Investigative Reporting (MA)

Year of entry


Start date

October 2018


Central London


Fully Approved


One year full-time or two years part-time


One to three evenings a week full-time or one to two evenings a week part-time

Investigative journalism is at a crossroads in theory and practice. Crises of ethics and funding have brought profound changes to the nature of long form journalism, the ways in which it is produced and the institutions that invest in it.

This innovative MA brings together leading practitioners and institutions to deliver advanced training in emergent investigative newsgathering and publishing skills applicable to a range of professional contexts, within and beyond journalism. At the same time, the degree introduces you to critical accounts of the media's watchdog function and journalism's evolving social role.

You will be taught by a mix of academics, writers, investigative journalists, editors and bloggers. Current special guest contributors include Ewen MacAskill (security and defence correspondent for The Guardian); James Ball (former Wikileaks and current Buzzfeed special correspondent); and Leila Haddhou (data expert at the Financial Times).

Courses address new challenges while also reflecting the constants that underpin investigative journalism ethics and storytelling. Above all, the programme presents an opportunity to both study and do investigative journalism, under the guidance of award-winning journalists and experienced academics.


Course structure

You take two core modules, choose two option modules and complete an investigative project.

Part-time students take the two core modules and one option module in Year 1, and their remaining option module and the investigative project in their second year.

Module groups

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    A good degree in any related subject; other qualifications will be considered. Applications are encouraged from those with prior investigative experience in journalism, human rights or other related fields.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees


    Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa
    Full-time international students: £14850 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment


    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading.

    Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    In addition, you will have timetabled meetings with your Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    The taught components of the programme will comprise a combination of lectures and seminars, with a strong emphasis on peer collaboration.

    Guest lecture profiles

    You will be taught by a mix of academics, writers, investigative journalists, editors and bloggers, including:

    Ewen MacAskill

    Ewen is The Guardian's defence and intelligence correspondent. In 2013 he was among the first journalists to meet NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and, as a result of his reporting on global surveillance, he was named co-recipient of the 2013 George Polk Award. The same reporting also contributed to the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Public Service, awarded jointly to The Guardian and the Washington Post in 2014. Ewen was featured prominently in Laura Poitras' Oscar-winning documentary Citizenfour and he will be portrayed by British actor Tom Wilkinson in the upcoming biopic Snowden, directed by Oliver Stone.

    Iain Overton

    Iain is Director of Policy and Investigations for the London-based charity Action on Armed Violence. As well as a writer, Iain is also an investigative journalist and documentary maker who has won a number of awards, including two Amnesty Media Awards, a Peabody Award and a BAFTA Scotland. In 1998 he was appointed senior producer of BBC Current Affairs and in 2009 he became the founding editor of the Bureau of Investigative Journalism where he produced a number of high-profile documentaries, including Iraq War Logs based on the military intelligence files leaked by Chelsea Manning.

    Siobhan Sinnerton

    Siobhan is a Commissioning Editor for News and Current Affairs at Channel 4, before which she spent four years at the award-winning Quicksilver Productions. Two of those were as Series Editor on Unreported World, Channel 4’s flagship foreign affairs strand, and as an executive producer on Dispatches and First Cut. Previously, Siobhan was a producer-director on both Unreported World and Dispatches and worked at ITV/Granada working on a wide range of documentaries and current affairs.

    Eliot Higgins (AKA 'Brown Moses')

    Eliot is a renowned citizen journalist and blogger, known for using open sources and social media to investigate international conflicts. He first gained mainstream media attention by identifying weapons in uploaded videos from the Syrian conflict. At the time, Eliot was an unemployed finance and admin worker who spent his days taking care of his child at home. He has since won praise from human rights groups and journalists from around the world and has been profiled by The Guardian, The Independent, The Huffington Post and The New Yorker magazine, as well as being the subject of television features run by Channel 4 and CNN International. In 2014 he started a new website, Bellingcat, which mobilises citizen journalists to investigate current events using open data.

    Dr Justin Schlosberg

    Justin is Lecturer in Journalism and Media at Birkbeck and programme director for the MA Investigative Reporting. His research takes a critical look at mainstream media coverage of a number of national security controversies, including alleged corruption in the British arms trade, the death of intelligence whistleblower David Kelly, and the release of diplomatic cables by Wikileaks. His book Media Ownership and Agenda Control: The Hidden Limits of the Information Age was published by Routledge in 2016.

    Watch a video of Dr Justin Schlosberg speaking on a panel of whistleblowers at the Stand UP for Truth event at Birkbeck from the Whistleblower Interview Project. Speakers include Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers, and Eileen Chubb, one of the Bupa 7 nurses who exposed abuse in private care homes for the elderly.


    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to large groups, with 30 to 100+ students in attendance, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups of 10 to 30 students, led by an academic.

    Academic support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short– or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.


    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations. You will be given time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Unseen written examinations are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June, and, in most cases, are held during the day on a weekday – if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance. Exam timetables are published online in March each year.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    You will be assessed via a range of academic and practice-oriented activities, including both theoretical essays and specific assignments in areas such as data analysis, story arching and Freedom of Information requests, among others.

    For your dissertation, you will have the opportunity to produce a real-world investigative report, benefiting throughout from both academic supervision and professional mentoring.


    As well as a mark for your coursework and exams, you will also receive feedback from your marker(s) to help you learn, improve and succeed. We encourage you to discuss feedback with your module tutor.

    Feedback can come in different forms: notes via Moodle (our online learning environment); a paper copy of a completed feedback form; or in-class or face-to-face feedback. The College Policy on Feedback on Assessment sets out what you can expect from your feedback.

    Your department will usually provide you with your marked coursework within four weeks of submission. Your initial mark is provisional until the relevant Board of Examiners has confirmed it.

    Your official coursework and exam results will be made available to you via your My Birkbeck Profile online.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in professional journalism - especially current affairs journalism and long-form reporting in print and online - the media, or public relations. This programme is also relevant for students seeking to enter or develop careers in the NGO or law sectors, particularly in the areas of human rights, civil liberties and corruption.

    Graduates will be well-equipped to enter a range of work environments, from newspapers and online journalism to magazines and trade publications. This degree may also be useful in becoming a public relations officer, market researcher or writer.

    Find out more about these professions.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application.

    Please note that the deadline for applicants who wish to apply for scholarship funding is 30 April 2018.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    Applications are accepted on a rolling basis up to 30 September 2018.

    Applicants may be invited for interview.