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Students’ Guide to Independent Study and Essay Writing

Richard Gent | Tuesday March 08, 2011

Categories: A Level, AQA A Level, AQA A2

Media Issues

You may wish to focus on “a topic or issue arising out of or suggested by a contemporary media text or texts.” If you adopt this approach, make sure you’re interested in it (!) and don’t lose sight of the specific text(s) upon which your study must centre. Below are a number of issues, by way of example.

The following four important issues could form the basis of your study. Remember, though, the focus must always be the media text.


It’s important that you place your text(s) into context; the precise contexts to be studied will be dependent upon the choice of text, topic or issue for the Independent Study, and those contexts which you personally find most interesting and relevant. historical contexts (e.g. generic; social etc);

social contexts (e.g. of production; of reception; social history; influence of social ideas and movements upon texts etc).

political contexts (political pressure; political climate; political allegiances of the press etc);

economic contexts (the ways in which economic factors may have shaped or influenced the text or issue);

The contexts of production, distribution and reception might also be included.

The purpose of the contextualisation, however, should be to illuminate or enhance understanding of the contemporary text, topic or issue. It should not overshadow it. The analysis and discussion of the contemporary text, topic or issue should be the dominant element in your study.

Why do we need to consider contexts?

Whatever texts and issues you’re focusing on for your essay you need to show an awareness that media texts do not emerge out of a vacuum; they are shaped and influenced by historical, social, political and economic contexts.

How might this work in practice?

Imagine you’ve decided to choose Big Brother VI as the contemporary text that you’ll be analysing and that you’ve also thought about an issue related to this series you want to...

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