How to Approach AS Unseen Analysis
You will be asked a number of questions based on a previously unseen media text. The questions asked can vary but the approach to the
exam should be the same as the exam requires students to apply their knowledge and understanding of the media concepts in order to
analyse and evaluate a media text.
The aims of this factsheet are:
• To focus on the identification of media concepts and how to use them to respond to the unseen analysis question.
• To consider the relationships between media concepts
• To offer a method of ‘questioning’ any media text which will raise issues that can be used to evaluate the given text
What are the examiners looking for?
• Analysis and evaluation skills (NOT description) - your ability
to evaluate reasons for or the effects of the media language
choices made in the construction of the text
• An engagement on the issues raised in the text (via media
• Understanding of the appropriate media concepts and their
application to the media text
• Justified and validated responses (NOT just personal opinion)
using specific textual references
• Critical autonomy
• Clear and fluent communication
The ‘tools’ needed to help you undertake an analysis are the media
concepts. In the exam the questions will focus on particular issues
raised by specific concepts.
What can you expect in the exam?
The questions in the unseen analysis section of the same are always
roughly the same and you will be expected to use media concepts
analyse the text provided. The texts could be any mass media
••••• Moving Image: e.g.
o Cinema Trailer
o News broadcast
o Extract from fictional text (film or broadcast fiction)
o Extract from any form of entertainment programming
••••• Paper Based: e.g.
o Newspapers (local or national)
••••• E-media: e.g.
o An extract from a web site
o Screen shots or sequences from a game
o A pod-cast
There are seven media concepts. Name them and provide a basic definition for each one. Complete the table by noting down any
specific terms you have learnt related to these concepts.
Crop, Pan, Anchorage, Headline…
Binary Opposition, Enigma Code…
Institution: The business issues influencing a text’s construction.
Ideology: The ideas and values contained within a media text
034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies
Many students ‘know’ their media concepts but don’t show how
they are related to each other in an exam response. Higher grades
are possible when links between media concepts are shown in an
Usually when analysing a text the first place we start is considering
the media language but have you considered that…
• Institutional factors such as the budget available will affect ML
• Certain genres have codes that need to be replicated and so ML
choices are limited?
• Representations are an outcome of ML choices?
• Narrative information is given via ML?
• Often the target audience influences ML choices?
• Ideologies are created through the way ML choices are used?
Each awarding body has an unseen analysis assessment in the
exam. However, the questions in the exam will be focussed on
specific aspects of the texts provided and named media concepts.
Always ensure you read the questions carefully and respond to
what is being asked but consider how the media concepts relate
to one another in your answer.
Exam Hint:- In the WJEC specimen paper there is a question
which asks you to consider the target audience for a magazine
based on its front cover. A detailed answer to this question
would consider how the media language creates
representations and values which are attempting to appeal to
particular people. In addition, the magazine will be following
recognisable genre codes and creating narrative enigmas which
will appeal and attract the target audience – fulfilling
expectations and offering new experiences.
This is one of the promotional posters for Spiderman 3 (2007: dir. S. Raimi)
The Spiderman on the left is wearing his recognisable red and blue suit.
However, on the right Spiderman wears a black suit with silver-grey detail.
The sky in the background is golden.
Note down the media language choices made in the construction of this
Media language choices made?
If we accept that all media language choices have been made on purpose, then you need to consider WHY they have been made.
Considering WHY is the most important part of analysing any text…
• WHY have those words been used and not others?
• WHY have those colours been chosen?
• WHY has the layout been presented this way?
• WHY has this information been provided?
6. Complete the following table for some of your observations
The answer to WHY is always a media concept issue (or several)
For Example: One image of Spiderman shows him in the traditional
red and blue suit. Why?
is red and blue
This acts as a
This is the
The colours are
positive – they
also reflect the
as this is what
The idea of ‘hero’
and America is
him as the
034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies
1. Make a table based on the one above and try to make a
number of different media concepts points about 5 or 6 of
your observations on the poster. You may not necessarily
be able to complete each row but you should aim to get at
least 3 or 4 media concepts comments per observation.
2. Put these answers in the table matching up with an
appropriate aspect of the media language chosen. These
statements answer the question ‘why’ for various media
language choices – some for more than one.
••••• ?…creates the idea of conflict within the narrative
••••• ?…helps identify the film as being within the superhero
••••• ?…creates a sense of anticipation for the audience
••••• ?…links the hero with being American
••••• ?…provides a geographical marker identifying New York
as the setting for the film
••••• ?…informs the audience of the nature of the conflict within
••••• ?…represents the tone of the film as being ominous
••••• ?…is used as it is assumed the audience is familiar with
the series of films
••••• ?…connotes sunset and reinforces the representation of
the film as being dark
••••• ?…connotes a familiar urban location
The Function of the Text
Another important way to consider what a text is doing is to work
out what it is trying to achieve and to then identify how it is trying
to meet its function.
Media language choices are always made to attempt to meet the
perceived functions of any media text so, the simple answer to the
question, ‘Why are the media language choices made this way?’ is
‘to meet the text’s functions’.
Media texts have many functions. Even something as basic as a
shampoo advert is trying to achieve a number of things.
• To create recognition
• To make the shampoo appealing to the target audience
• To create a positive image for the brand
• To create a unique selling point that makes the brand different
to all the other shampoos available
• To show the actucal benefits of the product
• To imply benefits that go beyond what the product can actually
• To offer the brand as part of a lifestyl
Whilst both of these brands offer the same products – shampoos
and conditioners – their media language choices are very different.
Each one is attempting to create a specific image for the brand and
is trying to meet all the functions above in different ways.This is
crucial with an ‘everyday’ product like shampoo as each brand is
competing against the others for customers and each brand offers
the same basic benefit – clean hair.
Back to Spiderman – The Functions of the Spiderman 3 poster
There are just some of the functions of the Spiderman poster.
• To encourage existing fans and new audiences to want to see
the new film
• To reinforce the genre of the film
• To give an indication of the narrative of the new film
• To create the right audience expectations of the film so audiences
are not disappointed
• To identify the themes of the new film to show how it is different
to the previous ones
• To show how the film is similar to the previous ones
034. How toApproachAS UnseenAnalysis Media Studies
Complete these sentences:
1. In order to attract existing fans to go to see the film the
producers of the poster have….
2. Audiences are aware of the genre of the film because the
producers of the poster have …
3. The audience’s expectations of this film are created by the
4. The themes of the film are identified by the use of…
5. The hero and the villain of the film are clearly identified in
the poster because the producers have …
6. The audience know this is a Hollywood Blockbuster because
the poster includes …
7. Spiderman is represented as being…
8. The audience understand the conflict Spiderman will face
in the film because the producers of the poster have…
All media language choices are made consciously and with a
purpose. To do well in this type of assessment you need to show the
examiner you understand the thought process behind the text’s
construction. The skills required are the same for moving image and
paper based texts – the only differences are the types of media
language choices available to the producer.
Once you are clear on these issues you should be able to identify
the reasons for the media language choices made in the text you
are presented with.
Exam Hints:- As you begin your note taking for the unseen
analysis you need to ascertain the following for the text you
are presented with: it would be a good idea to learn these
questions before the exam!
1. What are the functions of the text?
2. What type of text is it?
3. Who is the text aimed at?
4. How does the text attempt to fulfill its functions?
5. How does the text attempt to attract and please the target
Preparing for an Unseen Analysis
If there is no way of knowing what the text will be in the unseen,
the common misconception is that there is no way to prepare for it.
Analysis is a skill and, therefore, good analysis comes with practice
Analysis in media studies needs to use the ‘conceptual framework’
– that framework is the application of media concepts. This means
two things need to be done in preparation
• The media concepts need to be revised and understood fully –
try to learn the terminology that goes with each concept
• You will need to do lots of practice analysing a broad range of
media texts, both moving image and paper based, using media
concepts. Don’t just analyse what you would choose to read
or watch -it is very likely the text in the exam won’t be for a
More Exam Hints:-
• When you begin to make notes on and write your analysis,
consider all seven media concepts and think about the
implications of the representations, narrative techniques,
institutional context and genre codes for every media
language observation you make. Why have these choices
been made? Do not just describe what is there.
• Link the media concepts together in order to create a
reading of the text – don’t list and deal with each one
separately – this will lead to shallow analysis and repetition
o how the representations help identify the target
audience and can provide an ideological reading –
perhaps because of characters’ narrative roles
o how the media language creates narrative markers
which provide a particular set of audience pleasures
o how the genre codes frame audience expectations –
perhaps ideological ones
o how the institutional context may lead to audience
expectations and/or have particular ideological
• Use technical terms for media language and give concrete
examples from the text
• Use specialist terminology for your media concept
discussion to show you have studied the subject and are not
just applying your general knowledge and/or common sense
• Don’t panic if you are given a text you are unfamiliar with
– it shouldn’t matter if you have prepared a broad range of
texts... your media concept knowledge and analysis skills
should be transferable to any media form or genre.
Acknowledgements: This Media Studies Factsheet was researched and written by Steph Hendry
Curriculum Press. Bank House, 105 King Street, Wellington, TF1 1NU. Media Factsheets may be copied free of charge by teaching staff or students,
provided that their school is a registered subscriber. No part of these Factsheets may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any
other form or by any other means, without the prior permission of the publisher. ISSN 1351-5136