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Project BA Journalism and Media


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 6
  • Assessment: an academic project, or a journalistic project

    Module description

    The final-year project for the BA Journalism and Media provides you with an opportunity to explore a subject of your own choosing in depth. You are given a choice between two projects: an academic project, or a journalistic project.

    The academic project

    The academic project asks you to identify a problem or question and address it in an extended dissertation of 8000 words. You will develop familiarity with, and a critical evaluation of, the theoretical and methodological issues related to a defined research question. Those electing to complete an academic project will need to conduct a detailed, yet focused, review of scholarly literature related the theoretical and methodological issues which arise from, and give context to, your chosen subject.

    You will also need to carry out some form of limited data collection and/or analysis. This may include interviews, focus groups, textual analysis, visual analysis, ethnographic observations (including of online interaction) and questionnaires, amongst other possible methods.

    Given the relatively short length of the final submission, most projects will make use of just one or two primary methods.

    The highest-graded projects will be of a scholarly standard: information, arguments and conclusions will be presented in a clear, well-structured and accessible manner; there will be a sophisticated and focused engagement with relevant scholarly literature; a clear and ideally reflexive account of methodological issues will be provided; and formatting conventions, particularly related to referencing academic and other sources, will be applied appropriately.

    The journalistic project

    The journalistic project asks you to: (1) identify a subject to be addressed in journalistic form; and (2) accompany this with a critical practice essay.

    The journalistic component can be any form of journalistic or media production. The most common submission for the journalistic component is 2000 words of written journalism. This may take the form of a single feature article, or it can be subdivided across a number of written pieces (e.g. a shorter feature, a news story, and a website story - or some other combination), possibly also directed at different publications/platforms.

    However, you may also propose to undertake an equivalent form of non-written journalistic or media production. For example, a short video or audio documentary, a web publication, a mobile news-related application, a magazine or newspaper design/layout, or perhaps even a portfolio demonstrating editing or subediting work. The mediums to be used, and their appropriate scope/length, must be negotiated in advance with the programme director.

    You must ensure that you already possess the requisite technical skills and have independent access to the necessary equipment to be able to undertake the project; individual training and supply of equipment such as cameras cannot be provided. The journalistic component should be presented with regard to the format and conventions appropriate to the chosen publication or media platform.

    Excellent journalistic projects will go well beyond demonstrating technical competence; they must be well-researched, well-targeted and insightful pieces of professional journalism or media production. The journalistic component is worth 65% of the overall project mark.

    The journalistic or practical component must be accompanied by a 3000-word critical practice essay, worth 35% of the overall project mark. The critical practice essay should be written as a scholarly essay with an introduction, well-structured main body, conclusion and appropriately formatted scholarly references.

    However, in the critical practice essay you will not only put the journalistic component of your project into an academic/theoretical context, but also the professional/industry context. This can be a tricky balancing act, so for guidance it is suggested that the main body of the critical practice include the following sections (not necessarily in this order):

    • Introduction (approximately 100 words)
    • Rationale (approximately 400-600 words): in this section, you should describe as specifically and critically as possible the intended audience/users of the journalistic/practical piece, and how it addresses their interests, needs or desires. The intended publication, platform or means through which journalistic/practical piece would be distributed should also be stated as clearly as possible.
    • Positioning (approximately 400-600 words): you must also position your journalistic/practical piece in relation to the wider field or industry. For example, in the case of written or broadcast (e.g. mini-documentaries, podcasts) journalism submissions, you will provide a critical account of existing news/media discourses/debates on the same or broadly similar subject. Media publications or platforms, to provide another example, will discuss already-existing competitor or comparable publications of platforms. Regardless of the type of journalistic output, what ultimately needs to be stated clearly in this section is how a particular journalistic/practical piece will add something new or distinctive. 
    • Literature review (approximately 1000-1500 words): a crucial aspect of the critical practice essay is the literature review, which must be a focused engagement with scholarly literature. You must situate your journalistic component in a clear theoretical context. While most submissions tend to include a dedicated literature review section, academic literature may be cited throughout essay. What is important is that the critical practice essay includes a theoretical discussion, whether of the journalistic subject area, the medium or form being produced, the process involved, and/or any ethical issues. Depending on the issues discussed, you may need to consult literature in the fields of journalism, media, cultural studies and potentially other related subject areas. It is recommended that you conduct your literature research early in the process, prior to undertaking the practical component rather than after the fact: doing so can give the journalistic component an extra critical edge. 
    • Process reflection (approximately 400-600 words): in this section, you will provide a reflection on the research and production processes which led to your journalistic/practical piece, and identify and discuss any ethical issues. Though this section might include 'personal' reflections, you will be expected to treat these reflections analytically and systematically rather than merely anecdotally or descriptively.