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Module Code - Title:


Year Last Offered:


Hours Per Week:













Grading Type:


Prerequisite Modules:

Rationale and Purpose of the Module:

This course aims to make students fully aware of the legal framework and constraints within which the media operates, and to enable then to cover courts and other stories with legal implications effectively and with confidence. It also aims to make students fully aware of the major ethical issues that concern journalists. Students will be able to form judgments about ethical dilemmas and articulate a response to them.


The structure of the legal system, with specific relevance to the law as it affects journalists, including defamation, malicious falsehood, criminal libel, blasphemy, contempt of court, reporting restrictions, breach of confidence and copyright. The course will introduce students to major sources (individuals, institutions, campaigning bodies, government bodies, journalists, journals) on media law issues. Students will analyze complex legal issues and be able to apply them to specific legal dilemmas. The course will cover recent developments in the laws on privacy and in particular European human rights legislation. Students will be introduced to the ethical framework surrounding journalism, including the various codes of conduct, and touching on laws such as those of privacy. They will discuss issues of public interest and its bearing on private lives, and the importance of truth, fairness and objectivity. There will be discussions on reporting suicide, mental health issues, questions of taste and decency, and the use of subterfuge to obtain stories, and the questions of sleaze and sensationalism. Representation of women and minorities in the press will be covered, as will the impact of competition, ownership and advertising on journalism. Assessment will be by examination and coursework essay on ethics.

Learning Outcomes:

Cognitive (Knowledge, Understanding, Application, Analysis, Evaluation, Synthesis)

On successful completion of this module, students will be able to: - Identify the key elements in establishing the legal and regulatory environment of journalistic reporting. - Specify the criteria for defamation actions and truth in reporting. - Outline the basic human rights provisions applicable to journalistic reporting. - Differentiate between law and policy on issues such as privacy and public interest reporting. - Distinguish issues such a copyright, communications received in confidence, ethical issues including sensationalism. - Critique the limits of legally acceptable journalistic reporting standards.

Affective (Attitudes and Values)


Psychomotor (Physical Skills)


How the Module will be Taught and what will be the Learning Experiences of the Students:

Research Findings Incorporated in to the Syllabus (If Relevant):

Prime Texts:

Other Relevant Texts:

Programme(s) in which this Module is Offered:

Semester - Year to be First Offered:

Autumn - 09/10

Module Leader: