Journalism MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

NCTJ logo‌This Masters is one of the few postgraduate degrees in the UK to be accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ). NCTJ accreditation is widely recognised as a gold standard for courses that turn out highly skilled, highly motivated and highly employable trainee journalists.

‌Previous study of journalism is not a requirement. If necessary, we may ask you to undertake a short course that covers essential skills and knowledge, before you join the main Masters course.

Journalism is an intensive course that trains, write and research like a journalist. It covers media ethics and law, reporting and public affairs, shorthand, sub-editing and production. You will develop your own specialist areas of interest such as crime, health or political journalism. In the final stage of the course you can produce your own newspaper or series of in-depth articles, with support from our professional journalists.

An important benefit of a Masters at Sunderland is the relevance of our research expertise, which includes sports and magazine journalism as well as web writing and social media. Sunderland hosts the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies (CRMCS) and our Media Department has been recognised for producing some world-leading and internationally excellent research.

The Journalism Diversity Fund is aimed at people from diverse backgrounds who need help funding their journalism training. Journalism diversity fund logo

Candidates must be from a socially or ethnically diverse background,
be able to demonstrate genuine commitment to becoming a successful
journalist and have secured a place on an NCTJ-accredited course.

A video presenting the facilities designed for the students from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Journalism – Stage 1 (60 Credits)

  • News Journalism: Principles and Practice 1
  • Essential Media Law
  • Essential Public Affairs
  • Shorthand

Journalism – Stage 2 (60 Credits)

  • News Journalism: Principles and Practice 2
  • Reporting
  • Media Ethics and Society
  • Shorthand

Journalism – Stage 3 (60 Credits)

You will complete a supervised dissertation on a topic of your choice. As the culmination of the course, it will build on all the skills and knowledge that you have gained up to this point.

Teaching and assessment

Compared to an undergraduate course, you will find that this Masters requires a higher level of independent working. The course aims to stretch your creativity and maximise your sense of personal fulfilment.

In Stage 1 and Stage 2, you will have approx 22/23hrs teaching per week. This is arranged so that you have Friday off each week.

The course is taught by respected academics and journalism professionals through a combination of newsroom workshops, seminars and tutorials. You will work on projects both on your own and with others, developing skills in communication and teamwork.

We encourage you to publish your work. The department has strong relationships with local and national media including Johnston Press, NCJ Media and Room 501 Publishing.

Assessment methods include essays, projects, presentations, and a major project/dissertation. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Facilities & location

The facilities at the David Puttnam Media Centre help you gain skills in areas such as writing, page design, online research, managing production, IT, and time management and presentation skills.

The mediaHUB

Throughout your time in Sunderland you will have an outlet for your creative talents in the mediaHUB, a bustling multimedia newsroom on the top floor of our David Puttnam Media Centre that will give you a real taste of life as a working journalist. The mediaHUB runs websites covering sport, news, entertainments and fashion, provides the content for news bulletins on our award-winning Spark Radio and is responsible for writing and editing Spark magazine.

Journalism/PR suites

We have four journalism suites, each with 18 Apple Mac workstations with design applications and video editing. There’s an additional open access project completion suite with 20 more workstations and colour laser printing.

Broadcast Journalism Newsroom

The Broadcast Journalism Newsroom has 20 workstations plus a Sky feed with two 40” plasma screens. Each workstation has industry-standard software including Newscutter, Burli and ENPS.

Technical support

The Journalism Newsroom has another 20 Mac workstations and offers drop-in sessions run by a rota of working journalists who can advise on projects, assignments and your personal portfolio. These sessions are available every day of the week during term time. In addition, technicians are available to help you use all the software and equipment.

Radio studios

We have six radio studios including a transmission suite for 107 Spark FM, our student-run community radio station and a city centre hub.

TV studios

We have two broadcast-quality TV studios complete with green room and changing facilities. Equipment includes four Steadicam rigs plus dolly, track and mini crane. We have over 40 full HD tapeless field camera systems.

Other media facilities

We have a live Sky feed and off-air recording facility, including DVD and Blu-ray recording, plus extensive footage archive/library. There is also a 203-seat cinema with full HD projection, 7.1 surround sound facility and the capability to play 3D feature films.

University Library Services

We’ve got a wide range of books, journals and e-books on relevant topics, with many more available through the inter-library loan service. Some useful resources for your studies include:

  • Lexis, which provides full-text newspaper articles as well as access to legal information
  • JSTOR (short for ‘Journal Storage’), which provides access to important journals across the humanities, social sciences and sciences
  • Archival Sound Recordings with over 12,000 hours of recordings
  • British Universities Film and Video Council (BUFVC), which provides resources for the production, study and use of film and related media in higher education and research


The David Puttnam Media Centre

The Sir Tom Cowie Campus at St Peter's,
St Peter's Way, Sunderland, SR6 0DD

Entry requirements

We will consider applicants with professional and vocational experience.

If you are suitably qualified, we will invite you to an interview to assess whether this is the right course for you.

We may ask you to undertake a short course that covers essential skills and knowledge, before you join the main Masters course.

If English is not your first language, you should have an IELTS (or equivalent) score of at least 7.0.

After 6 April 2015 you must take your IELTS exams at one of the test centres listed on the UKVI website. If you took your IELTS exam before 6 April 2015 this does not apply, and your qualification is still valid regardless of which test centre you used.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

If you feel you already know some of the topics covered in this course, either due to previous learning or from experience of work, then you may not need to study all of the course.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) is the name given to the process of gaining credit towards a qualification because of something you have learnt in the past. If you are eligible for APL you won't have to learn the same topic again, and so you can be exempt from a module, set of modules or year of a course. 

Read more about APL in the Quality Handbook (.pdf). If you think you may be eligible for APL, please contact the course leader.

Fees & finance

Postgraduate loans

From 2016/17, tuition fee loans will be available to UK/EU postgraduate students for the first time. Find out more about the eligibility criteria.


The annual fee for this course is:

  • £4,750 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £11,500 if you are an International student

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or International student, please see the International section of this website.

Employment & careers

Postgraduates are highly employable and, on average, earn more than individuals whose highest qualification is an undergraduate degree. On completing this course you will be equipped for roles throughout the PR and communications industries.

Recent Sunderland graduates are now working in PR consultancies as well as in the PR departments of organisations such as the Environment Agency, Tyne and Wear Sports and AA Press Office.

During the course we encourage you to gain industry experience which will enhance your skills, build up a valuable network of contacts and boost your employability.

A Masters degree will also enhance career opportunities within Higher Education and prepare you for further postgraduate studies.

As a professionally accredited centre for journalism education, we provide you with an opportunity to influence the future teaching of journalism. You can become an NCTJ student representative and attend a national council meeting once a year.

The Enterprise Place

If you have a good idea for a new business and have the dedication and motivation to make it happen, then we want to hear from you. The Enterprise Place, based on-campus at St Peter's Gate Business Centre, is the perfect environment for entrepreneurial students and graduates to turn their business ideas into reality. You will have access to free hot desk space, IT facilities, specialist advice and support and business mentors and networking opportunities.

To find out more about how we can help you start a business, please contact the University's Enterprise Team:

Tel: 0191 515 3751

Student jobs, volunteering and paid projects (earn while you learn)

Our Careers & Employability Service (CES) advertises a variety of opportunities to earn money while you study. It also advertises volunteer positions that enable you to help other people while learning about your strengths and what you can offer to future employers.


Support for your learning

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout your course. Personal Tutors encourage your personal development and are a useful point of contact for any queries about your course, extracurricular activities and issues where they can point you towards specialist services at the University. These include student counselling, financial advice and chaplaincy support.

Further support is provided by our technicians who help you make the most of the University’s equipment and software.

Support for your development

To help ensure the course is meeting aspirations for personal development, we invite students to fill in questionnaires at the end of modules. This provides a structured way for you to keep us up-to-date with your views.

During your course, and particularly towards the end of it, we encourage you to make full use of the resources at our Careers & Employability Service. The Service helps you explore your options, clarify your ideas, develop a career focus and make effective applications.

As a professionally accredited centre for journalism education, we provide you with an opportunity to influence the future teaching of journalism. You can become an NCTJ student representative and attend a national council meeting once a year.

Extracurricular activities

The University supports student-led initiatives that enhance the extracurricular activities available to you. Some of these are related to particular subjects while others allow you to pursue interests and social activities. It’s all part of the vibrant and life-changing atmosphere at the University of Sunderland.

For more information about all the support services you will have access to as a Sunderland student, please see Student support and guidance.

"The University of Sunderland is one of the best places in the UK to study Journalism.”

Amy Watson case study

Amy Watson

Communications Manager, Software City

The excellent reputation for journalism, in addition to NCTJ accreditation, and the great support from the Careers and Employability service convinced Amy Watson that the University of Sunderland was the right place to study MA Journalism.

She said: “The University’s reputation speaks for itself, and one of the added benefits of the Journalism degree is that you get the journalism qualification and the industry qualification (NCTJ) which is vitally important. The NCTJ is the qualification that editors demand of you.”

Amy added: “There’s a lot of competition out there and I thought ‘how can I boost my chances of employment?’

“I came back to the University for a CV clinic and the University’s advisors pointed me to the Internship Scheme. I had a meeting with one of the internship advisors, submitted my CV, and within two weeks I had three interviews lined up and two job offers.

“Journalism and the writing skills were massively beneficial, they helped me acclimatise to my role, and I think the University helps you with transferable skills which are massively important to employers everywhere regardless of your role. The University of Sunderland is one of the best places in the UK to study Journalism.”

"Say yes to opportunities no matter how big, small, scary, time consuming or hard work."

India Adams-Norton case study

India Adams-Norton

Academic Tutor in Journalism and MediaHub Newsroom Manager at the University of Sunderland

The MA Journalism course at the University of Sunderland appealed to India Adams-Norton as it is accredited by the National Council for the Training of Journalists, which is a very important journalistic qualification and essential when looking for work in the industry.

India currently works for the University as an academic tutor in journalism and as MediaHub Newsroom Manager, she said: "The contacts I made through the University were invaluable. A lot of my lecturers were former journalists themselves and could provide excellent practical advice and feedback. They were very supportive and encouraging.

"I loved being able to get practical experience through both the University's own in-house publications and by working with local media such as the Sunderland Echo and ITV Tyne Tees.

"Before I graduated, I got a job as a reporter for North News and Pictures. I then went on to work for ITV Tyne Tees before becoming a video journalist for Sky Tyne and Wear's online service. My role involved setting up stories, filming and editing, then uploading videos to the website, as well as writing the copy and taking photographs - so pretty much everything.

“This experience led me to my current role as MediaHub Newsroom Manager at the University where I oversee the digital platforms the students work on.

"Having courage, determination and drive have helped me most in my career. Saying yes to opportunities no matter how big, small, scary, time consuming or hard work. You never know what will come of it and what contacts you'll make.”

Student work

A fantastic magazine created by our Journalism students, covering a wide range of topics from beauty to current affairs and human interest.

Onyx Magazine logo

Edited by MA Journalism and MA Magazine Journalism graduates - Lisa Moerchen, Punitha Kumar, Ashleigh Powney, Jen Harrison, Daniel McGrath, Harry Hall, Laura Nolan

Project Tutor - Paul Taylor, Independent Media Production Professional and visiting lecturer

Published by MA Journalism Programme Leader - Alex Lockwood

Onyx Magazine Student work

Onyx Magazine Student work food image

Download Onyx (16MB .pdf)

Apply for this course

To apply for this course use the relevant link below.

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 16th February 2017
  • Time: 2:00pm-7:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Gateway, City Campus, University of Sunderland

Contact Sunderland

For more information, contact the Programme Leader:

Dr Alex Lockwood
Tel: 0191 515 2101

You can read Dr Alex Lockwood's research profile and learn more about some of the staff that would teach you on MA Journalism course.

For more general information, contact:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

Social media: To see what events we run and to ask a question about this course, contact the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media on Facebook and Twitter.

Programme Starts  
Monday 18th September 2017 Apply now

The details

Course Name Journalism
Classification MA
Course Mode Full-time
Course Level Postgraduate
Duration 1 year
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £4750
Intl Fee £11500

Entry requirements

Good honours degree (2:1 or above) or equivalent qualification

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