module specification

SJ6080 - Campaigning Journalism (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Campaigning Journalism
Module level Honours (06)
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 35%   Essay 2,000 words
Coursework 45%   Final campaign, 2,000 words with/or multi media elements
Coursework 20%   Engagement with class, moderated by online journal
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
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, offering an introduction to the world of advocacy for anyone intrested in acquiring these skills.
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.

Prior learning requirements



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 Cathy Comes Home, and the Brexit campaign, 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 assessed through contributions to online journal.

Learning Outcomes LO 1 - 6

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

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 and news weeks will involve guest speakers, field trips and participation in newsdays.
Blended learning will be facilitated through the virtual learning environment, twitter and photo sites.
Opportunities for pdp and e-portolio will be supported.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module, having completed all the tasks set, students should be able to:
1. Situate campaigning journalism within an understanding of British society;
2. Identify and interview appropriate sources for their stories;
3. Interview sources effectively for their stories;
4. Use different formats to compose a campaign;
5. Understand what makes a successful journalistic campaign and write one. 

Assessment strategy

Formative and summative 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, or mixed media equivalent). [Multi-media and social media elements are encouraged – 2 minutes of media equates to 750 words] Drafts of the campaign must be pitched to the class and tutor and backed up by a log book detailing contacts and events.
Formative assessment from tutor and class members will be given through oral assessments in class and formalised on the VLE.
The ethical essay will be formatively and summatively assessed, through feedback in class and one-to-one sessions as well as electronic feedback.
The final campaign will be summatively assessed, with drafts discussed one-to-one and feedback sent electronically.
Class contribution will be assessed through presentations with immediate feedback and entries in an online journal, moderated by tutor.


Core Texts

Bryant, B. (1995). Twyford Down: Roads, Campaigning and Environmental Law: Taylor & Francis
Evans, H. (2009). My Paper Chase: True Stories of Vanished Times: Little, Brown
Rose, C. (2010). How to Win Campaigns: Routledge

Additional texts

Banks, David and Hanna, Mark (2017) McNae’s Essential Law For Journalists. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Davies, Nick (2009) Flat Earth News. Vintage
Frost, C (2007) Journalism Ethics and Self Regulation (2nd Edn) Harlow: Pearson
Hicks, Wynford, (1998) English for journalists. London : Routledge,.
Hochschild, Adam. (2006) King Leopold's Ghost. Pan
Keeble, Richard (2001) Ethics For Journalists. London: Routledge
Mitford, Jessica (2000) The American Way of Death revisited. Virago 2000
Mitford, Jessica and Smiley, Jane (2010). The Gentle Art of Muck-raking. NYRB classics
Pilger, John (2005) Tell Me No Lies. Vintage
Sanders, Karen (2003) Ethics And Journalism. London: Sage
Sandford, Jeremy. (1976) Cathy Come Home . Penguin