We live in a media-saturated world. From video clips on your phone, to TV ads to blockbuster movies, to posters at the bus stop, to the music in your ears, you are surrounded by media messages for most of your waking hours. How do you make sense of them all? How do you know what they are trying to communicate — both on an obvious and a less obvious level? How do you know how much you have been influenced — consciously or subconsciously — by these media messages? Does the media reflect your reality, or control the way you view it?

It’s been said that film and media literacy is as important to living in the 21st century as regular literacy was to the 20th century. Film Studies helps you develop an important set of skills that will help you navigate the rest of your education and then, your working life.

Film and Media play an important part in many areas of our everyday lives and is also an important part of the UK economy. There is a demand from employers for an increasingly skilled and technically literate workforce as more and more media products are produced digitally.

It is a very creative but educational subject. It allows you artistic license when creating work but also teaches you about media outside of an education level and more on a career path basis.    Kiera Y11

Year 7 

Year 7 students on the STEM pathway are introduced to the academic discipline of Film Studies for the first time. They will develop an understanding of the basic principles of filmic interpretation, including: connotation and denotation, mise-en-scene (choices of what is included in a shot on screen and where in the shot things are placed), uses of lighting and colour, and issues of character representation. This work culminates in two assessment points: an initial analysis of characters in Shrek (Dreamworks, 2001), and an analysis of mise-en-scene in Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton, 1990).

Year 8

Year 8 students on the STEM pathway will be building upon their work from Film and Media Studies in year 7. With the focus being on Film Studies this year, they will revisit character analysis, key terminology of storytelling in film (shot types, camera angles, and uses of mise-en-scene), and they will apply analysis of such to films of the 'fantasy genre'. The primary focus will be on Disney films, through which they will analyse character representations (heroes, villains, stereotypes, and story conventions). They will be reintroduced to ideas of audience and genre as they move towards the production of a film poster and a written analysis of audience in December.

Year 9

Students do not currently study film or media in year 9. However, those interested are encouraged to ask more about the subject at the options evening. All those wishing to take GCSE Film Studies are welcome, regardless of whether they studied Media in years 7 and 8. For more information, speak to Dr Clarke in room 310 or G14 for more information or email: dclarke@tgschool.net 

Year 10

In the Autumn term, GCSE Film Studies students will begin by discovering how filmmakers use aspects of film form to convey meanings. These aspects include but are not limited to: shot types and camera angles; cinematography and uses of mise-en-scene, everything in the frame from choices behind colour, costume, and lighting to the positioning of props and characters. Students will be able to make links between these aspects of film form and the genre of the film, culminating in the study of a British Science-Fiction comedy film, Attack the Block (Joe Cornish, 2011), which features an ensemble cast of teenaged actors.  

Course Leader: Dr D Clarke
Contact Email: dclarke@tgschool.net
Examination Board: Eduqas
Assessment: 30% coursework, 70% examination

Why should I study this subject at Key Stage 4?

Taking Film Studies for GCSE will equip you with the vital skills to explore film’s dynamic meaning and importance in the world today. Excitingly, you will also undertake a film project of your own, allowing you to learn how and why we need to create film.

What does the course involve?

As a film student, you will explore the visual or aesthetic qualities of films, the characters and ideas they represent, the ways in which they are filmed, and the evolution of film genres, such as the vampire subgenre. Students will be taught the necessary film language which will enable them to be successful when analysing key sequences. The starting point for all film students will be understanding the micro and macro elements of film. From this base, you will demonstrate skills of enquiry, critical thinking, decision-making, and analysis by acquiring knowledge and understanding of a range of important social, cultural, and historical issues raised by films. This will allow you to make informed arguments, reach substantiated judgements, and draw conclusions about the artistic decisions taken by those in the film industry. 

Our study of the films will be organised according to the time periods and cultural contexts in which they were produced. We will begin with an exploration of Hollywood genre film before looking at American independent cinema (component 1). Our journey then takes us to more culturally diverse contexts, and you will explore films from outside of Hollywood: Jojo Rabbit, Girlhood, Attack the Block, and Submarine (component 2).

Component 1: Key Developments in US Film 

US Comparative Study (Genre film focus): The Lost Boys (Schumacher, 1987) and Dracula (Browning, 1931) 

US Independent Film: The Hate U Give (Tillman, 2018) 

Component 2: Global Film: Narrative, Representation and Film Style 

Global English Language Film: Jojo Rabbit (Waititi, NZ, 2020) 

Global non-English Language Film: Girlhood (Sciamma, France, 2014)

Contemporary UK Film: Attack the Block (Cornish, UK, 2011)

Component 3: NEA - Filmmaking and scriptwriting 

Students will plan, storyboard, script, and film a short 5-minute piece of genre film, incorporating the stylistic influences and techniques they have learnt about on components one and two. 

Skills Developed

As a student of film, you will learn to demonstrate skills of enquiry, critical thinking, and analysis, whilst developing your ability to compare films. You will develop an understanding of character and themes, people and places, and historical moments, all of which can bolster your skills in other subjects such as English, History, Geography, and Philosophy. The skills you will learn in how to plan, storyboard, script, and produce films are highly sought after by employers in the media industry. They are also incredibly valuable for those wanting to go into film- or media-based design and part of a college course. Equally for those wanting to pursue high-quality art and humanities courses that spark and develop your intellectual curiosity and cultural fluency. This could be the first step on your path to becoming a film critic or a filmmaker. 


There are two written exams, which are taken at the end of Year 11. These exams are based on the six films studied. The coursework units are assessed by teaching staff and require students to script, storyboard and produce their own short film. This means that all students must be well organised, diligent and hard-working from the very start of the course.

Progression routes: A-Level Film and/or Media Studies; A-Level English; Apprenticeships in the film and media industries; BTEC in Media. 

Complementary subjects: History, Photography, English,

Studying Film Studies at Sixth Form

Students can continue to study Film Studies as an A level subject here at Thomas Gainsborough School.