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Journalism (Distance Learning) MA

Gain the skills, knowledge, and qualification you need to succeed as a digital journalist on this online distance learning course.

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Whether it's providing the public with trusted information, holding leaders to account or countering "fake news" and misinformation, journalists have a key role to play in a democratic society.

Gain the skills, knowledge and qualification you need to succeed in roles such as journalist, news editor, press officer and communications officer with this online Journalism Master's.


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

Course highlights

  • Learn the professional skills and knowledge needed in the era of digital news and media in areas such as video editing, media law, data analysis and people management
  • Apply your skills and boost your CV with at least 10 days of work experience with a publisher or communications company
  • Use the latest professional software including Photoshop, Indesign and Premier Pro
  • Learn from teaching staff who have professional experience with titles and organisations such as the Financial Times, News International and Portsmouth News
  • Start in September or January (full-time only in January)
National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) Accredited Course


Our course has been accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ).

The NCTJ accreditation lets potential employers know that this course gives you the relevant skills and abilities you need to work as a journalist when you graduate. This gives you an edge over students who haven't done an accredited course when you’re applying for jobs.

Work towards your NCTJ Diploma

On this course, you can take assessments to qualify for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.

Explore this course page to find out more about the modules and credits you'll need and how much each assessment costs.

Ideal skills and qualities for this course

As well as meeting the entry requirements, you'll need to have excellent English skills, be inquisitive and approachable, and have a desire to become a journalist or communications professional.

Don't worry if you have no previous journalism experience – you'll get an intro to reporting to bring you up to the required standard.

Contact information


+44 (0) 23 9284 5566

Contact Admissions


Studying modules worth 180 credits. Your learning will include:

  • how to write for a digital audience
  • the laws and regulatory codes that impact journalists
  • how to use investigative techniques to find public interest news and report data stories
  • the professional practice required to be a senior leader as part of a newsroom or communications team

NCTJ Diploma requirements

You don't need to learn anything extra to complete your NCTJ Diploma – just your Master's modules. For example, what you learn in Media Law and Regulation is enough to pass the following NCTJ modules:

  • Essential media law and regulation
  • Ethics and regulation
  • Media law court reporting

You can also use what you learn in Government, Power, and the Media to pass the NCTJ Public Affairs module, and the portfolio of stories you gather during the course for the diploma's portfolio module.

While there’s no additional learning, you’ll still need to take extra assessments to pass certain modules. There are also fees for each assessment.

Explore the ‘NCTJ Diploma modules’ tab below for more information on them and how many credits. You can also learn more about the NCTJ Diploma overall by visiting the NCTJ website.

All years

Core modules

You’ll develop skills in evaluating complex legal and ethical considerations, crafting original arguments anchored in theory and evidence.

You’ll select and apply technological tools to collect and analyze data, adapting methodological approaches to reveal new investigative avenues.

Ready to push boundaries and bring hidden truths to light? This module gives you an investigative toolkit.

Through probing research methodologies and philosophical foundations, you will create scientifically robust inquiries - translating questions into data-driven insights.

By the end, you will be equipped to evaluate existing studies critically while producing original proposals to drive knowledge in this dynamic field.

You will master the technicalities of video shooting and editing while analysing reader data to sharpen content. Evaluating information critically, you will produce innovative news packages optimised for platform and audience. The module empowers you to implement audience growth strategies underpinned by theoretical knowledge - preparing you for an industry where digital presentation is now king.

Evaluating the media's role, you’ll hypothesise future structures, responsibilities, and influence. Demonstrating originality, you will plan and implement tasks to solve complex problems at a professional standard.

Analysing incomplete and contradictory information sources, you’ll communicate coherent outcomes with critical awareness. This module equips you to navigate the intersections of power, politics and media.

Constructing evidenced arguments, you will uncover how to ethically challenge limits on reporting in the public interest. Analysing court reporting best practices, you gain insight for upholding open justice ideals within the criminal justice system. The knowledge framework empowered here will guide your journalism practice in aligning with complex regulations.

You will demonstrate technical mastery by producing and editing podcasts and sharpening your editorial judgment for specific audiences.

In this module you’ll create a professional portfolio showcasing your versatility across reporting mediums - from written narratives to audio packages aligned with industry codes of practice. With sharper technical abilities and a collaborative mindset, you’ll be ready to pursue multimedia journalism roles.

With sharp technical skills and editorial judgment, you will produce written and video content tailored for digital audiences and aligned with industry regulations. This professional compilation promises reflection on your distinct journalistic voice while equipping you with versatile assets to aid the postgraduate job search.

Optional modules

You’ll use your research skills to evaluate assumptions and use data to frame incisive questions and discover potential solutions. Applying ethical analysis techniques, you will critically investigate issues aligning with your academic interests.

Working independently to select and critique current research to inform reflective learning, you’ll showcase self-direction through an original piece of work.

With a self-directed focus, you will manage all aspects of the project lifecycle - establishing aims, and meeting deadlines. By selecting appropriate investigative methodologies, you will collect and critique data to produce a valid analysis.

The months ahead will see you create an impactful capstone project from conception to completion.

Through consistent practice, you will achieve mastery of a core journalism skill - capturing speeches and interviews verbatim. With fluency in shorthand, you’ll unlock many reporting opportunities.

Mandatory skills modules – 47 credits

  • Essential Journalism module (22 credits)
  • Essential Media Law and Regulation module (10 credits)
  • Regulation exam (3 credits)
  • Portfolio (12 credits)

Elective skills options – 35 credits

You must complete credits from the following options:

  • Court Reporting module (7 credits) – to take this, you must also be learning shorthand
  • Production exam (7 credits)
  • Data Journalism (7 credits)
  • Video Journalism (7 credits)
  • Writing for a Digital Audience (7 credits)
  • Public Affairs (7 credits)
  • Practical Magazine Journalism (14 credits)
  • Shorthand (14 credits)

Changes to course content

We use the best and most current research and professional practice alongside feedback from our students to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, course content is revised and regularly reviewed.  This may result in changes being made in order to reflect developments in research, learning from practice and changes in policy at both national and local levels.

Careers and opportunities

When you complete the course successfully, you'll have the skills and knowledge to communicate important issues to the public in the digital world. You'll also have a portfolio you can use to demonstrate your talents to potential employers. 

Roles you could work in after the course include:

  • journalist
  • news editor
  • social media manager
  • press officers
  • communications officer

Typical employers may include:

  • online and print newspapers
  • broadcasters
  • magazines
  • PR agencies
  • corporate communications agencies

After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.

Work experience and career planning

To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, we'll help you secure at least 10 days of work experience with a publisher or communications company.

We can also help you identify further placements, internships, voluntary roles and freelancing opportunities that will complement your studies and build your portfolio.

How you'll spend your time

We recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week (full time) or 17.5 hours a week (part time) studying for your Journalism Master's.

You’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical classes and workshops for about 12 hours a week (full time) or 3–6 hours a week (part time). The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, shorthand practice, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course.

Most online teaching takes place during the day, but there will be videos and catch-up materials available if you miss a session.

Term times (full-time)

The full-time Master’s (September start) is delivered over the following blocks:

  • September to January
  • January to May
  • May to September – to complete your dissertation/major project

The full-time Master’s (January start) is delivered over the following blocks:

  • January to May
  • May to September – to work on your dissertation / major project
  • September to January

Term times (part-time)

The part-time Master’s is taught over the following blocks.

Academic Year 1

  • September to January
  • January to May

Academic Year 2

  • September to January
  • January to May
  • May to September – to complete your dissertation/major project

See term times


Most of this course is delivered through live online sessions on set days and times of the week. To build in flexibility, most of these live sessions, where appropriate, are recorded to allow you to catch up.

We'll also provide pre-recorded video explainers, accompanied by online tasks. These tasks test your knowledge on the topics we are covering.

Teaching methods for this course include:

  • Game-based learning (such as using Kahoot! and online quizzes)
  • Collaborative learning (working in groups to solve problems or complete tasks)
  • Project-based learning (working for an extended period to investigate an authentic, engaging and complex question, problem, or challenge)
  • Online seminars where you can put the knowledge into practice
  • News days
  • Visiting speakers from industry
  • Online "mini-courses" to complete within modules

You can access all teaching resources on Moodle, our virtual learning environment, from anywhere with a Web connection.

For more about the teaching activities for specific modules, see the module list above.

How you're assessed

  • essays
  • a portfolio
  • written assignments
  • online exams
  • presentations
  • reflective practice

You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.

You can get feedback on all practices and formal assessments so you can improve in the future.

The online experience is excellent. We have great lectures with interactive elements and discussion groups, the lecturers are very responsive to queries between lessons, and there's a huge amount of additional resources available on our course website and via the library.

Alexis Wolfe, MA Journalism student

Teaching staff profiles

These are some of the expert staff who’ll teach you on this degree course.

Paul Foster, Course Leader

Paul spent 15 years working in regional newspapers, including The News in Portsmouth. During this time he worked as a news editor and also edited three monthly newspapers. After a brief spell in PR, he managed award-winning NCTJ-accredited diploma courses, training students and apprentices.

Paul teaches across several units including media law, reporting, newsroom production and magazine journalism.

Emma Beatty, Senior Lecturer

Emma delivers the magazine module for the Journalism course, having previously worked at The Royal Opera House as its Features Editor for online and digital copy. Before that, Emma was Deputy Editor of The Art Newspaper, a monthly publication for art world insiders, and prior to that, helped edit and produce Minerva, a journal for ancient art lovers.

Claire Perry, Senior Lecturer

Claire is a former journalist who has worked on a range of regional papers, covering general news, from council meetings to murder trials. She was also a features writer, trying her hand at flying planes and training with the England Women's football team. Claire has also worked as a music journalist and sports reporter, specialising in football and cricket.

Dr Susana Sampaio-Dias, Senior Lecturer

Susana worked as a journalist and news producer for RTP Rádio e Televisão de Portugal, the Portuguese public service broadcaster, before coming to Portsmouth. Susana lectures across the undergraduate programme in Journalism, including in theoretical and methodological modules, and specialises in teaching and researching human rights, press freedom and the security of journalists.

Dr James Dennis, Senior Lecturer

James is a specialist in political communication, with a particular focus on social media, political participation and citizenship, and digital news. His first monograph, Beyond Slacktivism: Political Participation on Social Media, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2018.

James also has experience working in industry, carrying out social media research with the BBC World Service and the British Council.

Catharine Russell, Senior Lecturer

Catharine began her career as a reporter, feature writer and sub-editor on regional newspapers before spending several years as Features Editor at the Press Association. Catharine went on to become an assistant editor at Teletext, the former ITV and Channel 4 text service, and more recently has worked in marketing and PR at a number of UK universities. Catharine now delivers a range of journalism and public relations units.

Mary Williams, Principal Lecturer

Mary is a smartphone journalism specialist, focusing on the impact of mobile devices and associated emerging and immersive technology on content creation and delivery in journalism and HE teaching. She also teaches all types of reporting from social-friendly content to longform articles across news and sports journalism, video filming and editing. Her background involves working for media and PR companies.

Ian Tapster, Principal Lecturer

Ian spent 20 years working as a financial journalist at the Financial Times and The European, as well as running his own company. Ian’s teaching encompasses modules that cover British politics, current affairs and financial issues. He also maintains an interest in the importance of ethics in contemporary journalism.

Supporting you

You'll get face-to-face support from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.

You'll have regular contact with your personal tutor in learning activities or scheduled meetings. You can also make an appointment with them if you need extra support.

In addition to the support you get from your personal tutor, you’ll also have access to a Faculty student support advisor. They can give you confidential, impartial advice on anything to do with your studies and personal wellbeing and refer you to specialist support services.

If you need support with software and equipment or you want to learn additional skills (including skills not covered on your course), our creative skills tutors provide free workshops, activities and one-on-one tutorials. Skills you can learn include life drawing, film camera operation and video production.

You'll have help from a team of faculty academic skills tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.

They can help with:

  • improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
  • delivering presentations (including observing and filming presentations)
  • understanding and using assignment feedback
  • managing your time and workload
  • revision and exam techniques

Computing support staff are always available to give technical support in the Faculty's computer suites during normal working hours. There's also some support available from 5.00pm to midnight at busy times of the year.

As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University's Academic Skills Unit (ASK).

ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:

  • academic writing
  • note taking
  • time management
  • critical thinking
  • presentation skills
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

​Course costs and funding

Tuition fees

Fees subject to annual increase.

UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students

  • Full-time: £8,200
  • Part-time: £4,100 per year

EU/International students

(Including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £8,200
  • Part-time: £4,100 per year

Tuition fees terms and conditions

Funding your studies

Find out more how to fund your studies, including the scholarships and bursaries you could get. You can also find more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover. 

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government postgraduate loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students and our international student scholarships.

Journalism Diversity Fund

You may also be eligible for a bursary from the Journalism Diversity Fund.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Female Master's student
Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for Master's courses

Explore Master's funding options, including loans, scholarships, bursaries and more.

Postgrad students on campus
Explore funding

Additional costs

These course-related costs aren't included in the tuition fees so you'll need to budget for them when you plan your spending. Additional costs could include:

  • Accommodation: If you choose to study on-campus, accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: such photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements


This course accepts UK, EU, and International students.

MA Journalism entry requirements

Qualifications or experience
  • A second-class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject or a master's degree in an appropriate subject.
  • Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will be considered. All applicants will be invited to attend a workshop, which will include an NCTJ story writing task.
Not from the UK?

If you're applying as an EU or international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

Selection process
  • All applicants will be invited to attend a workshop, which will include an NCTJ story writing task.
English language requirements
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.5.


Ready to apply?

Start this course in September 2024

Apply now (Full-time)

Apply now (Part-time)

Start this course in January 2025

Apply now (Full-time)

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2023, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.