Media Studies is a hugely prescient subject that ensures students engage with our world of non-stop social media, fake news, celebrity influencers and #MeToo in a way that is enquiring, informed, intelligent and sceptical. In doing so, it enriches life chances for students and opens doors into the massive and enormously lucrative industries that form large and ever growing sectors of our economy: marketing and advertising, journalism, computing, entertainment, art and design.
By requiring students to study a wide range of media (radio, TV, magazines, music videos, posters, newspapers etc. – some of which are already, in the fast-changing nature of this subject, perceived as ‘old-fashioned’) students are not only acquiring vital cultural capital of the world that has shaped their parents’ and grand-parents’ generation, but also engaging with the media that shapes their own lives so powerfully -- in an active, dynamic way rather than -- as all too often can be the case – as a passive consumer. Media Studies is taught at Pembroke in a way that encourages students to have a constant eye on self-reflection, and interrogation of the world around them. This is achieved through an emphasis on deconstruction and using everyday media products from the most ubiquitous to the most unfamiliar as teaching resources.
By the time students have completed their Media Studies GCSE they will have an in-depth knowledge base on virtually all prominent media platforms through case studies, including their history, industry and audience, as well as being able to deconstruct media language and how sub-groups (such as class, or race, for instance) are represented ideologically within them. As Media Studies is an incredibly intersectional subject, students will necessarily complete the course having studied many introductory aspects of the following subjects: sociology, business studies, photography, history, English, politics, film, computing, journalism and art and design. Media Studies is therefore a gateway subject into further study that enhances careers opportunities and overall life chances.
The curriculum map structure is largely dictated by the nature of the GCSE course: students study Component 1, the examination of Media Language, undertake Component 3, which is an independent coursework task and finally, Component 2, which explores representation and audience within filmed media. Almost all basic skills and concepts are returned to with each case study. For instance, one of the case studies for Component 1 is a 1954 vintage Quality Street poster; the analysis of the media language and representation within this (the somewhat sexualised and overly stereotypical representation of gender) directly feeds into all other case studies, where these issues are equally explored, as well as others. Students will then have to apply their skills to new unseen texts in the exam, and write analytical essays about these, as well as the case studies.
Media Studies continues to be a popular subject amongst students at GCSE level, offering an academic perspective on refreshingly relevant things, such as social media, that students often engage with on a daily basis. Its focus on up-to-date issues provides a wealth of opportunities for developing cultural capital and creating true citizens of our world.