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Researching Digitally


  • Credit value: 30 credits at Level 5
  • Convenor: to be confirmed
  • Assessment: two essays of 1500 words (25% each) and a 3000-word essay (50%)

Module description

In this module we examine the legal and administrative regulation of mass media publication and newsgathering, principally in the context of the press, the broadcast media and the institutionalised internet publication.

Themes that underpin the rest of the syllabus are:

  • the role(s) of the media in society (including conceptions of the 'public interest')
  • the main social, technological and regulatory influences that shape media ownership, journalism practice and rights jurisprudence (in particular, the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in national and international law).

We then consider potential restrictions on publication that are aimed at promoting or preserving specific private and/or public interests: key private interests are those in reputation (defamation), privacy and copyright; key public interests are the integrity of the judicial process (contempt and reporting restrictions), the impartiality of political representations, the avoidance of offence (obscenity and religion) and national security.

We then move on to consider various legal guarantees and restrictions on newsgathering including protection of sources, public interest defences, undercover and surreptitious newsgathering.

Finally, we examine the law and regulation as it applies to media ownership and plurality and consider recent and future developments in media policy.

Indicative syllabus

  • Media, law and society
  • Defamation, privacy and confidentiality
  • Copyright and intellectual property reporting restrictions: contempt and national security
  • Election coverage, impartiality and public service regulation
  • Harm and offence
  • Protection of sources, undercover and surreptitious newsgathering
  • Media ownership law and regulation
  • Current and future developments in media policy