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Film studies

A Level                  studied at PHS and WES 


To find out what qualifications are needed for each pathway/entry route click here.

6 or above in English language or literature or, if studied, a B or above in media studies


The film studies A level specification is a two year linear course consisting of three different components. Across two of the components students will study eleven feature length films. These are examined at the end of the course and make up 70% of the final grade. A further 30% of the total grade will be awarded to the coursework component.

Core study areas: students will study all their films in relation to three core study areas. These are the key elements which underpin film studies:

  1. The key elements of film form – cinematography, editing, sound, mise-en-scene and performance.
  2. Meaning and responses – how film is both a medium of representation and an aesthetic medium.
  3. The context of films – the influences of the social, cultural, political, historical and institutional contexts in which film is made.

In addition to the core study areas students explore six further specialist study areas in relation to specific films:

  1. Spectatorship – how films are constructed to provide the spectator with a particular viewing position.
  2. Narrative – how the narrative is constructed.
  3. Ideology – what ideologies are conveyed by a film and what ideologies inform it.
  4. Auteur – how films are ‘authored’ by individuals – most obviously the film’s director.
  5. Critical Debates – the debate between realist and expressive traditions in cinema.
  6. Filmmakers’ Theories – this will focus on documentary filmmaking.

Component 1 (Varieties of film and filmmaking). This is taught in Year 12 and explores six chosen feature length films drawn from Classical Hollywood (1930-1990), New Hollywood (1961-1990), contemporary American film (since 2005) and British cinema (since 1995). This section of the course will enable students to develop their analytical skills in relation to film form and introduces film theory.

Component 2 (Global filmmaking perspectives). This is taught in Year 13 and will draw on five chosen feature length films from European cinema, world cinema, documentary cinema, silent cinema and experimental cinema. This is an opportunity to study different kinds of filmmaking that students will be less familiar with and learn more about film theory.

Component 3 (Production). This is the coursework component and comprises 30% of the overall grade. It will consist of a short 4-5 minute film and a written evaluation of 1,600 -1,800 words. Several short films will be studied to support the filmmaking and written evaluation. 


Independent learning skills

An appreciation of film and a good visual imagination

A willingness to learn about new and complex ideas

Essay writing skills

Analytical skills

Practical filmmaking and IT skills

Working outside of lesson time

Ability to work in groups






Component 1: American Film

Exam (2 hours and 30 minutes)


Component 2: European Film

 Exam (2 hours and 30 minutes)


 Component 3: Production

Non exam



Film studies will facilitate further and higher study in all creative subjects but specifically in any of the following:

  • Film studies
  • Media studies
  • Cultural studies
  • Photography

Film studies also encourages the development of academic writing skills, which are relevant to a huge variety of disciplines, including English, humanities and social sciences.