Communication and Culture

Year 12

The first term of Year 12 is focused on the introductory unit of the A-Level.  Through class discussions and personal exploration students demonstrate how to analyse and interpret the practices of everyday life and how they affect “the self”.  They will also explore and interpret a variety of cultural products ranging from clothing to iPods, hairstyles and accessories, and how they communicate who they really are.

In December, students begin their coursework portfolio consisting of an exploration and investigation into how they communicate in relation to two areas:

  • Communication, Culture and the Individual
  • Cultural Context and Practices

Before the end of term 3, students begin their final assignment to complete the AS level requirements for their coursework portfolio.  This is the area where the creative student really excels! Students are required to develop an audio/visual presentation (using video-editing software) analysing a cultural context and practice.

Coursework deadlines are set by the teacher.  Pupils are given opportunities to complete a first draft for feedback on areas to improve; however, if pupils do not adhere to the deadlines, they risk losing the chance to receive this valuable feedback. 

Scheme of Work Summary:
Students begin to revise for the exam in term 5.  The exam for AS consists of 4 questions:

  • The Self
  • Culture
  • Reading Images
  • The Meaning and Practices of Everyday Life

Students are expected to analyse and apply the content learned from September in creative and sophisticated responses. 

Term 1
AQA Unit 1:
Understanding Communication and Culture
Exploration of Personal Identity - 6/7 weeks - Examples include

  • Definitions of identity: What are you like? Who are you? What do we/you need to know? Self-concept and self-image/self disclosure. Roles.
  • Language: Verbal and non verbal
  • Communication. How we use language in different contexts, situations, places, how we hear language in various contexts. Formal/informal; sociolect/dialects/idiolect.
  • Identities and changing contexts: Identity and self-presentation; personae and masks. Staging a performance; personal style.
  • Socialisation: acquisition of gender identities.
  • Identities in other cultures.

Term 2
Reading images and products
5 weeks, Analysis of cultural products using semiotics and process toolkits - Examples include

  • Personal appearances: clothing, hair, footwear, jewellery, tattoos.
  • Personal possessions: technologies, music and lyrics.
  • Personal places and spaces: rooms, buildings, streets, cars.
  • Print media: magazine covers; flyers; posters; CD and DVD covers; shop front signage.

Launch of Coursework portfolio 2 weeks

  • The demands of the coursework portfolio
  • Section A: First and Second Readings
  • Selecting topics for readings
  • Formulating titles
  • Begin student tutorials for First Reading
  • Research and note making to be completed during holiday

Term 3
AQA Unit 2:
Individual and Contemporary Culture
Section A: Complete First Reading (two weeks).

  • Finalise titles
  • Write 500 word investigation
  • Section A: Launch Second Reading (four
  • weeks).
  • Finalise topics and titles
  • Complete primary and secondary
  • research
  • Draft 1000 word exploration

Term 4
AQA Unit 2:
Individual and Contemporary Culture, Submission of 1000 word exploration
Section B: Individual Presentation. (4 weeks) “My culture: who am I in context? Exploring Personal and Cultural Identity”

  • Selection of two of the four key concepts
  • Selection of format
  • Produce audio and visual elements
  • Finalise presentation and submit

Term 5
Revision of Unit 1 and exam preparation.

Course breakdown:
Exam – COMM1 Understanding Communication and Culture:
50% of AS, 25% of A Level, Written paper, 1 hour 45 minutes, 80 marks, Four compulsory questions

Coursework – COMM2 The Individual and Contemporary Culture: Portfolio 50% of AS, 25% of A Level

Portfolio of work: 

  • 500 word essay
  • 1000 word essay with references from different sources
  • 6-8 minute audio/visual presentation (podcast, videocast, film, etc.)

Year 13

Technically still in Year 12, students begin studying content for the A2 component of the A-Level. Students are required to demonstrate a broad awareness of contrasting theoretical approaches to the analysis and understanding of cultural production and consumption in contemporary society. This must include a study of Market Liberal Approaches to the understanding of culture. This understanding should include an investigation of the rationales for capitalism, globalisation and consumerism in relation to cultural products and practices. Critical theories must also be studied.

These must include:

  • Critical Social Theory (Marxism, neo-Marxism, Hegemony Theory)
  • Feminism
  • Postmodernism.

And at least one of the following:

  • Postcolonialism
  • Poststructuralism
  • Queer Theory.

This study continues until December, with tasks assigned to each theoretical perspective.  These tasks are not for the coursework portfolio; however, they are very useful for revision, and application of knowledge within coursework tasks.

In December, students begin in-depth research for their coursework.  The first draft of their 2000-word essay is due at the end of the first week back from Christmas holidays. The final draft is due at the end of January.  Immediately after this due date, students begin their creative presentation (similar to the type produced in AS), which is due at the end of term 4.

Students are expected to begin revising for their exam once the Easter holidays begin.  At the beginning of term 5, students undertake a series of activities suited for revision.  Some of these activities are mock exam responses in an essay format.

The final exam falls between the 2nd week of May and the 3rd week of June.

Scheme of Work Summary:

  • Term 1 -Theoretical Approaches Critical Social Theory - Marxism, neo- Marxism & Hegemony theory:
    Students to examine theories and provide analysis in relation to cultural production and consumption in contemporary culture.
  • Term 2 - Theoretical Approaches Postmodernism - The situation today?
    Students to examine theories and provide analysis in relation to cultural production and consumption in contemporary culture.
  • Introduction to Cultural Site: Fictions
    Focus is on the communication and transmission of culture through stories. In addition to traditional formulations such as fairy tales, novels, plays and films, students could look at interactive narratives which invite  ‘players’ to participate actively, video games, second life etc.
  • Terms 3 and 4 - Communication and Culture in practice - Portfolio

Section A – Case study (50% of total marks)

2000 word study
Launch Case Study – (Students to be made aware that this provides the foundation for the creative work)

  • Selection of Site topic
  • Compilation of secondary sources
  • Analysis of secondary sources
  • Identification of a specific focus within the frame of reference of the chosen question
  • Readings of relevant cultural practices and/or products
  • Response to the chosen question in terms of appropriate key concepts and relevant theoretical material

Section B: Creative Work (50% of total marks)

Based on prescribed question chosen for case study, students to draw on their case studies in order to develop an original and creative idea or argument in relation to their chosen question.

  • Term 5 - Revision of Unit 3 and exam preparation.

Course breakdown:

Exam – COMM3 Communicating Culture 25% of A Level Written paper, 2 hours, 80 marks, Compulsory question and choice of one essay question

Coursework– COMM4 Communication and Culture in Practice: Portfolio 25% of A Level

Portfolio of work:

  • 2000 word essay with references from a variety of sources
  • 6-8 minute audio/visual presentation (podcast, videocast, film, etc.)