MP5002 - Media Law and Ethics

What will I learn on this module?

‘Media Law and Ethics’ investigates law and ethical conduct for print, online and broadcast journalists in the UK. It explores the current structure of media law and the criminal and civil court system. It also considers the ethical expectations and obligations of journalism as well as the constraints they create for journalists. Media Law and Ethics will enable you to understand the restrictions placed on journalists when reporting on criminal investigations and court proceedings. More broadly, this module aims to equip you with a critical awareness of the legal and ethical restrictions which will have an impact on the way you work as a journalist. Using contemporary examples as well as well-known cases, you will learn about the processes of the criminal court system and how to report its proceedings within the law. For example, ethical issues will be explored by working through restrictions placed on journalists when reporting on cases involving children and sex crimes. After successfully completing the module, you will be able to identify and respond to circumstances that impact on working journalists, including the dangers posed by defamation law (for example). You will also be able to evaluate how media regulation has developed over time, forming an understanding of how to work within the boundaries set by official bodies, and the limitations posed through self-regulation. Your personal and career development will be enhanced by applying your understanding of these ethical principles to journalistic working practices.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn via a variety of mechanisms. These include lectures, seminars, online activities (where appropriate) and independent learning.

Lectures will provide the contextual and theoretical information you need to understand the module’s themes and approaches. The lecturer will provide examples that will demonstrate how to apply relevant critical techniques, and to stimulate your engagement with the course material (by, for example, presenting various challenges and conflicts raised in the field).

Seminars will provide space for you to interrogate and discuss the ideas raised in the lectures, both with your peers and with the tutor. Seminars are oriented around discussion questions and activities to stimulate your engagement.

Outside of the taught sessions, you will be expected to engage with module-relevant reading in preparation for the sessions. An electronic reading list is supplied via the e-Learning Portal, which will guide you towards appropriate resources, although you are encouraged to explore the wider library catalogue to engage with additional sources too. During your independent working time, it is also expected that you will apply the ideas raised in the reading and the taught content to contemporary media examples beyond those cited in the lectures.

Where appropriate, additional materials will be supplied on the eLearning Portal. These independent activities will facilitate your development as you progress through the module, laying a foundation for your assessed work. Where possible, trips to magistrates and crown courts will give you an opportunity to watch the processes of law in action.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by the module lead; they will introduce the module at the start of the semester and offer advice and guidance throughout. Your learning is mapped out via documentation on Blackboard Ultra, the Northumbria University online electronic learning portal; this is accessible online on and off campus. The e-Learning Portal will include guidance notes and key dates to help you organise and plan your time. It will also include teaching materials, announcements and updates, and detailed information on assessment. You will have a university email that we contact you through.

We support your learning by providing on-going feedback (Formative and Summative) through the range of teaching and learning approaches offered. We ask you to submit your work electronically, and we will supply feedback via Turnitin. You will be able to compare your feedback across modules so that you can assess your development as you progress through the programme.

Formative assessment is offered throughout the module, and summative assignments will receive written feedback within 20 working days of assignment submission. Every tutor has set weekly feedback and tutorial drop in hours, wherein you can seek advice on your academic progress.

Where appropriate you may also be directed to engage with our Skills Plus or other resources offered through the University Student Support Services such as Dyslexia Support. Guidance tutorials also provide opportunities for students to discuss, in confidence, their academic progress on the programme.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
Display understanding of journalistic restrictions on the reporting of criminal investigations and court proceedings.
Display understanding of the restrictions placed on journalists when reporting on cases involving children and sex crimes.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
Demonstrate the ability to Identify and respond to the dangers posed by laws of defamation.

Demonstrate the ability to evaluate the development of and work within boundaries set by media regulation – by official bodies and self- regulation

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
Demonstrate understanding of the rationale underpinning the ethical frameworks in which a journalist works, and how they apply to your personal development

How will I be assessed?

Summative assessment takes place via
1. A 300-word or one minute 15 second radio or TV report based on a court case.
2. A multiple choice quiz
3. A 2-hour 30 minute closed book examination (LO 1-5)

*Referral for each assessment will be via three 1,000-word essays.

You will receive formative feedback from your peers and the module tutor during the seminars throughout the course, allowing you to apprehend how your critical skills are developing. You will receive a detailed commentary and a summative mark on your written work in accordance with the assessment criteria (supplied on the eLP). Under normal circumstances, you will receive written feedback on your summative submissions within 20 working days. The feedback will normally be supplied electronically as part of the ESAF process. This feedback will provide a detailed account of your skills, critical engagement and communicative ability, as well as supporting future learning by indicating areas for development. You can also request additional verbal feedback on your submissions by arranging a meeting with the module tutor.





Module abstract

Media Law and ethics is at the heart of each module taught on this programme, as it is at the heart of every story that appears in newspapers, TV, radio and online. It is essential that all journalists understand the law, not just in relation to courts and crime reporting and but also with respect to defamation, privacy and freedom of information. Anyone wishing to follow a career path in the media will need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding in all these areas. This module helps you clarify and critique the historical and contemporary dynamics of media law in the UK. Ethical dimensions to the profession will also be discussed. Though on the face of it this module may appear to be rather dry in terms of subject matter, the opposite is true: it is very much a ‘live’ subject with current stories and events often taking centre stage in lectures and seminar discussions. Students often find this module to be one of the most interesting they study.

Course info

UCAS Code PP35

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years full-time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Arts

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2023

Fee Information

Module Information

All information on this course page is accurate at the time of viewing.

Our Campus based courses starting in 2022 and 2023 will be delivered on-campus with supporting online learning content. We continue to monitor government and local authority guidance in relation to Covid-19 and we are ready and able to adjust the delivery of our education accordingly to ensure the health and safety of our students and staff.

On-campus contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with any additional restrictions, which may be imposed by the Government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors. This could potentially mean increased or fully online delivery, should such restrictions on in-person contact time be required.


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