GCSE – Film Studies

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.

  • 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.

    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?

    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

    This is for students who may or may not have studies the subject before, but who would enjoy the chance to study a wide range of film texts as well as the chance to make their own short film. Students need to have achieved at least a grade D in GCSE English Language or English Literature.

  • Course Details:

    Exam Board


    GCSE Film Studies

    Paper 1: Exploring Film (1 hour 30 mins – 30% of qualification)

    Four compulsory questions focusing on one film genre. These questions will assess knowledge and understanding of film language and key industry and audience issues.

    The film genre will be set by WJEC and will change every three years. Genre for first examination in Summer 2013 and last examination in Summer 2015: Superhero Films.

    Paper 2: Exploring Film outside of Hollywood (1 hour – 20% of qualification)

    Three compulsory questions on one film produced outside Hollywood, chosen from a list prescribed by WJEC.

    Questions will be based on:

    • characters, narratives, themes and issues in the film chosen
    • the way people, places, events and issues are represented in the film and
    • a creative question involving individual responses to the film (e.g., reviews, blogs, website entries).

    Exploring and creating (50% COURSEWORK)

    Two main items: a film exploration (two tasks) and a production (four tasks).

    1: Exploring a film of the student’s choice – two tasks (30 marks)

    An exploration of a film of a student’s choice consisting of (i) industry research (350-500 words) and (ii) a micro analysis of a short extract from the film (350 – 750 words).

    2: Production – four tasks (70 marks)

    Students create (i) a pitch for an imaginary film (approximately 150 words), use the created pitch to form the basis of (ii) a preproduction (chosen from a list of options) and (iii) a final production (chosen from a list of options). They then complete (iv) a brief evaluative analysis of the final production.

    This is a coursework unit, internally assessed and externally moderated.

    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. 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:

    • 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.
    • In 2014, Film Studies students will have the opportunity to travel to Berlin to experience the Berlin Film Festival.

    Film Studies students are encouraged to engage with and lead the weekly Film Club, which is part of a national scheme offered via LoveFilm. 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.

    The Film Studies Department at Wyke Sixth Form College

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

    All Film Studies students are issued with a substantial body of additional learning materials (printed notes, study guides, stimulus materials, essay plans, revision exercises, etc). All these additional learning materials, together with supplementary learning resources, are available for students online via Moodle, which can be accessed from home. The Film Studies Department also has a substantial library of books on cinema, particular directors, specific genres, etc, together with DVDs, and copies of Sight and Sound, for students to use.

    Film Studies staff provide additional support for those students who need further guidance regarding their written or creative work, and more generally for students who wish to discuss issues arising from the topics which they have been studying.

    What can I do now that would help prepare me for this course?

    Firstly, find out what the ‘classic Hollywood narrative structure’ was, and apply it to two or three recent films which you have enjoyed.

    Secondly, choose your favourite genre (horror, romantic comedy, thriller, etc), and identify the key characteristics of the genre. Consider how far some recent films you have seen conform to this pattern. Can you think of any films which are genre hybrids?

    Thirdly, try watching something which is very different from the usual Hollywood output – Hong Kong cinema, French cinema, Spanish cinema. Films such as Delicatessen, Pan’s Labyrinth and Chungking Express show that cinema does not have to rely on stars, high-tempo action and massive marketing, and does not need to conform to the Hollywood narrative formula or the Hollywood genre formula.

    Lastly, try and go to a film festival to see an independent film. The more varied your experience of cinema, the stronger your critical analysis of cinema will become.

  • Progression:

    Students who successfully pass their single level two year at Wyke can look to progress onto level three at the College or use their qualifications to access another course, apprenticeship or employment opportunity offered by another provider.

    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.

    Details for careers for Film Studies graduates can be found at:

    http://www.prospects.ac.uk/industries_media_overview.htm               http://www.studyin-uk.com/e/studyuk-film/

    Most universities also provide lists of the career destinations of their graduates, by degree subject.