Meeja studies

I found my self nodding my head in some level of agreement with the Tories when they stated that there needs to be some way of differentiating a media studies A level from a maths or chemistry A level.

For years, perhaps unfairly, media and film studies seem to have taken stick from the press for their perceived "easy ride" way of getting an A level or a degree. This may be unfair, but it does remind me of a chap I knew at university who excelled at nothing other than getting drunk. The be quite honest and fair, he really was not that bright. He told me he was studying a degree in media and film. One of his modules was on the films of James Stewart. Well as soon as he said this I started eulogising about The Glenn Miller Story, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, The Rear Window, Vertigo, Harvey, and of course, It's a Wonderful Life.

And what was the chap's response ? "What ... oh ... I don't know them". What the hell had he been studying if I knew more about James Stewart films than him ?

For me it justified the prejudice that some people study subjects which are ultimately worthless and really not worthy of equality with other subjects. Of course this is grossly unfair and there are, I am sure, some media courses that are really tough and genuinely a challenge but perhaps these need some form of assessment to make them stand out from other media courses.

If you want to know the sort of stuff media studies students should know then click HERE to do the BBC media studies test. I scored 6/7.


Mark Reckons said...

I got 5/7

And to be fair Nich I know plenty of people who studied more traditional sensible subjects who also did very little work.

Matthew Huntbach said...

What about this test? If Media Studies is just about memorising facts like this, it's rubbish. This is the problem with a lot of "soft option" subjects - they are essentially about memorising, this can be passed very easily. Even if the things you're memorising sound very clever, it doesn't mean a thing if the assessment is just "memorise these things and regurgitate them" - often the facts are memorised and regurgitated but not understood at a deep level so the student is unable to use them in practice, so nothing at all has been achieved. Worse still, the student gets into the habit of confusing learning with memorisation, and can't get out of this bad habit. In my experience as a university lecturer, the cinfusion of memorisation with learning is the second biggest cause of failure (laziness is the first, lack of intelligence is way behind).

The more useful subjects are those which involve deeper thought and reasoning. There tends to be more of this in the more traditional and abstract subjects, this is why university admissions tutors find them the better ones in practice.

Brian E. said...

My son-in-law, who works for a well known media company recently advertised for a graduate to fill what is essentially an organisational / liaison post.
He narrowed down the heap of applicants to ten, of which 5 had qualified in media studies and 5 in other subjects. Having interviewed them, none of those with media studies got onto his short-list, the successful candidate having studied English literature. His comment was that whilst the Media qualified applicants might know a bit about the industry, they seemed to be totally unqualified in other areas. They seemed to think that within the media business, money was limitless, clearly they hadn't read ITV's annual financial report! The others, in general, seemed to be more worldly wise and would soon pick up what they needed to know about the work.

None of the above said...

Maths or science are A levels

Media Studies etc are 'courses'.

Standards ARE in free fall. I'd even go as far as to label a few teachers at my school as thick


crewegwyn said...

And what about the Music student who listened to Rhapsody in Blue and told me that she thought Strauss's music was great!!

And this was in 1976 !!!

Liberal Neil said...

Nick - I split my time at Uni between drinking and writing Focuses - while doing a law degree!

The media is a pretty big and varied industry and I suspect there is plenty to study about it.

Anyway, what is 'easy' or 'difficult' varies from person to person. Many would say that Mathematics is a traditional and solid subject - but for me it was the easiest by far of my four A-levels.

Matthew - the test is made up by the BBC, not an actual set of questions from a media studies exam.

Malcolm Redfellow said...

As per Brian E. above, I have always assumed that the skills gained from studying Eng. Lit. were eminently transferable. But then I spent two decades as a Head of English. So, the BBC/Media Studies quizette was a doddle (6/7, no bother: and I'm guessing I failed on the same one as Nich). Obviously I had to cover Media Studies too often: it seemed a marvellous excuse for watching westerns and screen violence.

The more general point about "soft" A-levels is a non-runner. It has always, back to my time as a seeker for a University place (in the earliest '60s), been the case that some subjects were regarded as having status. Which is why we did/were made to do "straight" subjects: Classics and Mod Lang, English, History, the three Sciences, Economics ...

Then there's the mystery of David Cameron's three A-levels: History, History of Art and Economics and Politics (that last one notoriously misses out the hard bits of the two substantive topics). Three closely-related subjects like those would not have been convincing to the admissions officers of my day. Dave must have had some pull from somewhere. On which topic, does anyone have the full skinny on the 'phone call from Buck House that allegedly got him the Tory bag-carrier job?

Quietzapple said...

I think exams are set are not solely about knowledge in a particular subject but also capability to use that information.

Try Hesse's novel "The Glass Bead Game" which perhaps expresses that better than I.

Dim people who drink too much won't do well in Media Studies I am sure.