Number of lesson modules  12 Fees information  
  Average duration  9-15 months Enrolment form  


Media Law


This course takes the form of 12 lessons which incorporate reading, writing and revision assignments designed to consolidate your knowledge of the subjects covered.

The course is structured to take account of the difficulties students most frequently encounter in understanding media law and the suggested method of study is based on techniques previous students have found most productive.

The textbook for the course is an invaluable reference book which has become a legal bible for journalists across the country - McNae's Essential Law for Journalists, edited by Tom Welsh and Walter Greenwood.  Published by Butterworths, this definitive guide to media law is currently in the 20th edition, issued in August 2009 and fully updated to take account of changes in the law.

McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists can be purchased from most good bookshops or from . Those students who enrol online, or from overseas, should purchase their own copy – those UK students who enrol for a postal course will be supplied with copy, the cost of which is included within the course fee.

Course content focuses on the law as it applies in England and Wales.  The law in Northern Ireland is broadly similar, although students are referred to chapter of 35 of Essential Law, which outlines the main differences.  Scotland has its own legal system and any journalists intending to work in Scotland will be required to study Scots law in detail.

Course Syllabus

The course ends in an 'open-book' exam which accounts for 50% of your final grade.  Your assignments, submitted during your course, account for the other 50%.

  Section 1:  Journalistsand the Law
Defamation and Contempt 
New media risks
Section 2:  Rightsand Restrictions
What is a free press?
  Section 3:  Crime and the Courts
Reporting crime stories
Reporting the Courts
Preliminary hearings
Magistrates' Court Act 1980
Crown Court Trials 1
Derogatory assertions
Challenging a Section 58 Order
Crown Court Trials 22
Crown Court - case study
Reporting the Courts
The Civil Courts
Divorce and Bankruptcy
Section 4:  Children and Juveniles
Juveniles and the Courts
Section 39 challenges
Youth Court challenges
Anti-Social Behaviour Orders
Children and Family Courts
Youth Justice dilemmas
Legal developments
  Section 5:  Sex Offences
Anonymity for sex assault victims
Anonymity for defendants
Two-stage protection for victims
When reporting restrictions can be lifted
When reporting restrictions do not apply
Code of Practice on sex offences
Jigsaw identification
Section 6:  Inquests and Tribunals
Tribunals and inquiries
  Section 7:  Contempt of Court
The right to a fair trial
Contempt of Court Act 1981
Breaking crime stories
Court stories
During the trial
Jury members
Tape recorders
Common law contempt
Challenging the courts
Theory and practice
Weighing the risks
Contempt dilemmas
Contempt v. defamation
Section 8:  Defamation
The Defamation Act 1996
What is defamatory?
Who can sue?
What a claimant must prove
Defamation risks
Avoiding the risks
Libel defences
Protection before publication
Criminal libel
Sedition and Obscenity
Malicious falsehood
Slander of goods
Rehabilitation of Offenders Act
Defamation dilemmas
  Section 9:  Copyright
Maps, drawings and pictures
Global brands
Section 10:  Human Rights Act
Human Rights Act 1998
Defending your rights
Breach of confidence
Public interest defence
Protecting your sources
The Official Secrets Act
Information from government
Race relations
Election law
  Section 11:  Codes of Conduct and Privacy
Codes of conduct
PCC adjudications
Witness payments
Broadcasting regulator
Data Protection Act 1998
Section 12:  Questions and Revision Notes
Law updates
Exam preparation