This section will address how to select which program you should attend.
MOTIVATIONS FOR DEGREE
Media Studies is considered to be a relatively new discipline since it only emerged as an attractive degree for students in the 1970s. But it has gained more popularity since. If you are interested in gaining an “informed, critical understanding of the media and mass communication” and how they contribute to society, you should definitely consider applying for a degree in this field (Guardian).
What skills can you expect to gain from this degree?
- An understanding of media organizations and how media and culture influence one another
- An understanding of different forms of media production (including print and audio-visual production)
- Research and critical thinking skills
- Time management and self-motivation
- Team-working skills
- Digital skills (like using recording and editing equipment, putting together a written feature etc.) -- note: you can typically expect to gain these digital skills in the more vocational courses (more information on this below)
Some courses are more theoretical in nature and focus more on media and culture in society. Others are more vocational and include more practical elements, involving producing audio, visual or written work.
Teaching modes will typically include lectures, seminars and workshops. If you choose to opt for more practical degrees, your degree will usually include some technical work (written/visual/audio work) like directing/filming an interview, recording dialogue or writing a feature.
According to UK-based sources, graduates of this degree typically find jobs in publishing, marketing, advertising, copywriting, public relations and teaching in the UK. However, a media degree (while it does give students a comprehensive understanding of how the industry operates) does not promise a fulltime job instantly. After finishing a degree in this field, you will not “necessarily find yourself [in a better position] to get a job than someone with an English or History degree” (Guardian). You may even have to work unpaid, or at a low salary, for several weeks or months before you get a high-paying job in the UK.
If you choose to opt for this degree, you should utilize your university’s resources fully and try to apply for internships or other placements while you are there. If your course gives you the opportunity to do a work placement/internship during your study, you should definitely opt for it -- not only will this encourage you to learn independently, it will also help you gain practical experience which can make you more eligible for jobs after graduation.
Note: the information above has been taken from UK-based sources. Career opportunities in Pakistan or other countries may be different. If you hope to work in Pakistan, you are advised to connect with relevant professors/experts of the field to find out what sort of career opportunities you can find here.
- It is recommended that you read this article on The Guardian to gain a more holistic understanding of what this degree entails (this article contains some professor and student perspectives on a Media Studies degree in UK).
- You can also go through this article by Times Higher Education on what you can do with a degree in this field.
TYPES OF DEGREE
In a nutshell, the following degrees + sub-fields/ specializations are available for Media Studies:
- BA (Bachelor of Arts)
- Media Studies/Media Sciences and Communication
- Film Studies/Film and Media Studies
How to select the best option for yourself (among specializations and sub-fields within this field)
(information taken from The Guardian)
Courses will usually focus on how we communicate and how that communication shapes society. You will be expected to grapple with the question: “does the media reflect society or does society reflect the media?”. What you will be taught is dependent on the kind, of course, you opt for.
Most media courses will be more theoretical in nature. And some courses will be more vocational/practical in nature. In the theoretical courses, you can expect to develop a solid understanding of how individuals and groups communicate, and how that fits into the “cultural, political and historical contexts”. You can also expect to learn about linguistics and semiotics in theoretical courses.
The vocational courses will be more hands-on: you may be required to write news stories or work in a studio and produce audio/visual work. Keep in mind these courses will have some theory in them. If you are interested in studying a theoretical course, this may be appropriate for you. But if you are more interested in studying a very practical course, you should look at courses in journalism.
In Film Studies courses, you can expect to learn more about the development of cinema and how it has become a global phenomenon. Courses may also focus on the effects of technology in the industry, i.e. what is the impact of special effects, or on the introduction of key movements and genres. If you are fascinated by the film industry and want to learn more about it theoretically, courses in this area may be relevant.
If you are hoping to study a media course that is more practical/very hands-on (and less theoretical), you should consider a degree in Journalism. Most courses will include writing and reporting, and some technical work (like learning how to use production software, or how to do video editing). Some courses may specialize in a specific type of journalism -- like sports journalism, fashion journalism, music journalism or magazine journalism. You should choose the type of journalism based on your specific interests and your future goals. For instance if you hope to become a sports anchor, you should specialize in sports journalism. But if you hope to become a magazine editor, a degree in magazine journalism may be more relevant.
If you are interested in Media Studies, you might also like:
- Film Production
- Political Science
- Library Sciences
How to select the best option for yourself (among allied fields)
- If you are interested in film and want to opt for a more practical degree, you could consider a degree in Film Production.
- If you are interested in learning about past events and how they contribute to society, a degree in History may be suitable for you. If you are interested in learning about current events and how they contribute to society, a degree in Political Science may be relevant for you.
- If you are more interested in collecting, preserving and managing books and other materials/media in libraries (or if you want to become a librarian), a degree in Library Sciences may be suitable for you.
Whether you choose to study Media Studies or one of the abovementioned allied fields depends on your interests and your career aspirations. It is recommended that you critically consider the content of this tip sheet and conduct your own research on undergraduate study in this field. In addition to that, you should go through the tip sheets on the fields above, and decide whether or not they are more suitable for you.
- No. of Universities to apply to: You will be able to apply to a maximum of five schools of your choice on UCAS. Note: you can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge.
Here are some links that could help you with selection:
- UNISTATS: you can go through this link to compare different universities and their courses in Media Studies (based on overall student satisfaction, work placement etc.).
- You should also go through ranking websites to see how your prospective course ranks against other courses.
Complement the above field-specific tips with general tips on program selection (under the tab of ‘selection’).
A lot of our tips talk about how you can strengthen your application, but you can build a stronger application when you’ve done the things this program values in the years prior to the application. The application itself is the communication part (in which you communicate what you've done to the admission committee); but this section gives guidance on the substance part (what you can actually do before you apply). In this section we talk about what you can do in the years leading up to applying that can make you an ideal candidate. Supplement the following tips with general tips (under the tab of ‘Pre-Application’) to become a competitive applicant.
Entry requirements will vary from place to place (some schools will have specific requirements; others will not). Generally, an A-level grade (or equivalent) in English Language, English Literature, Sociology, Psychology, Media Studies or Drama may help your overall application. Subject requirements/recommendations can vary by type of course as well. You are advised to visit your prospective university website to find out what the exact subject requirements and/or recommendations are.
While the exact requirement will vary by university and specific course, you can expect requirements for top-tier universities to be somewhere between AAB and BBB. Grades in specific subjects may or may not be required -- this varies by university. Some universities may not accept certain subjects (like General Studies). Note: this is a general guideline; to find out the exact requirements for the course(s) you are interested in, please visit the course website.
It is advised that you aim for the best grades possible - since your internal transcript and A-level results, both, are very important for the admissions committee. Although some universities may be willing to accommodate students whose A-level results are a grade or so lower than their conditional offer, you should aim to meet your condition.
The typical IB requirement will be between 25-35 points, with the low-ranked universities requiring scores of approximately 25-28 points and the higher-ranked universities requiring higher scores. Please note this is just a general guideline, it is highly recommended that you visit your prospective course website to find out what the exact IB requirements (including HL point requirements) are.
If you have done something other than A-Levels or IB, contact your prospective university to find out what their requirements for your system are, or visit the international qualifications page. Note: some universities may not accept or list the HSSC as an acceptable requirement. In this situation, please contact the admissions department to find out how you can meet the university entry requirements.
In case you do not meet the entry requirements or have not studied the right subjects, do not worry. A number of universities offer foundation courses, which you can apply for if you do not meet the entry requirements. Foundation courses are typically one-year long and require full-time study. Once the foundation year has been successfully completed, students can usually move directly into the standard course. Please visit your prospective university website to see if this option is available to you.
Note: if you opt for a foundation year, it will take you an extra year to complete your degree (3 years of original degree + 1 year of the foundation course). Refer to the UK country profile for more information on foundation years.
Research experience is usually never a stated requirement for media studies courses, but you can still try to gain some relevant experience. If you are applying for journalism courses, you may have to display your knowledge of current affairs in your personal statement. So you should try to read newspapers and follow major developing news-stories, and make sure you are well-aware of the current happenings in the world.
Professional experience can definitely boost your application, especially if you are hoping to apply to practical journalism courses. According to Which? University, some universities will actually insist that their applicants have some work experience. It is recommended that you try to gain some experience in a media setting (an internship in a newspaper office, or a TV newsroom, or a local radio -- anything that provides insight into the reporter’s job is relevant).
You are also advised to visit your prospective university website to find out if there is any specific professional experience that applicants are required or recommended to have.
Volunteer work is usually not a stated requirement for this degree, but you are advised to visit your prospective university website and find out if there is any specific volunteer-based experience that applicants are required/recommended to have.
Having your own blog, video log (vlog), podcast or even publishing journalistic work (news articles in print/online) can definitely add positively to your application. If your school has a school newspaper/school magazine, you should for it. You can also consider participating in school/university-based journalism competitions.
This section provides an overview of general guidelines pertaining to the application process. It also delineates the key components of the application process.
While your application will be reviewed holistically, some components like your transcripts and statement may be evaluated with more scrutiny. You may or may not have an interview but if you do, you should be extremely well-prepared for that as well.
Refer to the Program Selection Section for further information.
Is this component required?
How important is this component (in the overall review of the application for admission)?
Standardized tests or entry exams
Transcripts (past academic records)
Letters of recommendation
Resume or CV
May be required
Important when they take place
Complement the above field-specific tips with general tips on overview (under the tab of ‘overview’).
Pakistani applicants suffer most because of inadequate information -- or wrong information -- about essays and personal statements. This section will address those inadequacies specifically in relation to applying for this program. Supplement the following field-specific tips with general tips (under the tab of ‘essay’) to craft a stellar personal statement.
“If you want to study media at university or you think you’re a budding journalist, you will need to show just how persuasive you can be by writing an effective personal statement” (Which? University).
Writing your personal statement can seem like an intimidating task, but you need not worry. As long as you can plan ahead and make sure you have enough time to write several drafts, you will be able to write a strong personal statement.
You will be required to submit one personal statement to the 5 universities you are applying to via UCAS. In your essay, you will need to display your enthusiasm for and knowledge of the subject in just 4000 characters -- meaning you will have to be economical and to-the-point in your writing. You need to talk about your academic ideas and your practical experiences in your statement and use those to reveal something unique about yourself. For more information on what you should be adding in your statement, please go through the sections below.
Which resources should I make use of?
- Read the following links before you start planning your personal statement:
TIPS ON GOOD AND BAD STATEMENTS
What is essential in the statement:
- As mentioned earlier, some media courses are theoretical and some are practical. Your statement needs to focus on the specific type of course you have chosen to apply for. (Source: Which? University)
- If you are opting for a more theoretical course, you should try to address the following questions in your statement of purpose:
- What are your learnings from your current studies and extended reading? How do you hope to build on these learnings during your undergraduate degree?
- Is there something you are currently reading or watching that has had a profound impact on you?
- What is it about this particular subject that interests you, and has compelled you to apply for this degree?
- What extracurricular activities have you done and why are they important or relevant to this course? (Make sure you tackle the second part of the question as well. Avoid just listing down your extracurricular activities -- instead, make sure you talk about what skills/learning you have gained from them and how those are relevant to a media course).
- What are your future objectives? What do you plan to do after completing this degree? It is completely okay if your plans are uncertain right now.
- If you are more interested in opting for a practical journalism course, you should try to address the following in your statement:
- Why do you want to study journalism? You will also need to show some understanding/awareness of the role of the reporter. In addition to that, you should also try to show that you are aware of current affairs (make sure you are up-to-date with major news stories/developments).
- You will need to show that you understand the importance and influence of media and the importance of reporting facts in a clear and concise manner.
- Try to show that you can express your own opinions/thoughts well, and are aware of how to tell stories to different audiences.
- Since this a vocational degree (meaning you will need to write feature pieces etc.), you will need to showcase good creative writing ability and a sound grasp of the English language (make sure your statement has no spelling or grammatical errors).
- You will need to show your interpersonal skills, your persistence and your ability to ‘dig deep’ into a wide range of topics. These are all valued skills in this field, so you should try your best to talk about instances where you have shown these skills, in your statement.
- You need to be clear about what kind of degree you want to study. “Do you want to analyze media or produce content or do a combination of both? Whichever it is, demonstrate that you’re quite focused about this. Outline why you want to study the course and the knowledge, ideas or practical experiences you will bring to it” (Source: Which? University)
- You should also try to show “some understanding of the role, nature and influence of the media”. Some admissions committee will want to see if you are able to engage with the subject from a variety of perspectives -so make sure you try to demonstrate an awareness of a variety of media and the social/cultural impacts of different types of media. (Source: Which? University)
- You need to display strong communication, analytical and writing skills in your statement.
- If you have some relevant work experience like working in a newspaper office/TV newsroom (read the Pre-Application section for more information), you should talk about it in your statement. What did you learn from this experience? Which skills did you manage to gain? Did you learn which skills are most important in journalism? How has this specific work experience motivated you to apply for a degree in this field?
- If you have any experience working on a blog/school newspaper, you should talk about it in your statement: What have you learned from these experiences? How did you alter your language and style for different audiences?
How can applicants manage the process of writing?
- Before you start writing, make sure you come up with a plan for the essay.
- The UCAS form usually times-out after a few minutes, so to avoid losing work you should: begin writing your statement in Word/Notepad and saving it regularly. Once you have written your final draft, you can copy-paste it into the online form. Note: no formatting is allowed on the UCAS form, so any bold, italicized or underlined words will disappear when you transfer your essay to the UCAS form.
This section will cover the basics about recommendation letters, which are one of the most important parts of the application process. Supplement the following field-specific tips with general tips (under the tab of ‘recommendations’) to ensure you have strong letters of recommendation.
You will be required to submit 1 letter of recommendation when applying for a degree in this field. Your reference should ideally know you academically and should be able to speak to your work ethic, how you interact with other students, and your ability to fare well in university (in a Media/Journalism course). Keeping this in mind, you should try to request your high school (A-level, FSc, IB) Media Studies/English/Sociology teacher to write you a recommendation letter. If you are applying to a Joint Honours course, you could also request a teacher who has taught you the second subject to write you a reference.
- Before requesting your recommenders for LoR, go over the following links carefully:
This section will cover everything else related to the application process; including interviews, resumes, and standardized tests.
Some courses will have interviews, some may not. To find out what your prospective course does, please visit its website. The website will typically list what you can expect to be asked in the interview - so if you get an interview, make sure you go through the instructions specified on the website. Generally, you should just keep in mind which skills are valued for this degree -- and should try to display that you have these skills and the capacity to pursue a degree in Media Studies.
- If you have mentioned any news articles/books etc. within your personal statement then make sure to review these before you go for the interview. The interviewer may ask you about these things, that you mentioned in your personal statement, so it is important to be well aware and ready to discuss or answer questions about them. You do not need to be an expert in the field, but just need to demonstrate that you have an existing knowledge-base and wish to work on it more.
As an international applicant, you will be required to take English language proficiency tests. Most universities will allow you to choose between the TOEFL and IELTS -- websites will also state the minimum score you require (in individual reading, writing, speaking and listening components; and overall) to be considered for admission.
It is advised that you take the test well before your application deadline, to ensure that your score is sent to your prospective university at the required time.
Complement the above field-specific tips with general tips on preparing for standardized tests (under the tab of ‘tests’).
FINAL COMMENTS ON APPLICATIONS
- Which? University recommends: if you already have journalistic work published or broadcast or if you have produced a blog, vlog, podcast or anything else that may be relevant, you can consider sending your prospective university a link/clip containing this separately. You will need to check your prospective university website though to see if additional submissions, outside of the stated application components, can be accepted.
- Complement the above field-specific tips with general tips on final comments on applications (under the tab of ‘overview’).
These tips were compiled with the valuable help of SHAHEEN volunteers.
We thank our volunteers for their contribution and hope their tips and advice help you in your application.
In addition, the following sources were consulted in developing this tip-sheet and we encourage you to consult these sources for additional information and guidance on your application.
Furthermore, the following sources were also consulted in developing this tip-sheet: Media and Film Studies - The Guardian, Why study media studies - The Guardian, What can you do with this degree? - The Guardian, Personal Statement - Which? University, UCAS Media Studies, UK Media and communication courses - StudyinUK,