Journalism - MA

2024/25 Full-time Postgraduate course

Award:

Master of Arts

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

School of Communication and Media

Campus:

Coleraine campus

Start date:

September 2024

Overview

Industry accredited journalism practice: news reporting for online, print, radio and TV, law, public affairs, placement and journalism theory

Summary

National Council for the Training of Journalists accredited multimedia course with a strong record of graduate employment in the news industry. It includes placements, guest industry lectures and the production of a portfolio. It is taught in the £6.5m Media Centre by professional journalists and academics. Successful graduates gain a dual qualification - a masters’ degree and the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, the qualification require by major employers like Reach (formerly Mirror) and Newsquest.

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.

About this course

About

This programme provides comprehensive training in the skills needed to enter the journalism profession internationally. It includes print, online and broadcast journalism. Past students have won top awards in Ireland and the UK and hold senior positions in news organisations. The course incorporates the NCTJ Diploma, which equips trainee journalists with the knowledge and skills for professional entry level journalism. Those with the NCTJ Diploma had an over 80% record of achieving employment as journalists compared to less than 30% for those who did a journalism course not accredited (Splisbury, 2024). NCTJ Diversity Fund Bursaries are available by a competitive process and you should apply for the course before 31 March 2024 to give you time to apply for these bursaries.

Attendance

Semesters 1 and 2, which run from the end of September to May, the attendance can be 9.15pm-4pm four days a week. Semester 3 is spent on placement and on completion of the dissertation.

Start dates

  • September 2024

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Teaching is by lectures, workshops in TV and radio studios and newsrooms and supervised field events in courts, councils and at other locations.

Learning is via the production of a multimedia journalistic portfolio, participation in print, radio and TV live newsdays and production of essays and a dissertation.

Assessment is by professional exams, production of a multimedia journalistic portfolio, essays and a 12,000 word dissertation in an agreed area of the student’s choice.

Attendance and Independent Study

The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.

Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:

  • Attendance and Independent Study

    As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.

    Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10, 20, or 40 credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate courses typically 15 or 30 credit modules.

    The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Teaching and learning activities will be in-person and/or online depending on the nature of the course. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.

    Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.

    Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.

  • Assessment

    Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes.  You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessments. This feedback may be issued individually and/or issued to the group and you will be encouraged to act on this feedback for your own development.

    Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification, the assessment timetable and the assessment brief. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.

    Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised. The module pass mark for undergraduate courses is 40%. The module pass mark for postgraduate courses is 50%.

  • Calculation of the Final Award

    The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).

    Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.

    All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study.

    In Masters degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.

    Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Academic profile

Dr Colm Murphy, the course director, is a National Teaching Fellow (UK) and is a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, the two highest awards in UK university teaching.

The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 60% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.

Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (19%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (22%) or Lecturers (57%).

We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic and learning support staff (85%) are recognised as fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) by Advance HE - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.

The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise.  The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff.  This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.

Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.

Figures from the academic year 2022-2023.

Coleraine campus

Accommodation

A laid-back campus at the heart of a global tourist attraction.

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Sports Facilities

Our Campus in Coleraine boasts a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities that are open all year round to students and members of the public.

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Student Wellbeing

At Student Wellbeing we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.

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Modules

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Reporting in a Digital Age 1

Year: 1

This module introduces students to foundational skills in newsgathering and reporting, feature writing, research, and basic sub-editing and design using desktop publishing software. Students will produce a portfolio of journalistic work that will be presented on pages that they themselves create. They will be encouraged to look critically and analytically at a wide range of journalism. The module will use a range of appropriate and effective teaching methods and forms of assessment.

Media Law - General Reporting

Year: 1

This module offers a critical, academic and practical introduction to the broad range of legal topics relevant to those working in journalism. It covers the legal system, defamation and an introduction to court procedure and contempt of court. It also deals with matters such as copyright, privacy, breach of confidence and professional codes. The module prepares students for the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) professional law exam in Essential Media Law. It will feature class simulations to test the learner's ability to apply this knowledge in reasoned legal decision-making pertinent to their work.

Media Law - Court Reporting

Year: 1

This module offers a critical, academic and practical introduction to the legal system, court procedure, restrictions on court reporting and contempt of court. The module will demonstrate how the relevant legal principles and codes of practice/conduct are applied in practice. It will feature class simulations to test the learner's ability to apply this knowledge in reasoned legal decision-making pertinent to their work. The module prepares students for the National Council for the Training of Journalists professional Court Reporting exam.

Reporting for Audio Media

Year: 1

This module provides to an industry standard, theoretical and practical knowledge of audio news reporting for radio and online platforms, in its professional institutional and regulatory contexts. Students are instructed in the practice of newsgathering and production techniques. They will work on both individual, and group projects in a live, real-time news scenario.

Journalism and Society

Year: 1

This module introduces MA Journalism students to current issues and debates in the study of news and journalism in the UK, Ireland and, locally, in Northern Ireland, providing them with the intellectual framework within which to think about and develop their MA Dissertation proposal.

Public Affairs

Year: 1

The module introduces students to the structures and operations of government, and to economy and economic development, in the United Kingdom (including Northern Ireland), Republic of Ireland and the European Union. There is also a focus on some of the major institutions of global governance such as the UN, WTO and IMF. The module will be delivered using traditional lecture format and assessed by a class test and a practical journalism assignment.

MA Dissertation

Year: 1

This module will allow students to undertake a sustained piece of independent work. Having agreed a topic with an appointed supervisor that will offer scope for combining academic, personal and professional elements, students will produce a dissertation of approximately 12,000 words or an agreed equivalent in another format. Students on appropriate MA programmes will be encouraged to liaise with industry personnel and tutorial support will be given on a regular basis by the supervisor.

Reporting in a Digital Age 2

Year: 1

This module allows the student to put into practice the skills acquired in the previous parts of the course. It will allow them develop their skills further by focusing on in-depth journalistic projects. This will refine their skills in journalism practice and production in preparation for the work place and/or further study. They will work individually to produce an in-depth investigative feature of a high standard. They will then use this and additional articles produced by students to edit, design and produce their work in print or on-line. The module will use a range of appropriate and effective teaching methods and forms of assessment.

Reporting for Audio-Visual Media

Year: 1

This module provides to an industry standard, theoretical and practical knowledge of audio-visual news reporting in its professional, institutional and regulatory contexts. Students are instructed in the practice of newsgathering and production for radio, television and other audio-visual platforms using appropriate hardware and software. It is based in an appropriate and effective learning and teaching environment.

Standard entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements

At least a 2.2 at degree level in any discipline. Other equivalent professional experience will be considered if you do not have a degree.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 7.0 . Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Exemptions and transferability

None

Careers & opportunities

Career options

Reporter, sub-editor, production journalist, video journalist, social media editor, online community manager, content creator, press officer, public relations officer, copywriter, audio journalist, presenter, news reader, media complaints officer, communications specialist, sports reporter, specialist reporter, researcher for documentaries/current affairs/policy and other positions where strong research and presentation skills are required.

Work placement / study abroad

A placement of three to six weeks in a professional newsroom is part of the course. Students are assisted in securing a placement which in the past have included BBC NI News, BBC NI Sport, Downtown/Cool FM, U105, Belfast Telegraph, The Irish News and Q Network. We cannot guarantee that these employers will provide placements each year.

Professional recognition

National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ)

Accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2024

Fees and funding

Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland and EU Settlement Status Fees

£7,000.00

International Fees

£17,090.00

Scholarships, awards and prizes

NCTJ Journalism Diversity Bursaries, funded by BBC, Sky, The Times, Google and other news industry companies, are available for those who can bring diversity to journalism.

National Union of Journalists' student of the year trophy, for student with the highest grades.

Belfast Telegraph Helen Scott Memorial prize to the student with the best shorthand results.

Additional mandatory costs

NCTJ accreditation and external examination fees, in the region of £370, to paid on acceptance of a place on the course.

Field trips will incur additional costs. Approx. £40 for transport.

It is important to remember that costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges) and normal living will need to be covered in addition to tuition fees.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses (in addition to tuition fees) we make every effort to highlight them above. We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals, as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free Wi-Fi are also available on each of the campuses.

There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as a part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs, as well as tuition fees.

See the tuition fees on our student guide for most up to date costs.

Contact

We’d love to hear from you!

We know that choosing to study at university is a big decision, and you may not always be able to find the information you need online.

Please contact Ulster University with any queries or questions you might have about:

  • Course specific information
  • Fees and Finance
  • Admissions

For any queries regarding getting help with your application, please select Admissions in the drop down below.

For queries related to course content, including modules and placements, please select Course specific information.

We look forward to hearing from you.


For more information visit

Disclaimer

  1. Although reasonable steps are taken to provide the programmes and services described, the University cannot guarantee the provision of any course or facility and the University may make variations to the contents or methods of delivery of courses, discontinue, merge or combine courses and introduce new courses if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Such circumstances include (but are not limited to) industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key staff, changes in legislation or government policy including changes, if any, resulting from the UK departing the European Union, withdrawal or reduction of funding or other circumstances beyond the University’s reasonable control.
  1. If the University discontinues any courses, it will use its best endeavours to provide a suitable alternative course. In addition, courses may change during the course of study and in such circumstances the University will normally undertake a consultation process prior to any such changes being introduced and seek to ensure that no student is unreasonably prejudiced as a consequence of any such change.
  1. The University does not accept responsibility (other than through the negligence of the University, its staff or agents), for the consequences of any modification or cancellation of any course, or part of a course, offered by the University but will take into consideration the effects on individual students and seek to minimise the impact of such effects where reasonably practicable.
  1. The University cannot accept any liability for disruption to its provision of educational or other services caused by circumstances beyond its control, but the University will take all reasonable steps to minimise the resultant disruption to such services.

Testimonials

Jayne McCormack, political correspondent BBC NI

The reason I chose UU was that it was the only course here that got me the much-needed NCTJs as well as an MA, not to mention the proximity to home, top-class teachers with a wealth of contacts and the placement opportunities. I can say hand on heart it was the best choice I ever made. Worth the investment and the hard work, would do it again in a heartbeat.

Ciaran Bartlett. columnist Sunday Life, broadcaster and comedian

“You will learn the skills to have a serious shot at getting a job in media before you hand in your dissertation. You will make great professional contacts and have some of the best craic you'll ever have at Uni. Give it a lash. You won’t regret it.”

Niamh Ferguson, reporter UTV

“During my summer work placement at Citybeat and Downtown Radio/Cool FM I was given the opportunity to act as a broadcast journalist. It was exciting to hear my voice being broadcast nationally for the first time. This course is hard work but it pays off!”