Non-exam assessment (NEA)

The NEA element requires students to:
  • apply their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media studies to create a media product using one of the following forms:
    • television
    • music video
    • radio
    • newspapers
    • magazines
    • advertising/marketing
    • online, social and participatory media
    • video games
  • communicate meaning to an intended audience.

The briefs

To complete the NEA, students must independently create a cross-media production in response to a brief set by AQA. AQA will release six briefs on 1 March in the year preceding the exam via Secure Key Materials. These briefs will change annually. The briefs will be linked to the A-level Media Studies CSPs. AQA will specify the media form and the intended audience for the media products. The media products that are devised and realised by the student must communicate meaning to a specified audience, draw on what they know and understand about the theoretical framework of media studies and demonstrate understanding of the digitally convergent nature of media products.

Three of the briefs will comprise one of the products from the AS level NEA and an extra product. There will also be three new briefs. Students should not begin their NEA until the second year of the course and they have considered all of the briefs. If students begin the NEA in the first year before they have seen the full A level brief, they are likely to self-penalise as they will miss opportunities to consider how the two products are interrelated and exploit opportunities for digital convergence.

The Marking criteria detail what students will be expected to demonstrate and provide evidence of when completing the NEA task. Additional task-specific content will be issued with each of the briefs. Please refer to Non-exam assessment administration for more information about the instructions for conducting the NEA.

The Statement of Intent

Students must complete a Statement of Intent that outlines how they have applied their knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework to their media product. This must be submitted to AQA with the media product.

This Statement of Intent should be a maximum of 500 words long and it should be submitted to the teacher no later than 1 April in the year of assessment. The template for the Statement of Intent will be supplied by AQA in the NEA Student Booklet along with the briefs.

Size and duration of products

Each brief will specify the required length, amount or duration of the media product that must be created.

Unassessed participants

Students must complete an individual cross-media production. Students may, however, use unassessed participants to:
  • appear in their media products
  • operate equipment under the direction of the assessed student.

All unassessed participants involved in the products must be listed on the Candidate Record Form (CRF). Assessed students can only be credited for work they have undertaken themselves or has been completed under their direction. Students and teachers will be required to sign the CRF to confirm that this is the case.

Credit can only be given for contributions made by unassessed participants under the clear direction of the assessed student. Details of what each of the unassessed participants contributed to the product and how the assessed student directed that contribution should be listed on the Candidate Record Form.

Time spent on NEA

There is no limit to the amount of time that students can spend on their NEA but we recommend they spend around 30 hours on the physical creation of their products. It should be noted that excessive time spent on this component in the classroom could be detrimental to the overall attainment of the students. Teachers should strike a balance between the completion of the NEA and preparation for the examined components. Additionally, demonstration of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework is key to success in the NEA so time spent teaching the framework will inform the development of the NEA products.

Use of non-original material

With the exception of musical performances, students should not use any non-original material in their media products. All images, footage and text is to be created by the student. If a student does use any non-original images, footage or text, they should be aware that their marks will be limited by the marking criteria (see Guidance on applying the marking criteria). They must acknowledge any non-original material on the Candidate Record Form.

Students do not have to write and record their own musical performances, either to use as part of a soundtrack or in a music video. Musical tracks that they use should be acknowledged on the Candidate Record Form.

Websites and video games

For briefs where website or video game creation is required, students do not need to be able to code. Students can use website design apps, online templates and game design software. Students are responsible for the design of the website or game and the content (such as language, images, audio-visual material) must be created by the student. Students must acknowledge any software or templates which have been used on the appropriate Candidate Record Form.

Marking criteria

Guidance on applying the marking criteria

Level of response marking instructions are broken down into levels, each of which has a descriptor. The descriptor for the level shows the average performance for the level.

Before you apply the mark scheme to a student’s media product, review the product and annotate it and/or make notes on it to show the qualities that are being looked for. You can then apply the marking criteria.

Start at the lowest level of the marking criteria and use it as a ladder to see whether the product meets the descriptor for that level. The descriptor for the level indicates the different qualities that might be seen in the student’s product for that level. If it meets the lowest level then go to the next one and decide if it meets this level, and so on, until you have a match between the level descriptor and the product.

You can compare your student’s product with the standardisation examples to determine if it is the same standard, better or worse.

When assigning a level you should look at the overall quality of the product. If the product covers different aspects of different levels of the mark scheme you should use a best fit approach for defining the level and then use the variability of the product to help decide the mark within the level, ie if the product is predominantly level 3 with a small amount of level 4 material it would be placed in level 3 but be awarded a mark near the top of the level because of the level 4 content.

You should mark the cross-media production using a holistic approach. The following list offers some guidance about how to apply the criteria across the two products:
  • Level 5: Both products within the cross-media brief are completed to an equal standard.
  • Level 4: Both products within the cross-media brief are be completed to a generally equal standard, although one product may be slightly better than the other.
  • Level 3: Both products within the cross-media brief are be completed, but one product may be better than the other.
  • Level 2: Both products within the cross-media brief are attempted, but one product may be significantly better than the other.
  • Level 1: Only one of the cross-media products may be attempted.

If a student submits a Statement of Intent with no accompanying media products then this should be awarded a mark of zero.

If a student creates an audio-visual product that is longer than the stipulated duration then you should only mark the work that falls within the time limit.

If a student creates a print or online product that exceeds the stipulated length or amount then you should mark all of the pages and only give credit for the best pages up to the number of pages stipulated in the brief.

If a product is shorter than the stipulated size or duration then no penalty is to be applied as the work is likely to be self-penalising – particularly in relation to the Effectiveness and engagement with industry and audience section.

If a student has used any non-original images, footage or text or has failed to clearly demonstrate how they directed the activity of any unassessed participants in the media product then they should not be awarded marks above Level 2 in the Effectiveness and engagement with industry and audience section of the marking criteria.

Statement of intent

Students will be expected to complete and submit a statement of intent which includes their interpretation of the brief, the research they have done, how that research has informed their ideas and the strength of the ideas they have developed.

The statement of intent should be submitted to the teacher in April before the submission of the final product. It should then be submitted to the moderator along with the students' final products.

Level Marks Description
5 9–10
  • An outstanding, detailed statement that refers directly and effectively to the intended uses of media language and representations and how these will target the intended audience and reflect the appropriate industry context.
  • The intentions outlined in the statement are consistently appropriate to the brief, target the audience in a direct way and articulate an excellent concept for digitally convergent products.
  • Excellent evidence of the application of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media through extensive and sustained use of subject specific terminology.
4 7–8
  • A detailed statement that demonstrates the intended uses of media language and representations and how these will target the intended audience and reflect the appropriate industry context.
  • The intentions outlined in the statement are almost always appropriate to the brief, target the intended audience and articulate a good concept for digitally convergent products.
  • Good evidence of application of knowledge and understanding of media through frequent use of relevant and accurate subject specific terminology.
3 5–6
  • A clear statement that demonstrates some intended uses of media language and some intended aspects of representation and how these will target the intended audience and reflect the appropriate industry context.
  • The intentions outlined in the statement are generally appropriate to the brief, target the audience in a general way and articulate a concept for products that are linked though not, necessarily, digitally convergent.
  • Satisfactory evidence of the application of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media through some use of relevant subject specific terminology.
2 3–4
  • A statement making only occasional reference to the intended uses of media language and/or occasional aspects of representation and how these will target the audience or the industry context.
  • The intentions outlined in the statement are inconsistently appropriate to the brief, only sometimes target the intended audience and articulates some straightforward links between the products.
  • Basic evidence of the application of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media through very little use of relevant and accurate subject specific terminology.
1 1–2
  • A statement has been submitted.
  • The intentions outlined in the statement are unlikely to be appropriate to the brief, have minimal sense of the intended audience and articulates few, if any, links between the products.
  • Minimal evidence of the application of knowledge and understanding of the theoretical framework of media in which any attempt to use subject specific terminology is likely to be inaccurate.
  0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Media Language

In this section students will be rewarded for the degree of expertise they demonstrate in using media language within the chosen media form.

Level Marks Description
5 13–15
  • Excellent application of knowledge and understanding of media language, demonstrated by the consistently appropriate and effective selection and combination of elements to communicate very clear meanings throughout the products.
  • An excellent cross-media production that constructs very effective narratives and shows deliberate control of connotations and clearly and purposefully constructs points of view that embody values and attitudes.
4 10–12
  • Good application of knowledge and understanding of media language, demonstrated by the frequently appropriate and effective selection and combination of elements to communicate clear meanings throughout the product.
  • A good cross-media production that constructs effective narratives and shows some deliberate control of connotations, though this may not be throughout, and constructs points of view that reflect values and attitudes.
3 7–9
  • Satisfactory application of knowledge and understanding of media language, demonstrated by the generally appropriate but inconsistently effective selection and combination of straightforward elements to communicate generally clear meanings throughout the product.
  • A satisfactory cross-media production that constructs suitable narratives and shows occasional control of connotations but rarely constructs points of view.
2 4–6
  • Basic application of knowledge and understanding of media language, demonstrated by the occasionally appropriate selection and combination of simple elements to communicate basic meanings.
  • A basic cross-media production that constructs simple narratives and shows little awareness of connotations.
1 1–3
  • Minimal application of knowledge and understanding of media language, demonstrated by little appropriate selection and combination of very simple elements to communicate very limited meanings.
  • A minimal cross-media production that shows little awareness of narrative.
  0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Media Representations

In this section students will be rewarded for the degree of expertise they demonstrate in creating and using appropriate representations within the chosen media form.

Level Marks Description
5 13–15
  • Excellent application of knowledge and understanding of media representations, demonstrated by the consistently effective use or subversion of stereotypes and/or stereotypical representations that are highly appropriate to the audience, form and genre.
  • Excellent use of media representations to communicate clear and highly appropriate meanings throughout.
4 10–12
  • Good application of knowledge and understanding of media representations, demonstrated by the frequently effective use or subversion of stereotypes and/or stereotypical representations that are appropriate to the audience, form and genre.
  • Good use of media representations to communicate appropriate meanings throughout.
3 7–9
  • Satisfactory application of knowledge and understanding of media representations, demonstrated by the sometimes effective use or subversion of stereotypes and/or stereotypical representations that are generally appropriate to the audience, form and genre though there are likely to be some inconsistencies.
  • Satisfactory use of media representations to communicate generally appropriate meanings though this is unlikely to be throughout the products.
2 4–6
  • Basic application of knowledge and understanding of media representations, demonstrated by the rarely effective use of stereotypes and/or stereotypical representations that are only occasionally appropriate to the audience, form and genre.
  • Basic use of representations to communicate only occasionally appropriate meanings.
1 1–3
  • Minimal application of knowledge and understanding of media representations, demonstrated by a lack of appropriate use of stereotypes and/or stereotypical representations that are very rarely appropriate to the audience, form and genre.
  • Minimal use of media representations to communicate very little discernible meaning.
  0 Nothing worthy of credit.

Effectiveness and engagement with industry and audience

In this section students will be rewarded for how well their media product communicates meanings, reflect the industry specified in the brief, whether or not they have met the requirements stipulated in the brief and the extent to which they have exploited the potential for digital convergence. Teachers/assessors are to use their professional judgement rather than looking for evidence of testing the product on a live audience.

Level Marks Description
5 17–20
  • An excellent cross-media production that would successfully engage the designated audience by employing a consistently effective and appropriate mode of address throughout.
  • An excellent cross-media production that reflects very clear knowledge and understanding of the media industry through the consistent use of highly appropriate codes and conventions for the specified form, genre and industry.
  • The opportunities for digital convergence are used in a very clear and coherent manner throughout the cross-media production and are consistently effective.
  • Meets all the requirements of the brief and completes all of the tasks fully.
4 13–16
  • A good cross-media production that would interest the designated audience by employing a frequently effective and appropriate mode of address.
  • A good cross-media production that uses generally relevant codes and conventions for the specified form, genre and industry.
  • The opportunities for digital convergence are used in a generally clear manner throughout the cross-media production and are frequently effective.
  • Meets almost all of the requirements of the brief and almost all of the tasks are completed.
3 9–12
  • A satisfactory cross-media production that would be of some interest to the designated audience by employing a sometimes effective and appropriate mode of address throughout.
  • A satisfactory cross-media production that uses some relevant codes and conventions appropriate to the specified form, genre and industry, though with some inconsistency.
  • The opportunities for digital convergence are used in a reasonably clear manner throughout the cross-media production and are sometimes effective.
  • Meets the main requirements of the brief and most of the tasks are completed but some of the details are missing.
2 5–8
  • A basic cross-media production that would only be of occasional interest to the designated audience by employing a mode of address that is only occasionally effective or appropriate.
  • A basic cross-media production that uses codes and conventions of the specified form, genre and industry inconsistently.
  • The opportunities for digital convergence are used inconsistently throughout the cross-media production and are only occasionally effective.
  • Meets some of the requirements of the brief but only a few of the tasks have been completed and the products may fall below the specified lengths/durations.
1 1–4
  • A minimal cross-media production that would be unlikely to interest the designated audience and has little sense of mode of address.
  • A minimal cross-media production that only very rarely uses codes and conventions of the form, genre and industry.
  • The opportunities for digital convergence are used very rarely in the cross-media production and are unlikely to be effective.
  • Meets very few of the requirements of the brief and the products are likely to fall well below the specified lengths/durations.

For marks towards the top of the band these must be, at least, recognisable media products.

  0 Nothing worthy of credit.