University of the West of Scotland

Module Descriptor

Session: 2021/22

Last modified: 17/03/2021 10:54:43

Title of Module: Journalism Law & Regulation

Code: JOUR11001 SCQF Level: 11
(Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework)
Credit Points: 20 ECTS: 10
(European Credit Transfer Scheme)
School:School of Business & Creative Industries
Module Co-ordinator:Kenneth   Pratt

Summary of Module

Students will be introduced to the criminal and civil justice system in Scotland. Areas of particular relevance for journalists will be taught and discussed, paying particular attention to ethical considerations. Issues discussed will include reporting the courts, contempt of court, defamation, broadcasting law and regulation, freedom of information and privacy. A key aim is for students to understand how to apply effective research methods to produce lively professional news reports in a variety of situations without falling foul of the law.  At the same time students will be encouraged to reflect on the justification for existing laws and on ethical questions that journalists confront when applying these laws and to critically analyse competing claims surrounding legal and regulatory constraints on professional journalism. Debates at the forefront of the subject – such as libel reform and the active application of the European Convention on Human Rights – will be researched and analysed.   

Topics covered include:

  • Defamation

  • Contempt of Court and court reporting restrictions

  • Broadcasting and press editorial codes

  • The European Convention on Human Rights and the implications for journalism practice from the application and interpretation of the ECHR.

  • Privacy

  • Intellectual Property

  • Freedom of Information

Module Delivery Method
Face-To-FaceBlendedFully Online
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Term used to describe the traditional classroom environment where the students and the lecturer meet synchronously in the same room for the whole provision.

Fully Online
Instruction that is solely delivered by web-based or internet-based technologies. This term is used to describe the previously used terms distance learning and e learning.

A mode of delivery of a module or a programme that involves online and face-to-face delivery of learning, teaching and assessment activities, student support and feedback. A programme may be considered “blended” if it includes a combination of face-to-face, online and blended modules. If an online programme has any compulsory face-to-face and campus elements it must be described as blended with clearly articulated delivery information to manage student expectations

Campus(es) for Module Delivery
The module will normally be offered on the following campuses / or by Distance/Online Learning: (Provided viable student numbers permit)
Paisley:Ayr:Dumfries:Lanarkshire:London:Distance/Online Learning:Other:


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Term(s) for Module Delivery
(Provided viable student numbers permit).
Term 1check markTerm 2


Term 3


Learning Outcomes: (maximum of 5 statements)

On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

L1. Investigate, research and broadcast news stories safely and to a fully professional standard, by demonstrating extensive and detailed knowledge of the constraints set down by defamation, contempt and other relevant laws.

L2. Apply the requirements of broadcasting regulatory codes and in so doing demonstrate awareness of key current issues in broadcast journalism and advanced professional practice.

L3. Critically analyse and evaluate the success of relevant laws and ethical regulatory codes, in reconciling competing rights.

Employability Skills and Personal Development Planning (PDP) Skills
SCQF Headings During completion of this module, there will be an opportunity to achieve core skills in:
Knowledge and Understanding (K and U) SCQF Level 11.

Knowledge that covers and integrates most of the main areas of law for journalists – including their features, terminology and conventions.

Extensive, detailed and critical knowledge and understanding of key aspects of journalism law.

Critical awareness of current issues in law for journalists

Practice: Applied Knowledge and Understanding SCQF Level 11.

Use the principal skills, techniques and practices of broadcast journalism and apply knowledge and understanding of journalism law.

Practise legally safe journalism in a variety of professional level contexts.

Generic Cognitive skills SCQF Level 11.

Apply critical analysis and evaluation to issues which are the forefront of journalism law.

Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills practices and thinking in journalism law.

Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in the absence of complete information.

Communication, ICT and Numeracy Skills SCQF Level 11.

Use a range of advanced and specialised skills as appropriate, for example:

Communicate, through news reports, to a range of audiences with different levels of knowledge/expertise.

Communicate informed judgements on relevant legal matters to senior colleagues.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working with others SCQF Level 11.

Exercise substantial autonomy and initiative in activities at a professional level – in making ethical and legal decisions.

Deal with complex ethical, legal and professional issues and make informed judgements on issues addressed, and not addressed, by current professional and/or ethical codes and practices.

Pre-requisites: Before undertaking this module the student should have undertaken the following:
Module Code:
Module Title:
Co-requisitesModule Code:
Module Title:

* Indicates that module descriptor is not published.

Learning and Teaching
The module is delivered through lectures and tutorials and students will also take part in workshops and discussions around the application of the law and media regulations in a practical journalism context. There will be visits to court to familiarise students with the workings of Scottish courts and workshops on producing court reports for online and broadcast.
Learning Activities
During completion of this module, the learning activities undertaken to achieve the module learning outcomes are stated below:
Student Learning Hours
(Normally totalling 200 hours):
(Note: Learning hours include both contact hours and hours spent on other learning activities)
Lecture/Core Content Delivery12
Tutorial/Synchronous Support Activity24
Work Based Learning/Placement 8
Independent Study156
200 Hours Total

**Indicative Resources: (eg. Core text, journals, internet access)

The following materials form essential underpinning for the module content and ultimately for the learning outcomes:

Bonnington, A. et al, (2000) Scots Law for Journalists, 7th ed. Edinburgh, W. Green

Dodd M. and Hanna, M. (2014), McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, 22nd edition, Oxford, Oxford University Press (this book is basically the equivalent text book to Scots Law for Journalists for students in the rest of the UK).

McInnes, R, (2010), Scots Law for Journalists, 8th ed. Edinburgh, W. Green. (Note that previous editions of this book are out of date).

Quinn, F. (2013), Law for Journalists, 4th edition, Harlow, Pearson Education

The International Forum for Responsible Media is a useful resource for media law issues:

BBC Journalism Academy has a useful section on law as it impact on journalism:

(**N.B. Although reading lists should include current publications, students are advised (particularly for material marked with an asterisk*) to wait until the start of session for confirmation of the most up-to-date material)

Attendance Requirements

In line with the Academic Engagement and Attendance Procedure, Students are defined as academically engaged if they are regularly engaged with timetabled teaching sessions, course-related learning resources including those in the Library and on Moodle, and complete assessments and submit these on time. Please refer to the Academic Engagement and Attendance Procedure at the following link: Academic engagement and attendance procedure

For the purposes of this module, academic engagement equates to the following:
Students will also be expected to attend a minimum of two court visits as part of this module.

Supplemental Information

Programme BoardArts & Media
Assessment Results (Pass/Fail) No
Subject PanelArts & Media
ModeratorElizabeth McLaughlin
External ExaminerDeborah Wilson-David
Accreditation DetailsBJTC
Version Number


Assessment: (also refer to Assessment Outcomes Grids below)
Essay 40%
Examination 60%
(N.B. (i) Assessment Outcomes Grids for the module (one for each component) can be found below which clearly demonstrate how the learning outcomes of the module will be assessed.
(ii) An indicative schedule listing approximate times within the academic calendar when assessment is likely to feature will be provided within the Student Handbook.)

Assessment Outcome Grids (Footnote A.)

Component 1
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Essay  check mark400

Component 2
Assessment Type (Footnote B.) Learning Outcome (1) Learning Outcome (2) Learning Outcome (3) Weighting (%) of Assessment ElementTimetabled Contact Hours
Seen open bookcheck markcheck mark 600
Combined Total For All Components100% 0 hours

A. Referred to within Assessment Section above
B. Identified in the Learning Outcome Section above

  1. More than one assessment method can be used to assess individual learning outcomes.
  2. Schools are responsible for determining student contact hours. Please refer to University Policy on contact hours (extract contained within section 10 of the Module Descriptor guidance note).
    This will normally be variable across Schools, dependent on Programmes &/or Professional requirements.

Equality and Diversity
Aligned with the overall commitment to equality and diversity stated in the Programme Specifications, the module supports equality of opportunity for students from all backgrounds and with different learning needs. Using Moodle, learning materials will be presented electronically in formats that allow flexible access and manipulation of content. The module complies with University regulations and guidance on inclusive learning and teaching practice. Specialist assistive equipment, support provision and adjustment to assessment practice will be made in accordance with UWS policy and regulations. The University’s Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Policy can be accessed at the following link:

Our partners are fully committed to the principles and practice of inclusiveness and our modules are designed to be accessible to all. Where this module is delivered overseas, local equivalent support for students and appropriate legislation applies.

UWS Equality and Diversity Policy
(N.B. Every effort will be made by the University to accommodate any equality and diversity issues brought to the attention of the School)