University of Chester

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

Bachelor of Arts (Single Honours)


Journalism (including Foundation Year)

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory,

4 years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities Media

Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies (2008)

Learning and Teaching Institute (Level 3 only)

Media (Levels 4-6)

Monday 18th January 2016

  • To provide a degree that fulfils the criteria suggested in the relevant QAA subject standards and benchmarks.
  • To offer a programme in Journalism that combines theoretical and practical approaches.
  • To encourage critical reflection on the profession and political influence of journalism.
  • To develop the cognitive potential of undergraduates through degree-level education in the role of journalism in society, media law and government.
  • To provide an education that highlights the role played by journalism in the information society.
  • To provide an education that emphasises a comparative, international approach to journalism in different global contexts.
  • To offer a degree that encourages an examination of the wider media industries.
  • To provide the necessary practical, transferable and subject skills to enable the graduate to work in journalism.
  • To provide the transferable communication skills applicable in a range of related professional contexts, including PR, advertising, marketing and corporate communications.

By the end of the level students should be able to:



  • Demonstrate a knowledge of terms and concepts relevant to the subject-specific modules. [FP3102, FP3105, FP3301, FP3304]
  • Use academic study skills at the required level for further study at the University.[FP3002, FP3003]
  • Identify how theory can be applied to practice. [FP3002, FP3003]
  • Be aware of how undergraduate study prepares students for a professional career. [FP3003]
Students will be assessed throughout and at the end of each module as appropriate, on their knowledge and understanding of the subject area in the context of practice. Evidence reflection on the wider political implications of journalism and adopt a comparative international perspective on the subject (ME4742, ME4717, ME4718, ME4713, ME4715)
A knowledge and understanding of the political and legal contexts for journalism practice, organizational and institutional frameworks, and ethical constraints and influences on journalism (ME4717)
An understanding of, and ability to analyse, journalistic processes. An ability to place journalism in a broader historical context (ME5710, ME5712, ME5713, WB5008, WB5101)
Reflect critically on the relationship between theory and practice while producing a major journalism project. Engage with modules focused on more specific theoretical subject areas (ME6716, ME6718, ME6722, ME6723, ME6713, ME6714)

By the end of the level students should be able to:



  • Analyse, interpret and summarise information. [FP3002, FP3003]
  • Write in an academic manner. [FP3002]
  • Begin to reflect on their own learning and use feedback as part of this process. [FP3301]
  • Demonstrate independent learning. [FP3003]
  • Integrate a variety of information sources to develop academically and professionally. [FP3002, FP3003]
Combine practice and the broader academic understanding of journalism in relation to ethical and legal frameworks. Reflect critically on the relationship between theory and practice (ME4742, ME4713, ME4715, ME4717, ME4718)
The ability to analyse and evaluate areas of knowledge and production practices. Placing these practices in a broader context and analysing its implications (ME5712, ME5713, ME5710, WB5008, WB5101)
Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of texts, with an associated ability to respond critically to these texts, personal performance and experiences. (ME6713, ME6714, ME6716, ME6718, ME6722, ME6723)

By the end of the level students should be able to:

Retrieve and collate information from a variety of sources. [FP3301, FP3002, FP3003]

  • Use proficient reading and writing skills in preparation for the next level of study. [FP3002]
  • Demonstrate ability in Creative Arts and Social Science applications. [FP3002, FP3301, FP3304]
  • Present creative skill in the production of their assessed work. [FP3303]
  • Work with others for problem-solving activities.[FP3302]
Written and communication skills assessed through production processes and reflection. (ME4742, ME4717)
Transferable skills including proofreading and editing, interviewing techniques and working in a team on practical journalism projects. Professional news gathering and writing skills together with a critical approach to journalistic practice.  (ME5712, ME5713, WB5008, WB5101)
Working independently on advanced practical journalism projects, working with different software, as well as transferable skills including communication, information literacy and technology, problem solving, working with others and critical and functional writing. (ME6716, ME6718, ME6722, ME6723)

By the end of the level students should be able to:
  • Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format. [FP3002, FP3301, FP3003]
  • Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes. [FP3002]
  • Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process. [FP3301]
  • Convert researched information to a summarised form. [FP3002, FP3301]


The nurturing of confidence, both oral and written, appropriate to the level of study linked to the core demands of the discipline. (ME4742, ME4717)
Oral and written skills encompassing presentations, essays and journalistic portfolios, developing the core demands of the discipline to encompass a broader suite of skills (ME5712, ME5713, WB5008, WB5101)
Advanced application of oral and written skills encompassing essays, journalistic portfolios and dissertations. (ME6716, ME6718, ME6722, ME6723, ME6713, ME6714)

The foundation year is aligned to the Framework for Undergraduate Modular Programmes and offers foundation level study whereby modules are 20 credits and students study for 120 credits in total to progress to the next level of study.

The programme is designed to introduce students to topics within the Creative Arts undergraduate degrees offered by the University, in conjunction with an academic skills curriculum to support learning and preparation for progression to level 4. There are synergies between the foundation year and the level 4 curriculum that students progress to. This includes module topics and themes that relate to the transference of knowledge and skills to the workplace, and the relevance of differing modes of teaching, learning and assessment.

There is a 20 credit module within the foundation year, University Study Skills, which offers students skills-based learning in preparation for level 4-6 studies to support academic progression, and to provide an introduction to successful undergraduate studentship.

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 and project modules, with 400 hours of associated teaching and learning.

The programme takes into account the benchmarking statements for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural studies and the National Qualifications Framework.

The structure has at its core the establishment and development of journalistic skills and practices situated within an understanding of the political, social 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 journalist as well as on vocational training. The graduate will understand the context and ethical, moral, societal and legal frameworks in which the 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 journalism. Practical skills include news reporting, sub-editing, web production, layout and design. The curriculum allows students to examine and analyse the regulatory frameworks of law and local government as they impact on journalism today. In addition, students will have the opportunity to examine comparative international contexts and to reflect on the links between journalism and democracy.

Modules are as follows:

ME4713 20 credits*
ME4715 20 credits*
ME4717 20 credits*
ME4718 20 credits*
ME4742 40 credits*

Level 5 will see the development of these skills into more extensive journalistic projects and will give students the opportunity to take their skills into the workplace as part of the Enhancing your Employability through Work-Based Learning module. Students will also be required to critically analyse and reflect upon their practice in relation to audience, the market, sourcing news, the historical context, and the implications of new media technology.

Modules are as follows:

ME5710 20 credits*
ME5711 20 credits*
ME5712 20 credits*
ME5713 20 credits*

ME5730 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 for 120 credits]
[WB5008 The Study Abroad Experience 120 credits (non-award credits) can be completed as an additional year]

At level 6 students produce more ambitious projects which test the skills, practices and theories learned over the duration of the course, as well as exploring the newest innovations of the information society. Modules encourage the journalism student to examine the profession's central place within the wider economic, cultural and political sphere and provide students with the opportunity to articulate the implications of the centrality of the modern media, and to analyse the diversity of approaches to understanding media in both historic and contemporary contexts.

Modules are as follows:

120 credits from
ME6713 20 credits
ME6714 20 credits
ME6715 20 credits
ME6716 20 credits
ME6717 20 credits
ME6718 20 credits

ME6722 40 credits**
or ME6723 40 credits**
or WB6001 40 credits**

Problem-solving skills and analytical techniques will be developed that can be applied in many types of employment. The 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 - including journalism.

The incremental approach to the development of print journalism skills through the three levels of the degree programme within a context of critical questioning, reflection and application will reassure employers that students will be ready, both academically and practically, to enter the workplace and meet their need for graduates who can contribute from day one.

** Not combinable with each other

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
FP3002 0 University Study Skills 20 Comp
FP3003 0 Independent Project 20 Comp
FP3102 0 Introduction to the Social Sciences 20 Comp
FP3105 0 Global Perspectives 20 Comp
FP3301 0 Critical Thinking 20 Comp
FP3304 0 Visual Culture: History and Society 20 Comp
ME4713 4 Journalism and Democracy 20 Comp
ME4715 4 Comparative International Journalism 20 Comp
ME4717 4 Journalism Regulation 20 Comp
ME4718 4 The News Today 20 Comp
ME4742 4 The Newsroom: Reporting, Production and Principles 40 Comp
ME5703 5 Experiential Project in Media 20 Optional
ME5710 5 Journalism - The Long View 20 Comp
ME5711 5 The Politics of Social Media 20 Comp
ME5712 5 Specialist Journalism 20 Comp
ME5713 5 Journalism Production: Theory and Practice 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
ME6713 6 Journalism of Fear 20 Optional
ME6714 6 Current Affairs and Conflict Journalism 20 Optional
ME6715 6 From Watergate to Hackgate: Journalism Ethics and Issues 20 Optional
ME6716 6 Magazine Publishing 20 Optional
ME6717 6 Entrepreneurial Journalism 20 Optional
ME6718 6 Journalism Management: Theory and Practice 20 Optional
ME6722 6 Media Academic Dissertation 40 Optional
ME6723 6 Media Production Dissertation 40 Optional
WB6001 6 Work-based Project (40 Credit) Module 40 Optional

Level 3: Students who successfully complete 120 credits at level 3 will be eligible for a Foundation Certificate.

Level 4: Students who successfully complete 240 credits by the end of level 4 will be eligible for a Certificate in Higher Education

Level 5: Students who successfully complete 360 credits by the end of level 5 will be eligible for a Diploma in Higher Education

Level 6: Students who successfully complete 480 credits by the end of level 6 will be eligible for a Bachelor's degree in Journalism

  • 72 UCAS points from GCE A Levels
  • BTEC Extended Diploma: MMP-MPP
  • BTEC Diploma: MM
  • Access Diploma – Pass overall
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points
  • Irish / Scottish Highers - CCCC

Other vocational qualifications at Level 3 will also be considered, such as NVQs.

Mature students (21 and over) that have been out of education for a while or do not have experience or qualifications at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

The Subject Benchmark Statements for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies are available on the QAA website ( The team have taken cognisance of the benchmark statements throughout the crafting of this degree programme.

Journalism graduates are expected to engage with a range of texts and genres, as well as forms of critical analysis, argument and debate, expressed through a competent command of appropriate communication and production forms. An awareness of the diversity of approaches to communication via journalism is encouraged throughout the three years of the degree.

The balance between theory and practice is maintained via a range of different assessment criteria, related to each module. For example, level four requires students to engage with the realities of contemporary news gathering and writing. Such practical modules subsequently allow students to apply their knowledge of media processes to an examination of policy and ethical issues as they affect democratic participation and issues of citizenship.

Journalism graduates will have demonstrated a broad knowledge of the centrality of the media at all levels of political, economic and social organisation and will have the ability to articulate media influence and its implications. At level 4, modules encourage students to appreciate the wider socio-cultural and political context in which journalists operate. At level 6, students have the opportunity to analyse the relationship between media, public opinion and government policy by way of optional modules and their Dissertation topic.

In addition, modules contribute to the understanding of both comparative international perspectives and the historical formation of journalism, allowing students to place the modern profession in a wider context.

Students will be required to apply their knowledge of media processes to an examination of policy and ethical issues as they affect democratic participation and issues of citizenship. Students must prove their ability to work across a range of group and independent modes of study, and must demonstrate flexibility, creativity and the capacity for critical self reflection within them.

Foundation Year (Level 3)

The learning, teaching and assessment methods for the foundation year (level 3) are designed to development students’ academic skills and subject knowledge to successfully prepare them for their undergraduate degree programmes. There will be a focus on introducing students to the mode of delivery they will experience at undergraduate level on programmes across the University. These include the development of professional skills, seminars, lectures, debate, group and individual projects, and confidence with presentations and group discussion. Diversity of assessment types enables students to practise and demonstrate a wide set of knowledge and skills. There will also be instances whereby assessments will have a relationship with real-world scenarios and professional practice. Examples of assessments are group and individual presentations, exams, essays, posters, and the development of a portfolio or project.

Formative assessment is a key component of development on the foundation year (level 3). This will be used so that students can monitor their own performance, reflect on their development and prepare for summative assessments. This is particularly salient for the study skills provision, where skills development will be continuously (self) appraised by students and lecturers via group and personal tutorials. The subject-specific modules and study skills curriculum are not delivered as two distinct areas of the foundation year. Students will need to demonstrate proficiency in academic study skills throughout all of their modules.

A key aspect of the foundation year (level 3) will be the identification and development of critical thinking skills and reflection on one's own progress. This will be 'situated' within the University Study Skills module but students will be expected to utilise skills-based learning from this module across the programme. The programme aims to give students opportunities to take charge of their own learning by identifying their own interests and areas for development.

Levels 4 - 6

The general learning, teaching and assessment strategy of the media department and 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. On both undergraduate and postgraduate 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 four 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, typically, will not work with external bodies at level four but will be evolving skills and practices relevant to a workplace environment. At level five and six, students will engage with external companies through their production modules and experiential/work based learning, forging working relationships between themselves, the media creative industries and the college. Level six study may also require the writing of an 8,000 word dissertation 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 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 five 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 will 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 edit techniques, field activities such as 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 current affairs and developments, especially in the area of media and communications 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 predominate on this programme, but are balanced by 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. The success of these methods is confirmed by external examiners' reports and is demonstrated in student assignments.
  • 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 are not 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 foundation 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 level 6 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. 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 statement for Communication, Media, Film and Cultural Studies. 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.

The value and relevance of our programmes is recognised through the relationship we have with a large range of media and related employers, through our work experience programme and through our liaison with professional organisations and media organisations. These include the Chester Chronicle, the Warrington Guardian and their related publications.

The University enjoys very close links with a number of broadcasting companies, including the BBC.

Back - to previous page  Print - launches the print options panel