Journalism - BA (Hons)

2025/26 Full-time Undergraduate course

Award:

Bachelor of Arts with Honours

Faculty:

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

School:

School of Communication and Media

Campus:

Coleraine campus

UCAS code:

P500
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20

Start date:

September 2025

Overview

Journalism theory and practice: news-gathering, reporting, writing and editing for television, radio, print and online, in a changing media landscape.

Summary

Journalism is a single subject programme at Ulster, Coleraine. It is the only university degree programme in the subject in Northern Ireland and offers you the opportunity to study the theory and practice of journalism in context with determining factors such as law, economics, politics and technology. It provides you with a range of relevant practical and professional skills.

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

In Year 1, you will take modules that give you a good basic grounding in the academic study of the media and in practical journalism skills that you will need to underpin your more advanced modules in Years Two and Three. At this level you will take modules that introduce you to critical issues in journalism (history, sociology, economics, research methodology and technology), journalism law and regulation, and journalism practice (newsgathering, report writing, sub-editing, page design and production, audio and audio-visual, broadcast journalism techniques).

Your commitment in time and effort will be intensive and demanding, much more so than those subjects that have no practice component. As well as on-campus activities, you will also learn about reporting from the local court and council offices. At the end of your second year, you will be encouraged to seek a placement with a local newspaper or other news based outlet.

The programme uses a range of teaching methods including lectures, small group seminars and practical workshops. These are delivered and supervised by experienced teaching staff, including former journalists with BBC and The Sunday Times.

You will have access to a wide range of learning resources, including professional standard newspaper production and design software such as Adobe InDesign, and digital sound and video software. You will also work in a simulated newsroom environment.

The programme assesses your work using a variety of different assessment methods including traditional academic essays, critical book reviews, examinations, class-tests and practical journalism assignments in reporting and writing.

Attendance

Full-time mode: three years.

Attendance200 hours per module per semester as follows:
36 contact hours per module per semester.
164 independent study hours per module per semester.

FAQ:

How many hours per week will I attend as journalism student at Ulster?

All full-time degree programmes in the Faculty of Arts Humanities and Social Science require a minimum three hours contact time (e.g. lectures and seminars) per module. However, programmes with a practice component, such as Journalism, will demand, by their very nature, additional contact hours for attendance on practical workshops and may require occasional assignments off campus, e.g. to local court or council. In addition to attendance at teaching sessions, the programme will require up to 20 hours per module per semester of independent learning and study (e.g. library research and coursework preparation).

In that light, the attendance requirement in part-time mode depends on how many modules taken per semester (one or two).

Start dates

  • September 2025

Teaching, Learning and Assessment

Assessment will be by way of a mixture of formal examination, essay, class test, coursework, individual/group projects and assessment of practice projects, dependent on the nature and rationale of the module concerned.

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 has extensive research experience in Journalism and the Digital Economy and his teaching centres on legal and digital isuses in journalism. Colm is an award winning journalist and editor and works with The Sunday Times. He has also produced a number of investigative documentaries. He is also a director of the industry recognised accreditation body, the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

Ms Maggie Swarbrick is Course Director of Ulster's prestigious MA Journalism programme and also teaches at undergraduate level, specialising in radio and television reporting. Maggie is a former trainer and journalist at BBC and is an examiner with the NCTJ.

Mr Milne Rowntree is Subject Director for the BA Hons Journalism programme. Milne is a former print and online journalist and teaches in the areas of media law and public affairs, as well as newspaper and online reporting. He is also an examiner with the NCTJ.

Dr Ciaran Bartlett researches in journalism studies and teaches across the programme. He has extensive experience of print, broadcast and online journalism.

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.

Year one

Media and Social Change

Year: 1

This module will introduce you to the role of digital media in effecting, blocking, or instigating social change. You will explore case studies - both historical and contemporary - and consider some of the ways in which digital media has changed human interaction, identity, and understanding. You will be introduced to fundamental theories about the role and nature of media in the twenty-first century, and apply these theories to deepen your understanding of current social movements and media campaigns.

The skills you will acquire on this module will enable you to transfer your learning to future modules on media theory and practice as well as aiding you to integrate theory into your own creative practice.

Key Concepts in Media Theory

Year: 1

This module will build on the work done in The Politics of Everyday Life by looking at some further key themes and concepts that have been established through the study of the media. Students will engage with theoretical positions in media studies and will be encouraged to critically analyse and reflect on these.

Public Affairs Reporting

Year: 1

Public Affairs Reporting introduces students to the structures and operations of local and central government, as well as direct and devolved government in Northern Ireland. It pays close attention to local government systems, local government finance, and to the economy and economic development. Lectures look at the government and economy of the Republic of Ireland, the electoral system, proportional representation and also the systems and function of the EU and its relationship with the United Kingdom post Brexit.

Introduction to Journalism Practice

Year: 1

This module will introduce journalism students to basic reporting, news gathering, practical skills and digital skills.

This module will help students develop the confidence and competence to work as a professional journalist, and to prepare them for the more specialised practical modules offered at higher levels in the programme.

Platforms and Audiences

Year: 1

Platforms and Audiences introduces students to the foundational principles and skills in newsgathering and reporting, website and social media analytics, feature writing, research, and basic sub-editing and design for digital audiences. Students will explore the evolving digital landscape for newsrooms, the demands this places on journalists and how the audiences engage with content. Students will engage critically and analytically with a wide range of news content and techniques throughout the semester. Students will develop editorial and strategic planning skills, with the aim to understand effective digital engagement and how to succeed in the fast-changing world of journalism.

Broadcast Storytelling

Year: 1

In the Broadcast Storytelling module, students will cover foundational audio journalism and production. The focus is on helping students learn how to tell stories effectively, whether it's for traditional radio or online platforms like podcasts. Students explore important moments in media broadcast history and modern podcasting to understand the context for journalistic work. Through practice and guidance, this module is all about giving students the skills and confidence to create engaging content for broadcast and digital platforms.

Year two

Media Law and Regulation

Year: 2

This module offers a practical introduction to the range of legal and regulatory topics relevant to media professionals. At its core are defamation, privacy, contempt and copyright - the main areas of law pertinent to media production across all platforms. The module will examine how these impact on the output of the media. It will look at the various codes governing how the media operates and the ethical decisions that media professionals must make in complying with them. The module will demonstrate how to comply with this legislation and relevant codes while still generating engaging material. It will feature class discussions to test the learner's ability to apply this knowledge in decision-making pertinent to the work of media professionals.

Video Journalism

Year: 2

This module is designed to enable you to become a confident producer of compelling video content for a variety of platforms, such as TV, social media, and streaming services. You will have a solid understanding of writing to pictures, sourcing stories, interview techniques; and effectively how to film and edit to deadline.

This module aims to provide you with a working knowledge of established industry conventions, the basic concepts and fundamental disciplines necessary in order to work as a journalist and in other creative industries. The module is designed to give you an understanding of all aspects of your craft, both critically and in practice.

Innovation Newsroom

Year: 2

This module will help students prepare for Work Based Learning opportunities or Industry Placement in the Media and Creative Industries and create a professional portfolio and gain working newsroom experience that will aid them when seeking employment.

The module provides students with the opportunity to explore media industry roles, and plan future career trajectories.

The module helps to give industrial contexts to students prior learning and helps students to prepare a portfolio of work to apply for a placement.

Media: Study Internationally (2nd yr)

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an extended period of study outside the Erasmus Plus area such as the Americas, Australia or China. Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the academic discipline of Media whilst generating educational and cultural networks.

Journalism Practice and Placement

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module develops students' skills in multi-platform newsgathering and reporting and develops further online, mobile and social media production to an industry standard.
Students will produce a portfolio of journalistic work garnered through their placement and a reflection on the news production processes involved. They will be encouraged to look critically and analytically at a wide range of journalism and to critically evaluate those items.

Specialist Content Creation

Year: 2

This module is optional

This module provides students with a theoretical framework and practical skills to identify a specialist area of journalism/content creation in which they will develop specialist knowledge. This could be a sport, area in the arts, fashion, business, PR or environmental journalism. Once they have identified the specialist area they will have to devise a plan and create relevant content to engage with that specialist online community. They will work with Coleraine campus partners like Coleraine FC and Riverside Theatre to develop specialist content for these specialist areas.

Year three

Media: Study Abroad (DIAS)

Year: 3

This module is optional

This module provides an opportunity to undertake an additional academic year of study which is spent outside the UK. Those who successfully complete it get an extra qualification - the Diploma in Academic Studies (DIAS). Students will develop an enhanced understanding of the media and engage with it first-hand in international contexts. The opportunity to generate educational and cultural networks will be available to the student.

Year four

Programme Production

Year: 4

The Programme Production module is designed to consolidate prior knowledge in journalism, focusing specifically on longer-form programming with higher complexity and production values. Throughout the module, students will engage in live news production (newsdays and newsweek) and programming workshops, working within strict deadlines and adhering to professional standards. Emphasis is placed on developing project management and teamwork abilities, both essential for modern creative industries. The module equips students with practical skills, ethical awareness, and creative vision, preparing for the final semester of study with a view to employability and gradate attributes.

Journalism Major Project (SINGLE HONS)

Year: 4

This module allows the student to put into practice the skills acquired in the previous
journalism practice and theory modules. It will allow them to develop and refine their skills in journalism practice with a particular focus on producing a significant piece of investigative journalism and putting into an agreed format for public output. The resultant piece can be used as part of a portfolio for seeking employment and/or applying for further study. The module will be a mix of lectures, problem-based learning, production workshops and independent practice.

Journalism Futures

Year: 4

The module is a springboard to employment and entrepreneurship within the media industry.
Through a serious of lectures, workshops and industry visits, students will learn how they can create employment for themselves and others within the media industry and prepare themselves for future work.

Investigative Journalism

Year: 4

One of journalism's main roles is to investigate what is really going on in society. This module provides the theoretical background, tools and the framework for producing an investigative project. The various research tools that can be used - freedom of information, statistical research, opinion polls, journalistic experiments, source tracking, public and public records - will be taught. Students then conduct their own investigation either collaboratively or solely. They will reflect on the learning to make a proposal for a larger Major Journalism Project completed in the following semester.

Journalism in Society

Year: 4

This module considers journalism's role around the globe raising questions about ethics, objectivity, ownership and bias, social impact, equality and diversity, economic and political influence. Students will learn to formulate their subject interest into answerable research questions. The module will enable them to produce well-designed and appropriately analysed research projects and give direction to the Journalism Dissertation in the next semester. This module will guide students as they pursue answers to those questions using appropriate methods.

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.

A level

Grades BCC.

Applicants may satisfy the requirement for the final A level grade (C) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications to the same standard as defined by the University.

Applied General Qualifications

BTEC Awards

QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2012 Suite)

Award profile of DDM

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma (2016 Suite)

Award profile of DMM

QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma(2012 Suite)

Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade B or Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade B

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Diploma/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Diploma (2016 Suite)

Award profile of DM plus A Level Grade C

QCF Pearson BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma / OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Introductory Diploma (2012 Suite)

Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC

RQF Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Certificate/ OCR Cambridge Technical Level 3 Extended Certificate (2016 Suite)

Award profile of M plus A Level Grades BC

Diploma, National Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma applicants may satisfy the requirement for an element of the offer grade profiles (equating to the final A-level grade stated in the standard 3A level offer profile - Grade C) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications to the same standard as defined by the University.

Irish Leaving Certificate

104 UCAS tariff points to include a minimum of five subjects (four of which must be at higher level) to include English at H6 if studied at Higher level or O4 if studied at Ordinary Level.

Irish Leaving Certificate UCAS Equivalency

Scottish Highers

The Scottish Highers requirement for this course is grades BCCCC

Applicants may satisfy the requirement for an element of the offer grade profiles (equating to the final A-level grade stated in the standard 3A level offer profile - Grade C) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications to the same standard as defined by the University.

Scottish Advanced Highers

The Scottish Advanced Highers requirement for this course is grades CDD

Applicants may satisfy the requirement for an element of the offer grade profiles (equating to the final A-level grade stated in the standard 3A level offer profile - Grade C) by substituting a combination of alternative qualifications to the same standard as defined by the University.

International Baccalaureate

Overall International Baccalaureate profile minimum of 24 points to include 12 at higher level.

Access to Higher Education (HE)

Overall mark of 60% (120 credit Access Course) (NI Access course)

Overall profile of 12 credits at distinction, 30 credits at merit and 3 credits at pass (60 credit Access course) (GB Access course)

GCSE

For full-time study, you must satisfy the General Entrance Requirements for admission to a first degree course and hold a GCSE pass at Grade C/4 or above English Language.

Level 2 Certificate in Essential Skills - Communication will be accepted as equivalent to GCSE English.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. 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.

Additional Entry Requirements

HND - Overall Merit with distinctions in 30 Level 5 credits for entry to Year 1. Those applicants holding a subject-related HND with an overall Merit may be considered for entry to Year 2.

HNC – Overall Merit with distinctions in 60 Level 4 credits for entry to Year 1 only.

You may also meet the course entry requirements with combinations of different qualifications to the same standard as recognised by the University (provided subject requirements as noted above are met).

Foundation Degree

An overall mark of 45% in Level 5 modules for Year 1 entry. Those applicants holding a subject-related Foundation Degree may be considered for entry to Year 2.

APEL (Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning)

The University will consider applications on the basis of experiential learning for those who do not hold the normal entry qualifications.

Transfer from degree level study at other institutions

Those applicants seeking entry with advanced standing, (eg. Transfer from another institution or year 2 entry) will be considered on an individual basis.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

The degree in Journalism at Ulster gives you a wide range of potential career options in the expanding field. Many graduates will go on to join a local newspaper, magazine or digital news service as trainees. Others will use their skills in information gathering, research, verification, media production software etc to go into related fields like public relations, recruitment, research or marketing communications. Others will go on to do a masters such as the connected MA Journalism at Ulster University which provides both a masters degree and professional accreditation by the industry's National Council for the Training of Journalists.

For information on postgraduate research opportunities see: www.arts.ulster.ac.uk/rgs

Apply

Start dates

  • September 2025

Fees and funding

Scholarships, awards and prizes

Brum Henderson Award for best journalism project. Dr Henderson was a founder of UTV.

Additional mandatory costs

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.