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MCH2059 : Media Law and Ethics

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


Everything that journalists do gives rise to legal and ethical considerations. This module will make students familiar with aspects of legal systems which both constraining and enable the production of news, current affairs and other forms of media content. It will also support the development of a reflexive approach to journalism to help students think critically about the ethical considerations of their work. Students will be able to report on courts and legal processes and understand the application of the law in principle and in practice to media work. This includes, but is not limited to, the detailed examination of areas such as defamation, reporting on juveniles, reporting about sexual offences, copyright, confidentiality and privacy. It interrogates debates surrounding freedom of expression, the roles of journalism in society, and the various codes of conduct for journalists set out by the National Union of Journalists and regulatory bodies for the press and broadcasters.

Outline Of Syllabus

•       The judicial framework
•       Civil and criminal law
•       Reporting crimes and court proceedings
•       News values and how crime is reported in the media
•       Censorship and freedom of information
•       Why journalism matters
•       Law and the investigative journalist
•       Harm and offence
•       Defamation law
•       Print and broadcasting regulations
•       Copyright and intellectual property

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion1158:00158:00Independent & groupwork prep for group-led topic-specific seminar-leadership; for timed test & essay
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture121:0012:001-hour tutor-led lecture (followed by 1 hour seminar and 1 hour workshop)
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching121:0012:001 hour student led seminar
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops121:0012:001-hour workshop in which students work on case studies in small groups
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork23:006:00Students visit the Crown Courts twice; once with a tutor for 3 hours and once in their own time
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce legal concepts, systems structures and processes. The student-led seminars and individual study time will allow students to research them and to develop through discussion and reflection a critical understanding of their purpose, practice and application. Similarly, tutor-led lectures will introduce ethical concepts and present cases studies and group preparation, seminar discussion and individual reflection will offer students to develop a critical understanding of and sensitivity to ethical considerations in the field of journalism.

The ability to apply the legal and ethical principles and concepts with which they will become familiar will be developed through critical discussion and reflexive analysis and by a range of pedagogical strategies such as problem-solving exercises and the identification and analysis of appropriate case studies during seminars and during group preparation for seminars as well as individual study.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Description Length Semester When Set Percentage Comment
PC Examination1802A35Exam consisting of three equal parts scheduled by School
Oral Presentation602M10Seminar presentation
Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A552,500 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The exam will consist of three equal parts: S1 will test competence in court reporting, S2 will test knowledge of other aspects of media law; S3 will test critical thinking and judgment in relation to ethical professional practice.

The essay will assess knowledge and critical thinking and students will be asked to demonstrate in the essay both their knowledge of the law and their ability to reflect critically on ethical issues to which the legal issues under consideration also give rise.

Students will be assessed in groups with individual marks moderated by peer marking leadership of a seminar on a particular topic concerning law and / or ethics and the media.

The assignments are designed to allow students to investigate in depth, through a sustained and substantial piece of writing, a key area of law and the ethical considerations which it also raises in professional practice in journalism and the wider media field.
The exam is designed to assess their learning across the range of module content; to be able to recognise relevant ethical and legal concerns which might apply in a given situation and to be able to think critically and analytically in a timed-constrained situation in order to apply their knowledge and understanding in a given context.

The group seminar preparation and leadership and the peer marking element of this element of assessment is to enable them to develop abilities to research and communicate complex concepts and to work collaboratively to deliver a given outcome: in this case, structured, coherent and topic-relevant learning and teaching.

Reading Lists