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Investigative Reporting (MA)

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 associate lecturers and special guest contributors include Ewen MacAskill (security and defence correspondent for The Guardian); Louise Ridley (special projects editor for Huffington Post); and Iain Overton (award winning current affairs journalist, author and human rights reporter).

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.

Highlights

  • You will be taught by experienced, award-winning journalists and internationally renowned academics.
  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • The School of Arts offers a number of bursaries for postgraduate students.
  • The School of Arts is an official partner of the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London. Opportunities for students have included a year’s free membership of the ICA, private views, discounts on all talks and events, free members' screenings and £3 cinema tickets on Tuesdays, up to 25% off ICA Artists' Editions and a monthly e-newsletter.

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

    Our standard postgraduate entry requirement is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university, or an equivalent international qualification.

    We will review every postgraduate application to Birkbeck on its individual merits and your professional qualifications and/or relevant work experience will be taken into consideration positively. We actively support and encourage applications from mature learners.

    On your application form, please list all your relevant qualifications and experience, including those you expect to achieve.

    Apply now to secure your place and allow enough time for the application and enrolment process. You do not need to have completed your current qualification to start your application.

    Course specific entry requirements

    A second-class honours 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.

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this course 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.

    International Entry Requirements

    Our standard postgraduate entry requirement for international students is a second-class honours degree (2:2 or above) from a UK university or an equivalent international qualification.

    Find details of entry requirements and equivalencies for over 120 countries worldwide.

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests. Some courses may require higher scores, particularly in the following subject areas:

    • arts management
    • cultural studies
    • development studies
    • English literature
    • film and media
    • geography
    • history
    • history of art
    • law
    • organizational psychology
    • psychology.

    Please carefully check the Course-Specific Entry Requirements on your chosen programme for details of higher English language entry requirements.

    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.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    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

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £4175 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8350 pa
    Part-time international students: £7600 pa
    Full-time international students: £15200 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

    Teaching

    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.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named 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.

    Louise Ridley

    Louise Ridley is an award-winning journalist specialising in media, advertising, social affairs and gender. She was named BTJ Meetings and Events Features Journalist of the Year 2013 and PPA New Consumer Specialist Journalist of the Year 2012, and has been shortlisted for many other prestigious journalism awards. Louise has appeared on the BBC and Channel 5 as a media commentator, and has been referenced in media reviews such as BBC Radio 4's What The Papers Say. She has significant digital experience and is a member of the 700-strong YouGov Opinion Formers panel, taking part in online research as a UK 'leader in my field'.

    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.

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    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 larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional 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

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    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.

  • 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.

    Jobs gained by some of our journalism graduates include:

    • Producer, BBC News
    • Research Manager, BBC News
    • Project Coordinator, Sony Interactive Entertainment ltd
    • Marketing Manager, Red Deer
    • Broadcast Journalist, LBC, Classic FM, Capital and Heart
    • Staff Writer, Field Gibson Media
    • Communications Officer, Bristol Water
    • Staff Reporter, European Medical Journal
    • Executive Producer, Mongolian Media Council
    • Business Analyst, GSK
    • PR Director, Notable

    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 link. Please note that online application will open in September 2018.

    You will need to prove your identity when you apply - read more about suitable forms of identification.

    When to apply

    You are strongly advised to apply now, to ensure there are still places on your chosen course and to give you enough time to complete the admissions process, to arrange funding and to enrol.

    You don't need to complete your current programme of study before you apply - Birkbeck can offer you a place that is conditional on your results.

    Birkbeck Orientation is on Saturday 28 September 2019 and is a great way to start your studies - find out more about what's happening during Orientation. You will also receive information about subject-specific induction sessions over the summer.

    Help and advice with your application

    Get all the information you need about the application, admission and enrolment process at Birkbeck.

    Our online personal statement tool will guide you through every step of writing the personal statement part of your application.