Your Independent Research… and some other stuff


The fifth module of the AQA ‘A’ level media spec is another piece of coursework – a 3000-word independent study which should demonstrate your critical autonomy and engagement with the contemporary media scene.

The slide show above gives full details. Pay special attention to the formulation of your question/hypothesis, and make sure you check with me before you start work.

I’ve suggested a few things at the end, some of which we’ve talked about in class, which are good meaty topics around which you could organise a study.

Meanwhile, here are some media stories:

1. It seems to me that every couple of months since the iTunes Music Store launched, there has been a rival launch from a major player, designed as an iTunes killer. Here’s the latest. I just bought a car, which features an “iPod preparation.” How are Sky/UMG going to penetrate my Golf? Meanwhile, Apple profits are up again, even though some people are worried that Steve Jobs looks “gaunt.” He had cancer 5 years ago. The doctor who operated on his tumour has said that he cried when he realised that Jobs’ tumour was the survivable one, and not the one that leads to certain death. But the interesting thing is that when they talk about cancer survival, they’re actually talking about the “5-year survival rate.” Anyway, I thought it was obvious that the successor to Jobs will be Jonathan Ive, the chief designer who’s the genius behind almost everything Apple does. Meanwhile, there’s a direct relationship between idle speculation – much of it from bloggers – about Jobs’ health and the Apple share price. Luckily, I don’t have an Apple shares.

2. This made me laugh. There’s a tendency among journalists to write about TV shows as if they are the best thing since grated mozzarella, but only if nobody is actually watching. As soon as a show gains any kind of audience, they lose interest. The Wire has been a hot property in the columns of the Guardian and elsewhere, and much discussed by bloggers. I’ve never seen it myself – I only get FreeView (along with the majority of people, actually), and I’m not buying a DVD boxed set on the say-so of someone who – two years ago – was raving about the yawnfest that was The Sopranos. The Wire? 38,000 viewers. That, for me, should be classified as unwatchable TV.

3. BBC are slammed for allowing sponsorhip of events. Quite right too. Meanwhile, this article about BBC funding was prominent on the Guardian web site this morning, but really hard to find this afternoon. Things move pretty fast, but it’s an interesting discussion. I personally think the BBC is worth having, even if you don’t watch/listen to anything it does. CBeebies is worth the licence fee, for providing entertainment for little’uns without adverts for plastic crap. Top Gear is worth the licence fee, for doing what no commercial broadcaster would dare to do – for fear of upsetting advertisers (count the car ads you see on the average commercial channel in an evening). The BBC web site is worth the licence fee – because it means that news will always be free – if there was no BBC, the newspapers would start charging for access in a heartbeat. And annoying as they can be at times, BBC radio is worth the licence fee for providing talk/sport/music without ads.

4. The Telegraph has launched its new-look web page. It’s still the old look under the surface at the moment.

5. Finally, you can read the Ofcom report on the Channel 4 documentary The Great Global Warming Swindle. And this rather sniffy commentary from “Saint” George Monbiot, among other commentary.

There will now be a summer intermission. I may start posting things again in mid-late August.


9 thoughts on “Your Independent Research… and some other stuff

  1. chinia


    i was a little confused as to whether we are meant to do this over summer or start thinking about what to study? I’m sure you did go over this in class but unfortunately i was absent, i would be very grateful if you could explain for me.

  2. Rob

    I wouldn’t expect you to start working on this in earnest until we get back, but you might start formulating ideas, doing some research into what you actually want to research (!). Coming up with a question/problem/hypothesis is the first stage – it’s really important to get that right before you start work properly, and it’s actually quite tricky to get a good question, which is why I suggest you check with me before you start properly.

  3. Josh

    I was thinking of using the hypothesis regarding ‘How the Red Hot Chili Peppers have adapted over the last three decades to stay popular amongst their audience’, focusing a lot on audience theory.
    Would this be enough to write 3000 words on, or would a more in depth study into other genres such as the news and/or film be more effective?
    I.e. ‘How have the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Scorcese/Spielberg(?) and Princess Diana remained popular over the last three decades with their audiences?’
    -Or might a broader hypothesis give me too much of a workload to squeeze into 3000 words?

  4. Rob


    We need to work on the wording for that. Perhaps something more along the lines of, “How have established popular music recording artists responded to the challenges of changing patterns of consumption created by new media?”

    As I said, it’s much better to be narrowly focused, so the second half of your suggestion is less appropriate, as it would spread your research far too thinly.

  5. Mike

    Despite working hard on my coursework over the past few weeks, it looks like there might be a danger of it not being completely finished by the deadline tomorrow.

    Basically, other coursework and a mammoth DT project have left me with little time recently, but I am almost finished.

    I know you mentioned earlier something about having somewhere to email coursework during the easter holidays, that way I could give you what I have completed so far tomorrow morning, and email you the finished piece, citations and all, early in the easter holidays?

  6. RFM

    If you listen carefully, you can hear the sound of the world’s smallest violin.

    You’ve had MONTHS to do this, so I’ve very little sympathy. If you email the work to the office@ address (found on the school’s web site), they will forward to me after the weekend. If I don’t have it by Tuesday, it’s too late.

  7. Mike

    Haha, that’s fine, I wasn’t looking for sympathy.

    Hopefully, it’ll just be citations that aren’t completed tomorrow morning. It looks like I’ll have to test my faith in the Cottesloe administration system.

  8. Mike

    Coursework cited and sent to the school earlier today, could you warn me if you don’t receive it by Tuesday?

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