A Level Film Studies


At the root of all film studies is a recognition that films are made: they are constructed using a range of elements – cinematography, mise-en-scène, sound, editing and performance (the key elements of film form) - which are organised structurally in terms of narrative and often genre (the structural elements of film form). How filmmakers use these elements, frequently in
complex and highly artistic ways, is a large part of what constitutes the formal study of film. Equally important is how we respond to the works filmmakers create, both as spectators and as learners studying relevant contexts, applying critical approaches and engaging in critical debate.


For this specification, these underpinning elements have been used to create a framework for studying film, which learners will be able to apply to all the films they explore:

  1. the key elements of film form – cinematography, mise en-scène, editing, sound and performance, which have significance both individually and in combination with one another
  2. the structural elements of film form – narrative, the processes of narration, including the role of the screenplay in providing narrative structure, and genre (where relevant to the film studied)
  3. how film creates meaning and generates response, including how it functions as a medium of representation.
  4. film as an aesthetic medium
  5. the spectator and spectatorship
  6. the social, cultural, political, historical and institutional, including production, contexts of film
  7. critical approaches to studying film – arising from the idea of film as ‘constructed’ and including different conceptions of narrative, ideology and the idea of the ‘auteur’
  8. key debates (the realist versus the expressive in film and the digital) and filmmakers’ theories of film.


Written examination: 1 hours 35% of qualification
This component assesses knowledge and understanding of three American films.
Section A: Hollywood since the 1960s (two-film study) 

One two-part question, requiring reference to two Hollywood films, one produced between 1961 and 1990 and the other more recent. There is a choice of question in the second part.

Section B: Contemporary American independent film 

One two-part question, requiring reference to one contemporary American independent film (produced
after 2010). There is a choice of question in the second part.


Written examination: 1 hours 35% of qualification
This component assesses knowledge and understanding of two British films (a comparative study) and one nonEnglish language European film.

Section A: British film (comparative study)

One two-part question, requiring reference to a pair of British films, one produced between 1930 and 1960 and the other more recent. There is a choice of question in the second part.

Section B: Non-English Language European film

One two-part question, requiring reference to one non-English language European film. There is a choice of question in the second part.


Non-exam assessment 30% of qualification
This component assesses one production and its accompanying evaluative analysis.


Either an extract from a film highlighting narrative construction (2 to 3 minutes)
Or a screenplay for an extract from a film highlighting narrative construction of between 1200 and 1400 words plus a digitally photographed storyboard of
a key section from the screenplay (approximately 1 minutes’ screen time, corresponding to approximately 15 storyboard shots).


An evaluative analysis (1000-1250 words) of the production in comparison with other professionally produced films or screenplays.

Examples of Hollywood films it is possible to study include:

  • Bonnie and Clyde (Penn, 1967), 15
  • One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Forman, 1975), 15
  • Blade Runner (Scott, 1982), 15
  • Do the Right Thing (Lee, 1989), 15

Recent films

  • No Country for Old Men (Coen Brothers, 2007), 15
  • Inception (Nolan, 2010), 12A
  • Django Unchained (Tarantino, 2012), 18
  • Carol (Haynes, 2015), 15.




The minimum entry requirements for level 3 applied study apply. In addition, a Grade 5 in English is required. Students with a Grade 4 who demonstrate good literacy skills through the transition pack and initial assessment will also be considered.