Film and Media Studies Courses

In the UK there are several different courses covering Film Studies and Media Studies that can be followed by school and college students aged 14-19 or older (i.e. adult students outside the university system). This page deals with those courses most relevant to studying global film.

The UK has a long and proud history of developing film and media studies in schools and colleges and as a result it established national qualifications in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland (three separate systems). England and Wales established the greatest variety of courses at both GCSE (16+) and Advanced Level (A Level at 17+ and 18+). In 2015 the Conservative Government announced decisions about the reduction in the range of courses on offer as part of a review of the whole A Level and GCSE provision in England (Wales will in future have slightly different provision). Film Studies and Media Studies came into consideration as subjects to be scrapped. Communications Studies went almost immediately. Film and Media were eventually ‘reprieved’ and awarding bodies and groups of ‘stakeholders’ (mostly university academics) were invited to suggest new subject content following strict guidelines effectively set down by ministers.

New specifications

On February 4th 2016 the Department for Education announced that A Level and GCSE Films Studies and Media Studies would continue and it published the new Approved Subject Content for each qualification. The appropriate documents can be downloaded from this government website. This content (which is controversial for many (most?) teachers and examiners) must now be worked into formal specifications and assessment instruments. Teaching is scheduled to begin in September 2017 and the first examinations will generally be in 2019.The existing specifications will be examined for the last time in 2018.

The Media Education Association is a good source for news on these developments.

Existing specifications (i.e. up to September 2017)

OCR A Level Film Studies

This new qualification began teaching in September 2012 with first examinations in 2013 for AS and 2014 for A2.

The A2 Specification comprises two units, one of which is entitled Global Cinema and Critical Perspectives which requires students to study two contrasting “non-English language films” in detail.

Access to specifications, sample exam papers, details of training etc. is available on the OCR website here.

WJEC (Welsh Examining Body) A Level Film Studies

WJEC offers an Advanced Level Film Studies qualification. The new specification, which began teaching in September 2008, requires study of both British and American Cinema as part of its first year and aspects of ‘World Cinema’ in its second year. The specification offers various options such as the study of ‘National Cinemas’. Examination questions focused on the following in 2010-11:

• Bollywood, 1990 – present
• Iranian Cinema, 1990 – present (this site has entries on the following films:

A Separation (2010)

• Japanese Cinema, 1950 – 1970 (this site has entries on the following films:

The Lady of Musashino (Mizoguchi, 1951)

Floating Clouds (1955) and Late Chrysanthemums (1954) (both Naruse)

Flowing (Naruse, 1956)

Woman in the Rumour (Mizoguchi, 1957)

A Woman Ascends the Stairs (Naruse, 1960)

The Naked Island (Shindo,1960)

An Actor’s Revenge (Ichikawa, 1963)

• Mexican Cinema, 1990 – present.

Other aspects are also covered and the following films are offered for critical study:

Les Enfants du Paradis (Carné, France, 1945)
The Battle of Algiers (Pontecorvo, Algeria/Italy, 1966)
Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (Van Peebles, US, 1971)
Solaris (Tarkovsky, USSR, 1972)
Happy Together (Wong Kar Wai, Hong Kong, 1997)
Talk to Her (Almodovar, Spain, 2002)
Morvern Callar (Ramsay, UK, 2002)

We hope to offer some support to students approaching such study.

Module FM3 involves a small scale research project. There is a variety of material on this website, including discussion of auteurs such as Zhang Yimou and Alejandro Amenábar.

WJEC GCSE Film Studies

GCSE courses are studied in the UK from 14-17 as one or two year courses. The new Film Studies course began teaching in September 2008. It has two main areas of study for examination (there is also an element of internally assessed work). One focuses on a specific genre, which now covers the ‘super-hero movie’. The other focuses on a film from outside Hollywood chosen from a list of options. The current list comprises:

Amélie (Jean-Pierre Jeunet, France/Germany, 2001)
Bend It Like Beckham (Gurinder Chadha, UK/Germany/US, 2002)
The Devil’s Backbone (Guillermo del Toro, Mexico/Spain, 2001)
Persepolis (Marianne Satrapi, Iran-US 2007)
Ratcatcher (Lynne Ramsay, UK/France, 1999)
The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (Mark Herman, UK 2008)
Tsotsi (Gavin Hood, South Africa/UK, 2005)
Yasmin (Kenneth Glenaan, UK/Germany, 2004)
The Wave (Dennis Gansel , Germany, 2008)

A Level Media Studies

A Level syllabuses (taken in two parts as AS and A2) allow students to choose titles for independent study and there are opportunities for students to choose to work on aspects of global cinema. The new A2 syllabus from the OCR Awarding Body has a specific option dealing with Global Media.


3 thoughts on “Film and Media Studies Courses

  1. fantasic & informative site – will be on my required web reading list

    Posted by Dawn | June 2, 2009, 11:05
  2. Not that I’m impressed a lot, but this is a lot more than I expected when I found a link on Delicious telling that the info is awesome. Thanks.

    Posted by houdioppy | June 24, 2009, 00:23
  3. It’s 5am and I’m supposed to be working on my A-level Film Studies coursework but I just wanted to take time out to thank you for such a wonderful site, you will be fully referenced.

    Posted by Ronnie | March 12, 2010, 06:08

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