AS Media Studies
Guidelines for MS1 following January 2009 examinations
The following guidelines are in response to the experiences of examiners in January
2009 on the new MS1 examination. There were various issues that arose from this
examination – the main one being that the majority of students were under-prepared
to take this examination in January. As indicated in INSETs in 2007 and 2008, this unit
is designed to be taught over the whole AS year and students are likely to build up
their knowledge as the course progresses. It was clear from the examination scripts
seen that many students were adequately prepared and confident with Question 1
which dealt with detailed textual analysis but found the questions that demanded a
more detailed understanding of a range of media texts and concepts more
In approaching this paper students and teachers may find the following points helpful:
• This will always focus on textual analysis and will test the students' ability to analyse
a media text in detail using appropriate language.
• Students must be able not only to recognise a camera angle or a layout technique
etc. but also to examine their purpose and effect. Those students who only describe
are limiting their chances of achieving higher marks.
• Students need to be aware of the genre conventions of a range of forms and formats
as indicated in the specification. They therefore need to be aware of the appropriate
media language associated with a range of specific formats. Checklists related to
specific media areas are useful so that students have a clear idea of what is required.
• Where students are discussing media theories, it is important that they can apply
these to media texts rather than simply ‘name–drop’ them. It is recommended that
students are not prepared in a formulaic way, which tends to result in students
attempting to apply theories where they are not appropriate.
• As some students across the mark range had difficulty with timing – it is essential
that students are given opportunities to analyse texts under timed conditions. As a
guide, approximately 25-30 minutes may be allowed for studying/viewing the
resource material (whether audio-visual or print-based). That leaves students
approximately 45-50 minutes on Question 1 and approximately 35-40 minutes on
Questions 2 and 3.
• Students need help in how to organise their notes during viewing time e.g., through
the use of viewing grids etc. Similarly, students need to be aware that bullet points
are designed to suggest areas to focus on and thus help them structure responses.
(In some cases, students appeared to be unfamiliar with terms like 'narrative' and
• It was evident that students were not spending adequate time examining the stimulus
for print media. As a guide, similar amounts of time should be allocated to exploring
print-based materials as they would devote to moving image resource material (i.e.,
between 25 and 30 minutes). Students do need to be guided on how to make notes
on print-based material. Texts set will be ‘rich’ texts and will demand close analysis.
• The teaching of essay-writing skills to enable students to write coherently and
logically within a structure is essential. This is likely to help students express their
ideas within a media studies framework. It should be obvious that they have some
media knowledge! Bullet-pointed responses are not acceptable as a complete
The focus of Question 2 can be either representation or audience and this question may
be stepped. It is important that students take note of the mark allocation of the various parts
of the question and relate this to the length of their answers.
If audience is the focus they will be expected to:
• discuss an audience/more than one audience for the media texts and
appreciate that texts may be ‘read’ in different ways by different audiences
• analyse the stimulus material in detail for the earlier parts of the question.
• be aware of the issues related to a study of audience and be able to apply
these to specific examples.
In preparation for the range of questions that may be asked in relation to audiences,
students also need to be aware of:
• the different ways in which audiences can be described
• how texts construct and position audiences
• how different audiences respond to, use and interpret media texts.
• how different audiences can respond to the same media text and how that
response can be analysed
If representation is the focus they will be expected to:
• recognise and analyse representations evident in the stimulus material
• demonstrate an understanding of the concept of representation and its
importance in analysing and understanding media texts.
• develop their response beyond a description of simple representations
• be aware of the more complex issues underpinning a discussion of
representation e.g. issues surrounding stereotypes, construction, mediation
• In the final part of question 2, students will be asked to refer to their own examples.
It is suggested that students discuss approximately 2/3 detailed examples relevant
to the question and covering more than one media form or format. Downloading of
opinion and generalised examples e.g. ‘newspapers offer negative representations of
youth’ should be avoided.
• Students must not rely on the stimulus material for this part of the question
The focus for Question 3 will be either representation or audience depending on the
area set for question 2. Students will be expected to explore 2/3 of their own examples
If representation is the focus, they will explore how the social group or event/issue is
represented across a range of media texts and forms/formats. Exploring how a social group
or event/issue is represented 'in the media’ does involve considering more than one form or
format (e.g. magazines, films, computer games etc). Specific, detailed examples need to be
referred to. For example, an exploration of representations of youth in the media could
include an analysis of:
• a television programme e.g. Waterloo Road
• a teenage magazine e.g. Sugar
• a local newspaper.
Students may explore the presentation and construction of, for example, characters and
images, considering the role of language, mode of address and narrative etc. in creating
If audience is the focus, they will use 2/3 of their own detailed examples to consider, for
• how audiences are attracted to texts
• what affects the way in which different audiences respond to texts
• how texts construct and position audiences
• how theories can help to understand audience responses, where appropriate.