OK, I obviously have to make a huge declaration of interest here. I'm a media guy. I made my first radio broadcast, aged 14, in 1967. I'm not exactly unbiased.
I've been in many discussions over the years, both on and off the media, about the value of "media studies", both as a subject examined in schools, and a degree course. In most debates, one protagonist argues it's a "soft option", while I defend its value and equivalence. Neither of us shifts our position, the phone-in guests usually take the "soft option" view, and we're halted by the traffic report (on radio at least).
Our 14-year-old daughter has just selected media studies as a GCSE option. She's bright (gets it from her mother), and is taking nine other subjects, including Russian, History and English Literature. I'm also a governor at her school, and the "link governor" for media, art and drama (each governor takes a special interest in a topic area). Accordingly, I've studied the syllabus, sat in on lessons, and talked in detail with the staff.
My conclusion is that media studies is not only academic, but it brings in many aspects of other subjects, such as literature (storytelling and the story arc), technology (computer generated image production), business studies (marketing of film, especially via social media) and psychology (acting and emotion). Getting an "A" is as tough as any other subject.
So why is it regarded as soft? We praise our top film-makers such as Ridley Scott, Gurinder Chadha and Ken Russell. We admire the talents of film actors like Joseph Fiennes, Keira Knightley and Helen Mirren. We lament the demise of the UK film industry. Nonetheless, many people sneer at young people with an interest and qualification in media. Funny old world, eh?