A2 Media Studies 2009/10
Unit G325 Section B
Critical Perspectives in Media
Contemporary Media Issues
Introduction to the Exam
Introduction to Section B of the Exam
G325 - Critical Perspectives in Media
Section B: Introduction to Contemporary Media Issues
The whole exam paper covers two areas of your media course:
Section A - Theoretical Evaluation of Production alongside a study of a
Contemporary Media Issue in Section B.
In Section A, you describe and evaluate your skills development in your own
production work and then select your A2 production to evaluate in relation to a media
concept (50 marks)
In Section B, you choose one topic and then demonstrate your understanding of a
contemporary issue through a range of texts, institutions, audiences and debates (50
This unit is externally marked in a two hour exam.
This booklet prepares you for Section B of the exam.
Section B: Contemporary Media Issues (1 hour)
The purpose of the exam is to assess your knowledge and understanding of media
concepts, contexts and critical debates, through your understanding of one
contemporary media issue and your ability to evaluate your own coursework in
reflective and theoretical ways.
In order for you to be best prepared for the exam, you will prepare for Section A
alongside your coursework by keeping a blog that records your creative development
– more on that, elsewhere…
As already mentioned there are two sections to this paper:
Section A: Theoretical Evaluation of Production (50 marks)
Section B: Contemporary Media Issues (50 marks)
The whole examination is two hours long. Section B requires you to spend 60 minutes
answering one question from a choice of six topic areas with two questions on each
The exam is marked out of a total of 100, with the questions on media theory marked
out of 50.
Introduction to the Topic Areas
The topic areas require understanding of contemporary media texts, industries,
audiences and debates. One question needs to be answered from a choice of six topic
areas. There will be two questions from each topic area.
You must choose one topic area, in advance of the examination and, through specific
case studies, texts, debates and research of your choice, prepare to demonstrate
understanding of the contemporary issue.
This understanding must combine knowledge of at least two media (e.g. films and
TV, or video games and the Internet) and a range of texts, industries, audiences and
debates, but these are to be selected for you.
In your preparation there should be emphasis on the historical, the contemporary and
the future in relation to the chosen topic, with most attention on the present.
You must study material for this unit that is up to date and relevant. You may choose
to focus on one of the following contemporary media issues:
1. Contemporary Media Regulation
2. Global Media
3. Media and Collective Identity
4. Media in the Online Age
5. Post-modern Media
6. ‘We Media’ and Democracy
The main topic area you will be studying in 2009/10 will be:
5. Postmodern Media
The questions in the exam will be generic, allowing for the broadest possible range of
responses within the topic area. You must be prepared to answer an exam question
that relates to one or more of the four prompts listed later.
In the exam you might explore how post-modern media relate to genre and narrative
across two media, computer / video games and new forms of representation, post-
modern cinema, interactive media, reality TV, music video, advertising, post-modern
audience theories, aspects of globalisation, parody and pastiche in media texts or a
range of other applications of post-modern media theory.
Here’s an example of a couple of specimen exam questions you could choose from:
10. Discuss two or more media texts that you would define as
‘postmodern’ and explain why you would give them this label.
Cover at least two media in your answer. 
11. Consider the ways in which postmodern media challenge
conventional relations between audience and text. Refer to at
least two media forms in your answer. 
For question 10 – an A grade response will be characterised by detailed reference to a
variety of texts and accurate application of different definitions of postmodernity. For
question 11, a high level essay will be characterised by detailed reference to several
texts and the application of definitions of postmodernity to the role of the active
Remember, in our study of this topic there should be emphasis on the historical, the
contemporary and the future, with most attention on the present.
a. Historical – you must summarise the
development of the media forms in question
in theoretical contexts.
b. Contemporary – current issues within the
c. Future – you must demonstrate personal
engagement with debates about the future of
the media forms / issues that the topic relates
You will need to offer a balance of media theories,
knowledge of texts and industries and personal
engagement with issues and debates. For example,
during our study of cinema you will need to discuss theories of postmodernism in
relation to films like The Matrix (1999) or Blade Runner (1982).
You’ll need to consider texts from video games, postmodern cinema, interactive
media, reality TV, music video, advertising, parody and pastiche in media texts or a
range of other applications of postmodern media theory.
As an example - studying computer games you will need to consider the status of
games as post-modern in relation to their subversion of traditional text-reader
relations, discuss the avatar (embodiment of the player in character form onscreen) in
terms of how this might challenge a traditional understanding of media representation.
To cover the historical, contemporary and future perspectives, you will need to study
the history of computer games as a media form, the current industry and
contemporary theories / debates, and perspectives on the future of gaming in terms of
players, designers and industries.
In particular Post-modern Media asks you to understand the following specifics:
I. What are the different versions of post-modernism (historical period, style,
II. What are the arguments for and against understanding some forms of media as
III. How do post-modern media texts challenge traditional text-reader relations and
the concept of representation?
IV. In what ways do media audiences and industries operate differently in a post-
When writing about two media, it is not necessary to devote exactly half of the time to
each one. One may be more significant than the other. For example, for Post-modern
Media, you might spend most of your time writing about post-modern films and
videos, and a shorter chunk of your essay might be devoted to the development of
post-modernism on the small screen. However, whichever way you choose to
construct your answer, you will gain extra marks for comparing, linking and
contrasting at least two media, rather than writing about them separately.
Postmodern as a temporal change – e.g. web 2.0 as postmodern as the consumer and
producer are mixed up.
Postmodern techniques in creating media – e.g. the films of Tarantino or Michael
Winterbottom or the Cadbury adverts.
Postmodern themes / subject matter – e.g. The Wire
The idea of hyper-reality so the distinction between reality and media representation
is blurred – e.g. images of 9/11, 24 hour new media in general
Videogames as postmodern media because the text only exists when the 'audience' use
I've taken historical period to be about the social and cultural
changes that occurred between the late 60's and early 90's as a
rejection of the importance of cultural cannon and cynicism around
authority. For style I've understand this as the distinguishing
features of a product that would be consider postmodern - such as the
use of intertextuality, irony or the deliberate blurring of the lines
between fiction and reality. For theorectical approaches I've looked
at key theorist, such as Baudrillard, whose ideas have come to define
postmodenist thinking. I can recommend Christopher Butler's book
'Postmodernism A Very Short Introduction' for a look at postmodernism
that provides an easily digestible account of postmodernism as a
cultural and social movement.
10 What is meant by ‘postmodern media’? 
11 Explain why the idea of ‘postmodern media’ might be considered controversial.