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Media studies

PAGE amp; SCREEN: THE MEDIA RESPONSE IN GCSE ENGLISH. By Martin Phillips. Longman pound;6.50. GCSE MEDIA STUDIES. By Julian Bowker. Hodder amp; Stoughton. Pupil's book pound;12.99. Teacher's book pound;29.99.

Two areas of the curriculum where you can almost guarantee students have a wider experience of the subject than their teachers are media studies and ICT.

This often makes them students' favourite lessons - at last they are functioning in a world they know, rather than being on a magical mystery tour of an area that has little apparent relevance to their lives beyond their exam results.

But to say they have a wealth of experience of media studies is not necessarily the same as saying they have a wealth of understanding. This gap between knowledge and understanding is what these books seek to address.

Page and Screen: the media response in GCSE English is a further volume in Longman's Routes through English series, based around the Northern Examinations and Assessment Board's course requirements. As such, it is another sound, useful book to build students' understanding and confidence.

GCSE Media Studies is perhaps the best media studies coursebook yet published. The approach is clear and methodical, while its tone is reassuring without being patronising. It manages to make such delights as denotation, connotaion and demographics accessible.

One of the common problems with media studies coursebooks is the speed at which they go out of date. Bowker has avoided this pitfall by dividing the books into two sections, one dealing with concepts, the other with topics, with clear cross-referencing throughout.

The topics reach up to the present and into the future, with studies not only of film, newspapers, television and advertising, but also of the music industry and the Internet, including a practical guide to web page production.

The teacher's book not only provides guidance in assessing students' work, but also provides extra photocopiable sheets for support and extension work. Bowker also provides a useful appendix on the place of media studies within GCSE English, and how these books could be used to support them.

If the teaching world were awash with money, the ideal solution would be to get all three books. In the real world, if your school follows a media studies GCSE, it would be well worth considering the GCSE Media Studies books to cater to that and to the media studies requirements within the GCSE English course. They help students clarify what they already know, and formulate that knowledge into a conceptual understanding, and they provide invaluable guidance for teachers.

Sarah Matthews

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