Unit 1 - Investigating the media

Unit Learning Outcomes

Candidates will be expected to:


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.