Magazine Journalism MA - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This 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. Our course is ranked 4th out of the 17 UK NCTJ postgraduate courses by performance.

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.

Magazine Journalism is an intensive course that trains you to think, write and research like a journalist. It covers media ethics and law, reporting, shorthand and public affairs. You will also learn how to design and produce magazine pages using software such as Adobe InDesign. In the final stage of the course you can produce your own magazine or website, with support from our professional journalists.

An important benefit of a Masters at Sunderland is the relevance of our research expertise, which includes magazine and sports 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.

George talks about the experience of studying at the University of Sunderland and the facilities designed for students from the Faculty of Arts, Design and Media:

Course content

Modules on this course include:

Magazine Journalism 1 (60 Credits)

  • Magazine Journalism: Principles and Practice 1
  • Essential Media Law and Public Affairs
  • Business of Magazines
  • Shorthand

Magazine Journalism 2 (60 Credits)

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

Magazine Journalism 3 (60 Credits)

You will complete a supervised dissertation on a topic of your choice, or you will complete a practical project which can be either a series of articles, a magazine, a newspaper or a website. As the culmination of the course, it will build on all the skills and knowledge that you have gained in the previous stages.

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.Spark logo, orange version

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

On completing this course you will be equipped for employment at an advanced level, with opportunities in both print and digital media. Potential roles include working for consumer magazines, writing features in newspapers, and working in various positions across the communications, media and marketing industries.

The course’s accreditation by the National Council for Training of Journalists (NCTJ) will boost your employability within journalism. You can choose, at an additional cost, to gain the NCTJ’s Diploma in Journalism.

Recent Sunderland graduates are now working for employers such as NCJ Media, Johnston Press and Media Works. Some graduates have started up their own media organisations.

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. The Department has good links with regional media organisations and national organisations like IPC and Future plc.

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

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.

"It’s really quite amazing how much industry knowledge and know-how the University of Sunderland has in one place.”

Gillian Scribbins case study

Gillian Scribbins

Business Affairs Assistant in Drama, Films and Acquisitions for the BBC

The excellent reputation for media, great industry links, and the warm welcome she received from University staff convinced Gillian Scribbins that the University of Sunderland was the right place to study MA Magazine Journalism.

Gillian currently works as a Business Affairs Assistant in Drama, Films and Acquisitions for the BBC, she said: “The staff at Sunderland all surpassed my expectations in terms of help and support. They were all genuinely interested in whatever work or projects you were taking on, and had all the time in the world to stop and help - no matter how big or small the question.

“It made a marked impact on my personal motivation knowing how much they believed in and expected of me. I instantly felt a valued part of the department as a whole, which made every day in class and on campus a happy one.”

She added: “As part of the course we studied media law, which I found attractive as a career direction after graduating. It’s because of this that I applied for a job at the BBC in archive rights, and from there moved across into Drama.

“I found Sunderland a really helpful and relaxed environment. The vocational skills I gained were an invaluable addition to my CV when I was applying for jobs post-MA. There were always millions of extra-curricular, foot-in-the-door type opportunities in the media industry cropping up through staff contacts and partnerships. In retrospect it’s really quite amazing how much industry knowledge and know-how the University of Sunderland has in one place.”

"The great thing the course does is to prepare you for the professional aspects of the industry."

Mark Stuart Bell MA Journalism

Mark Stuart Bell


“As soon as I read through the modules for the MA Magazine Journalism course at Sunderland, I knew it was where I wanted to go," said graduate Mark Stuart Bell.

“Getting a positive response to an article I pitched to a local culture magazine was a real highlight of the course. But the most engaging and challenging thing we did was to develop a new magazine on 'Slow Travel'. We secured funding, printed 3,000 copies, had a launch party and even got fan mail from Bill Bryson.

“Everything that you could want for practicing journalism and creating content is available, from TV studios and cameras to recording studios and banks of Macs loaded with editing software.

“Alex Lockwood, the Programme Leader, was a great mentor - someone with a great range of professional experience, full of astute advice and so enthusiastic. He took the time to get to know each student and helped steer us towards gaining the best experiences for pursuing our chosen ambitions.

“The great thing the course does is to prepare you for the professional aspects of the industry - making contacts, sourcing and interviewing subjects, working with an editor on your work, collaborating on a creative project, and most importantly of all developing the mindset of a journalist.

“I currently work for an indie TV production company as Head of Research, developing documentaries and working on all kinds of aspects of production. I recently went to the Falkland Islands to direct a short pilot film. Had you asked me during my MA what I would end up doing, I could never have imagined it would be this, but I have found a place where I can use all of the skills I gained on the course and also keep picking up new multimedia skills!”

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 Magazine 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 Magazine 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 equivilent qualification

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