module specification

SJ6074 - Arts Journalism (2023/24)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2023/24
Module title Arts 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 30%   2,000 word portfolio: 5 events. One report to use multimedia/mobile technology. Can use images (individual)
Coursework 15%   Arts diary: critical reflections on events attended. Can use images (individual)
Coursework 35%   Longform piece on arts; original research. Can be images, audio or video piece or text. (individual)
Coursework 20%   Contribution to class, assessed by online journal moderated by tutor (individual)
Running in 2023/24

(Please note that module timeslots are subject to change)
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Spring semester North Friday Morning

Module summary

 Arts Journalism investigates and teaches the specific professional techniques and practices of arts journalism – in music, film, literature, art, architecture, dance, theatre, and other areas of student interest which relate directly to employability. Throughout this 15-week module, the arts are placed in the context of the relationship between journalist practitioners (in print, radio and online) and the arts industries. It is suitable for anyone wanting to explore these areas.

Field trips and guest speakers will demonstrate in depth the connection between professional journalists and arts practitioners.

This module also surveys the cultural, historical and global business issues and conditions within which arts journalism takes place, enabling self-reflective and critical perspectives.
Students are encouraged to publish their work inside the university website and outside, building up contacts and a portfolio of pieces.

Students are assessed through a portfolio of practical and critical work, which can be across platforms, a diary of their critical reactions to arts events, and a final 1,000-word piece of arts journalism.

Class participation will be assessed through contribution to an online journal.

Prior learning requirements



 Workshops and lectures will cover the arts in context. Throughout, the nature and meaning of art and performance in different areas will be debated, to help students develop professional skills for different areas in the arts. These include writing and social skills. LO3-5

Diary events defining different arts calendars, and the journalism that is defined and directed by them, will be similarly surveyed. This will enable the student to develop, and ultimately demonstrate, a critical knowledge of the relationship between media practitioners, and the industries within which their work, and that of their subjects, operates.  LO1-3

Work done in and outside class for portfolios will include: the analysis of reviews, interviews and arts news; the analysis of arts sections of newspapers, magazines, TV and radio programmes, and the formats used within them; the importance of deadlines for film and music journalism; the analysis of sounds and visuals; a survey of the growing world of arts columns and blogs; guest speaker sessions to develop interviewing skills with artists and performers; dealing with PRs; employability sessions in building up contacts and the skills demanded in both print, TV and radio, and online. 

Critical issues and debates to be discussed and explored in class and through presentations will include: the star system and celebrity; how the arts are funded, from state to sponsor to patron; critics versus reviewers; the publishing cycle and publicity; criticising critics; how personal should writing be? and in-depth research on issues and individuals. These two strands will be merged in the long journalism piece that forms the final assessment. LO4-6

Students will need to show evidence of critical awareness, regular attendance at arts shows and performances, reading, and reflection upon the need to evaluate evidence with regard to sources. The online journal will be key to success.

Balance of independent study and scheduled teaching activity

 Learning and teaching strategy will be based on an interactive model.

An introduction to the history, principles and concepts of arts journalism, will be followed by examining and learning the different techniques that need to be developed and demonstrated when analysing and writing about the arts in different media. These classes will involve a short lecture, followed by group exercises, seminar contribution and presentation. (Students will also be introduced to the concept of keeping an arts diary at this time.)

In the first class, students will also be asked to write down which of the arts they are interested in, and the first part of the module – which will focus in on the specifics of arts journalism in some of the following: music, film, literature, art, architecture, dance, theatre --  will be weighted accordingly. These classes will involve short lectures at the start of class where appropriate, followed by 'live' reviewing exercises and language/art artefact analysis, varied week-by-week. Subject-specific guest speakers will stimulate students to research beforehand, to enable students to develop and demonstrate their interviewing skills.

Work will concentrate on the future of the industry and employability – building contacts in the industry, pitching, using social networks and blog development as career tools – which will be developed through practical presentations and group work. Other work will involve assignments on location (e.g. field trip to an arts magazine, a gallery visit, an album playback) to further develop critical skills outside class.

In news week, field trips, guest speakers and participation in newsdays will complement one-to-one tutorial and coaching sessions. Electronic resources, including the university’s virtual environment, will be used by students and staff.

The module will be supported by a VLE site containing notes, readings and extended bibliographies, and weblinks.

Opportunities for pdp and e-portfolio 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 will be able to:
1. Demonstrate a range of professional arts-journalism techniques and skills, from reviewing and listing to interviewing specialists;
2. Identify and use the differing forms, scope and styles of arts journalism, creating a portfolio of different writing;
3. Write on and discuss the arts, demonstrating the ability to analyse arts subjects critically, and research independently;
4. Articulate the role of the arts journalist in the promotion of products and services within the entertainment industry;
5. Critically analyse arts media for their cultural and commercial significance;
6. Devise and pitch appropriate arts features for different media outlets.

Assessment strategy

 Formative and summative assessment will be through a portfolio of written work, which will include three examples of journalism for print, TV/radio and online, and two pieces of critical analysis.

Summative assessment will be through an extended piece of journalism, the subject to be agreed with the tutor, which critically addresses a subject within the arts, using original research. This should be of publishable quality, for a professional outlet. It can be in any medium. 
1-2-1 formative feedback sessions will be held, in office hours, to support/feedback on work done so far for formative portfolio.
1-2-1s will also be given to provide assistance with topics/drafts for summative assessment.
Summative feedback will be given electronically, within two weeks of submission.
Class participation will be assessed formatively and summatively through contributions to the online journal, with weekly responses from staff.


  No textbooks

Allen, R., 2005. The Art Of Reviewing. In R. Keeble, ed. 2005. Print Journalism: A Critical Introduction. London: Routledge, pp.180-187.
Banes, S., 2007. Before, between, and beyond: three decades of dance writing. Madison, Wis.: University of Wisconsin Press.
Elkins, J., 2003. What Happened to Arts Criticism? Chicago: Prickly Paradigm.
Eliot, T.S., 1965. To criticise the critic. London: Faber.
Frith, Simon (ed.), 1990. On Record: Rock, Pop and the Written Word.  London: Routledge.
Hughes, R., 1991. The Shock of the New. London: Thames and Hudson.
Kermode, M., The Hatchet Job, 2013. London: Picador
Malcolm, D., 2000. A Century of Films. London: Tauris Parke.
Schama, S., The Power of Art, 2009. London: The Bodley Head.
Spivey, N., 2009. How Art Made the World. London: BBC Worldwide.
Stott, R. and Avery, S, (eds), 2001. Writing with style. Harlow: Longman.
Thomson, David. 2010. The New Biographical Dictionary of Film. NY: Little, Brown.
Tynan, K et al., 2008. Theatre Writings. London: Nick Hern Books.
Wolfe,T., 1975. The New Journalism. London: Picador