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Film Studies

This course is designed to deepen your understanding and appreciation of film. We study 11 different films looking at their social, cultural, political and historical contexts. Narrative structures, critical debates, filmmakers’ theories and ideologies behind the films are also explored, along with how filmmaking techniques can create different meanings for viewers.

Subject content

In your first year you will study two Hollywood films, one from the Classical Hollywood era and one from the New Hollywood era, focusing on director influence and how films are made in different Hollywood contexts. You will then study a recently-released mainstream film, Selma, and an independent film, Beasts of the Southern Wild. Selma covers the 1960s Civil Rights movement and highlights the segregation and struggles African Americans faced, whilst Beasts of the Southern Wild studies the lives of marginalised groups of people living on the outskirts of society.

You will also study two global films, made in Spain and Brazil, to broaden your film knowledge and understanding of foreign language film. Here we look at representation of time, place and people.

In your second year, British Film and Documentary Film will be studied alongside film movements such as Silent Cinema (focusing on Russian propaganda films) and Experimental Film (focusing on the French New Wave) looking at their stylistic developments in film history.

You will study the following films during your Film Studies course:
• Amy • Beasts of the Southern Wild • Blade Runner • City of God
• Pan’s Labyrinth • Selma • Strike • This is England • Trainspotting
• Vertigo • Vivre Sa Vie

WJEC Film Studies course specifications

Learning methods 

Lessons will typically consist of film screenings, lectures, discussions, quizzes, independent research and essay writing.

There is a creative coursework component which allows students to create a screenplay for a short film (1,600-1,800 words) plus a digitally photographed storyboard of a key section from the screenplay.

An evaluative analysis (1,600-1,800 words) is to be written, reflecting on the finished product.

Additional entry requirements

GCSE grade 5 in English Language


Assessment is 70% examination, 30% coursework. You will also be assessed by written essays, homework, creative projects, group work, individual work and presentations.

Progression opportunities

Film Studies is an excellent complementary subject to media, English literature, psychology, sociology, politics, law, history, and art and design.

Students on the Film Studies course can progress onto a variety of film or media-related careers such as a producer, director, director of photography, editor, set designer, audio engineer, Foley artist, light technician, film critic, special effects specialist, visual effects specialist, props and wardrobe manager, location manager, teacher or screenplay writer as well as having the chance to study film studies/film and media production at Higher Education level.

Work experience opportunities such as BFI filmmaking courses, journalism and digital marketing have often been undertaken by students on this course.

Meet the A Level expert

Kat Thorpe

Kathryn has a BA (Hons) degree in Media Studies and PGCE from Sheffield Hallam University and has been teaching Film and Media Studies for seven years at Barnsley Sixth Form College.

Kat said: “Film Studies is a really interesting and diverse subject. As well as watching films we analyse them based on the technicalities of how they were constructed; we also look at the social, political and historical contexts of the film to decipher what was happening at the time the film was made, what influence this had on the film and if the filmmaker is trying to portray and messages to the audience.”

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