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This section looks at how media studies fits the wider curriculum and how media studies can be an important and valuable part of a student’s learning pathway.

There is a limit to how much education you can sustain for no obvious reason … but if they are starting to develop a view that what I am doing will lead me to this area or that area, if they see the connection, it gives them a reason to continue to learn their English, to develop their maths, or whatever they need … that there is a purpose for it …

(Stuart Middleton, Manukau Institute of Technology)

Media studies and the learning areas

Media studies sits in the social sciences domain for the purposes of NCEA assessment and is included on a list of subjects in the social sciences learning statement in The New Zealand Curriculum. However, media studies encompasses aspects of a number of learning areas. Its cross-curricular nature opens up many pathways to future learning.

As with programmes in English, those in media studies include analysis of images and print and the production of print journalism. The subject is aligned with the arts through the creative production and interpretation of moving and still images. Technology is a major part of any media studies course – particularly in the production strand, from which a third of the achievement standards are derived at levels 2 and 3.

Connections between media studies and other learning areas

Example 1

In the social sciences, students explore how societies work and how they themselves can participate and take action as critical, informed, and responsible citizens.

In media studies, students explore how the media works in social contexts and how they themselves can explore, understand, and create media to take action as informed citizens.

Context: In a year 12 programme, students investigate the representation of Māori youth in the print media and use this knowledge to create an article that affirms positive representations of Māori within their community, to be printed in a local newspaper.

Example 2

In the arts, students explore, refine, and communicate ideas as they connect thinking, imagination, senses, and feelings to create works and respond to the works of others.

In media studies, students explore, refine, and communicate ideas through media as they create media products and respond to the products of others.

Context: Students working towards level 3 objectives study the work of Jane Campion and use their understanding of her style to create their own storyboard or short film.

Example 3

In English, students study, use, and enjoy language and literature communicated orally, visually, or in writing.

In media studies, students study, use, and enjoy media language and media texts communicated orally and/or visually and/or in writing.

Context: Students go to a local film festival, blog their responses to the films, and comment on other students’ responses.

Example 4

In technology, students learn to be innovative developers of products and systems and discerning consumers who will make a difference in the world.

In media studies, students learn to be innovative developers of media products and discerning media consumers who will make a difference in the world.

Context: Students create a music video to promote the school band and investigate how this video could be used in commercial contexts.

Media studies and media literacy

While a range of media will be used in teaching and learning across the curriculum, media studies is a specialised subject. The skills and knowledge gained in media studies can be used in other subject areas. For example, a student may create a video to show their understanding of a science experiment or produce a magazine article about a famous explorer.

Through media studies, students develop the media literacy they need to “be functionally literate in our media-saturated world” 1. A media-literate student is able to think critically about and evaluate media texts, including new text forms on the Internet.

Media literacy can be taught across the curriculum but is also the desired outcome of a media studies programme.

Developing the key competencies in media studies


  1. Media Awareness Network (2010) http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/teachers/media_literacy/why_teach_media_liter.cfm

Last updated August 31, 2012