidate’s ability
to evaluate his or her own media products/work with critical objectivity. Written
communication will be generally accurate and clear with the competent use of
correct terminology. (Level 3).
Grade E: Candidates will demonstrate some knowledge and understanding of the
key conceptual areas, media texts and their contexts. Evaluation and critical analysis
will be less apparent, with an emphasis on description mainly. Detail will be less
overt with basic competencies evident in production, research and technical
matters. Written work will be generally accurate in presenting fact with some
opinion. There will be some evidence of the correct use of terminology. (Lower level
Assessment objectives for AS and A2 can be found in the syllabus on iLearn or in
your intro pack. There are 4 assessment objectives for AS and A2 which are weighted
slightly differently. You should familiarise yourself with what these are for each unit.
They are also in your introductory pack.
Rights and responsibilities in the learning environment
At ParkCollege students are entitled to a high standard of professional practice from
college staff. You will already be aware of your responsibilities under the college
charter, including issues of equal opportunities, which remain highly relevant to
investigating the media. However, below is a brief outline of what you can expect
from the media department and what we expect from you.
Our contribution is to ensure your lessons are fit for the purpose of enabling you to
achieve your full potential. In media studies, we tend to teach in teams of two, so
that you experience differing styles. This keeps it interesting and allows us to remain
flexible to adapting our skills to the course. Unlike school, we work on the basis of
first name terms and mutual respect. We also aim to ensure the following:
Teaching objectives are clear and lessons appropriately paced. You are taught in
a safe and appropriate environment where everyone can contribute.
Feedback and criticism is constructive and formative.
Assessment and grading follow recognised guidelines.
We aim to deliver and encourage a variety of ‘teaching for learning’ styles. This
will include standard “chalk & talk”, student group work, small scale seminars or
even role play. Of course we will use video, projectors and a number of other
visual aids in the delivery of the subject.
Lessons will start and end promptly.
Disruptions caused by staff absence or training kept to a minimum.
If you wish to challenge a formal grade for an externally or internally marked
piece of work you can talk to your personal tutor, your teacher, or the course
leader. Further details can be obtained from the JCQ guidelines on iLearn.
Your contribution revolves around your commitment and attitude to the staff, your
colleagues and the college. We expect you to:
Be prepared for classes with appropriate materials to hand.
Attend lessons punctually.
Make up lost time due to absence (including copying notes/handouts from
colleagues in class).
Be attentive and involved with class activities.
Write notes and maintain them in an orderly fashion.
Seek advice or help from staff when you need it.
Make full use of the LRC and other resources at your disposal.
Work independently – especially at home.
Avoid plagiarism – it is cheating and could lead to your disqualification by WJEC
or the college. Further details obtained from JCQ document on iLearn
Finally, under this section, you should be aware that the following rules are fully
enforced and if ignored could lead to disciplinary action being taken.
No mobile phones or other such devices are allowed in media class rooms or
spaces – they are an unnecessary disruption and will be confiscated if their
presence becomes a nuisance. Always ensure your mobile is off before a lesson
begins! Do not rely on it as a time keeping device!
No food or drink is to be consumed in the media area at all!
No unauthorised person should be in the media area, especially the edit suite –
so please do not bring your friends to look round.
Always look after media equipment properly – for your safety and its protection.
There is a comprehensive range of resources available to you to enable you to excel
in media studies. Technical equipment includes:
DV cameras, tripods, reflectors, dolly wheels.
Digital/editing suite with a range of software applications including Adobe
Access to the Turing Suite(GH226) with its suiteof PCS withPhotoshop.
Most of this equipment should be booked in advance, so ensure you take that into
account when planning your work. Please also note that problems with equipment
or damage to equipment should be reported to the media technician immediately.
The Park LRC is where you will find the most significant learning resources, and you
should acquaint yourself with it and its systems as soon as possible. The useful
materials you can find there are:
Books – a diverse selection on media and film subjects. Use the computer
catalogue to find what you are looking for. Or ask the library staff for help.
DVDs – a range of films, documentaries and so forth which can be viewed in the
LRC. Many can be borrowed or reserved – see library staff for guidance. Many
film and TV texts are available via eStream on iLearn.
Newspapers - the LRC gets some of the daily newspapers. The broadsheets are of
particular interest to media students.
Magazines/Journals – the LRC gets Sight & Sound (monthly) and Media Magazine
(quarterly) specifically for film and media students. But also check Sociology
Review and others for media related subjects.
Internet – a number of very useful sites are flagged up on iLearn.
Materials you will need over the next year or two include:
A4 lined paper
Photo-quality paper(print based coursework)
Folders or ring binder files
Blank CDs, DVDs or DV tape (AV based A2 coursework)
Hole punch (you will get copious handouts)
USB stick- the bigger the better, for coursework and essays. We also recommend
you open a Googledocs account.
“The consumer is not a moron,
she is your wife”
Adman & founder of O & M
Private study (or homework depending on which term you prefer) is central to
doing well at Advanced level. The following list is a guide to what we think is
appropriate and what you can expect. See the Homework policy below for more
The work set may vary in form and style because the course involves both
practical and theoretical elements.
Work is graded A-U (or Level 1-4), following the grading criteria ofWJEC.
You will be set essays or assignments that test your research and reading skills as
well as your ability to write under timed conditions.
Deadlines vary depending on the depth and nature of the task. Some essays are
set giving you 2 weeks to read and prepare. Other tasks, such as a
comprehension exercise will be set with a deadline of only a few days.
Feedback on your assignments will usually come in the form of written
comments in a box on the assignment top sheet. Work will be returned as soon
as possible, but will often be commensurate with the time given for the original
assignment or task. Always note comments and grades on your tracking sheet
and use this information for action planning purposes.
Deadlines should always be taken seriously. They provide us with an insight into
your commitment and organisational abilities. Deadlines for production work are
especially important and a failure to meet these could have dramatic
repercussions on your final grade. Generally, teaching staff tend to mark in
batches and late work is given a low priority. If you have a genuine problem
meeting a deadline always see the member of staff concerned well in advance,to
Researchwill be an important part of both the AS and A2 courses. Research is not
difficult but it is time consuming and requires patience. Firstly consider what type of
information you are after and what sort of sources you will research.
Primary sources of information are where you directly collect the data. For example
using a questionnaire, focus group or interview.
Secondary sources of information are those where you are finding data from already
existing locations i.e. books, journals, etc.
Research essentially involves gathering together a body of material from which you
choose useful data to make your argument or show your understanding. This
material will be quotes, facts, statistics and details. These sources of information
Magazines: Sight & Sound is in the library. Check back issues for articles or
reviews which might be useful. If studying a chosen magazine or magazines then
purchase for detailed analysis. Other journals in the LRC may also be useful, so
have a look.
Books: Carry out a comprehensive search of the LRC database to see what titles
might be relevant to what you are researching. Local libraries can also be useful.
For A2 work you may also want to visit the British Film Institute library in London.
See a member of staff for details.
DVD: As well as taking notes from books and journals, you will need to review
video texts in depth. The LRC has a video catalogue telling you exactly what they
have. Extras often provide a wealth of further information.
Television: Always monitor the TV schedules for any programming which may
have a bearing on your work.
IT/Internet: The Internet is of course a potentially huge source of good data. Take
care, however, that you can tell the difference between useful data and mere PR!
Press: As mentioned earlier, the LRC gets a sample of the daily newspapers. The
broadsheets will be particularly useful. See also our twitter feed.
Presentations by you individually, or in a group to the class, have always been a part
of Advanced level work. Presentations can be nerve-racking but are less so if you are
well prepared. This breeds confidence and leaves nothing to chance. Most teachers
make the art of classroom presentation look effortless (hopefully). In reality, good
teachers have developed and learned the techniques of effective presentation giving
which creates learning. Presentations tend to be two main types. One is a stand-up
presentation to the whole class, using visual aids (OHP or video clips). The other is a
smaller seminar group, which may involve a handful of other students and a teacher
as chairperson. This second type of presentation will be more informal, with the
group seated round a table and each student taking turns to present a brief report
on the subject under discussion.
Preparation: This is the key to success and getting this bit right will generally lead to
a highly effective and professional presentation. Thinking about the presentation
and what information you want your audience to receive is the starting point. Then
you need to script your talk, not word for word but as a general set of headings.
Then identify the following:
Timing the delivery: How long is my presentation? Segment or sequence your
presentation into smaller blocks that are easier to handle. For instance: introduction,
main argument and finally conclusion or summary. Do not try to cover too much
ground – most presentations provide an overview with some detail. If the
presentation is a group exercise then a running order must be worked out for all
Practice the delivery: No individual or group presentation should take place for the
first time in front of its intended audience. Always rehearse or run through your
presentation to ensure it sounds right and goes according to plan. Small errors or
problems will be spotted and rectified. It is also a good chance to test your own voice
and how to project it. You can also use cue cards if reading a detailed script is
difficult. A group presentation should be co-ordinated by a designated anchor
person to link all the separate elements.
Aids & Materials: Leave nothing to chance. Prepare your script/notes and ensure
Power points are ready and clips embeddedin the right place. Text on a power point
presentation should never too dense nothing less that point 14 or 16. Use power
points as a supporting device – do not just put them up and expect them to do the
work for you. Use bullet points, for example, and elaborate on what they suggest
through your lecture.
The Presentation: For the presentation itself you should consider some of the
Classroom management means how you want the room set out. Do you wish the
audience to remain behind their desks or sitting in a semi circle? Do you need a flip
chart? Where do you want the OHP? All the geographical aspects of presentation
should be set up before you begin.
Body language ¶linguistics cover the way you present yourself. Don’t be
apologetic about your presentation. Be confident and enthusiastic, you’ll find this
has an impact on your audience. Involve the audience, make eye contact and smile.
Keep your head up and stand up straight – otherwise the audience will conclude you
are not interested in what you are saying. The intonation, speed and pitch of your
voice are all important to a good presentation (this is called paralinguistics). Use your
natural voice (don’t shout) and modulate it to emphasise the points you want to
make. Remember being nervous can make you rush, so take a deep breath and pace
your self evenly.
Use of language is important, as you will be trying to convey specific concepts or
arguments to your audience using subject-specific terms. Don’t mumble, stare at the
sheet of paper in front of you and fiddle with your keys – these are all guaranteed to
turn off an audience. Be clear and concise and try not to waffle.
Inviting questions is crucial. Ensure you do not simply give a lecture, by asking
questions or encouraging a discussion at the end of your presentation. Use the
summary at the end of your presentation to set up a brief Q & A session.
Planning your studies is the last area where we can provide you with useful tips and
There are no tricks that can make the serious investigation of a subject (no matter
how interesting to you) really easy. What you can aim to do is to make the effort you
do put in most effective. It is useful to identify both short and long term goals that
can give urgency to your work e.g.
“I want to study this because….”
“I need to produce an essay by…”
“I intend to read… this week”
The key of course is good time-management. You will be less anxious and more
confident if you plan in advance what you intend to achieve in the next day, week or
month. You should stick to your plans, modifying them only for really good reasons.
Realise you may need to sacrifice some short term pleasures for long term success.
Three key areas will improve your experience of doing A levels.
You will enjoy your studies more if you open your mind to new and often
conflicting ideas and experiences. Media and film studies challenge much of the
received opinions you will have about the world and get you to question the
nature of your own position.
Ask, read and write about questions and issues that may not have obvious
Look for the principles and basic unifying ideas in a subject.
Establish links between new subject matter and your own practical experience of
Each time a new subject is introduced, decide how much of your private study
time will be needed to deal with it.
Obtain and use a diary to help you plan and structure your studies. The college
via the student association usefully provides one.
Create a daily and weekly job list, so you can effectively use your time and ensure
you complete tasks. This will obviously be updated regularly and provides you
with a sense of purpose.
Try to study regularly. This can be in both long and short bursts. Different tasks
require different levels of concentration. Tackle the toughest jobs when you are
at your best.
Make a note – mentally or otherwise - of what you hope to achieve in a session.
At the end review your progress and whether you have met your aims. If not
consider how you can change things to ensure you do not fall behind.
Leave enough time for other things. Too much study is as bad as too little.
Getting the balance right is the key. Don’t let your studies grind you down.
Maintaining concentration in a study session is vital. Force yourself to keep going
wherever you can but make sure you take regular breaks to keep you mentally
alert. Work for half an hour or 45 minutes at a time before you take a break.
Where to study
Decide which is the best place for you – free from distraction. Choices include
home, college, public library, or friends’ house, amongst others. Many students
find the LRC too noisy. The library itself is the most useful quiet area.
Try to study in the same place once you are comfortable with it. This creates the
right ‘habit of learning’ environment for you.
Try to study at a table. Armchairs, sofas and so forth can be too comfortable and
will break your concentration. A table allows you to spread out books, papers,
etc and get an overview.
Avoid an environment that is too warm – this will make you drowsy and unable
to perform work tasks.
Lastly, ensure friends and parents know when your main study periods are so
you are not interrupted. At college try to stick to times when you want to study
and let your friends know this.
Homework Policy – Park A Level Media and Film Studies
Here are some key pointers for parents and students regarding our expectations of
students and an overview of the service we provide.
A Level study is demanding and requires considerable input and hard work
from students outside of their lessons. It can mean up to 3-5 hours per week,
equivalent of the contact time for the course.
Any student not prepared to put in time and effort in private study should
not enrol on these courses.
Private study or homework is a key component of the courses that are
offered and there is an expectation and requirement from teachers in film
and media studies that students will complete work set as well as work
required for coursework.
Unlike your experience of GCSE perhaps, there is a focus at A level on quality
and not quantity. You will be set approximately 2-3 graded pieces (depending
on circumstances and at the disgression of teaching staff) across the autumn
term and perhaps 1-2 pieces in the spring summer term after the key
coursework phase. These graded pieces, which are not formal coursework,
help us to identify the level you are working at in relation to your MTG, and
provide a grade prediction for UCAS purposes.
These graded pieces may take a number of forms: traditional essays, textual
analysis, research projects or comprehension based questions. In virtually all
circumstances we will apply the WJEC A level grading criteria, which are laid
out in the syllabus (see iLearn) and on the reverse of the assignment top
sheets provided for each assignment.
Other than graded assignments, students will be expected to complete
research and other work associated with their coursework module in their
own time, over the entire period of the year, but with special emphasis on
the autumn and spring terms (November to March). During this period the
department will set little traditional graded work for obvious reasons.
The department and its staff set great store by the submission of work to the
deadlines set by staff. Students who fail to meet deadlines or complete work
to an appropriate standard are likely to be referred to their tutors quickly.
Unless students have legitimate reasons for not meeting deadlines then they
will be helped to consider their options for success on the course. If they are
incapable of fulfilling the requirements and expectations of the course,
having been given advice and guidance, then they can expect to be asked to
leave the course as soon as possible.
The department prioritises work handed in on time and to deadline and will
attempt to return this work marked to students within an appropriate
timeframe based on the scope, scale and complexity of the task set, as well
as the volume of essays set and returned. The department and its staff place
a low priority on work handed in late, and students and parents should
recognise that it will not be marked and returned as quickly. Staff mark in
batches and late work will always tend to fall outside of this system.
Work not handed in with an assignment top sheet or not presented in the
manner required by the department will be returned to the students until
this is done correctly (appended word count, proper use of grammar and
sentence/paragraph conventions, for example)
IF YOU HAVE A QUERY WITH ANY OF THIS POLICY PLEASE DON’T HESITATE TO