University of Chester

Programme Specification
Music Journalism BA (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)

Music Journalism

Music Journalism

University of Chester

University of Chester

Warrington (L5 and L6) and Parkgate Road Campus (L4)

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,


7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Media

Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies


Not applicable.


Thursday 20th February 2014

  • To provide a degree that fulfils the criteria suggested in the relevant QAA subject standards and benchmarks.
  • To offer a programme in Music Journalism that combines theoretical and practical approaches within the music journalism, music industry and associated sociocultural contexts.
  • To develop an understanding of the historical context of popular music, with specific reference to the influence of audio technologies on production and consumption habits.
  • To provide the opportunity to develop core fundamental audio-production skills in order to facilitate engagement with music journalism multimedia platforms.
  • To develop understanding of music promotional activity within the context of a practical music promotion project.
  • To encourage critical reflection on the profession and cultural influence of journalism.
  • To encourage debate and critical reflection on the relationship between Music Journalism and society.
  • To develop the cognitive potential of undergraduates in the role of core journalistic practice in society and media law.
  • To provide an education that highlights the role played by digital journalism in the information society.
  • To provide the necessary practical, transferable and subject skills to enable the graduate to work in Music Journalism and associated entrepreneurial fields.
  • To provide the transferable communication skills applicable in a range of related professional contexts, including PR, advertising, marketing and corporate communications.

The structure of the programme has been designed to allow for the students to develop and build knowledge and understanding skills incrementally as they move through the years.  By the end of the programme the student will typically have:

At Level 4

  • The ability to research, write, report, critique, review and interview to professional journalistic and academic standards (ME4717, ME4742, ME4731, ME4732)
  • An appreciation of how to critically appreciate popular music in relation to music technologies and to its historical and contemporary cultural contexts (ME4731, ME4732, ME4733)
  • A broad understanding of the music industry (ME4731, ME4733)
  • An understanding of law and regulation, from both journalism and industry perspectives (ME4717)

At Level 5

  • The ability to critically evaluate the ethical constraints and influences on music journalism (ME5725, ME5726)
  • The development of fundamental audio-visual production skills (ME5724)
  • Understanding of work in a real world environment (WB5101, WB5004)
  • A critical approach to, and understanding of, research skills (ME5725, ME5730)
  • An understanding of the cultural politics and societal influences on music journalism (ME5725, ME5726)

At Level 6

  • A systematic understanding of the sociocultural and economic contexts of music journalism practice (ME6718, ME6734)
  • A critical and conceptual understanding of the organizational and institutional frameworks underpinning music journalism (ME6716, ME6717)
  • An understanding of the music industry and the place of a changing role of media within it (ME6718, ME6733, ME6734) 
  • A practical grounding in music PR and promotional writing to an industry-standard level (ME6733) 


Level 4

  • A conceptual understanding of musical texts, productions and performances, and the ability to respond critically to such texts, productions and performances (ME4731)
  • The ability to reflect critically on the relationships between journalistic theory and journalistic practice with particular reference to music journalism (ME4717, ME4731, ME4742)

Level 5

  • The ability to analyse the cultural and societal influences upon music journalism (ME5725, ME5726)
  • The ability to gather, synthesise and critically evaluate information from a wide range of sources (ME5730, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)
  • The ability to develop and hone creative, critical and professional writing skills (ME5712, ME5724, ME5725, ME5730)

Level 6

  • An appreciation of the ambiguity and limits of knowledge (ME6724, ME6735, ME6736, WB6001)
  • The ability to construct and deploy sustained and reasoned arguments from diverse, original and independent perspectives (ME6735, ME6736)

Level 4

  • A working knowledge of the law and professional ethics as affecting media practices (ME4717)
  • The ability to analyse and evaluate areas of music journalistic practice, discourse and influence (ME4731, ME4732)
  • The ability to develop skills across a range of media industry software programmes (ME4731, ME4733) 

Level 5

  • A comprehensive grounding in the processes of audio production (ME5712, ME5724)
  • Independent working, self-motivation and time-management skills (ME5703, ME5725, WB5004, WB5007, WB5008, WB5101)
  • The ability to develop multimedia production skills using industry-standard Adobe programmes (ME5712, ME5724) 

Level 6

  • Informational research literacy (ME6734, ME6735)
  • The ability to plan, develop, support and sustain their own professional and academic paths (WB6001, ME6717)
  • An insight into self-employment and entrepreneurial practice (ME6717)
  • Deep understanding of the media as an industry (ME6716, ME6733)


Level 4

  • The opportunity to work on oral and visual communication and presentation skills (ME4732) 

Level 5

  • The ability to appreciate the need for working as a team and develop the requisite teamwork skills (ME5703, WB5004, WB5101) 
  • The opportunity to experience real-world working environments and understand the reality of working within the media (WB5101) 

Level 6

  • The ability to reflect critically and constructively upon their own outputs and working processes while also becoming aware of their impact on those of others, and how the two interrelate (WB6001, ME6734, ME6736)

The programme offered is a Single Honours programme studied over three years on a full-time basis. At Levels 4 and 5, all modules are worth 20 credits with 200 hours of associated teaching and learning, and are studied over the course of the entire academic year. At Level 6, the programme also offers 40 credit dissertation/project orientated modules, with 400 hours of associated teaching and learning.

The programme meets the requirements of the FHEQ.  It is, for example, particularly clear that “typically, holders of the qualification will be able to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences.”  Modules focused on reviewing live and recorded music will provide a very appropriate platform for students to communicate with both specialist and non-specialist audiences, as a key ability in music journalism is to tailor content to cater for a wide range of different points on the scale of the spectrum of specialism in music.  There are also many other examples of how the programme meets the FHEQ requirements, a full discussion of which is beyond the scope of this documentation.

The structure has, at its core, the establishment and development of music journalism skills and practices situated within an understanding of the sociocultural and economic factors which impact upon them and upon which they impact.

Assessment of these modules will be through vocationally orientated outcomes designed to prepare the student for work and/or further study, as well as by theoretical approaches intended to address and develop students' aptitude for critical questioning, analysis and application. The emphasis is on the education of the would-be music journalist as well as on vocational training. The graduate will understand the context and ethical, moral, societal and legal frameworks in which the music journalist operates and the responsibilities that are the legacies of the profession.

At Level 4 the student will gain exposure to a wide range of skills, practices and theories underpinning the practice of music journalism and the wider context of the subject.  Key strengths of the programme at this level are its breadth and diversity, an accessible nature and the strength of the foundations that are laid.  Basic, integral journalism-related content is also covered.   Music journalism basics are also underlined, with a particular emphasis on reviewing live and recorded music, both within class and on location.  There is a strong focus on the industry, and particularly law and regulation, undertaken from both journalism and music industry perspectives as well as the contextual framework offered by a consideration of the evolution of music journalism.  The historical context of popular music is underpinned by the influence of audio technologies upon it, while the forward-facing nature of the programme is emphasised by the extensive coverage of digital journalism and the on-line culture as regards music journalism from its outset.

Modules as follows:

ME4717 20 credits*
ME4731 20 credits*
ME4732 20 credits*
ME4733 20 credits* 
ME4742 40 credits*

Level 5 is focussed on development and building on the foundations laid at Level 4.  Additionally, there is a strong emphasis at Level 5 on contextualising music journalism, from historical perspectives through to a consideration of future direction.  This theme is strongest in modules concerning scene theory, and music journalism’s cultural politics: providing students with an opportunity to reflect on the changing nature of music journalism’s impact on wider cultural politics.  Furthermore, online music journalism is foregrounded in order to meet the demands placed upon a contemporary music journalist to work within a converged media environment.  Equally, the development of fundamental audio production skills is also explored.  Students will be able to diversify and apply their knowledge and understanding, through an emphasis on specialism, in tandem with the opportunity to take their skills into the workplace as part of a work-based learning related module.

Modules are as follows: 

ME5712 20 credits*
ME5730 20 credits*
ME5724 20 credits*
ME5725 20 credits*
ME5726 20 credits*

And, 20 credits from
ME5703 20 credits (Experiential Learning),
or WB5101 20 credits (Work-Based Learning)
or WB5004 20 credits (by application)

[Level 5 credits can be substituted for a full year exchange via the module WB5007 120 credits]

[WB5008 The Study Abroad Experience 120 credits (non-award credits) can be taken as an additional year]

At Level 6 students undertake more ambitious work which test the skills, practices and theories learned over the duration of the course.  The range of options at Level 6 is wider than at previous levels, and students can further broaden their perspective as well as focussing on areas of their own specific interest.  The breadth at this level is illustrated by the presence of content on topics as diverse as music fandom, live and online music promotion and journalism management.  However, there is also significant depth at this stage, and perhaps most importantly a shift in emphasis towards facilitating students working with more autonomy, particularly in the modules strongly associated with dissertation and live music promotion, which works in parallel with modules aimed at focussing students on the working world, such as those concerned directly with entrepreneurial journalism and the careers and landscapes related to the creative media industries. The university is also proud of extensive, comprehensive and readily accessible employability schemes that run from the well-staffed and resourced Careers and Employability offices.  Such a blended academic and vocational approach could be considered to produce students well equipped to enter the working world as either an employee or self-employed individual.

Modules are as follows:

120 credits from 
ME6716 20 credits
ME6717 20 credits
ME6718 20 credits

ME6735 40 credits**
ME6736 40 credits**
ME6733 20 credits*
ME6734 20 credits
WB6001 40 credits**

Problem-solving skills and analytical techniques will be developed that can be applied in many types of employment. The Music Journalism graduate will be able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements, to communicate effectively, and will have developed both subject specific and key-transferable skills applicable to a wide range of contexts.

** Not combinable with each other (selection of one of these is compulsory)

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
ME4717 4 Journalism Regulation 20 Comp
ME4731 4 Reviewing Live and Recorded Music 20 Comp
ME4732 4 Evolution of Music Journalism 20 Comp
ME4733 4 Music, Technologies, Histories 20 Comp
ME4742 4 The Newsroom: Reporting, Production and Principles 40 Comp
ME5703 5 Experiential Project in Media 20 Optional
ME5712 5 Specialist Journalism 20 Comp
ME5724 5 Music Journalism Online 20 Comp
ME5725 5 Popular Music: Spaces and Places 20 Comp
ME5726 5 The Cultural Politics of Music Journalism 20 Comp
ME5730 5 Research Methods for Journalists 20 Comp
WB5004 5 Learning in the Wider World 20 Optional
WB5007 5 International Exchange Module – Full academic year 120 Optional
WB5008 5 The Study Abroad Experience 120 Optional
WB5101 5 Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning 20 Optional
ME6716 6 Magazine Publishing 20 Optional
ME6717 6 Entrepreneurial Journalism 20 Optional
ME6718 6 Journalism Management: Theory and Practice 20 Optional
ME6719 6 Creative Media Industries: Careers and Landscapes 20 N/A
ME6733 6 Music PR and Promotion Writing 20 Comp
ME6734 6 Music Fandom 20 Optional
ME6735 6 Music Journalism Dissertation 40 Optional
ME6736 6 Music Journalism Special Project 40 Optional
WB6001 6 Work-based Project (40 Credit) Module 40 Optional

  • 120 credits at Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education
  • 240 credits by the end of Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Education
  • 360 credits by the end of Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor’s degree


Not applicable

Not applicable

UCAS points:

104 UCAS points from GCE A Levels or equivalent. Typical offer - CCC/BCC


BTEC Extended Diploma/Certificate: merit/distinction profile.

Irish/Scottish Highers:

B in 4 subjects.

International Baccalaureate:

26 points.


QAA recognised Access course, Open College Units or Open University Credits.


OCR National Extended/Diploma: Merit/Distinction profil.


6.0 or above.

Extra Information:

The Advanced Diploma: acceptable on its own.
A BTEC National Award, OCR National Certificate or the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) will be recognised in our tariff offer.

The 2008 QAA Subject Benchmark Statements for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies and Music are available on the QAA website ( This Programme is notable for its very strong links with the document for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies at all levels of study.

The documentation draws attention to how some degree programmes focus on history, whilst others emphasise the contemporary, when it states “some degree programmes…contain a significant historical component, while others emphasise contemporary developments” and “some concentrate on established media and areas of cultural activity, while others pay special attention to new and emerging media, cultural or communicative forms”.  What is particularly notable about this programme in relation to this statement, is that it is particularly strongly focussed on both the historical and contemporary aspects of music journalism.  A strength of the modules focussing on, for example, the evolution of music journalism, music history and audio technologies is that they closely cement, at a modular level, the close relationship between the historical and the contemporary, whilst still maintaining a strong foundation in “an understanding of the social, cultural and political histories from which different media and cultural institutions, modes of communication, practices and structures have emerged.”

The module(s) concerning the cultural politics of music journalism, journalism regulation as well as others cover extensively “the ways in which cultural and media organisations intersect with general political and economic processes”.

Graduates of this programme will have demonstrated “knowledge and understanding drawn from … an awareness of the economic forces that frame the media, cultural and creative industries, and the role of such industries in specific areas of contemporary political and cultural life” as modules concerning music PR and promotion writing, for example, have heavy emphasis on such economic forces, specifically in a music industry orientated environment.  Additionally, modules specifically concerning journalism regulation can be seen to lead students to demonstrate “a knowledge of the legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks that affect media and cultural production, manipulation, distribution, circulation, and consumption”.

Although the Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies document is the main QAA benchmarking reference point for this programme, there are also close links with aspects of the Music statements. It is clear, for example, that graduates from this Programme “should be able to demonstrate the ability to analyse…musical materials” and “present results of findings in a coherent and communicable form”.  Module(s) specifically concerned with reviewing live and recorded music, for example, will certainly supply an appropriate platform for students to analyse music and present their findings in this way.

The general learning, teaching and assessment strategy of the Media Department and Music Journalism programme is to enable students to develop knowledge, skills and understanding in their chosen areas of study, to become progressively more independent in their learning and to develop a range of transferable skills. Tutors view themselves as supporters and facilitators of active learning rather than didactic transmitters of fixed bodies of knowledge.

Learning opportunities on all programmes are designed to achieve the knowledge, skills and personal development stated in the module descriptors. On undergraduate programmes learning experiences are geared to progression and integration through the levels of the programmes. Students are encouraged to critically reflect upon their consumption and production of media products. Tutors teaching both individually and collectively use a wide range of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and production projects.

The emphasis is on early diagnosis of students' strengths and weaknesses, followed by interactive learning and increasing autonomy as students progress through their programmes. Departmental staff support the development of transferable skills and encourage the development of capabilities which students can later apply in a range of occupations. The first of these is undertaken through embedding appropriate skills into the Department's modules and these are clearly identified through learning outcomes and assessment criteria.

Students will progress through the programme, developing from a position of reliance and dependency on tutor guidance and support in the initial stages to a self-supporting, self-directed and autonomous approach to their studies. Students will increasingly be expected to demonstrate the ability to originate, research, assimilate, develop and critically review ideas across a range of practically and academically focused modules, in accordance with level-related assessment criteria. Level 4 study will provide opportunity for students to develop key and core skills, knowledge and understanding, thereby creating an effective platform from which greater autonomy, academic awareness and production skill may be evolved.

Students will be invited to work with external bodies at level 4, such as magazines and websites, however their focus will be on developing the requisite skills and practices relevant to a workplace environment. At level 5 and 6 however, students will be required to engage with external companies through their production modules and experiential/work based learning, forging working relationships between themselves, the media creative industries and the university. Level 6 study will require the completion of a dissertation or project based upon independent research or practice. Students will experience a range of teaching and learning methods related, and relevant to the acquisition of key and subject specific knowledge and skills.

The curriculum and learning experiences offered to students will be designed to reflect the specific aims, emphases and learning outcomes of the programme. Students will be made aware of these at the outset from the programme and individual modules. Students of this programme will reap the benefits of exploring a wide range of materials and sources, from both academic and non-academic contexts cognate with the field of study.

Learning opportunities will be via a selection of lectures, seminars and tutorials given by lecturers, visiting lecturers, external contacts and practicing media professionals from across the media industries, who would have first hand and current experience of the opportunities in the discipline for potential graduates and an ability to relate the course to prevalent contemporary practices and trends.  Opportunities for active assimilation, application, questioning, debate and critical reflection are therefore provided. The Work-Based Learning module at level 5 will also afford students the opportunity to develop skills in the workplace and other relevant environments.  Reflection on their own and industry practices should enhance the student's portfolio of knowledge and experience, enabling them to think critically and objectively about their chosen field.

As students progress through the levels of the programme they will be expected to become more independent in their learning and to develop the capacity for critical reflection.  From the student point of view, the three levels of study can be considered to be foundational, developmental and independent in their nature. The increasing emphasis on student self-direction and self-responsibility will be reflected in the learning and teaching strategies and methods deployed.  The variety of methods employed may include the following: lectures, demonstrations, screenings, seminars, workshops, work-simulations, tutorials, group and individual project work, live projects, supervised independent learning, computer aided research, open and resource-based learning activities such as digital photography and audio editing techniques, field activities such as music reviews, location recording and news gathering, group and individual presentations, media visits, small group tutorials, independent study, dissertation and work-based or experiential learning.

Students will be expected to work independently outside timetabled teaching sessions. They will be provided with structured reading for seminars and expected to work individually and within groups, to successfully complete both academic and practical assignments. Students will be expected to keep up to date with contemporary popular music forms, current affairs and developments, and they will, naturally, be expected to read critically a wide range of media-related academic texts, newspapers, journals and magazines and engage with broad and narrowcast media, print and online publications.

Assessment on this programme is designed to provide feedback to students on their performance in order to shape future learning, to verify achievement in order that students can progress through and beyond the programme and to evidence, for internal and external use, the maintenance and enhancement of the quality of the programme.  

In the early stages of the programme, the formative role of assessment to help students learn may be as important as the summative assessment for certification. As students progress through the programme more emphasis may be placed on the verification of achievement.  More traditional methods of assessment such as examinations and formal essays are an important part of this programme, but are balanced by practical audio work, practical music promotion activity, presentations, web logs, portfolios, reports, and critical reviews of media texts. 

Written assignments provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their ability to study independently and involve locating, organising and critically assessing material.  Seen and unseen exam papers provide students with an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge under time constrained conditions.

Seminar presentations help students to develop their ability to articulate ideas and arguments orally, providing the opportunity for students to develop presentation skills and use appropriate technology.  Combined, these and other methods of assessment are both formative and summative.

Methods of assessment are communicated to students at the beginning of each module and details of the form of assessment and associated criteria are clearly stated in each module handbook.  The Department uses anonymous marking for projects, assignments and dissertations where this is practical.  All examination scripts are anonymously marked.  Although examination papers may not be returned to students, they are offered the opportunity to discuss their scripts with tutors.  Feedback forms based on the published assessment criteria are used to provide feedback for all assignments.  Feedback on all assessments is used to provide guidance to students on how to boost future learning as well as to clarify current achievement.  Formative feedback is used on all programmes.  Students are entitled to personal guidance on feedback given, which may be supplied by the module tutor or an academic advisor. 

The assessment strategy of this programme is based on the following assumptions and practices:

  • Assessment is acknowledged to be a major driver of student learning. 
  • A variety of assessment practices will be employed in order to provide students with a range of opportunities to display intellectual, practical and transferable skills, and to accommodate the different learning styles of individual students. 
  • Clear criteria for grading and the rules and regulations for assessment and awards will be available for all students throughout their programme. 
  • Assessment at early stages of the programme will focus on evidencing the acquisition and development of undergraduate knowledge, skills and understanding: later stages of the programme will focus on the demonstration of students' ability to independently synthesize advanced knowledge and skills. Assignments and projects at the start of the programme will be largely tutor determined.  By the sixth level students will have significant elements of self-determination in their coursework assessments and dissertation. 
  • Tutors delivering the programme have explored and discussed maps of module aims, learning outcomes and assessments across the programme during the programme's design process in order to understand how their module assessments complement others in the programme and to develop equivalences in assessment weightings and balances.

An honours graduate of this programme will have developed an understanding of a complex body of knowledge, some of it at the current boundaries of an academic discipline.  Through this, the graduate will have developed analytical techniques and problem-solving skills that can be applied in many different types of employment, whether employed or self-employed and across a range of media and music vocations.  The graduate will be able to evaluate evidence, arguments and assumptions, to reach sound judgements and to communicate effectively.

An honours graduate should have the necessary qualities for employment in situations requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances.  Through specific module demands and the work-based or experiential learning scheme the programme will draw upon and develop students' capabilities in analysis, critique, and synthesis.  This will enable students to analyse, contextualise and apply skills, theories and practices in an informed and intelligent manner.

Throughout the writing of this programme, the team has been mindful of the graduate characteristics detailed in the benchmarking statements for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies, the benchmarking statements for Music, and the requirements of the FHEQ.  Though these are specific aims, it is understood that it would be unlikely for any one programme of study to achieve all of them.  However a course which has, at its core, the synergy between theory and practice, relating education to the work place, is likely to achieve most of them.

The University is committed to the promotion of diversity, equality and inclusion in all its forms; through different ideas and perspectives, age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.  We are, in particular, committed to widening access to higher education.  Within an ethically aware and professional environment, we acknowledge our responsibilities to promote freedom of enquiry and scholarly expression.

Not applicable.

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