MEST1 Investigating Media is a two-hour exam, worth 80
marks and is 50% of the AQA AS Media Studies
It comprises two distinctly different sections –
Section A: Text, Concepts and Contexts with 4 short
answer 12 mark questions based on stimulus material
(either static image or audio-visual).
Section B is called Cross Media Study and comprises a
choice between two 32 mark more essay based questions.
Students are advised to spend 1 hr. 15 minutes on Section
A and 45 minutes on Section B.
• MEST1 Section A question areas are predictable but only
in the concept they explore andall are linked to the stimulus:
• Media Forms incl. Genre: e.g. conventions and narrative, use
of media language including technical language and mise-enscene, how the sequence is constructed to engage audiences
(techniques), form and style.
• Representation: linking with challenging or reinforcing
stereotypes e.g. representation of technology, celebrity, family,
realism, place, gender, national identity, ethnicity, age, social
class, sexuality, ability/disability…how the construction
evidences the representation. Again, as is in Media Forms
(media language) the correct application of representation
media language/terminology is required.
• Media Institution: e.g. branding to audiences and brand
image (popular question), characteristics of a particular
institution, production and distribution, issues of
ownership, use of digital technology, originality and
innovation, critical and commercial success, independent
v mainstream, regulation, advertising…
• Audiences: e.g. targeting, audience appeals or
pleasures, communicating values or ideologies, audience
positioning, range of audience readings and theory, viral
marketing, the language of persuasion…
• Stimulus material can be static image but in the last 3
years audio-visual stimulus has been preferred apart from
the January 2012 MEST1 paper which used the front
cover of iNewspaper with questions on how design
appealed to potential readers, audiences
appeals, representation of news and entertainment and
branding in an age of online news. Reference to existing
theory is also required in Section A, particularly relating to
Genre, Representation and Audiences
• Stimulus will normally be drawn from anytime up to 3
years before the date of the exam.
• The order of the above questions will sometimes change
e.g. Institution question first and not Media Forms but
all 4 concepts will be explored and order or questions
should not concern students.
• Moving image stimulus can mean anything from a film
opening/closing sequence, a key scene or a trailer,
television sequences either opening or closing or a
chosen scene from any genre piece. It could be a viral,
radio, or television advertisement, a corporate media
promotional advert, an online short film, a radio sequence,
music video or video game trailer. The length of the clip
will normally be between 1 and 2 minutes, occasionally
over and played 3 times reflecting the need to allow
students enough time to answer the questions.
Approaches to responding to the stimulus material vary
but fundamentally students need to make notes between
viewings in response to all four Section A questions.
• Static image or print stimulus material means that
students have slightly longer to answer each Section A
question and have the stimulus material in front of them
for the whole exam. Static images can include a
newspaper front cover, printed advert (with context),
magazine cover, feature or double page spread, printed
website, film poster, DVD jacket, piece of photojournalism
or citizen journalism, printed social networking page or
blog or piece of promotional material – the range of
potential static image stimulus is significant.
• The Cross Media Study represents a much less ‘teacher
taught’ section of MEST1.
• The following question areas have been explored by AQA in the past and
the list also includes other potential areas of questioning identified in the
Linking between platforms – audiences and intertextuality, promotion, revenue
generation including relationships with advertising.
Advantages and disadvantages of each media platform, techniques used to
attract and maintain audiences.
The impact of synergy across platforms.
Different Narrative and Genre functions across platforms.
The role of the audience in creating and shaping media output across platforms
(representation of audience and institution – ownership and control).
How audiences use and respond to media products from different media
How institutions respond to change e.g. new digital technology across platforms.
How audiences respond to changes in digital technology e.g. interactivity.
Institutions and Platforms – equal/unequal presence and why media products
have more of a presence on some platforms than others.
Issues of regulation across platforms.
Examples of cross-media studies
Music Industry Promotion and Marketing
• Moving Image Platform: Studying Music Videos - 4 or 5
key texts both independent and mainstream
e.g. Wrecking Ball (Cyrus), Bound
2 (West), Roar (Perry).
• Print Platform: Researching 4 or 5 music magazines,
independent and mainstream e.g. Q, KERRANG!, Hip
Hop Connection, The Wire.
• E Media: Studying Music industry websites and viral
e.g.www.drownedinsound.com, www.katyperry.com, www.
always-miley.org (fan site)
Examples of cross-media studies
Film Industry Distribution and Exchange
• Moving Image: Studying film – 4 or 5 key
texts, independent and mainstream e.g. Star Trek into
Darkness, Skyfall, Tomb Raider (2013), The Selfish
Giant, The Double.
• Print Platform: Studying film posters (the
above), Empire, Sight & Sound magazine.
• E Media: Studying video games e.g. Tomb
Raider and Skyfall, LOVEFILM, Netflix,MUBI, YouTube/
Examples of cross-media studies
Other Cross Media Study Topics
• Lifestyle Media across platforms
e.g. Heat, Reveal, Loose Women, X Factor, Angry
Birds, FarmVille, Eastenders…
• News Media across platforms e.g. BBC News 24, Sky
News, The Guardian,iNewspaper, BBC News/Sky
News apps and websites, citizen journalism, Twitter news
• MEST1: Section A requires limited, but evidential
reference to existing theory within the framework of short,
12 mark questions while Section B would benefit from at
least two references to existing theory. These references
would elaborate on how the theory relates to the specific
question area, and how it can be applied across platforms
– the question area will be the guide on what theory to
Media Forms incl. Genre and Narrative
• Todorov – four act narrative structure (Equilibrium,
Disruption, Resolution, New Equilibrium)
• Propp – 8 character roles (limited application, only
• Blumler and Katz – Uses and Gratifications theory
(Surveillance, Diversion, Personal Identity, Personal
• Katz and Lazarsfeld – Two Step Flow (opinion leaders
taking messages on)
• Adorno/Frankfurt School – Hypodermic Syringe.
Audiences are passive (negatively affected without
challenging media output).
• Levi-Strauss – dominant v subordinate representations
Institution and Cross Media Study
• Michael Wesch – YouTube as cultural phenomenon
• Nick Lacey – Synergy