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Media Studies A level at Esher College

Course description

Media Studies is a subject that integrates theoretical and practical approaches. Media Studies involves the close analysis of the images, sounds and text that we experience via the media. It is the study of individual media texts (such as films, TV programmes, magazines, websites, documentaries, music videos, etc.) and, on a wider scale, you will be required to question how the media impact upon contemporary society. It also enables you to develop some practical skills applicable to a range of careers. The specification has been designed in close consultation with industry professionals and academics.

You will be encouraged to engage with a wide range of texts, developing skills of observation, critical analysis and personal reflection, as well as developing your creativity and practical skills in desktop publishing, filmmaking and editing. You will also develop essay writing skills and research skills. Please note that this is not just a practical course; it requires you to think, question and challenge ideas.

Course content

On a theoretical level, you will learn the skills of textual analysis. This will involve deconstructing a wide range of media texts in terms of their technical features and how these features are used to create meanings for a range of audiences.

You will explore and debate how different groups are represented in society. You will consider how ideas about gender, age, ethnicity, national identities etc. are constructed and the reasons for this. You will also explore media coverage of key contemporary events and issues, learning to question and challenge the messages that you receive. As part of this process you will apply a range of academic theories in a critical way to media texts.

The course also encourages you to explore social, cultural, political and historical contexts and how these impact on the way in which media texts are produced and received by audiences. As part of this you will look at a foreign language text, an independently produced text and older texts as well as more mainstream, contemporary pieces.

You will also get the opportunity to show your understanding of the codes and conventions of different media forms, through the practical production of your own coursework materials. This will involve comprehensive research that will inform your designs. The briefs will be set by the exam board each year and might include options like: producing a range of marketing materials for a new TV Drama, including a trailer, or creating a music video and accompanying promotional webpage. 

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement for study at Esher College is 5 GCSEs at A* - C (or 9 – 4 in Maths and English).  We encourage students to aim significantly higher than this to ensure that study programmes are successfully completed.

Aside from the general entry requirements that the College requires, you will also need a grade 4 in GCSE English Language and a sound level of creativity as there is a strong requirement for creative thinking and application with the production work.

If you do not have a grade 4 in either GCSE English Language or Maths and you qualify to follow a study programme at the College, you will be required to retake one or both of these subjects in your first year.  A lack of GCSE English Language at grade 4 will significantly restrict study programme options.


Over the two years, the main assessment will be in the form of examinations but there will still be a creative coursework component (likely to be 20-30% of the final mark).

Future opportunities

With regard to progression, this course does not guarantee a career in the media industry, but many students do go on to read media or film at university. It also provides a good analytical and creative A Level which would support other subjects for university entry. Students who have studied A Level Media Studies have gone on to study a wide variety of subjects at university.

Further information

Please note that this subject is in the process of being reformed. The current information reflects what is known about the new course and further details will be available on the website when the specification (syllabus) has been finalised and published.

How to apply

If you want to apply for this course, you will need to contact Esher College directly.

Last updated date: 12 October 2016
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