A Level – Film Studies

Film is essentially an optical illusion, and yet we react very strongly to it, expressing laughter, fear, shock and happiness; and the emotions which films can generate often remain strong in our memory.  We know it’s not real, and yet we react as if it is real.  How do films manage to have such an effect on us?

Why do audiences identify with characters?  How does the film industry design films which attract certain audiences?

  • Who Is This Course For?

    This course is for anyone who has a keen interest in Film and wants to understand how the film industry works, how to analyse films, how to make films, and how films ‘work’ for audiences.

    This course will be of interest to anyone who enjoys the cinema but wants to know far more about the aesthetic qualities of film: the narrative structure, and the use of cinematography, editing, light and sound, and how all these different elements combine to create meaning and generate a strong emotional response.

    This course will also be of interest to anyone who wants to develop their skills of analysis and learn to think critically.  Film Studies is a subject intended for those who like to become involved and learn through active participation.  Lastly, for all these reasons, Film Studies complements a range of other subjects very well, such as English Literature, Media Studies, Psychology, Sociology, and Art and Design.

    Entry Criteria

    The College entry criteria for all level three courses can be found on our ”Entry Criteria Guidance” pdf document.

  • Course Details:

    The new linear A Level Film Studies course is divided into three components with two exams and one non-examined assessment—meaning that students are assessed on their written academic ability, as well as having the opportunity to gain marks through the practical aspect of filmmaking.

    Exam Board


    01. Film History

    (2 hour exam – 35% of A Level qualification)

    Film History (Section A) concentrates on the development of film form within American film, spanning from the Silent Era through to 1990. Learners will undertake close analyses of the construction of meaning and response by both filmmaker and spectator in at least 3 set texts from:

    • the Silent Era – set texts include Birth of a Nation (1915), The Gold Rush (1925), and The Mask of Zorro (1920).
    • 1930–1960 – set texts include Citizen Kane (1941), Singin’ in the Rain (1952), Stagecoach (1939), and Vertigo (1958).
    • 1961–1990 – set texts include 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Raging Bull (1980), and E.T. (1982).

    As part of Film History (Section B) learners will also study at least two set films from two major European film movements or stylistic developments:

    • Soviet montage – set texts include Strike (1925), Battleship Potemkin (1929) and Man with a Movie Camera (1929).
    • German expressionism – set texts include The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari (1920), Nosferatu (1922) and Metropolis (1927).
    • Italian neo-realism – set texts include Bicycle Thieves (1948), Rome, Open City (1945)and La Strada (1954).
    • French new wave – set texts include The 400 Blows (1959), A Bout de Soufflé (1960) and Cleo from 5 to 7 (1962).

    02 – Critical Approaches to Film

    (2 hour exam – 35% of A Level qualification)

    Learners will further develop knowledge and understanding of key critical approaches to film and of narrative, genre, representations and spectatorship.  Learners will study at least one set film from each of the categories below:

    • Contemporary British – set texts include Pride (2014), Ex-Machina (2014), and We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011).
    • Contemporary US – set texts include Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Hunger Games (2012) and Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015).
    • Documentary – set texts include A Syrian Love Story (2015) and The Act of Killing (2012).

    Section C of the exam tackles film ideology, and requires students to trace a thematic concept from a choice of ‘Outsiders’, ‘Family and Home’ and ‘Conflict’ across films from different cinematic origins. For example, studying ‘Family and Home’, students may cover the following set texts:

    • Non-European Non-English Language – A Separation (2011).
    • English Language (Non-US) – Room (2015).
    • US Independent – The Tree of Life (2011).

    03 – Making Short Film (non-examined assessment – 30% of A Level qualification)

    Learners must study one compilation of short British fiction films and one compilation of short British experimental films.  Learners then have the opportunity to demonstrate knowledge, understanding and skills through:

    • the production of a 5 minute short film
    • an evaluative analysis of the production in relation to professionally produced set short films.

    Please note that due to A Level reform the exam board and set texts for A Level Film Studies at Wyke are subject to confirmation, and may change prior to 2017 entry.

    How the course is delivered

    Each Film Studies class takes place in a dedicated Film Studies classroom, with the resources appropriate to the course immediately to hand. Our students also have full access to the range of equipment and facilities available for Film and Media students to use in the Editing Suite.

    Teaching and learning combine presentations and discussions, with film analysis, group work, research exercises, skills-based activities, and practical work drawing upon student creativity.  We expect students to be actively involved and encourage independent learning and critical thinking.

    Departmental Enrichment

    Over the years the Film Studies Department has taken Film Studies students to:

    • Over the years the Film Studies Department has taken Film Studies students to:
    • The National Media Museum,
    • Special screenings during the National Schools Film Week
    • Screenings at the Hull Film Festival
    • Screenings and lectures at The University of Hull and The University of Lincoln
    • The Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London
    • The British Film Museum at the BFI Southbank and BFI IMAX in London
    • New York Film Academy in New York.
    • Berlin and the Berlin Film Festival.

    In 2015 and 2016, Wyke Film Studies students have been successful in gaining around half of the 20 available places on the Hull BFI Film Academy (which draws upon students from Hull, the East Riding and North Lincolnshire). This scheme gives the students an incredible opportunity to work with local Oscar and BAFTA winning film talent such as Writer / Director Mark Hermann and Producer, Chris Hees.

    The Film Studies Department

    The Film Studies Department consists of two highly experienced members of staff: Emma Philipson (Head of Subject) and Jonathan Towlson.

  • Progression:

    The media industries in this country employ over half a million people, and contribute enormously to the UK economy, bringing in vast revenues from overseas sales of British products.  Consequently, there are substantial career opportunities for those with a background in Film Studies.


    Because this course combines academic study with the practical and creative elements of film production, it provides an excellent foundation for those who wish to go on to study various academic subjects at university, such as Film Studies and Media Studies, but also to those who prefer to study practical/vocational degree courses such as Film and Media Production, Film and Television Production, and Broadcast Media Production.  Moreover, because of the aesthetic, design and marketing elements of the course, and its focus on the analysis of set texts, Film Studies complements a variety of other subjects, for example: English Literature, Sociology, Psychology, and Art and Design.

    The subject provides more than just knowledge: it provides training in analytical thinking, and develops a variety of transferable skills.  Industry and commerce want people who can think for themselves, absorb a lot of information, ask critical questions, analyse problems, research information, present reports and communicate clearly.  All these skills can be acquired through the study of Film.

    Consequently, the study of Film is suitable for students intending to pursue a broad range of careers in, for example, journalism, broadcasting, the law, marketing, the heritage industry, the leisure and tourism industries, and publishing.  It is also highly appropriate for students intending to pursue business or managerial careers.

    Finally, for students wanting a career in the film and television industries, there is a considerable range of career paths available: producer, director, editor, cinematographer, sound engineer, production design, set design, general researcher, location research, lighting engineer, legal department, marketing, script development, etc.

    Our class of 2016 are currently studying a range of film studies or film production courses at:

    • Edge Hill University
    • Hull University
    • Leeds Metropolitan University
    • Lincoln University
    • Manchester Metropolitan University
    • Salford University
    • Sheffield Hallam University
    • University of the Arts London (UAL)