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A-Level and GCSE Media Studies: More Useful Than Old English?

A-LEVEL MEDIA STUDIES students always get it in the neck from the UK press. It’s a time-honoured tradition of idiocy by the mainstream media. They’re continually branded every exam results season, by sneering old-schoolers in charge of various dying media platforms and their equally old-schooled parents as a ‘Mickey Mouse subject’.

Prove them wrong – get your head stuck into your A-Level Media Studies book.

GCSE Media Studies is routinely ridiculed now, too, even though it is quickly becoming the most relevant subject a student can hope to take in the 21st century and the fast approaching second decade.

But darling, it doesn’t have to be this way.


Time rolls around again for UCAS applications, filling in the little boxes which determine a life path and picking a sucky university means doom, DOOM! Yep, education supplements are going to be telling prospective freshers where to go, what number that university is on that league table and why you shouldn’t study Media, Film, Journalism or Communications.

If you’re a student and you’re reading this, please: take all that with a pinch of salt. You really don’t have to do the degree in it. You need experience, and you need confidence in being true to yourself.  Like Kanye!

kanye west

Figures released by the Association of Graduate Careers Advisory Services show that media graduates are actually 7% more employable than the average BA hons kid, which is highly interesting considering that preconceived unemployability is the reason why students are pushed away from the degree in career consultation rooms nationwide.


Media students are incredibly well rounded. Contrary to the assumption that all they do is text analysis, i.e. watch a film, name the camera shots and try and figure out what the misé-en-scene really means; students of this discipline have more in common with business and literature students.

For a healthy 2:1, they have to know all about demographics, institutions, the overlords at the top who monopolise Hollywood, the news and the history of film. Courses considered more vocational are infinitely more useful for those who wish to work at institutions who always ask for practical skills – knowing how to produce, shoot, film, edit, record and actually pitch an idea.

Most television producers, who from personal experience, have traditional degrees will have undergone obligatory practical training at some point in their careers – on the job itself. Not in their degree. ON. THE. JOB. Not that it made those three years pointless or anything.

Crucial to a person’s social welfare in the Western world is understanding just where and what agendas mould their opinions, which are often formed by the media products they purchase, watch and read. In a culture where communication and information relies upon the media, it is a wonder why people do not read up on the theory as to why Heat magazine is so popular at the same time that Vogue suffers, or why NME is shelved with men’s magazines or quite simply, the nature of media influence.

The ridicule is all good training really, though. Especially for those looking to hook a gig at an old newspaper or even a TV station –  interns, students and graduate newbies routinely face prejudice across the board. Even before getting there, you know the score: the Cambridge applications board and students who do not want to admit they are likely bored by Bede and the intricacies of the Jutland peninsula…

(And if you’re so wonderfully smart, why don’t you come up with a better descriptive pun than Mickey Mouse? Mickey Mouse isn’t even an adjective, it’s just a stacking of nouns, like ‘you’, and ‘dufus’. Of course I’m not taking it personally…)

Despite everything written above, Britain is, interestingly, pretty much at the forefront of world-leading research in the media studies field like that at the University of Bradford, or Derby, or Futureworks.

And you know what they say about those universities that carry out world-leading research… oh, they don’t. They’re too busy feeding you the very media while depriving you of the time and nous to start enquiring around it like the smart kid you are.

Of course, feel free to do Media Studies at Uni – just make sure you go to one that specialises in the field. That’s what matters, not the rank of the university overall. It’s the subject you care about, that matters.

If you’re still not convinced, remember this: as smart as the traditional degree student thinks they are in comparison, they will never, ever be as cool, attractive or as useful for YouTube productions, social media, social media marketing, or the holy pub quiz, as a media studies student.

Also, insofar as experience goes, knowing about Bede ultimately will not help you pull a fittie.

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    […] Media Studies: More Useful Than Old English « […]

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