module specification

SJ4037A - Writing Skills part 1 (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Writing Skills part 1
Module level Certificate (04)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
105 hours Guided independent study
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 50%   Portfolio of short articles to showcase use of grammar, writing style, subbing, headline writing
In-Course Test 25%   In-class grammar tests (8, 15)
Coursework 25%   Engagement with class, assessed by online journal, moderated by tutor (individual)
Running in 2024/25

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
No instances running in the year

Module summary

 This module will equip students on all journalism-related degrees with the essential transferable skills of good writing, ensuring a solid grounding in the essential building blocks of grammar, style and rhetoric.
Teaching takes place through a workshop mix of lectures, discussions, site visits, presentations and practical exercises, all aimed at mastering transferable skills and maximising employability in all branches of the communications industry.  The theory and practice of correct grammatical usage will underpin all other work.
Students will focus on the arts of news writing, subbing (proof-reading), and headline writing, explored through exercises inside and outside class, and through critical analysis of previously published work.  Peer and self-reflective critiquing will be crucial, as they are in the media today.
Students develop familiarity with writing in varied journalistic styles, including news, features, reviews, obituaries, sketches and comment. They will gain an understanding of why and how to write in different styles for different audiences.
They will also start to work on their own unique journalistic style. As part of this, they learn how to focus a critical eye on other published work, using examples from a wide range of publications including newspapers, magazines, online formats, trade journals. They will enjoy a session on voice training.
The module will be assessed by in-class grammar tests, a portfolio of short articles, and engagement with class as shown by online journal, moderated by tutors.


 The course will teach students how to write accurately across a broad range of journalistic formats, without grammatical errors and with style and flair.  Unpacking the whole box of  writing tricks, they will learn how to assemble and dissassemble entertaining and informative pieces of journalism. LO1, LO2, LO3
The module begins by introducing key aspects of grammar and usage, starting with basic news writing. Eventually students learn how to write, without grammatical errors, a diverse range of articles – from news and features to obituaries and reviews. Finally, they are encouraged to develop their own individual writing style, within the taught parameters of good practice. LO1, LO3, LO5
Each week, students explore different concepts of grammar, and learn how to incorporate what has been learned within a different writing format.  They develop critical evaluations of their own work by the reflective practice of proof-reading (subbing) for accuracy’s sake, as well as learning how to cut stories down, both to make them shorter and to make them better. LO1, LO2, LO4
They learn the art of headline writing and what (textual and non-textual) components are required not only to make an article accurate, but also to make it readable, lively and something that the reader wants to read from beginning to end. LO4, LO5
Students explore the importance of writing in different styles for different audiences, whether for a “quality” newspaper, a tabloid, a lad’s mag, a trade journal, a celebrity weekly or a glossy. Critically evaluating other published pieces of work from the point of view of style and format,  will help students turn a critical eye on their own work to make them better writers. LO3, LO5, LO6
Through attendance at guest lectures and site visits, students become more aware of the different types of journalistic formats, and better able to target goals for future employability. LO5, LO6
They will be assessed by in-class grammar tests
a portfolio of articles
and an online journal). LO1, LO2
Attendance in class and at key events will count towards the journal, as will contributions to class discussions, weekly homework, and willingness to work hard to improve writing skills and further develop existing professional aptitudes. LO1, LO2, LO3, LO5, LO6
Feedback from tutors and other students will play an integral part in progression throughout this module, in a collaborative process of reflection LO1, LO2, LO6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

Learning and teaching strategy will be based on an interactive model.
For most of the 13 teaching weeks, the session will require students to write their own work and comment on other students’ work, to give constructive criticism to help each other both as a group and individually. A coaching model will integrate feedback into every class.
Students will also need to take notes, present independent research and ideas. Pop quizzes, used only as formative assessment, will form a part of the grammatical teaching aspects of this module.
In enhancement and news weeks, field trips, newsdays and guest speakers will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions, to enhance their future employability.
Feedback will be given one-to-one in class and in newsdays and electronically. The module will be supported by a VLE site containing notes, readings and extended bibliographies, and weblinks.
Opportunities for pdp will be supported.

Learning outcomes

 If students read all the required texts, participate in all the class activities and complete the required assessments and assignments, they should be able to:
1. Write in a way that is informative, readable and grammatically correct;
2. Proof-read their own and others’ work;
3. Develop their ability to write for a diverse audience base but with their own style;
4. Edit copy accurately and write catchy headlines;
5. Write different types of stories across a variety of journalistic platforms and outlets;
6. Critically evaluate pieces of published work, including their own.


 No textbooks
Regular reading of journalism from a variety of sources is required week on week.
Readings are provided in class
      Evans, H. 2000. Essential English for Journalists, Editors and Writers, Pimlico: London
      Hayes, Laurie 2010 Mastering Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation: Useful Tips for Students, Journalists & All Professionals, Kendall Hunt, UK
      Hicks, Wynford 2006 English for Journalists, Routledge, London
      Hicks, Wynford. 2006.Writing for Journalists, Routledge, London
      Hicks, Wynford. 2003. Sub-Editing for Journalists.  Routledge, London
      Hennessy, Brian. 2006. Writing Feature Articles, Focal Press, 2006
      Leith, Sam . 2012. You Talkin’ to Me? London: Profile
      Leith, Sam. 2017. Write to the Point. London: Profile
      Parrish, Thomas. 2002. The Grouchy Grammarian: A How-Not-To-Guide to the 47 Most Common Mistakes in English Made By Journalists, Broadcasters and Others Who Should Know Better John Wiley and Sons, UK
      Phillips, Angela. 2007. Good Writing for Journalists. Routledge, London
      Smith, Jon. 2007. Essential Reporting: the NCTJ Guide for Trainee Journalists, Sage
      Truss, Lynne. 2007. Eats, Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation, Profile

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