Codes and conventions

Different media texts have codes and conventions that define their genre and set up audience expectations.

The main genre codes and conventions are:


This is how the story is told in a film or television programme through plot devices, situations, characters and actors associated with specific genres.

Magazines on a shelf

Magazines and other print texts such as newspapers contain a narrative

The narrative in magazines and newspapers includes the cover design and all the content, including regular features, horoscopes, readers' letters and advertising.

Websites also have a narrative that grows and builds as the user is navigated from page to page within the website.

On a news site, this could be a breaking news item which is linked through to more in-depth analysis and archive footage. On a magazine-style website, the narrative may build to encourage the user to watch related videos hosted by the same site.

Settings and iconography

The mise-en-scène is everything included in a scene and how it is staged or arranged. This includes the setting, the props, the costumes, the lighting and the people or characters.

A scene from BBC hospital drama Casualty

The hospital setting and equipment in the mise-en-scene in Casualty help the audience to determine the genre

The mise-en-scène plays a big part in determining genre, whether in a hospital drama, a gardening programme or a horror movie. For example:

ComponentHospital dramaGardening programmeHorror movie
SettingHospital wardBack gardenHaunted castle
PropsMedical equipment, hospital bedSpade, plants, soilSpider webs, candles, stone floors
CostumesWhite coats, nurses' uniforms, surgical glovesWellington boots, windbreaker, heavy duty glovesBlack cape, grey dress, rags
LightingStark and bright, artificialWarm and naturalCandle light, dark shadows
CharactersDoctors, nurses, patients, family, friends (played by actors)Well-known TV gardener, members of the publicMonster/ghost, hero/heroine, victims (played by actors)