Journalism with Integrated Foundation Year BA (Hons)

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This is a four-year version of our popular BA (Hons) Journalism course, with an integrated foundation year. Get a solid grounding in journalism practices before specialising if you wish to. Get published from day one in the mediaHUB, our bustling multimedia newsroom, home to BBC Newcastle in Sunderland. Graduate with an NCTJ Diploma and a portfolio of published work to impress prospective employers.

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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.

Once on the Journalism degree course, we will introduce you to different types of journalism. This 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.

Why us?

  • Accredited by the National Council for Training of Journalists (NCTJ) The NCTJ diploma is an essential qualification for many journalism jobs
  • Make full use of our state-of-the-art facilities, such as 360-degree cameras, TV studios, radio studios and our 204-seater cinema
  • 100% of our BA (Hons) Journalism graduates are in employment, further study or training within six months of graduating, according to DLHE 2016/17 (based on full-time, first degree, home leavers)
  • Learn real-world skills working on our student-run websites in the innovative mediaHUB; present and produce on Spark Sunderland, our 24/7 FM radio station; broadcast weekly TV shows
  • Learn from inspirational staff who have worked as senior journalists online, in print and on-air and work alongside BBC Newcastle and Made TV journalists, based in our mediaHUB
  • Our Journalism courses are in the top 25% in the UK for Student voice, according to the National Student Survey 2018
  • Take advantage of our superb industry contacts, with regular masterclasses and news days run by Sky News, Sky Sports News, BBC, ITV and Guardian journalists 
  • Complete core placements at some of the biggest broadcasters and media companies in the world
  • Work alongside BBC Newcastle and Made TV journalists, based in our mediaHUB
  • Graduates of BA (Hons) Journalism now work at Sky News, The Guardian, Daily Mirror, the BBC, Closer magazine and regional newspaper groups Trinity Mirror, Johnson Press and Newsquest

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A city brimming with creative potential

Offering a year-round programme of exhibitions, events and performances, Sunderland Culture brings big-name artists from the worlds of contemporary visual arts, glass, ceramics and performance to the city, alongside showcasing the best and most exciting local talent. There is a huge range of opportunities for students to visit the venues, take part in events and get involved in the programme. Learn more about Sunderland Culture.

Course structure

In the first year – the foundation year – you will study five modules: a module about the foundations of humanities, journalism and media theory, an essential study skills module, a foundation project module, practical numeracy skills, and a multimedia communications module or a new century module depending on your degree choice. After completion of this foundation year, you will then move onto the Journalism honours degree course.

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.

Foundation Year

The Humanities, Journalism and Media Theory Integrated Foundation Year includes five modules: 

  • Foundations of Humanities, Journalism and Media Theory (40 credits)
  • Essential Study Skills (20 credits)
  • Foundation Project (20 credits)
  • Practical Numeracy Skills (20 credits)


Depending on the degree you wish to study after the Foundation Year, you will also take one of the following modules:

  • Multimedia Communications (20 credits)
  •  The New Century (20 credits)


Some modules have prerequisites. Read more about what this means in our Help and Advice article.

Year 1 (national level 4):

  • Essential Journalism (20 credits) - Essential journalism toolkit – learn what a journalist does and how you can get started.
  • Media Histories (20 credits) - Understand the development of the mass media from inception to present day.
  • Feature Writing (20 credits) - Develop your writing style and learn how to communicate clearly and effectively.
  • Essential Media Law and Regulation (20 credits) - What you can say and when can you say it. Essential for media professionals.
  • Digital Storytelling (20 credits) - Develop skills in non-traditional storytelling techniques for an online audience.

Optional modules are also available (across all three stages) such as Media Photography, Magazine Writing, Public Relations, Social Media Practice, Broadcast Journalism, TV/Radio Production, Foreign Languages, Media Theory.

Year 2 (national level 5):

  • Journalism and PR Studies (20 credits) - Examine various approaches to studying journalism and PR. Shorthand Learn the system of rapid handwriting, a skill used by journalists to quickly transcribe the spoken word.
  • Video Journalism (20 credits) - Find interesting stories, and shoot and edit them into compelling video content.
  • Design and Production Journalism (20 credits) - Use professional tools and software, experiment with design for print and digital platforms.
  • Newsroom (20 credits) - Experience the thrill of working in a live newsroom in our state-of-the-art Media Hub.
  • Public Affairs (20 credits) - Learn how to report power, how key organisations work and where to go to find the important stories.
  • Optional Module

Shorthand (additional module) - Learn the system of rapid handwriting, a skill used by journalists to quickly transcribe the spoken word.

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.
  • Journalism 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. Shorthand Learn the system of rapid handwriting, a skill used by journalists to quickly transcribe the spoken word.
  • Perfect your craft in our 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.

    In addition, technicians are available to help you use all the software and equipment. Each workstation has industry-standard software including NewsCutter, Burli and ENPS.

  • We’ve got thousands of relevant books and e-books, with many more titles available through the inter-library loan service. We also subscribe to a comprehensive range of print and electronic journals so you can access the most reliable and up-to-date academic and industry articles.

    Resources which will be particularly useful for Journalism and Media 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
    • Screen Online (BFI), which is an online encyclopaedia of British film and television, featuring clips from the vast collections of the BFI National Archive
    Library Services - journalism and media
  • Learn in our 203 seat cinema and 7.1 surround sound facility. Get hands-on in our two broadcast-quality production studios complete with green room and changing facilities. Access four Steadicam rigs plus dolly, track and mini crane. Our field camera systems, comprises Blackmagic Ursa, Blackmagic Ursa Mini Pro, Blackmagic 4K Production Camera and the Canon EOS 5D Mark III, with associated location kits, lighting, field monitors and audio mixers.

    Get experience with Made in Tyne & Wear, based in the Media Centre providing placements to students and jobs to several of our graduates.

    Go on-air in one of five radio studios, including a larger radio drama studio and a transmission suite for Spark, our award winning student-run community radio station. Spark has a target audience of 15 to 24 year-olds and broadcasts 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    Develop your skills in our digital audio post-production area with voice-over booths and 70 workstations with state-of-the-art HD Edit systems, including Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Premier Pro. You'll also use DaVinci Resolve for colour correction. 

    TV and radio studios
  • Map and directions


The David Puttnam Media Centre is a thriving place to study and experience media. Rub shoulders with BBC Newcastle and Made in Tyne & Wear, who are both based in the building. Volunteer with award winning Spark Sunderland, write for one of our suite of websites, or edit Spark Magazine in our MediaHUB. Get hands on in TV and Radio Studios, Journalism and Digital editing suites. Learn from experts in this centre of excellence for training.

Entry requirements

The Integrated Foundation Year is specially designed to support you where you have just missed the grades required for direct entry onto a three-year degree, or if you have relevant work experience and are now looking to broaden your subject knowledge but want more time to develop study skills before starting your degree.

Entry requirements are provided for guidance only and we may offer you an entrance interview which will help us determine your eligibility for your chosen degree. This enables us to consider making you an offer if you are perhaps a mature student who has been out of education for a period of time, or you have gained significant knowledge and skills through employment rather than traditional education.

Eligible entry qualifications:

1. Normally a minimum of three Level 2 qualifications (NVQ, GCSE or equivalent ), including Maths and English at grade C or above** and a minimum of 40 UCAS tariff points from Level 3 qualifications (e.g. A or AS Levels, BTEC certificates/diplomas, access courses or equivalent)
2. Demonstrable evidence of appropriate knowledge and skills acquired from at least three years of post-school work experience.

Find out how many points your qualifications are worth using the UCAS Tariff calculator.

If you are unsure of whether you think you might be suitable for the course, please contact us!

** If you have studied for a GCSE which has a numerical grade then you will need to achieve a grade 4 or above. Equivalent alternative qualifications are also accepted, such as Level 2 Key Skills in Communication and Application of Number. If you have not achieved a grade C in Maths and English we may be able to work with you to ensure that you are able to gain these in the first year of the course, depending on your experience.

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

For more information about Integrated Foundation Year programmes, including more detailed module information, please see our Help and Advice articles.

Fees and finance

If you join us in September 2019, the foundation year will be £4,500.

For the following three years, the annual fee will be £9,250 but you will receive £1,250 cash-back in the first and final year of the full-undergraduate course.

In addition, you may receive free travel across the Tyne and Wear region and a University of Sunderland StudyPLUS Card loaded with additional offers up to the value of £200, plus a bundle of study skills books worth £80.

If you are a full-time UK student you may be eligible to receive financial support to cover your fee and maintenance loan for the full four years.

Please note, this course is not available to international students.

If you are not sure whether you qualify as a UK, EU or international student, find out more in our Help and Advice article.

Take a look at the Your Finances section to find out about the scholarships and bursaries that may be available to you.

Use our scholarships calculator to see what you may be entitled to.

Scholarships calculator

This information was correct at the time of publication.

Student at the graduation ceremony


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, Racing Post, ITV, Elle, regional newspapers and PR companies.

Real-world experience – right on campus

Rub shoulders with BBC Newcastle Journalists, get advice from former Sky News Journalists and see a Newsroom in action in our innovative mediaHUB.

You have the opportunity to be actively involved in Spark Sunderland, the 24/7 Community Radio station based in the Media Centre. Spark 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.

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.

Other opportunities for real-world experience available on campus 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.

125 wide BBC Newcastle Logo

Superb industry links

Be inspired by our academics and their strong industry contacts. Our experienced academics who have years of industry expertise at high levels in print, online and broadcasting including the BBC, Daily Mirror, Grazia, Private Eye and Sky.

Rub shoulders with regional and national high-profile journalists such as Kevin Maguire, Associate Editor at the Daily Mirror and Visiting Professor in Journalism at the University, and ITV News Correspondent Alastair Stewart. Both regularly visit the University along with a host of experienced journalists to give insight into the industry via masterclasses and lectures.

Broaden your horizons with inspiring trips – recently students have enjoyed visits to London fashion masterclasses, press access to Wembley finals and Europa league games at FC Schalke 04 in Germany.

Work placements

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

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.

Join award winners

Our students and graduates have been making a splash, winning awards and prizes across the board.

  • Ben Holden won the NCTJ Sports Journalism award 2016, winning a space in the NFL press box at Wembley match to see the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals
  • Eve Conlon, took Bronze at The Charles Parker Prize 2016 for her piece Student Gamblers. and featured in a special programme on BBC Radio 4 Extra
  • Alice Winney, won the Royal Television Society North East Student Award for News 2017 for her story about flooding in Corbridge
  • Bethany Elsey, shortlisted for Royal Television Society North East Student Award for Best Documentary
  • Amy Stark, won NCTJ Best Student Project 2016 for her project Weird and Wonderful Subcultures
  • Luke Bidwell, highly commended NCTJ Student Sports Journalism Award 2016
  • Sophie Dishman, highly commended for Best Reporter in the National Student Publication Association (SPA) Awards 2017
  • Ryan Lim, shortlisted for Best Photographer in the National Student Publication Association (SPA) Awards 2017

NCTJ Accredited Course Logo

Meet the students

  • The University of Sunderland is a hot bed of enthusiasm, expertise and initiative.
    Josh Halliday, Journalism graduate

    Josh Halliday

  • I was encouraged to go as far as I could when dreaming up seemingly unattainable ideas.
    Zoe Beaty, Journalism graduate case study

    Zoe Beaty

Meet the team

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