Subject content

Structure

Structure

GCSE Media Studies is offered as a two-unit GCSE and a four-unit Double Award

Units 1 and 2 comprise the GCSE, offering a complementary package which provides a useful preparation for units 3 and 4 which combine with units 1 and 2 to make up the Double Award. For both awards pre-production and production skills are fully integrated into both the Controlled Assessments and the External Assessments. Controlled Assessments make up 60% of each award and the External Assessments count for 40%.

Unit 1 is externally assessed and requires candidates to investigate a pre-released media topic and to undertake research and planning in order to respond to four tasks.

Unit 2 comprises three controlled assessments which require candidates to build on their understanding of the media key concepts for their own pre-production planning, leading to a realised production for Assignment 3.

The topic for Unit 1 will change each year and the topics for Unit 2 will be taken from assignment banks that allow for personal choice and flexibility.

For Units 3 and 4, candidates are required to look closely at media industries and practices. The units are complementary.

Unit 3 is externally assessed and is made up of two sections. In Section A, candidates are expected to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of how media industries function, and in Section B to demonstrate application of that knowledge and understanding in response to a related stimulus.

Unit 4 focuses on practical exemplification of candidates' understanding of media industries through a cross-media production response to an industry based brief. The brief is provided by AQA and will change annually.

This qualification lays an appropriate foundation for further study of Media Studies or related subjects, in particular AQA GCE Media Studies. It encourages the development of critical understanding of the impact of mass media and its technologies on contemporary society.

The key concepts, media forms and platforms, skills, assessment objectives and expected learning outcomes are common across all units.

Unit 1 - Investigating the media

Investigating the media

Unit Learning Outcomes


Candidates will be expected to:

AO1

Recall, select and communicate their knowledge and understanding of media products and the contexts in which they are produced and consumed. (10%)

AO3Demonstrate research, planning and presentation skills. (5%)
AO4Construct and evaluate their own products using creative and technical skills. (5%)

The aim of this unit is to enable candidates to develop their critical understanding of the role of mass media in society. This unit is worth 40% of the GCSE and 20% of the Double Award.

This unit is externally assessed. The external assessment takes the form of a one and a half hour examination and is timetabled. Candidates are not permitted to take anything into the examination room except drawing and colouring materials.

The topic for external assessment will change each year and will be advised to centres. Guidance for teachers will be issued on the AQA website twelve months in advance of the examination. The external assessment will take the form of unseen tasks based on the media topic and exemplified in the pre-released stimulus materials.

The external assessment is targeted at the full range of GCSE candidates and thus is not tiered.

Unit Content

The external assessment will take a case study approach and build upon media knowledge and skills developed and demonstrated in Unit 2. Each year the case study will be based on a specific media topic and this will be published annually and posted on the AQA website. The external assessment will take the form of a contextualised simulation and candidates will be expected to respond in role.

The brief will be pre-released four weeks prior to the external assessment date, giving candidates time to research and plan for the examination. Centres must allow candidates time for research and preparation prior to sitting the external assessment. During this time the teacher may advise but formal teaching should cease.

In preparation for the external assessment candidates will be expected to have studied a wide range of examples. Candidates will need to consider aspects of style, presentation, values, audience and representation and show their understanding of the relevant codes and conventions. Candidates need to show awareness of new technologies involved in the production and consumption of the media. Candidates need also to be aware of any current debates and audience issues, as well as issues of bias and representation. Production skills will be expected with candidates showing effective practical skills such as storyboarding, scripting, selection and editing and other design skills appropriate to the topic. Candidates will be expected to spend an equal amount of time on each task.

Unit 2 - Understanding the media

Understanding the media

Unit Learning Outcomes

Candidates will be expected to:

AO2  Analyse and respond to media texts/topics using media key concepts and appropriate terminology. (10%)
AO3 Demonstrate research, planning and presentation skills. (10%)
AO4 Construct and evaluate their own products using creative and technical skills. (10%)

The aim of Unit 2 is for candidates to develop an understanding of how and why media texts are produced as they are. Unit 2 is worth 60% of the GCSE and 30% of the GCSE Double Award.

In Unit 2 candidates will produce one introductory assignment, one assignment that requires candidates to look closely at cross-media platforms which more closely reflects the media industry today and one Practical Production and Evaluation, each chosen from a different bank of assignments.

This unit will be assessed by means of controlled assessment. Centres should note the following:

Each task is specified by AQA. For each assignment candidates must complete one assignment from Assignment Bank 1, one from Assignment Bank 2 and one from Assignment Bank 3. The supervision of candidates by centres must ensure that candidates complete tasks as set by AQA.

Research may be undertaken with limited supervision. Candidates need not be under the direct supervision of staff at all times. However candidates are required to complete all of the work other than research under informal supervision. This means that the centre must ensure that:

  • plagiarism does not take place
  • the sources used by candidates are clearly recorded
  • each candidate's preparation for the final production of the work is his/her own.

Teachers may provide guidance and feedback to candidates and the nature of any guidance and the details of any feedback must be clearly recorded. Candidates may be guided as to the approach they might adopt but the outcome must remain their own. Likewise feedback may evaluate progress to date and propose suggested broad areas for improvement but the detailed correction or annotation of work for feedback purposes is not allowed.

The work of individual candidates may be informed by working with others, for example in undertaking research, but candidates must provide an individual response as part of the task outcome. For Assignments 1 and 2 all work submitted for assessment will be the candidate's own. For Assignment 3, groups of candidates, as explained below, may collaborate in the construction of the media product but their evaluative responses must be their own and their individual contribution clearly identified.

Candidates' access to resources is determined by those available to their centre.

Controlled assessment advisers will be available to provide guidance to centres.

Candidates must produce three assignments, each from a different Assignment Bank. They must cover three discrete media forms/platforms. For instance, work on newspapers for Assignment 1 would prohibit work on newspapers in both Assignment 2 and Assignment 3. In view of this, centres are advised to plan Assignments 1 and 2 with Assignment 3 in mind.

It is anticipated that the assignments will be tackled in chronological order but this is not mandatory. A candidate who joins the course late may be unable to attempt the tasks in sequence and a centre or candidate who chooses to do so may wish to revisit earlier assignments.

No work submitted for Controlled Assessments in Unit 2 may cover the External Assessment topic for Unit 1 for that year. Detailed guidance can be found on the AQA website.

Assignment 1 Introduction to the Media

This assignment aims to introduce candidates to the analysis and interpretation of media texts through the analysis of media language and the application of media terminology and techniques. The consumption of media texts by different audiences should be considered. Understanding will be demonstrated through a pre-production activity.

For Assignment 1, centres will select one assignment from a bank of assignments in Assignment Bank 1. These will be updated periodically and centres will be informed through the AQA website.

Candidates will be required to produce an analysis of one or more texts within a particular medium and provide an explanation of their analysis and pre-production work. The responses to media texts, including explanation, should total approximately 500 - 700 words. Candidates will be expected to engage primarily with the key concepts of media language and audience. They may also discuss representation and institutions.

Working in the same medium, candidates will present a pre-production task. They will need to explain their intentions, with particular reference to their use of media language and how it will appeal to the target audience.

Assignment Bank 1 Introduction to the Media

Topic Analytical Task including Explanation (500-700 words) Research, Planning and Presentation Task
Radio Analyse the opening three minutes of a specific talk based radio show paying particular attention to codes and conventions. How does the show engage the interest of its audience? Prepare a script for a talk based radio show aimed at a specific audience. This could include idents, inserts, bedding music and any other appropriate features.
Moving Image Analyse the opening three minutes of a specific film or television programme. How does the film or programme engage the interest of its audience? Present ideas for the opening of a film or television programme. You can submit ideas in the form of a script for the opening or as a ten frame storyboard using drawings, writing or photographs to represent what is seen on screen.
Advertising and  Marketing Analyse two television or print or viral advertisements. How effective are they in selling their products? Design your own advertisement for a product targeted at a specific audience. For a TV or viral advertisement you can submit ideas in the form of a script or as a ten frame storyboard, using drawings, writing or photographs to represent what is seen on screen. For a print advertisement you should design the advertisement itself.
Print Analyse the front cover or front page of two magazines or two comics or two newspapers. How do the covers/pages engage the interest of their audience? Design the cover for one edition of a magazine or comic or the front page of a newspaper. The publication should be aimed at a specific audience.
Web-based Media Analyse the home pages of two entertainment websites (eg film, music, lifestyle). How does each site engage the interest of its audience? Design a home page for an entertainment website. This must be targeted at a specific audience.
Packaging of DVDs Analyse the DVD covers for two films or television programmes. How does each cover engage the interest of its audience? Design a DVD cover for a film or television programme. This must be targeted at a specific audience.
Promotion of Music Analyse a music video or two CD covers. How do they engage the interest of their audience? Present your own ideas for an extract for a music video for a song aimed at a specific audience or design the front and back cover of a CD aimed at a specific audience. Ideas for a music video should be presented as a ten frame storyboard using drawings, writing or photographs to represent what is seen on screen.
Gaming Analyse the opening of a video game. How does the game engage the interest of its audience? Present ideas for the opening of a new game. This might be presented as a treatment including information about gameplay and game mechanics or as a ten frame storyboard using writing, drawings or images to represent what is seen on screen.

For any assignment chosen, a brief explanation must be included of how the Research, Planning and Presentation Task addresses Media Language and Audience.

Guidance notes

Analytical responses might involve some of the following activities:

  • applying media terminology; considering the effect of media language
  • applying analytical techniques such as denotation and connotation
  • identifying how genre is established
  • discussing how narrative is suggested
  • making judgements about who the target audience might be
  • identifying a possible secondary audience or considering how the product might be consumed.

Responses may be submitted in a variety of formats such as annotations, charts, bullet points, continuous prose, or a combination of any of these.

Assessment Criteria for Unit 2                       Assignment 1                                                                  
Analyse and Respond (AO2 10 marks)
Level 6
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are convincing and effective. Media terminology is used extensively and accurately. A clear understanding of media language and of the consumption of texts by specific audiences is demonstrated. Responses are cogent, concise and well-structured with precise and accurate use of language and arguments clearly supported by evidence.
9-10 marks
Level 5
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are of good quality. Media terminology is used appropriately. A sound understanding is shown of media language and of the role of audiences in the consumption of media texts. Responses are clear, concise and well-organised with generally accurate use of language and evidence used to support points.
7-8 marks
Level 4 
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are satisfactory. Candidates are able to use media terminology occasionally. Some understanding of media language and of the role of audiences in the consumption of media texts is demonstrated. Responses are well-organised with reasonably accurate use of language and arguments are usually supported by evidence.
5-6 marks
Level 3
Candidates show a basic grasp of textual analysis. If an explanation of their pre-production work is offered, comments are likely to be very straight-forward. There is a basic understanding of media language and of how a media product appeals to a particular audience. Responses are reasonably well-organised and points are sometimes supported by evidence.
3-4 marks
Level 2 
Candidates tend to describe media texts and demonstrate limited understanding of forms and conventions. There may be some awareness of media language or of how a media product might appeal to its audience. An attempt has been made to organise responses.
1-2 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks
Research, Planning and Presentation (AO3 5 marks)
Level 6
In their pre-production work candidates demonstrate flair and creativity. They produce work which is convincing, fit for purpose and engaged, would capture the interest of a potential audience and uses many appropriate forms and conventions throughout. Material is presented skilfully.
5 marks
Level 5
In their pre-production work candidates demonstrate competence and a clear understanding of the requirements of the task. Their work is clearly fit for purpose, would be likely to appeal to a potential audience and uses many appropriate forms and conventions. Material is presented effectively.
4 marks
Level 4
In their pre-production work candidates produce a satisfactory response which demonstrates an understanding of the requirements of the task generally. Work is appropriate, might interest a potential audience and mostly uses appropriate forms and conventions. Material is well presented.
3 marks
Level 3
In their pre-production work candidates offer basic responses. Their work shows some understanding and engagement with the task, might have some limited appeal to a potential audience and uses some appropriate forms and conventions. There has been an attempt to present the work appropriately.
2 marks
Level 2
In their pre-production work candidates offer some ideas that are at least partly relevant or appropriate to the task. Some forms and conventions may be employed. Presentation of the material is limited.
1 mark
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks

Assignment 2 Cross-Media Study

This assignment aims to encourage candidates to consider the interdependence of media texts and how producers seek to achieve synergy where a particular text can be seen to appear on different media platforms. The release of a new film, for instance, will result in a media-wide campaign with material generated across different forms such as Television, Magazines, Radio, Newspapers and the Internet. Candidates will be expected to consider the relationship between different forms and how the form itself influences the nature of the product.

Candidates will be required to study a particular topic across two media forms. The key concepts of Representation and Institutions must be addressed while candidates may also engage with other key concepts.

Candidates will study one media topic from Assignment Bank 2. These will be updated periodically. Candidates will submit a response or responses analysing aspects of the two texts from different forms. This will include some consideration of the nature of representations found therein. This analysis and explanation should total approximately 1000 - 1200 words. Working in the same topic area, candidates will present two planning tasks based on a common idea but across different forms and explain how these would deal with issues of representation and institution.

Assignment Bank 2 Cross-media study

Topic Analytical Task including
Explanation (1000-1200 words)
Research, Planning and
Presentation Task
  Analyse a single product as it is presented across two different media platforms. Choose one print or web-based media text and one audio-visual media text. (Not applicable to print topic) Based on your research, plan and prepare two linked media texts. You should choose one print or web-based media text and one audio-visual media text.
Moving Image Promotion

Compare the impact of two promotional methods used by one film or television programme across two different media platforms. Audio visual:

  • a cinema, television, radio or internet trailer
  • a radio or television interview

Print or web-based:

  • a poster
  • a magazine article
  • a web page.

Present your ideas for promoting a film or television programme across two different media platforms. Audio-visual:

  • a ten frame storyboard to represent a trailer appropriate for either cinema, television, radio or internet
  • a script for a radio or television interview

Print or web-based.  A mock-up designs for:

  • a poster
  • a magazine article
  • a web page.
Promotion of Music

Explore the way in which one band or artiste is represented and promoted across two different media platforms. Audio visual:

  • a music video
  • a radio or television interview

Print or web-based:

  • a magazine article
  • a poster advertising a tour
  • a web page
  • the sleeve for a CD or vinyl release.

Present your ideas for promoting a band or artiste across two different media platforms. Audio-visual:

  • a ten frame storyboard of an extract from a music video
  • a script for a radio or television interview

Print or web-based. A mock-up design for:

  • a magazine article
  • a poster advertising a tour
  • a web page
  • a sleeve for a CD or vinyl release.
News

Compare how one news provider offers a service across two different media platforms.

Audio-visual:

  • the opening three minutes of a television news programme
  • a radio news broadcast

Print or web-based:

  • a website home page
  • an app for a mobile device.

Present your ideas for one news service across two different media platforms. Audio-visual:

  • ideas for the opening of a television news programme presented as a ten frame storyboard
  • a script for a radio news broadcast

Print or web-based. A mock-up design for:

  • a website home page
  • an app for a mobile device.
Topic Analytical Task including Explanation (1000-1200 words) Research, Planning and Presentation Task
Print Compare one magazine or newspaper with its on-line equivalent.

Present your ideas for the launch edition of one new magazine or newspaper across two different media platforms. Audio-visual. Devise part of a promotional campaign for the new magazine or newspaper in the form of:

  • a ten frame storyboard for a television advertisement
  • a script for a 30-second radio advertisement

Print or web-based. A mock-up design for:

  • the front cover/front page
  • the internet home page
  • a viral advertisement.
Advertising and Marketing

Compare two advertisements for the same product or service across two different media platforms. Audio-visual:

  • a television or radio advertisement Print or web-based:
  • an advertisement for a magazine, newspaper or billboard
  • a viral advertisement.

Present your ideas for advertising a single product or service across two different media platforms.

Audio-visual:

  • a ten frame storyboard for a television advertisement
  • a script for a 30-second radio advertisement

Print or web-based. A mock-up design for:

  • an advertisement for a magazine, newspaper or billboard
  • a viral advertisement.
Promotion of Gaming

Compare the impact of two promotional methods used in the launch of one game across two different media platforms. Audio-visual:

  • a television advertisement

Print or web-based:

  • a web page
  • a download
  • an advertisement for a magazine, newspaper or billboard
  • a magazine article.

Present your ideas for the launch of one new game across two different media platforms.

Audio-visual:

  • a ten frame storyboard for a television advertisement

Print or web-based. A mock-up design for:

  • a web page
  • a download
  • an advertisement for a magazine, newspaper or billboard
  • a magazine article.

For any Assignment chosen, a brief explanation must be included of how the Research and Planning and Presentation Tasks address Representation and Institutions.

Guidance notes

Analytical tasks will depend on the topic or title chosen but would involve responses to such questions as:

  • what are the typical codes and conventions of the respective media product?
  • what devices and techniques have been used to produce them?
  • how has the product been adapted to suit a particular platform?
  • how would the product appeal to its audience?
  • what audience might that be?
  • what images of people, groups or places are represented?
  • what different production processes have been required?
  • how have the texts been financed, scheduled, produced and/or distributed? 

Research and Planning tasks should be presented as effectively as possible. Candidates must present one print or web-based/new media task and one audio-visual planning task. These will be connected and representative of a cross-media campaign. Candidates should explain in no more than 200 of the 1000 - 1200 words allocated, how their two research, planning and production tasks are connected and how effective they are. They should also comment on how they have addressed representational and institutional issues.

Assessment Criteria for Unit 2                Assignment 2                                                    
Analyse and Respond (AO2 20 marks)
Level 6
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are convincing and effective. Media terminology is used extensively and effectively. The nature and impact of media representation is explored convincingly. There is a convincing and clear understanding and appreciation of institutional aspects of media production. Responses are cogent, concise and well-structured with precise and accurate use of language and arguments clearly supported by evidence.
17-20 marks
Level 5
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are of a good quality. They are able to use media terminology appropriately. Candidates show a sound understanding of issues of media representation and a sound understanding of institutional aspects of media production. Responses are clear, concise and well-organised with generally accurate use of language and evidence used to support points.
13-16 marks
Level 4
Candidates' analyses of media texts and the explanation of their pre-production work are satisfactory. Candidates are able to use media terminology occasionally. Candidates demonstrate some understanding of representation and some understanding of institutional aspects of media production. Responses are well-organised with reasonably accurate use of language and arguments are usually supported by evidence.
9-12 marks
Level 3
Candidates show a basic grasp of textual analysis. If an explanation of their pre-production work is offered, comments are likely to be very straightforward. Candidates show basic understanding of the representations offered by media texts and a basic awareness of institutional aspects of media production. Responses are organised and points are sometimes supported by evidence.
5-8 marks
Level 2
Candidates tend to describe media texts and demonstrate limited understanding of forms and conventions. There may be limited awareness of representations offered by media texts or of institutional aspects of media production. An attempt has been made to organise responses.
1-4 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks
Research, Planning and Presentation (AO3 10 marks
Level 6
In their pre-production work candidates demonstrate flair and creativity. They produce work which is convincing and engaged and uses appropriate forms and conventions throughout. The two responses clearly complement each other. Material is presented skilfully.
9-10 marks
Level 5
In their pre-production work candidates demonstrate competence and a clear understanding of the requirements of the task. Their work is clearly fit for purpose and uses many appropriate forms and conventions. The two responses complement each other. Material is presented effectively.
7-8 marks
Level 4
In their pre-production work candidates produce a satisfactory response which demonstrates an understanding of the requirements of the task. Ideas are apt and mostly use appropriate conventions. There is a recognisable relationship between the two responses. Material is well presented.
5-6 marks

Level 3
In their pre-production work candidates offer basic responses. Their ideas show some understanding and engagement with the task and use some appropriate forms and conventions. Two responses have been offered and a connection between them is evident. There is a basic attempt to present the work appropriately.

3-4 marks
Level 2
In their pre-production work candidates offer some ideas that are at least partly relevant or appropriate to the task. Some forms and conventions may be used. Where two responses have been offered a connection between them may be evident although this may be implicit. Presentation of the material is limited.
1-2 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks

Assignment 3 Practical Production and Evaluation

Candidates are required to undertake a practical production which addresses all four key concepts, from conception to realisation, together with an evaluation of 700-800 words. They will choose one of the following production tasks from Assignment Bank 3. These will be updated periodically.

Candidates may work individually or in small groups (as defined within the task description). If the candidate is working as a member of a group, their individual contribution must be clearly identified as indicated below. Each candidate must submit their own individual evidence of research and planning and their own evaluation.

For all of these productions the aim should be to strike a balance between creativity and the application of appropriate codes and conventions and media language. Original material should be used wherever possible. If found material is used it must be manipulated in a suitable fashion such that the candidate's own creativity is evident. For radio production it is important that candidates adhere to the 'talk-based' brief, but if 'songs' are to be included they should be faded in and out almost immediately in order to give a flavour of the music included without relying on the music to act as a 'filler'.

The timings for audio-visual tasks should be seen as a guide which will help to ensure that productions are concise and that candidates adhere to the relevant codes and convention.

Topic Production Task Collaboration
Moving Image A trailer or opening sequence of approximately two minutes duration for a feature film or television programme aimed at a specific audience. No more than four. Each student should contribute to all stages of the production.
Radio/Sound An audio sample of approximately three minutes for a talk-based radio show aimed at a specific audience. No more than four. Each student should contribute to all stages of the production.
Web based
technologies/
new media
Four pages per student (including the home page) for a website aimed at a specific audience. No more than two students producing four pages each.
Print Four pages per student (including the front cover or front page) for a magazine or newspaper aimed at a specific audience. No more than two students producing four pages each.
Advertising
and Marketing
An advertising campaign realised as either three 30-second television or three 30-second radio advertisements or three full page magazine or billboard advertisements (or a combination of any three). No more than four students should contribute to Audio Visual work. A three page magazine/billboard campaign should be tackled individually. Where a combination is undertaken it is important to ensure that each student should produce or contribute to three advertisements.
Promotion of
Music
A three minute music video to accompany all or part of a particular track or a promotional campaign for a band or artiste consisting of at least three print or web-based advertisements. For moving image work no more than four. Each student should contribute to all stages of the production. For print and web-based campaigns – three advertisements per student.
Gaming A playable demo or first level(s) of a game designed to engage a specific audience. This must include at least two minutes of unique gameplay. No more than two. Each student should contribute to all stages of the production.

Guidance notes

Planning and research

Candidates should plan and research their production thoroughly. Evidence of research into existing products of a similar nature and into their potential audience should be submitted, perhaps in the form of annotated analyses of existing texts, charts, surveys or questionnaires. Candidates will need to submit evidence of planning, perhaps in the form of briefs, sketches, scripts, storyboards, mock-ups, drafts, contact sheets, flat plans etc.

No more than 12 pages of material should be submitted for moderation as evidence of research and planning.

Moving image

For trailers and opening sequences, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • careful framing of shots
  • editing appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to lighting, mise-en-scene and sound.

Codes and conventions could include narration, titles, narrative clues and a selection of fast cuts of different scenes.

Radio/sound

For radio, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • use of an appropriate microphone and/or mixing equipment to ensure that sound is clear and appropriate
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to the selection and sequencing of material.

Radio conventions could include a theme tune, idents, announcements, signposting ('Later in the show…'), flagging ('In the studio I have with me…'), inserts (such as jingles), bedding music and sound effects.

Print

For magazines and newspapers, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • appropriate integration of text and illustration (whether original or found material)
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to use of fonts, type size and colour
  • possible creation of a house-style.

Magazine/newspaper conventions could include page design and layout, use of direct address, columns, straplines, box-outs, cross-heads, headings and headlines.

Web-based technologies/New Media

For websites, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • appropriate integration of text and images (whether original or found material)
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to use of fonts, type size and colour
  • possible creation of a house-style.

Web-site conventions could include page design and layout, links, scrolling text, video, sound or animation.

Advertising and Marketing

For television advertising, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • careful framing of shots 
  • integration of copy, slogans and voice-over 
  • editing appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to use of lighting, mise-en-scene and sound.

For radio advertising, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • use of microphone and/or mixing equipment to ensure that sound is clear and appropriate
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience.

For print advertising, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • appropriate integration of text and illustration (whether original or found material)
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to use of fonts, type size and colour.

Advertising and Marketing conventions could include slogans, imperatives, direct address, copy, logos, narration, voice-over or call to action.

Promotion of Music

For music video, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by:

  • careful framing of shots
  • editing appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to lighting, mise-en-scene and sound.

For print and web-based promotion, confidence in handling technology can be demonstrated by: 

  • appropriate integration of text and illustration (whether original or found material)
  • language, register and content appropriate to the nature of the production and audience
  • evidence of consideration being given to use of fonts, type size and colour.

Music video conventions could include performance, narrative, interpretation, direct address, animation, symmetrical framing or cross-cutting.

Print and web-based promotion conventions could include slogans, imperatives, direct address, copy, interactivity and logos.

Evaluation

Each candidate must produce a 700– 800 word evaluation which should reflect upon:

  • how the aims of the production have been met
  • how the product applies appropriate codes and conventions and uses appropriate media language
  • how the product represents people, places or events
  • where and when the product would be exhibited
  • what regulations and controls might be applied to the product and how these have been taken into consideration
  • the strengths and weaknesses of the product in terms of meeting the needs of its audience.
Assessment Criteria for Unit 2                                          Assignment 3                                          
Research, Planning and Presentation (AO3 15 marks)
Level 6
Candidates demonstrate a high level of ability to research and plan independently and effectively. They demonstrate flair and creativity through their pre-production work which is convincing, fit for purpose and engaged and uses appropriate forms and conventions throughout. Material is presented skilfully. There is a clear understanding of how audiences are identified and how production is tailored to audience needs and expectations.
13-15 marks
Level 5 
Candidates demonstrate clearly their ability to research and plan successfully. There is evidence of engagement in the pre-production work which is clearly fit for purpose and uses many appropriate forms and conventions. Material is presented effectively. Audiences are identified, their needs are taken into consideration and awareness is demonstrated of how this has shaped the ideas.
10-12 marks
Level 4
Candidates demonstrate they have researched and planned their pre-production work appropriately. Ideas are apt and mostly use appropriate forms and conventions. Material is well presented. Candidates are able to identify and target audiences. They indicate how this has informed their plans and ideas.
7-9 marks
Level 3
Candidates offer some evidence of research and planning. Their ideas show some understanding and involvement with the task and use some appropriate forms and conventions. There is a basic attempt to present the work in a straightforward way. Some understanding of appealing to a potential audience is evident.
4-6 marks
Level 2
Candidates offer minimal evidence of research and planning. They have some ideas that are at least partly relevant or appropriate to the task. Some forms and conventions may be employed. Presentation of the material is limited.
1-3 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks

Of the 30 marks allocated for this component, 20 should be awarded for Construction and 10 for Evaluation. This can be arrived at by placing each in an appropriate level according to the descriptors. Where both are in the same level a mark out of 30 can be arrived at but where there is a disparity allocate a level for each and then determine the appropriate mark out of 20 or 10 as in the table below.

Construct and Evaluate (AO4 30 marks)
Level 6 (Construct 17-20, Evaluate 9-10)
Candidates' demonstrate flair and creativity to construct an impressive product which would engage a potential audience. They demonstrate the ability to handle technology confidently, including ICT, and use the techniques and conventions of the chosen medium and genre creatively and convincingly. They evaluate their production making cogent and critical connections between the experience of carrying out the production and all the key concepts. The evaluation is concise and well-organised, using accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
25-30 marks
Level 5 (Construct 13-16, Evaluate 7-8)
Candidates demonstrate competence to construct an effective product which would be likely to appeal to a potential audience. They handle technology competently, including ICT, and use the techniques and conventions of the chosen medium and genre effectively. The evaluation shows an informed understanding of the key concepts. The evaluation is concise and well-organised, using mainly accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
19-24 marks
Level 4 (Construct 9-12, Evaluate 5-6)
Candidates demonstrate appropriate skills to construct a satisfactory product which a potential audience might find interesting or engaging. They utilise technology, including ICT, and use appropriate techniques and conventions of their chosen medium and genre. They meet all of the requirements of the task. When evaluating their products they are able to discuss how some of the key concepts have informed their production. The evaluation uses some accurate spelling punctuation and grammar.
13-18 marks
Level 3 (Construct 5-8, Evaluate 3-4)
Candidates demonstrate some appropriate skills and mostly meet the requirements of the task to construct a product which might have some limited appeal to a potential audience. Some conventions of their chosen medium and genre are evident. The evaluation may be largely descriptive but some key concepts may be addressed. In the evaluation, communication, including spelling, punctuation and grammar, may not be wholly effective.
7-12 marks
Level 2 (Construct 1-4, Evaluate 1-2)
Candidates construct a recognisable media product. In their evaluation, they provide a simple review of the production. Communication, including spelling, punctuation and grammar, may be limited.
1-6 marks
Level 1 (Construct 0, Evaluate 0)
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks

Unit 3 - Exploring media industries

Exploring media industries

Unit Learning Outcomes

Candidates will be expected to:

AO1Recall, select and communicate their knowledge and understanding of media products and the contexts in which they are produced and consumed. (10%)
AO2Analyse and respond to media texts/topics using media key concepts and appropriate terminology. (10%)

The aim of this unit is to encourage candidates to explore media industries and how they operate. This unit is worth 20% of the Double Award.

Candidates will explore a range of organisations that make up different sectors of the media industries. Candidates will gain a broad understanding of:

  • how media industries operate and within what constraints 
  • what products they make and the audiences for those products
  • the types of roles and employment opportunities available within the media
  • ownership, control and finance within the media industries
  • developments in media technology and their effects on production and consumption.

It is important for candidates to develop an understanding of the work and impact of media organisations in their area. This will help them to appreciate some of the complexity of the media industries.

If possible, links with media organisations should be made with the potential to support candidate learning. Visits to media organisations can be extremely beneficial, as can visits from media professionals. Opportunities for candidates to experience working practices at close hand will have a positive impact on understanding. However, it is recognised that not all areas have an appropriate concentration of media activity and it will be particularly important for teachers to research alternative organisations.

A further aspect for candidates to appreciate is that 'the media' are not static. Developments in digital communications technology continue to offer phenomenal opportunities for the media industries and the global marketplace has led to the consumer having access to media products worldwide. The changing size, composition and ownership of media organisations has led to media conglomerates with ambitions way beyond the domestic market.

Candidates will select two media industries from the following:

  • Print/Electronic Publishing
  • Advertising and Marketing
  • Television
  • Film
  • Radio
  • Popular Music
  • Web-based Technologies/New Media

For each of the industries they choose, candidates will investigate:

  • how the industry creates a range of products to sell to particular audiences
  • how the industry and the products they make are influenced by ownership and control 
  • the job roles and working practices within the organisation
  • how the organisation is financed and regulated
  • the effects of developments in technology within this industry.

Work in this unit will help candidates to identify the ways in which the media industries 'produce' media products and will provide them with the necessary background knowledge needed for Unit 4 Responding to a Media Brief.

The unit is externally assessed to test candidates' knowledge and understanding of media industries and provide opportunities for them to apply that knowledge and understanding to a realistic stimulus. The external assessment will take the form of a written test of 1 hour 30 minutes duration. Section A consists of short answer questions, while Section B requires five longer responses to a stimulus.

The external assessment is targeted at the full range of GCSE candidates and thus is not tiered.

Unit 4 - Responding to a media brief

Responding to a media brief

Unit Learning Outcomes

Candidates will be expected to:

AO3Demonstrate research, planning and presentation skills. (15%)
AO4Construct and evaluate their own products using creative and technical skills. (15%)

The aim of this unit is for candidates to produce a campaign across two media forms/platforms in response to an industry-related brief. This unit is worth 30% of the Double Award.

This unit will be assessed by means of controlled assessment. Centres should note the following:

Each task is specified by AQA. Candidates must respond to the industry-related brief for that year as set by AQA. The supervision of candidates by centres must ensure that candidates complete tasks as set by AQA.

Research may be undertaken with limited supervision. Candidates need not be under the direct supervision of staff at all times. However candidates are required to complete all of the work other than research under informal supervision. This means that the centre must ensure that:

  • plagiarism does not take place
  • the sources used by candidates are clearly recorded
  • each candidate's preparation for the final production of the work is his/her own.

Teachers may provide guidance and feedback to candidates and the nature of any guidance and the details of any feedback must be clearly recorded. Candidates may be guided as to the approach they might adopt but the outcome must remain their own. Likewise feedback may evaluate progress to date and propose suggested broad areas for improvement but the detailed correction or annotation of work for feedback purposes is not allowed.

Each controlled assessment task should take an amount of time which approximately corresponds to the marks available for that assignment. The response for Unit 4 is marked out of 90.

The work of individual candidates may be informed by working with others, for example in undertaking research, but candidates must provide an individual response as part of the task outcome. The production itself may be individual or group work. However, teamwork is an important part of media production so if candidates choose to work on their own, they must be sure that they will be able to meet fully the demands of the brief. In either case, candidates must record their individual contribution to the final outcome. Each candidate must produce their own individual research and evaluation.

Candidates' access to resources is determined by those available to their centre.

Controlled assessment advisers will be available to provide guidance to centres.

Candidates will need to produce a campaign across two media forms/platforms in response to an industry-related brief set by AQA. The brief will be available on the AQA website in June of the previous year. Candidates will simulate industry practice by following the production process from the 'ideas stage' through to production and post-production work. They will need to gather and respond to audience feedback. They will need to show an awareness of the importance of research, planning, working to deadlines and having a clear sense of the target audience and their needs, including the limited time which they allocate to receiving media messages.

Candidates will choose two different media forms/platforms from the following categories:

Forms/Platforms
  • Print and Electronic Publishing including newspapers, comics, magazines etc.
  • Moving Image:
    • Television including genre study, franchises, scheduling etc. 
    • Film covering features, shorts, trailers, production, distribution and exhibition as well as genre study.
    • Video including promotional, training and corporate
  • Radio including commercial, network, public broadcasting, community etc.
  • Web-based Technologies/New Media including Internet, web design, social networking, weblogs, vblogs, podcasts, gaming etc.

It is noted that the following can be found across the media forms/platforms listed above:

  • Advertising and Marketing – including advertisements in print publications, on radio, on television, in the cinema, film trailers, billboards etc.
  • Popular Music – including Artistes & Repertoire (A & R), promotion, marketing etc.
  • News – including television, newspapers, internet, radio etc

Candidates are required to develop two ideas (one in each media form/platform) in response to the brief through to treatment stage. The term 'treatment' is used across all the media forms and platforms to which it refers to designate a short, accessible proposal capable of communicating the key ideas of a project to an interested party such as a commissioning editor or potential financial backer. The two pieces must be fully realised as a linked campaign, and then evaluated carefully.

Generally, a media form is a description of the type, content or communication you are using to create the content, whereas a media platform is the technology used to deliver and access the content. For example, television can be the form by which we create a new situation comedy, but it can be delivered via an internet platform to a PC/Mac, a cable platform via a set top box, a broadcast platform via an aerial.

For this unit, candidates need to produce the following for assessment:

  1. Research, Planning and Presentation
  2. Two production pieces
  3. Evaluation (500–800 words)
Guidance on Evaluation

Each candidate must produce a 500 – 800 word evaluation which should reflect upon the individual's role within the group collaboration and how successfully:

  • the two media products are linked
  • research has been used to fulfil the brief and meet the needs of the client
  • the products apply appropriate codes and conventions
  • the products target the appropriate audience
  • representational issues have been addressed
  • the production process is organised and scheduled
  • considerations of any rules and regulations have been applied.

To produce a successful campaign, candidates will need to draw on the knowledge, understanding and skills developed through their work on units 1, 2 and 3 of this specification. Research, planning, production and evaluation skills should be developed further from those in other units.

Further guidance on the approximate quantity of work required in each medium, on collaboration and on how confidence in the use of technology can be demonstrated, can be found on pages 14-16 of this specification.

Assessment, Planning and Presentation

Research, Planning and Presentation(AO3 45 marks)
Level 6
Candidates research independently and effectively drawing on a wide range of sources and techniques. Candidates demonstrate flair and creativity through their pre-production work which is convincing and engaged and uses appropriate forms and conventions. They draw on relevant products, concepts and contexts. Material is presented skilfully. There is a clear understanding of how audiences are identified and how production is tailored to audience needs and expectations. They present appropriate and independent ideas to a client effectively, using a range of presentational skills, with well planned opportunities for feedback and discussion. They plan and present work which responds directly and efficiently to the needs of the target audience to produce a coherent and integrated campaign.
37-45 marks
Level 5 
Candidates research successfully using a range of sources and techniques. They demonstrate evidence of imagination in the pre-production work which is clearly fit for purpose and uses many appropriate forms and conventions. Material is presented effectively. Audiences are identified, their needs are taken into consideration and awareness is demonstrated of how this has shaped the ideas. They present appropriate ideas to a client successfully, using a selection of presentational skills, with opportunities for feedback and discussion. They plan and present work which responds successfully to the needs of the target audience to produce an integrated campaign.
28-36 marks
Level 4
Candidates have researched appropriately. Ideas are apt and mostly employ appropriate forms and conventions. Material is well presented. Candidates are able to identify and target audiences. They indicate how this has informed their plans and ideas. Candidates present ideas to a client appropriately, using a selection of presentational skills, and gather some feedback. They plan and present work which clearly acknowledges the needs of a target audience.
19-27 marks
Level 3 
Candidates show evidence of research. Their ideas show some understanding and involvement with the task and use some appropriate forms and conventions. There is a basic attempt to present the work in a straightforward way. Some understanding of appealing to a potential audience is evident. They present some apt ideas to a client in a straightforward fashion. They plan and present work with reference to the needs of a target audience.
10-18 marks
Level 2
Candidates use minimal research. They have some ideas that are at least partly relevant or appropriate to the task. Some forms and conventions may be employed. Presentation of the material is limited. They present some ideas which may be partly relevant or appropriate to a client in a limited fashion. They plan and present work with some reference to the needs of a target audience.
1-9 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks
Production(AO4 35 marks)
Level 6
Candidates construct their product(s) using production skills appropriately and effectively. They handle technology confidently, including ICT, and use the techniques and conventions of the chosen medium and genre creatively. They deploy the codes and conventions of relevant media or medium with originality and suitability to the demands of the task set out in the brief. They meet the needs of the target audience fully and effectively and fulfil the terms of the brief in all respects.
29-35 marks
Level 5
Candidates construct their product(s) using production skills clearly and appropriately. They handle technology competently, including ICT, and use the techniques and conventions of the chosen medium and genre effectively. Candidates make effective use of relevant media resources with some originality and some evidence of creativity. They deploy the codes and conventions of relevant media or medium with awareness of the demands of the task set out in the brief. They meet the needs of the target audience and fulfil the terms of the brief in most respects.
22-28 marks
Level 4
Candidates construct their product(s) using appropriate production skills. They utilise technology, including ICT, and use appropriate techniques and conventions of their chosen medium and genre. They demonstrate understanding of the codes and conventions of relevant media or medium. They acknowledge the needs of the target audience and fulfil the terms of the brief in many respects.
15-21 marks
Level 3 
Candidates construct their product(s) using some appropriate skills. There is evidence of some appropriate techniques, including ICT, and conventions of their chosen medium and genre. They make some explicit reference to the codes and conventions of relevant media or medium. They make some explicit reference to the needs of the target audience and begin to fulfil the terms of the brief.
8-14 marks
Level 2
Candidates attempt to use practical processes, techniques and technologies, including ICT, to create a recognisable media product. They make some reference to the codes and conventions of relevant media or medium. They make some reference to the needs of the target audience and try to address some of the terms of the brief.
1-7 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks
Evaluation(AO4 10 marks
Level 6
Candidates offer a focused, cogent and critical evaluation of their contribution to the production process. They draw on convincing evidence and valid criteria to assess the degree of success of the completed media production in fulfilling the terms of the brief and meeting the needs of the target audience. Responses are communicated using accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
9-10 marks
Level 5
Candidates offer a successful evaluation of their contribution to the production process. They draw on some convincing evidence and valid criteria to assess the degree of success of the completed media production in fulfilling the terms of the brief and meeting the needs of the target audience. Responses are communicated using mainly accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
7-8 marks
Level 4
Candidates discuss their contribution to the production process. They draw on some relevant evidence to show how successful the completed media production has been in fulfilling the terms of the brief and meeting the needs of the target audience. Responses are communicated using some accurate spelling, punctuation and grammar.
5-6 marks
Level 3
Candidates describe their contribution to the production process and comment on the success of the completed media production in fulfilling the terms of the brief and meeting the needs of the target audience. Communication, including spelling, punctuation and grammar, may not be wholly effective.
3-4 marks
Level 2
Candidates provide a simple review of their contribution to the production process and may offer some ideas on the success of the completed media production in fulfilling the terms of the brief and meeting the needs of the target audience. Communication, including spelling, punctuation and grammar, may be limited.
1-2 marks
Level 1
No work worth the award of a mark.
0 marks