module specification

SJ5082 - Social Media and Data Journalism (2024/25)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2024/25
Module title Social Media and Data Journalism
Module level Intermediate (05)
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
Practical Examination 30%   Tests on core skills for data journalism [60 mins per test]
Coursework 50%   Portfolio of 2 short investigations plus rationale including ethical considerations [2500 +500 words]
Coursework 20%   Contribution to 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

  Online and digital journalism skills are becoming essential for the industry and other media activities. New job roles are created for community managers and social media editors to increased vacancies for other new areas such as data journalism.

Anyone studying journalism needs to understand the challenges and opportunities posed by the data economy and the power of social media.

This module equips you with the learning to critically understand social media for audience feedback, community development, story development, and understanding analytics: how analytics are used to build audiences and how this data influences editorial decisions.

It will also teach the basics of data journalism, starting with spreadsheets and making sense of statistics, newsroom maths and storytelling using free visualisation tools. This module will introduce you to what you need to master in order for you to work in a professional capacity as a digital journalist.

This module will combine teaching the technical skills with an introduction to software tools – including understanding HTML embedding and writing for online and using free software such as Datawrapper, Tableau, TinEye, Hootsuite and more.

Some programming knowledge or blogging experience will be useful, as well as skills with graphics, but the main aim of the course will be to understand the principles of social media, what works for online and telling meaningful data journalism stories. Ethical concerns will be highlighted throughout, looking at verification and fake news, looking at web tools like, checking IDs and images.

The module will be assessed by timed in-class assessments, an investigative portfolio using sources, and entries to an online journal, moderated by tutors at the end of the teaching period

Prior learning requirements



Students will develop an understanding of how best to analyse and develop a social media strategy. LO3

They will realise that increase community engagement is the best way to grow your ‘patch’ as a journalist. They will understand what communicates best online for SEO and readers. LO5

They will also learn how to create compelling original journalism based on data and datasets. LO2,4

Since data journalism represents the convergence of a number of fields which are significant in their own right - from investigative research and statistics to design and programming –it crosses the fields of digital media and journalism. The idea of combining those skills to tell important stories is powerful - but also intimidating.  The mining of social media for stories of public interest or interest to the public is a new challenge for journalists. LO1,5

The course will outline: LO2,3,5
● What works best online - web writing and SEO, understanding web metrics and other tracking analytics.
●  Social media management and social curation.
● The key components of data journalism, finding stories in data, FOI and searching for stats
● Spreadsheets and newsroom maths
● Visualising data - from basic chart creation to advanced design and interactive
● Social media auditing and self-auditing, brand awareness
● An introduction to scraping and code
Journalists will produce work using the tools for the first assignment, which will be marked on proficiency in techniques.

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, a three-hourly session will require students to work with each other and individually on technical and newsgathering tasks.

They will also need to create their own recording techniques, devise their preferred visualisations, present independent research and ideas and contest information presented by staff and other students. They will need to practise at home, quite extensively.
Their final portfolios will display professional skills learned in class. These will be suitable for PDP.
In enhancement weeks, newsdays will allow a virtual professional environment to foster team-building and employability.
Reflection will be monitored on the class journal.

Learning outcomes

  Students who read all the required texts, participate in all the class activities and complete the required assessments and assignments, should be able to:

1. Utilise the techniques and tools required for data news gathering and writing to a professionally and ethically acceptable level, working singly and collaboratively;

2. Write to length and to brief, working within different media and for different effects, creating a portfolio of work and displaying it across social media;

3. Analyse, develop and use in practice the data analysis skills needed to develop stories from a variety of sources, including recording, visualising and mashing up;

4. Present and originate stories in different formats and different modes, across different platforms;

5. Reflect upon and be able to explain the rationale for technical, ethical and professional choices.


  Familiarity with software is the most important reading/study

Felle, T., Mair, J. & Radcliffe, D. (2015) Data Journalism: Inside the global future. Abramis.

Gray, J., Bounegru, L. & Chambers, L. (2012) The Data Journalism Handbook. O’Reilly.

Vis F (2013) Twitter as a reporting tool for breaking news. Digital Journalism, 1(1), 27.

Free online tools

Websites: (all content)