G322/3 Key Media Concepts
This was the first series in which non-British TV drama became available to use as an extract in
the exam. The choice of extract was ER and the representation was age. Question two focused
on media ownership and the impact ownership has on the range of products and services to the
audience. The paper achieved differentiation across the whole range of candidates’ abilities and
presented candidates with sufficient opportunity to engage with the key media concepts required
for this paper. However, this series also saw a number of candidates who failed to engage with
the representation of age in question one, and similarly, a number of candidates who were not
prepared well enough for the requirements of question two, which resulted in a significant
number of responses that were brief, minimal and in some cases no responses. Entry for the
exam was similar to the previous January however the majority of candidates were sitting the
examination for the first time, with the number of candidates using the January series as a re-sit
opportunity much lower than in previous years.
On the whole candidates engaged with the set question on the representation of age with
answers maturely and sensitively handled. Those candidates that performed to the highest level
did so with detailed and sustained analysis of age and with application of a range of examples
across the four technical areas. In their responses candidates would frequently refer to
oppositional and negotiated readings of the text, in relation to child/adult/elderly representations.
The most detailed responses considered a hierarchy of meaning in the text in analysis of the
discourse between adult / child and elderly age representations. In a few cases this was quite a
sophisticated analysis in which candidates commented on how the extract challenged typical
expectations and presentations of children and adults. This was most pertinent in relation to the
very ill child at the beginning of the sequence: for example, stronger candidates recognising that
there was a role-reversal at this point, with the doctor learning from the younger patient. Indeed
many candidates that picked up on the representation of the child as vulnerable also noted that
the child was incredibly mature, realistic and intelligent in relation to the discourse with the adult
doctor on his medical condition. Weaker performing candidates relied on simplistic binary
oppositions, such as elderly patients are all senile, with all children being weak and in need of
protection. Many weaker candidates chose to focus on superficial tasks such as looking at age
differences, ignoring particular values or ideologies linked with age groups. Some of these
candidates also focused on the discussion of gender or the medical profession rather than age.
The analysis of camera angle, shot and movement was used by most to varying degrees.
Stronger candidates often correctly identified the use of high/low angled shots, the use of
steadicam and could in some instances also analyse the framing of shots as key to how
meaning is constructed, particularly with the doctor/ child in the private medical room.
A common error for many candidates was to confuse the use of low and high camera angles and
on a few occasions candidates referred to bird’s eye and worm’s eye camera shots which were
not present in the extract. On the whole terminology was used correctly by candidates.
Candidates’ discussion of mise-en-scène included analysis of the medical environment being
used as a context for the study of age. The mise-en-scène was referred to in the use of costume
to demonstrate the doctor’s age and experience versus the child as a patient and the use of
tubes and make up to represent him as weak and fragile. The key prop of the Sudoku book and
the child’s technical vocabulary were well discussed to illustrate how typical representations of
childhoodwerechallenged. Candidates were also able to analyse the use of location and the
characters’ actions in relation to the construction of age representations in this medical drama,
for example, the professional adult doctors working under stress in busy waiting rooms were
often contrasted to the irresponsible actions of the older women who was simply there to ‘breathe the air’ and also the supposedly drunk older male. There was a lot less colour
determinism used in analysis of mise-en-scène this series, whilst aspects like lighting are still
under- utilised, except on occasion, for example some candidates analysed the low lighting of
the room with the ill child at the start and noted the sombre atmosphere this created around his
situation. Lesser performing candidates simply relied upon the dress of characters and the role
they had in the extract, leading to quite simplistic analysis.
Candidates engaged with the use of editing and sound. Many candidates could mention editing
and continuity, through the use of shot reverse shot or eyeline matches. The most able
candidates examined editing in an analytical way. These candidates could clearly link meaning
constructed in the extract and state something purposeful about the representation of age, for
example they focused their attention on the use of long takes and how the camera followed key
characters who dominated the frame and there were also some excellent musings on the use of
cross cutting within the sequence. Most candidates could identify transitions used, though a
common error was the use of the term jump cut. Lesser achieving candidates simply mentioned
the word edit or commented on editing without actually using any examples of discussing how
editing through shot sequencing helped create representations of age. At times there was little
attempt to understand how editing created particular viewpoints from which the sequence made
most sense or how it was used to privilege particular characters and age groups.
Sound proved to be the most problematic technical area for candidates, although through the
evaluation of the use of dialogue, particular attention was focused on the first boy’s use of
language and the mature way he confronted the illness that was enveloping him. This stoic
manner was compared to another young adult doctor’s childish construction, which focused on
his immaturity. Many candidates relied on dialogue as a valued aspect of sound and would refer
to key dialogue between characters. A few candidates exemplified the use of monitor blips for
the ill child or indeed the use of silence to reflect the seriousness of the child’s situation, though
many noted how calm the female doctor was in the ER waiting area, making reference to
diegetic sounds. There was some common misunderstanding of diegetic and non-diegetic
sound and that which is synchronous and asynchronous. At times it was encouraging to see
that candidates examined sound and editing alongside each other and in relation to mise-en-
scène. This integrated approach should be encouraged more as it often leads to more
advanced responses from candidates.
Overall, this was an examination session, with a wide range of candidate responses, with
evidence of excellent candidate responses in analysis and understanding of the question set in
response to television drama and the representation of gender and for question two, on ‘how
important is technological convergence’. The candidates appeared to have enjoyed responding
to the TV drama extract and some very full answers were marked in this session. The session
was also characterised by a number of brief or incomplete responses by candidates.
For question one, the majority of candidates addressed the technical features of camera shot,
angle and composition, and mise en scène well, with some fluency at times and there was noted
improvement from January’s session in the candidates’ address of editing and sound. There
was plenty of evidence of candidates being able to reach the higher end of the marks available
and candidates, where needed, were awarded full or nearly full marks for their responses.
As indicated by the mark scheme for this exam paper, the use of media vocabulary is a very
important part of the exam at AS level. The mark scheme and syllabi clearly stipulate that a
number of marks are available for the use of terminology. Good practice suggests that
candidates should be keeping a vocabulary list of technical language for both questions. At
times, in question one there was an absence of vocabulary in some candidates’ answers and
some common misconceptions or misapplied camera shots and angles, for example, there was
some evident confusion with the use of low/high angle shots in analysis of the extract. On page
eighteen of the specification there is a list of the key terminology used in relation to analysis of
the technical features of television drama. It is advisable that centres ensure coverage of these
in preparation of the candidates in the exam; likewise for candidates embarking on the analysis
of radio drama this key vocabulary list can be found on page twenty four of the specification.
Comments on candidate’s responses to Question 1 – Television Drama
There was plenty of evidence that the question set on gender and representation and the extract
Doctor Who achieved the desired differentiation of candidate responses. The extract was
approximately five minutes in length and enabled the candidates to engage with the key skill of
textual analysis using the four technical features: Camera shot, angle and composition, mise en
scène, editing and sound. Of these technical area’s, camera work and mise en scène were by
far the most comfortable concepts the candidates addressed, with editing and sound the least,
despite many improved attempts to address these technical features. Candidates responses,
which did not link technical analysis to gender representation often lacked focus in their answers
on how gender, was constructed through the technical features of the extract.
Candidates structured their responses in a number of ways for question one. Some began by
addressing the concept of representation in the extract and a discussion of the representational
differences between The Master the challenging stereotype of Martha Jones and contrasted this
with the Doctor and other characters in the extract. Or on the other hand, the candidates would
address the technical areas one by one.
Stronger candidates could provide an integrated analysis of the extract through analysis of key
examples identified. These candidates explored how the technical features could be applied
using a combination of the technical features, for example, in discussion of the argument that
takes place between the Master and Martha. Stronger candidates could then place this
sequence of conflict in its mise en scène (the spaceship, with reference to cross cutting to the
flashback sequence on Earth), through the use of shot reverse shot (and editing) between
Martha and the Master, camera types used and through the analysis of sound also discuss the
Master’s emasculation of power and authority. Weaker candidates could list many technical
aspects, with varying degrees of accuracy, but struggle to say anything meaningful about the
representation of gender.
Either of these approaches to the structure of question one is advisable and centres need to
plan and help structure the candidate’s responses in the classroom. It is advised against
preparing candidates to word a long and lengthy introduction about what they are going to
answer, or give theoretical introductions and/or historical contexts to television drama. Question
one does not require a discussion of the generic qualities of the television drama.
It is also important that candidates move from description of key technical areas to analysis of
how representations are constructed. This will enable candidates to achieve higher notional
marks for their responses and avoid sets of basic answers, which on occasion in this session
offered quite general textual analysis. These types of responses lacked focused discussion of
the representation of gender.
On the whole the use of media vocabulary was very good, but could centres please note that
there are up to 10 marks available for the use of media terminology – hence the previous
recommendation that candidates should be encouraged to use the appropriate media
terminology. Good advice for centres is to encourage candidates to keep vocabulary lists. There
were a significant number of candidates who still adopted an overly simplistic approach –
centres need to encourage candidates to use appropriate technical language for precision in
analysis and to make sure that they avoid superficial terms like cameras 'switching' or 'jumping',
and know the difference between zooms and tracking or avoid describing characters as 'goodies'
This mark scheme is more able to credit answers, which have different strengths, and this
session, the marking of candidates’ papers revealed the flexibility in its application, according to
the standards set. It is advisable that centres make the mark scheme available to candidates for
the next exam session so that they are aware of how the work is assessed. This could also be
used for the marking of timed assignments in the classroom and for the marking of mock exam
papers. Finally it is important that candidates address a balance in their responses to all the
technical features used in the extract to construct meaning, at times some candidates would
focus too much on specific ‘micro’ aspect of the television drama, for example writing a whole
side on the use of mise en scène.
Comments on the ‘micro’ aspects of Question one on Television Drama
The following comments are selected examples points and for use as examples to assist centres
with the delivery of the topic and to help advise on candidates’ answers, it is by no means an
Camera Shot, Angle and Composition
This technical feature was well addressed by the candidates overall. Most candidates had a
media vocabulary, which addressed the technical features of television drama. Where
candidates used the correct terminology and could describe shot composition, this on the whole
was well done. Weaker candidates were able to describe key shots used in exemplification, but
would often lack explicit links to how these shots assisted in the construction of the
representation of age. As with the January 2009 session, please be aware that terms ‘insert’
shots and ‘wide’ shots and the ‘tilt’ shot and ‘jump’ shot are common misconceptions/ vocabulary
used by candidates. Many candidates argued how shot construction represented the
juxtaposition of power between the antagonist and protagonist in the extract. It would have been
encouraging to see a wider range of examples of shot sizes and camera movement referenced
in relation to a sequence's representations.
Mise en scène
This technical aspect was by far the most comfortable used by the candidates. There was
plenty of evidence of candidates’ discussion of clothing and props, visual iconography and
character, for example the power and authority at the beginning of the sequence of the Master,
dressed in formal attire, who exerts his authority and domination in his body language
expression and speech. More able candidates would be able to contrast the gender
representation of different characters through the mise en scène and how the roles of the
different characters changed, for example, how Martha Jones becomes a symbolic messenger
and on more than one occasion the team of examiners noted that there was some excellent
analysis of the mise en scène focused on hierarchies and power.
Setting, although a little more problematic for some, was used well in discussion of the range of
representations of gender used in the extract. More able candidates would move beyond
description and use the technical features of mise en scène in order to discuss the signification
of the representation of gender. For example, candidates analysed important moments in the
extract when the Master’s empire and power was represented by the spacecraft and reference
to the silver orbs in space, juxtaposed with cutaway’s to the missile silo, as representative of the
Master’s domination. This represents the degree of sophistication in some candidate’s
responses and there were a vast range of interpretations of the text by candidates.
Candidates were able to account for costume and props as key elements in mise en scène,
though many are still wedded to deterministic colour analysis, which is misleading and naïve, for
example, “the female character's dress is red which is a signifier of danger". The aspect least
discussed of mise en scène was lighting, which was often commented upon without adequate
analysis, for example the lighting was dark and the character of the Master was therefore evil.
Special effects were often commented upon, quite legitimately in the discussion of the
representation of gender to varying degrees of success.
There was some improvement in the discussion of sound since January’s session, although
there was still plenty of evidence of candidates omitting or offering minimal discussion of sound
from the textual analysis. Whilst there was some excellent reference to how sound assisted in
the understanding of the construction of gender, for example, in discussion of synchronous/ non
synchronous sound in relation to the ticking clock as a symbolic omnipresence of the Master’s
However, candidates often discussed this technical feature with some limitations, with some
focusing solely on the use of dialogue between two characters. Candidates did also relate the
use of non-diegetic sound to the triumphant victory of the Doctor over the Master at the end of
the sequence. The use of non-diegetic sound to emphasise Martha’s role as a messenger was
often commented upon, as was the reference to the ‘spaghetti western’ music at the beginning
of the extract as a signpost for the showdown that was about to commence. The ‘spaghetti
western’ feel of the initial music was signposted by candidates because they felt as though
Martha was heading towards her doom.
Often weaker candidates showed confusion with technical terminology, referring to ambient
sound which was not shown in the part of the sequence they referred to, or simply getting
diegetic and non-diegetic sound the wrong way round. The analysis of sound is more than just
dialogue and weaker candidate responses may interpret the soundtrack/use of music in too
general analysis. Centres should also consider more carefully the role that sound effects have
in the construction of meaning, particularly in relation to the diegetic reality of the drama. It is
advised that centres do cover the technical features of sound thoroughly in order to give
candidates an opportunity to fully engage with the analysis of the extract.
As with the January 2009 session, this technical area proved to be the most problematic for
candidates and the one technical area of analysis that was often omitted in candidate’s answers.
Most candidates who addressed editing were able to address the type of transitions used and
could comment on the pace of the editing. Indeed most candidates would recognise the use of
the flashback, as an elliptical device in the narration of the story and this technical element was
the most common discussed in candidates’ answers. Weaker candidates often omitted any
discussion of editing or offered quite simplistic accounts of how editing was used, for example in
the use of the shot reverse shot sequence between the Master and Martha.
More able candidates could analyse technical issues of editing by way of analysis of the ellipsis,
accounting for how the extract collapsed a series of events, for example, in explaining the
narrative to represent Martha as the messenger and helper who communicates the need to save
the world. Candidates were able to comment on pacing and the use of continuity, most often
through the shot reverse shot compositions in the extract and some through the use of sound as
well. These candidates cleverly discussed how soundbridges were constructed through the use
of non-diegetic music in the representation of gender, for example, the orchestral and triumphant
mood music representing the power of the Master.
Overall candidate’s analysis of editing was satisfactory but, many candidates ignored this area
completely or dealt with it in a perfunctory fashion. Very few candidates seemed willing or able
to link editing to representation by, for example, showing how the editing created particular
viewpoints which we are encouraged to identify with or how screen time indicated the shifting
relationship between protagonists and antagonist in the sequence. With the right preparation,
candidates can engage with the nuances of editing under exam conditions, with evidence that
they could discuss crosscutting, eye line match and ellipsis in the extract. The lesser able
candidates would refer simply to the continuity of the extract without reference to any of the
technical aspects expected of them to use.
As in the last examiner’s report, the advice offered to centres is to encourage as much practice
on the concept of editing as possible and how this assists in the construction of representation.
Again begin with identifying the techniques and encourage students to apply these to a range of
examples in class and importantly, test them on this. A balanced and high level notional mark
requires all the technical features to be addressed in the candidate’s answer.
Representation The candidates appear to have enjoyed the discussion of representation in this extract. There
were a wide range of interpretations offered by the candidates, but the dominant reading of the
text focused on the male as powerful and the female as dominated, to more sophisticated
readings of gender representations, including how the representation of Martha’s character
changed and gender stereotypes changed. The most sophisticated responses could argue that
a range of gender representations had been used and provided a full range of exemplification.
This key media concept was either addressed at the beginning of the candidates’ answers or at
the end. Candidates were able to relate the representation of a variety of gender groups closely
to the textual elements of the extract. There was some solid analysis of gender and how it can
be stereotyped in a variety of ways: female emotionality; male authority; changing shift of power
between genders in the extract and other sensibly reasoned representations, such as men as
users of force/ violence as opposed to women as unifiers/ action with words.
Some good examples in the candidates’ responses included: Martha, as a messenger was
empowering in overcoming the Master, the Master was represented as dominant and all
powerful, but by the end of the extract, defeated by the male Doctor, the Doctor was initially
represented as feeble and emasculated in the bird cage, but the transformation of the Doctor by
the end of the extract and through analysis of the mise en scène (lighting and special effects) is
the dominant all powerful male. More perceptive candidates could illustrate the Master’s wife as
a trophy, the Doctor as saviour and Martha as the helper.
There was throughout candidates’ answers good discussion of stereotypes, particularly around
the challenge of expected stereotypes in the text, through the character of Martha Jones.
Weaker candidates failed to focus on the representation of gender, limiting their analysis to
relating everything to power with oppositions – men as superior in antithesis to women as
inferior or the technical textual analysis failed to explain how gender representations were
G322/3 Key Media Concepts (TV/Radio
Drama) January 2009
The entry for the January session
was approximately 2,200 candidates for G322 and 9 candidates for G323. There
were no reported problems with either of the extracts, (for TV drama: Monarch
of the Glen, and Radio Drama: The Sensitive), nor with the question
set. These extracts enabled differentiation through the examination of the key
concept of the representation of age for question one, with the analysis of the
extracts technical features. Given the tiny number of entries for Radio drama
this report focuses on the unit G322 Television Drama, and reserves a paragraph
for the exam paper G323 (headed below), which shares question 2.
As indicated by the mark scheme for
this exam paper, the use of media vocabulary is a very important part of the
exam at AS level. The mark scheme allocates a number of marks for the use of
terminology. Good practice suggests that candidates should be keeping a
vocabulary list of technical language for both questions. At times, in question
one there was an absence of subject-specific vocabulary in some candidates’
responses and some common misconceptions like an ‘insert shot’. On page 18 of
the specification there is a list of the key terminology used in relation to
analysis of the technical features of television drama. It is advisable that
centres ensure coverage of these in preparation of the candidates in the exam,
likewise for students embarking on the analysis of radio drama this key
vocabulary list can be found on page 24 of the specification.
Question 1 – Television drama
Candidates structured their
responses in a number of ways; some began by addressing the concept of
representation in the extract and a discussion of the representational
differences between Amy McDougall the stereotypical teenager and contrasted
this with the Headteacher and the middle-aged character Paul Macdonald. Then
the candidates would address the technical areas one by one. Stronger
candidates could provide an integrated analysis of the extract through analysis
of key examples identified. These candidates explored how the technical
features could be applied using a combination of the technical features, for
example, in discussion of the argument between Paul Macdonald and Amy. They
could then place this sequence of conflict in it’s mise en scène (the stately
home), through the use of shot reverse shot (editing), shot types used and
through sound, both diegetic and non diegetic in discussion of how Paul’s anger
and authority, used as parental control, would order Amy (stereotyped as the
teenage tear away) back to school.
Either of these approaches to the
structure of question 1 is advisable and centres need to help structure the
candidates’ responses in the classroom. Candidates are advised against lengthy
introductions about what they are going to say and against theoretical
introductions and/ or historical contexts to television drama. Candidates are
advised to get straight on with their analysis.
It is also important that candidates
move from description of key technical areas to analysis of how representations
are constructed. This will enable candidates to achieve higher marks for their
responses. The mark scheme enables credit to be awarded to students at three
different levels Explanation, Analysis and Argument (20 Marks), Use of Examples
(20 Marks) and Use of Terminology (10 Marks). Centres are advised to make the
mark scheme available to candidates for the summer session so that they are
aware of how the work is assessed. This could also be used for the marking of
timed assignments in the classroom and for the marking of mock exam papers.
Camera Shot, Angle and Composition
This technical feature was well
addressed by the candidates.. Where candidates used the correct terminology and
could describe shot composition, this on the whole was well done. Weaker
candidates were able to describe key shots used in exemplification, but would
often lack explicit links to how these shots assisted in the construction of
the representation of age.
Mise en scène
There was plenty of evidence of
candidates’ discussion of clothing and props, visual iconography and character
Setting, although a little more problematic for some, was used well in
discussion of the range of representations of age used in the extract. More
able candidates would move beyond description and use the technical features of
mise en scène in order to discuss the signification of the representation of
Candidates often discussed this
technical feature with some limitations, with some focusing solely on the use
of dialogue or accent. Candidates did also relate the use of non diegetic sound
to the emotional state of Amy whilst she was in her room and the contrast of
non diegetic music showing the adults to be happy in the work they performed.
The use of non-diegetic sound to emphasise Amy’s isolation was often commented
on, as was the diction of the middle- aged characters that spoke “properly”.
Other weaker candidates showed confusion with technical terminology, getting
diegetic and non-diegetic sound the wrong way round. It is advised that
centre’s do cover the technical features of sound thoroughly in order to give
candidates an opportunity to fully engage with the analysis of the extract.
This proved to be the most
problematic for candidates and the one technical area of analysis that was
often omitted in candidate’s answers. Most candidates who addressed editing
were able to address the type of transitions used and could comment on the pace
of the editing. Weaker candidates often omitted any discussion of editing or
offered quite simplistic accounts of how editing was used, for example in the
use of quick succession cuts and short takes when the community takes apart the
fishing hut at the end of the sequence. More able candidates could analyse
technical issues of editing by way of analysis of the ellipsis, accounting for
how the extract collapsed a series of events, for example, in explaining the
narrative to represent Amy as a ‘troubled’ teenager who had no option left but
to run away from school and then the home of Paul McDonald; then candidates
were then able to comment on pacing, the use of continuity, most often through
the shot reverse shot compositions in the extract and some through the use of
sound as well. These candidates cleverly discussed how soundbridges were
constructed through the use of non-diegetic music in the representation of age,
for example, the stringed mood music representing the gloomy prospect that Amy
faces, or the use of upbeat music to represent the happiness of the small rural
This key media concept was either
addressed at the beginning of the candidates or at the end, but sometimes when
at the end, the analysis was all too cursory. Candidates were able to relate
the representation of a variety of age groups closely to the textual elements of
the extract. There was some solid analysis of age and how it can be stereotyped
in a variety of ways: teenage emotionality; adult authority; caring nature of
the older female adult and other sensibly reasoned representations. Weaker
candidates failed to focus on the representation of age, relating their
analysis to the region or the gender of the characters.