News & Events

GCSE Media options compared

With the news that the AQA GCSE Media Studies has been accredited, we bring you the first comparison of the three specifications. Better late than never! This ONLY gives you a list of the set texts and a few notes on them.

Download the table below:

GCSE set texts

Whilst we would not suggest that you based your choice solely on the set texts, it is clear that will be a factor for teachers. You should also look at the specimen assessment materials (draft exam papers) and at the coursework options to get an idea of what the course might feel like for your students.

Full information from the three boards is available from these links:


Key points from the table:

1. There is very little optionality within courses: all the AQA products are compulsory; Eduqas offer a choice in the TV set text pairs and for their music videos and online options; OCR only offers choice in the music video pairings.
2. Some of the media forms have been covered by ‘doubling up’ on objects of study- so eduqas have the online presences of their contemporary music video artists and OCR have the Observer website as well as the print edition. OCR have ‘killed three birds with one stone’ by using The Lego Movie for film, marketing and videogames.
3. You need to look carefully at each specification to see which are the ‘in depth’ studies (which will definitely come up in the exam and involve looking at all four key concepts- language, representation, audience, institution) and which are the topics which may not come up (it looks like for each board three of the six come up each year, though you have to prepare all six, but not for all four concepts). You also need to look at how they appear in the exam- set texts + unseen, short answers, full essays, etc.
4. There is a significant emphasis on history in all three (adverts in AQA and Eduqas, TV in all three, newspapers in OCR, music video to some extent in all three, radio in AQA)
5. All three feature some texts which are likely to be way outside of GCSE students’ experience- The Tatler for AQA, The Archers for Eduqas, Mojo for OCR.

The MEA has been very clear throughout this process that we feel that what the exam boards have been forced to do is a travesty of media studies- set texts has never been part of the subject and having to be assessed on nine media forms is crazy. However, we recognise that teachers are going to have to try to teach these new courses. We will do our best to help with resources and ideas. We urge teachers to keep as much as possible from their previous practice and to avoid turning this subject into rote learning preparing for tests. It is still possible to do GCSE media on the basis of developing skills, interest, knowledge and understanding and to use a wide range of media texts as part of that, EVEN IF the final exams are based upon a narrow set of choices. We don’t recommend one particular board over another- we are just glad that there is SOME choice.