module specification

SJ6080 - Campaigning Journalism (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Campaigning Journalism
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 15
School School of Computing and Digital Media
Total study hours 150
105 hours Guided independent study
45 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 35%   Essay 2,000 words
Coursework 45%   Final campaign, 2,000 words
Coursework 20%   Engagement with class, moderated by online journal
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Autumn semester North Tuesday Morning

Module summary

This module looks at the professional skills of the journalist in politics, public affairs and society.  It is both theoretical and practical.
Students will examine the historical  and political contexts of journalism, the role of charities and special interest groups such as environmental and rights campaigners and how to cover lobbying and direct action. They will analyse the ethics of committed journalism and debate how to justify bias.
They will explore, through discussion, presentation and professional practice, links with PR and internal comms professionals, viral and social media, humour and satire, human interest stories and running appeals.
They will produce original work for a campaign of their choice, which they must pitch to their classmates and tutor.
Formative assessment will be an essay on how campaigning has changed events and whether such campaigning is justified
An overview of media law and ethical considerations will underpin a summative project of campaigning journalism which will combine original research, in either a series of three short articles or one long article and a log of events and contacts.

Module aims

The main aims of this module are:

  • to enhance students' understanding of the historical and social contexts of present UK and international society;
  • to develop students’ analysis of ethical concerns;
  • to develop students' professional skills in researching and interviewing a range of subjects;
  • to practice professional skills in writing in different formats within a campaign;
  • to reinforce students' sense of the legal and moral parameters of journalism;
  • to give practice in using interviews with sources within organisations and from the public to develop stories and story angles, thus enhancing employability.   


The focus in this module is on political, social and historical understanding as a forcing ground for professional skills.
In creating a campaign, be it consumer, scandal, environmental or niche-market led, students will develop skills in identifying subject matter and potential readerships, research, interviewing and editing techniques, on-the-spot reportage, and finding original angles and relevant sources for their stories.  Originality of form, advertising techniques, user-generated content, social media and the interface with PR will be explored.
They will consider the constraints on the media, from proprietorship to readership, from ethics to the law. They will learn to integrate their understanding of what makes news with a growing capacity to understand how they can make the news.
Key campaigns of the past, such as white slavery to the Congo rubber scandals, Cathy Comes Home, Ralph Nader's seat belts, the NSPCC and the 2010 electoral campaign in Barking, will be examined as will online and viral techniques.
A variety of approaches and writing styles will be explored, including jokes, satire, humour, blogging, viral marketing and twitter. The disciplines of writing to precise word-length will be addressed in these contexts. A sensitivity to images and online formats will also be important.
Formative assessment will consist of an essay displaying evidence of critical awareness of a key ethical dilemma, while summative assessment will involve crafting a campaign based on original research, which must be pitched to the class and tutor and backed up by a log book detailing contacts and events. Contribution to class will be self-assessed, moderated by tutors’ evaluation of attendance.

Learning and teaching

Teaching methods include lectures, workshops, guest speakers, seminar discussion, screenings and tutorials.  Workshops will focus on producing the professional skills of journalism within class and outside it. Students are expected to attend and must participate.  In seminars, workshops and tutorials they are expected to raise issues, ask questions and seek feedback to enable them to reflect on their practice.
In addition to guided reading, students are expected to read and use new media critically. They should readily use a variety of sources (primary and secondary).
Enhancement weeks will involve guest speakers, field trips and participation in newsdays.
Blended learning will be facilitated through blogs, the virtual learning environment, twitter and photo sites.
Opportunities for pdp will be supported.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, having completed all the tasks set, students should be able to:

  • Identify the main difficulties facing journalistic investigations;
  • Situate journalism within an understanding of British society;
  • Identify appropriate sources for their stories;
  • Interview sources effectively for their stories;
  • Use different formats to compose a campaign;
  • Understand what makes a successful journalistic campaign and write one.     

Assessment strategy

Contributory assessment will consist of an essay displaying evidence of critical awareness of a key ethical dilemma (2,000 words); while summative assessment will involve crafting a campaign based on original research (three pieces of 750 words each or one of 2,000. Multi-media and social media elements are crucial – 2 minutes of media equates to 750 words), a draft of which must be pitched to the class and tutor and backed up by a log book detailing contacts and events.
Engagement with class will be self-assessed, moderated by tutors.


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