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Journalism BA (Hons) - University of Sunderland

Course overview

This degree programme is the broadest of our comprehensive suite of specialist journalism courses that lead to both an honours degree and the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism, the nationally recognised industry entry qualification. The combination of qualifications will significantly boost your employability as a journalist.

During the first year, we will introduce you to different types of journalism. You will also look at the history of journalism and explore some of the hot topics within today’s journalism industry. The first year is common to most of our journalism courses – it’s a great chance to see what kind of journalism suits you best.

During the second and third years, you will study topics in more depth, among them Multi-Platform News, Media Law and Media Ethics. You can also choose an option in a specific genre such as Magazine Writing, Sports Writing, Investigative Journalism, or Entertainments and Games Journalism. In your final year, you will go on a placement to a newspaper or online news organisation and you will undertake a project, a large-scale piece of journalism which will add significantly to the portfolio of work you can present to prospective employers.Kevin Maguire

The staff are excellent, facilities brilliant and the students eager to learn and progress.”

Kevin Maguire
Daily Mirror Associate Editor
Sky News Political Commentator
Visiting Professor of Journalism 

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.

All our teaching staff have worked as senior journalists and our teaching is enhanced by our department’s cutting-edge research. Several of the key textbooks in journalism education have been written by University of Sunderland journalism lecturers.

Work experience

All students studying on-campus undergraduate Journalism courses can take up a CV-enhancing work placement, a University-led industry initiative, or a professional and business development boot camp. By the term placement, we mean we are offering you a taste of the industry which might last anything from two days to four weeks on a part-time basis. 

Right from the start, you’ll notice Sunderland’s supportive atmosphere. We make sure that it’s easy to receive advice from tutors and there are daily drop-in sessions staffed by a rota of professional journalists.

SR News is a news, politics and current affairs website run by Journalism students:

Northern Lights is a photography, society and culture website run by Journalism students:

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

Course content

Year 1 (national level 4)

Critical Issues in Journalism and PR (20 Credits)

Discover the key issues and events shaping the media in the UK.

Essential Journalism (20 Credits)

Essential journalism toolkit – learn what a journalist does and how you can get started. 

Introduction to News and Magazine Journalism B (20 Credits)

Learn how to find good stories, ask great questions and produce compelling journalism.

Writing and Research for Journalism and PR (20 Credits)

Develop your writing style and learn how to communicate clearly and effectively.

Online Video Journalism (20 Credits)

Find interesting stories, and shoot and edit them into compelling video content for the web.


Optional modules are also available (across all three stages) such as:

Media Photography, Magazine Writing, Fashion Journalism, Public Relations, Sports Journalism, Social Media Practice, Broadcast Journalism, TV/Radio Production, Foreign Languages, Media Theory.

Year 2 (national level 5)

News Journalism I (20 Credits)

Learn the art of headline writing, the latest design skills and how to turn dull copy into a great read.

Newsroom (20 Credits)

Experience the thrill of working in a live newsroom in our state-of-the-art Media Hub.

Media Law (20 Credits)

What you can say and when can you say it. Essential for media professionals.

Public Affairs Reporting (20 Credits)

Learn how to report power, how key organisations work and where to go to find the important stories.

Journalism and PR Studies (20 Credits)

Examine various approaches to studying journalism and PR.


Learn the system of rapid handwriting, a skill used by journalists to quickly transcribe the spoken word.


Optional modules are also available (across all three stages) such as:

Media Photography, Magazine Writing, Fashion Journalism, Public Relations, Sports Journalism, Social Media Practice, Broadcast Journalism, TV/Radio Production, Foreign Languages, Media Theory.

Final Year (national level 6)

Multi-Platform News (20 Credits)

Work on gathering a variety of original work for your portfolio using a range of journalistic styles. 

News Practice, including placement (20 Credits)

Gain valuable experience during a two-week work placement and learn how news organisations work.

Media Ethics (20 Credits)

Explore the concepts of freedom of expression, looking at the conflicts between public interest and personal privacy. 

Journalism Practical Project (40 Credits)

Plan and produce a piece of independent work such as a magazine, a series of in-depth articles or a website. 


Learn the system of rapid handwriting, a skill used by journalists to quickly transcribe the spoken word.


Optional modules are also available (across all three stages) such as:

Media Photography, Magazine Writing, Fashion Journalism, Public Relations, Sports Journalism, Social Media Practice, Broadcast Journalism, TV/Radio Production, Foreign Languages, Media Theory. 

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations, seminars, workshops, group projects and practical skills work.

All our teaching staff have worked as journalists and have strong links with regional employers and industry organisations. We also invite experienced industry professionals to carry out regular guest lectures and classes. 

Assessment is split between portfolios of practical work, essays, examinations, reports and presentations.

To find out more about modules, credits and how you will be assessed, please see the page how courses are taught. Information about our policies relating to student experience and quality assurance processes can be found on the Academic Services website.

Part-time study

If you study this course on a part-time basis you will typically complete 40-80 credits in a year, rather than the 120 credits of full-time students. All modules are taught during the day time and you will be studying alongside full-time students. 

Key Information Sets

All UK Universities and colleges display Key Information Sets (KIS) on their undergraduate courses. The KIS gives you a quick overview of some standard information about a course, and has a link to more detailed information on Unistats.

Facilities & location

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 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

Our typical offer is 120 UCAS points from a minimum of two A Levels or equivalent (e.g. 1 x AVCE double award). Read more on the new UCAS Tariff point system for 2017.

We accept a maximum of 6 points from Level 3 Key Skills qualifications.

We also require three passes at GCSE grade C or above, which must include Mathematics and English Language, or a minimum of Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number.

If English is not your first language, please see our English language requirements.

If you are studying a HND or Foundation Degree you may be able to enter onto the final year of our degree courses. For more information, please contact

Other acceptable qualifications

BTEC National: 120 points from a BTEC Certificate or Diploma.

Access Courses: We would require successful completion of an Access to Higher Education course that is accredited by the Quality Assurance Agency. We would also require a minimum of grade C in GCSE in Mathematics and English Language or the equivalent as part of your course.

Scottish Highers: Our typical offer is for 120 points.

Irish Leaving Certificate: Our typical offer is for 120 points.

International qualifications: Please call the Student Helpline for advice on other acceptable qualifications. The number from outside the UK is +44 191 515 3000.

Any other qualifications: If you have any other qualifications not listed here, you may still be eligible. Please contact the Student Helpline for advice: 0191 515 3000.

Returners to Learning: If you are a mature student, you may benefit from our dedicated Returners to Learning Progression Scheme. For further information email or call the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

If you wish to be considered for direct entry to a different year of a course, please contact the Student Helpline: 0191 515 3000.

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

Full-time fees

The annual fee for this course is:

  • £9,250 if you are from the UK / EU
  • £10,750 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.

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Part-time fees

Tuition fees for part-time home and EU students are £4,880 per 120 Credits.

Please note that part-time courses are not available to international students who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

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

Scholarships and bursaries may be available to you – please see the Fees and Finance section of this website for more information.

Employment & careers

This degree prepares you for a wide range of careers in newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, Public Relations and new media industries. It is also highly relevant to many positions in industry, commerce and the Civil Service, as well as to jobs in the arts and voluntary sectors.

Recent journalism graduates from Sunderland have gained jobs with employers such as:

  • Sky
  • MTV
  • The Guardian
  • Grazia
  • Elle
  • Regional newspapers
  • PR companies

You could also choose to continue your studies with a Masters degree at the University of Sunderland.

Work experience

You can undertake a work placement module during your course. Placements can be with newspapers, magazines, radio stations, TV and PR companies.

 Spark logoYou have the opportunity to be actively involved in Spark FM, the 24/7 Community Radio station based in the campus Media Centre. Spark FM has won many awards including four golds at the Student Radio Awards 2012, and holds the Nations and Regions Award for Best Radio Station in the North East. Students are responsible for all news-gathering, programme production and advertising.

Other opportunities for real-world experience include Spark online magazine, the Fashion North website, the SR-News website, the Northern Lights website and SportsByte, which are all linked to our Journalism and Media courses. 

Sunderland’s daily newspaper, The Sunderland Echo, has a weekly page called 'On Campus' that is written entirely by students at the University. It’s an opportunity to find and research your own stories, take photographs, meet deadlines and see your name in print.

University Language Scheme

It is usually possible to take a module from the free University Language Scheme. This can be studied on top of your 120 credits or in some cases, can earn credits towards your degree.

Language skills increase your international mobility and you can choose between French, German, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese and Arabic at a range of levels. If your first language is not English, please check with your tutor about entry requirements.

Staff and students talk about the benefits of the University Language Scheme: 


The University of Sunderland is committed to ensuring that every student has an impressive range of opportunities to enhance their CV and gain valuable experience:

  • Work placements
  • Graduate internships
  • Studying abroad
  • Student Ambassador Scheme
  • Mentoring
  • Starting your own business
  • Student jobs and volunteering
  • Careers advice

For more information, visit:


Support for your learning

You can expect stimulating contact time that includes lectures, workshops, seminars and case studies. There is also a significant amount of time where you will be researching and studying on your own in preparation for assignments and seminars. If you have individual queries or difficulties within subject areas, you can book an appointment with your tutor to gain more in-depth support and guidance.

From the start of the course you will be allocated a Personal Tutor. You’ll meet your Personal Tutor at agreed times throughout each year of the 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. Journalists are available every day on a rota basis in the newsroom to give advice and feedback.

We offer extra coaching ahead of NCTJ exams and pay your NCTJ exam fees (excluding any re-sits).

Support for your development

You will have the chance to learn shorthand with three hours a week of free tuition, starting in Year 2. We expect students to reach speeds of at least 100 words per minute.

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.

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.

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.

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.

"What really stood out for me about Sunderland was the wealth of hands-on projects on offer."

Josh Halliday

Josh Halliday - Graduate

Home News Reporter at The Guardian

"Sunderland was my first choice of university and when I saw what it had to offer, I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere else.

"I was bowled over by the first-class facilities the University had and the course really gave me a fantastic grounding in journalism.

"I got involved in a range of projects; working on the student newspaper, editing the student magazine, writing online articles and blogs. Seeing my name written in print for the first time was a real buzz and a great experience.

"A blog about journalism and education became the basis of a research paper that I got published and later presented to The Guardian Student Media Conference which helped me get my foot in the door at The Guardian and be offered a job before I’d even graduated.

"The lecturers all have relevant industry experience you can really learn from, which keeps you ahead of the game.

"I believe the University of Sunderland has provided the right platform to get me to where I am now. It gave me the direction and skills I needed and without that there's no way that I would be at The Guardian now."

Josh named in top 30 Journalist to watch for. MHP Communications 30 to Watch for List January 2013.

"Get as much hands on work experience as possible."

Zoe Beaty

Zoe Beaty - Graduate

Staff Features Writer, Grazia magazine

Before graduating, Zoe started working at North News and Pictures, writing news and features for national newspapers and women's weekly magazines.

By 2011, she was promoted to Deputy Editor/Chief Reporter, and then in 2012 Zoe moved to London to work at Grazia magazine as a staff features writer.

Having experience in both news and magazine journalism, plus skills in law and shorthand from studying for NCTJ exams have really helped Zoe in her career.

"I took both news and magazine journalism routes, which set me apart from other candidates and proved essential in my first job," said Zoe.

"Also, the invaluable (and honest) advice and feedback, encouragement and support that the tutors provided. Julie Bradford and Alex Lockwood made all the difference to my degree."

When asked what advice she would give to new students, Zoe said: "Push yourself harder than you really want to, get your shorthand and get as much hands-on work experience as possible.

"And speak to your tutors - they're very, VERY clever. Steal as much of their knowledge as you can whilst you still have them."

"There's a tangible air of enthusiasm"

Adam Clery - case study for Journalism P500

Adam Clery - Graduate

Director of Remember Media

Journalism graduate Adam Clery is now a Director of Remember Media - a North East publishing company with titles including NARC Magazine, Keep Your Eyes Open TV and NE1 Magazine.

“My college teacher told me that journalism at Sunderland was regarded as one of the best in the country.

“There’s a huge focus on hands-on learning. At one point during my time there I was working for the university newspaper, magazine and radio station, all of which allowed me to quickly take what I’d learned and find out how to put it into practice.

"Speaking now as an employer, the very first thing we look for is someone who’s got the experience to match the hours they’ve spent in the classroom.

“Whilst the facilities are excellent, the course varied and well structured, and the lecturers all knowledgeable, keen and engaging, the thing that most sticks in my mind about Journalism at the University of Sunderland is the passion that runs through everything.

"There’s a tangible air of enthusiasm about the subject that permeates through every element of the Faculty, and during my time there I found it almost impossible not to get swept along with it. When I started on my first day I had, at best, a mild interest in it as a career, but by the time I graduated I couldn’t possibly imagine even wanting to do anything else."

"I am planning to make a career as a journalist and my dream is to work for a magazine."

Kamile Niunevaite - Lives Online

Kamile Niunevaite - Student

Lives Online Student Blogger 2013/14 - BA (Hons) Journalism

Kamile is a Journalism student and was one of eight students who blogged about their lives at university in 2013/14.

Read Kamile’s Lives Online blog to see what it's really like to be a Journalism student at Sunderland.


Lives Online logo

Apply for this course

Interested in this course? Apply straight away through UCAS, or read our 7-step guide to applying to university.

Part-time study: if you want to study this course on a part-time basis, you need to apply directly to the University of Sunderland by downloading the part-time application form (.pdf).

Want to know more about this course or the University of Sunderland? Download your personalised prospectus or come to our next Open Day to see the facilities and talk to academic staff:

    Next Open Day

  • Date: Thursday 23rd February 2017
  • Time: 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Type: University Open Day
  • Location: Science Complex, City Campus, Sunderland SR1 3SD

Contact Sunderland

Contact the Programme Leader for specific questions about the course:

Alistair Robinson
Tel: 0191 515 2167

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.

Contact the Student Helpline for further information about studying at the University of Sunderland:

Tel: 0191 515 3000

The details

Course Name Journalism
Classification BA (Hons)
Course Mode Full-time/Part-time
Course Level Undergraduate
Duration 3 years
Study Location On-campus (Sunderland)
Starting 18 September 2017
UK/EU Fee £9,250
Intl Fee £10,750

Entry requirements

120 points

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