Module Catalogue 2023/24

MCH2059 : Media Law and Ethics

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Baines
  • Visiting Professional: Mr Adrian Pitches
  • Owning School: Arts & Cultures
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



1. To give students an insight into the legal and ethical frameworks within which journalists work in Britain and in other jurisdictions and cultural contexts around the world.
2. To prepare students to recognise when legal and ethical issues arise which relate to their practice and / or the reports they are producing and to be able to identify those issues and research and analyse how they should respond to them in an appropriate manner.
3. To prepare students to be able to develop their knowledge and understanding of legal and ethical issues throughout their careers and to apply that knowledge and understanding as reflexive practitioners guided by a strong set of professional and ethical values.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module may include, but is not limited to, sessions on:
Reporting crime and judicial institutions and procedure:
Defamation dangers and defences;
Press and broadcasting regulation;
Censorship, access to information and freedom of expression;
Ethical issues in journalism and professional values;
Legal and ethical issues relating to children and the law, children in the media;
Copyright and intellectual property.

The module adopts a student-led and student-centric pedagogical approach in a field which is in constant flux and where students need to understand the legal and ethical frameworks which constrain and support journalists in their work around the world. This approach to learning and teaching enables the module to enhance its international perspective and allows students to focus their learning on their particular area of endeavour.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module should have:
K1: A developed understanding of the legal processes at a national and transnational level as they apply to journalism;
K2: A developed knowledge and understanding of key concepts within the legal system that apply to journalism;
K3: A developed understanding of ethical issues and concerns relating to journalism.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students successfully completing the module should have:
S1: The ability to apply principles and concepts of law to journalism practice in a national and transnational context.
S2: The ability to recognise when legal and ethical concerns arise in relation to journalism practice and to identify these and respond appropriately;
S3: The ability to work within different national and transnational legal and regulatory environments and to exercise the rights and liberties available under the law.
S4: The ability to interpret the structures, roles and methods of legal systems for the purposes of reporting.
S5: The ability to develop and apply techniques of writing within the constraints of various legal systems.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00Learning consolidation and assessment planning. On campus or online if necessary
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials112:0022:00Non-synchronous online. Study guidance and preparatory readings for topics
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion310:0030:00Preparation for 2 group assignments (one formative, ungraded; one summative, graded) and essay
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading1115:00115:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching112:0022:00Seminar groups. On campus or online if necessary
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The exploration of key legal and ethical issues as they relate to journalism and the media in diverse judiciaries and social, political and cultural contexts is introduced by tutors but learning will primarily be led by students in seminar groups. These sessions will critically explore the concepts, theories and issues involved in the legal and ethical context in which journalists work and how these are understood and applied.

This student-centred, student-led approach encourages rich and deep understandings of the areas of law and ethical and professional values which they are researching and presenting in case study form as a group; involves preparation for the group assignments and individual essay assignment; and allows individual students to tailor their learning to the particular national, social and cultural context in which they intend to develop their careers.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A602500 words. Students compose their own essay question which elicits an analytical response to topic or area of curriculum
Case study1M40Group assignment: case studies relating to a designated topic delivered online. Equivalent to 750 words for each group member.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Case study1MGroup assignment: case studies relating to a designated topic delivered online. Equivalent to 750 words for each group member.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Case studies
This element enables students to work together to address a particular field of law and related ethical concerns which are relevant to journalists and the practice of journalism and to examine it from a variety of perspectives.

Formative case study:
Preparation of the first case study allows students to gain confidence in working collaboratively in their assigned group. Students receive feedback but the case study is not graded. Equivalent to 750 words per person.

Summative case study:
The second case study is a summative assessment for which students receive feedback and a group grade. Equivalent to 750 words per person.

Students will be applying skills and knowledge gained on this module in a variety of contexts. The student-led and student-centred approach allows individual students to direct their own learning and optimise its relevance to the context in which he or she plans to develop their career.

Furthermore, the intensive research each student undertakes in order to develop two case studies will inform their choice of essay and its execution.

This allows students to demonstrate their ability to identify, research and critically analyse a particular issue or topic of concern relating to media law and ethics. Students are asked to decide on their own topic and discuss the framing of the question with the tutor. This is in accord with the student-led, student-centred pedagogical approach which allows individual students to better direct their own learning towards their own career direction.

The assessment strategy as a whole provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge of legal issues through structured systematic argument individually and in a collaborative context.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2023/24 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2024/25 entry will be published here in early-April 2024. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.