What is Film Studies?

Film Studies builds critical awareness and skills encouraging students to understand the key elements of film form, the meaning of film, its context and the responses to it. They also explore the nature of films, looking at the role of the spectator, narrative, ideology, and filmmakers’ theories. Cinematography, lighting, shot selection, mise-en-scene, editing, and sound are all explored.

At least twelve films are studied in detail, covering a range of periods (from 1930) and contexts (from Hollywood to European Cinema), looking at silent, documentary and experimental film.

How is it studied?

OCR A-level Film Studies is taught within the two-year A-level programme.

Students will study in small groups and will initially build an understanding of the history of film as well as the methods used in critically analysing it. They will use these skills together with theory to explore a variety of films drawn from a range of styles, contexts, and periods. They will also undertake a practical project resulting in either a short film (4-5 minutes) or a screenplay and storyboard. Each of these is supported by a 1,600-1,800 written analysis.

How is A-Level Film Studies assessed?

Exam Board: OCR

Unit Modules Weighting Format
1 Film History 35% External exam: 2 hours
2 Critical Approaches to Film 35% External Exam: 2 hours
3 Production 30% Coursework: short film or screen play and story board plus evaluative analysis


What do I need?

Students need an interest in film and its many variations. The OCR board offers a broad range of films for each section of the A-Level, and students can tailor their options with advice and help from their tutor. However, students need to be interested in classic as well as contemporary films and to appreciate documentaries and films from a non-Anglophone background.

What should I study with Film Studies?

Film can combine well with a broad range of subjects. As an analytical and practical subject, it builds up a broad range of skills and supports other creative subjects (such as Art and Photography) and combines well with Media Studies and Photography for those with a clear intent to work in the film industry.

What can I do with A-Level Film Studies?

Many students choose to move onto degrees in film, media or other broader cultural areas. Many also use the skills acquired to support applications in other areas such as marketing, advertising, business or design.

Questions about the course

What do I need to study Film Studies?

The most important qualities are a real interest in how films are made, the context in which they are made, and how technical achievements create success –  as well as an interest in how film has developed historically.

Can I study Film Studies as a one year A-Level?

If you are an A-Level Film Studies retake student, yes.