Journalism is changing - and the news industry is changing with it. Established publishers and broadcasters are adapting to gathering and publishing news across a variety of platforms, while new players, from MSN and AOL to hyperlocal websites, are recruiting for new businesses built around online journalism. Competition for jobs in journalism is fiercer than ever, even experienced journalists are taking the opportunity presented by new technologies to establish new media businesses.
The MA in Online Journalism puts you at the cutting edge of these developments, building multimedia newsgathering and production skills, along with enterprise skills and an understanding of data journalism, of the management of user generated content, and of online communities.
The course is led by Paul Bradshaw, one of the world’s leading experts on online journalism, publisher of the Online Journalism Blog, and founder of Help Me Investigate. Paul has appeared in both Journalism.co.uk's list of the leading innovators in journalism and the US Poynter Institute’s list of the world’s most influential people in social media. He is currently ranked the UK’s 9th most influential UK journalist on Twitter and in 2010 was shortlisted for Multimedia Publisher of the Year.
This course is aimed at graduates with some production experience, whether that is in journalism, media or programming, and you will benefit from learning alongside students with a range of skills, from those with backgrounds in print and broadcast journalism to bloggers and online community founders, and web developers. One of the distinctive features of the course is this ‘peer to peer’ learning, as students combine forces to build innovative live online news operations.
In addition, you will be introduced to a range of journalists working in the field, and a large part of the course involves working on a professional journalism project with a live client. Past clients have ranged from the Financial Times to music promoters and the course leader has extensive contacts in media organisations both in the UK and internationally. The course also benefits from the internationally recognised blogging, social media and open data scenes in the Midlands.
Download the Course Programme Specification
Applicants must have proven experience in journalism or media production (for example, video, audio, web production or print). Good spoken and written English are vital. IELTS level 6.5 is a minimum. You should have evidence of your passion for new forms of journalism, along with a strong and inquiring mind and a tendency not to take no for an answer!
Fees and Finance
Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
|Sep 2013||FT||1 year||MA||£5,500 |
|Sep 2013||PT||2 years||MA||£2,750 per year|
Fees for students from non-EU countries?
|Sep 2013||FT||1 year||MA||£10,500 |
The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.
Postgraduate students must find ways of funding their tuition fees and living costs rather than relying on government grants and loans. We offer further information on possible financial support.
University Approach to Employability
Our close links with business and the professions mean that our courses are always relevant, up-to-date and meet the exact needs of the current marketplace. Wherever possible, we involve employers in planning the curriculum, while many of our lecturers come from and maintain their links with industry, ensuring they are up to speed with the latest developments.
Employability will be an integral outcome of your studies.
Graduates of the MA in Online Journalism will not only have the skills to be online journalists, but will be able to help shape the future of journalism, whether in a print, broadcast or online organisation.
As journalists, the highly-skilled practitioners will be able to find stories from alternative sources, verify the information and tell them using a range of platforms – and with the involvement of the community.
Those graduating from the course to enter the online profession will have a greater understanding about the future of online journalism.
Having built-up and maintained a number of valuable contacts while on the course – not least through the consultancy experience – graduates will be ready to take their skills into the workplace, either in a strategic capacity or establishing a news start-up.
The Birmingham School of Media enjoys close ties with the regional and national press, and broadcast media.
All students on the course will be expected to undertake an ongoing “consultancy-style” role with a news organisation, which must amount to at least 15 days of work.
A number of major broadcasters, national and regional news organisations in the UK and internationally have already expressed an interest in working with students on this course.
For anyone interested in taking their research interests forward into an MPhil or PhD speak to the course director about your particular area of expertise.
The emphasis of the course is in learning by doing, and you will be launching a journalism-driven website within two weeks of beginning the course. This can be anything from a hyperlocal news project to an international online magazine. You will also explore potential business models for a journalism enterprise.
Online journalism is a broad field, and you will learn about:
- Writing and producing multimedia for the web, including search engine and social media optimisation (SEO and SMO)
- Mobile journalism and live blogging
- Using social media for effective newsgathering and distribution
- Mapping, visualisation and interactivity
- Computer Assisted Reporting (CAR) and data journalism
- Organising a virtual newsroom
- Blogging and content management systems
- Law and online journalism
- Managing user generated content
- Podcasting and audio slideshows
- Online video and streaming
You will meet with your tutors in small classes and in individual tutorials, and you will work in small groups with other students on practical tasks. A wide range of relevant speakers from industry take part in sessions, and there are also trips to newsrooms at the cutting edge of the field, and industry events. Past speakers include The Times’ Jo Geary, Julian Burgess and Jonny Richards; Trinity Mirror’s Alison Gow and David Higgerson; The Telegraph’s Kate Day; Ventnor Blog founder Simon Perry; former Birmingham Post editor Marc Reeves; and The Guardian’s Sarah Hartley. Students have visited the integrated newsrooms at The Telegraph and BBC, the interactive teams at the BBC and FT, and seen how IPC Magazines organise online operations at NME and Wallpaper.
The course is designed to take you from a breadth of skills in online journalism, to developing in-depth abilities in one particular area: online video, audio, interactivity or data journalism.
In addition, you will develop a deep academic knowledge of your field which will inform, and be informed by, ongoing professional work. This specialist knowledge is intended to make you particularly employable for organisations wanting people who can adapt to a fast-changing media environment.
By the end of the course it is expected that you will not only have Masters-level understanding of online journalism skills, but that you will have established a reputation for yourself in the field through your work - whether that is in multimedia production, data journalism, community management, newsroom organisation, or innovative business models for supporting journalism.
Online Journalism (30 Credits)
This production module explores a range of online and mobile journalism skills, as well as emerging legal and ethical issues. You will be running a live journalism operation, building contacts in your field and learning from those at the cutting edge of their industry, as well as each other.
In addition, an ‘experimental’ element of the module forces you to research and experiment with an area of online journalism that has particular potential for you professionally, developing your public profile in the field on the way.
Enterprise (30 Credits)
This module explores entrepreneurial techniques, processes and practices. You will put ideas into practice, develop a strong sense of your professional development needs, be involved in creating networks (in and outside the university) and refine an action-orientated approach.
By focusing on a spirit of entrepreneurship, we will encourage you to take ownership of your own personal professional development. You will identify industry challenges appropriate to your award, and turn them into opportunities for you to enhance your independence, confidence, networking capacity and strategic thinking. This will encourage you to become a reflective creative worker.
Multimedia Journalism (30 Credits)
This production module focuses on developing specialist skills in one or more of four areas: online video, online audio, interactivity, and data journalism. Students research their chosen field and experiment with innovation. They are encouraged to join communities of practice to build knowledge, contacts, and profile.
Production Lab (30 Credits)
This module prepares you for MA by Practice by encouraging you to innovate, and to apply and experiment with a range of production skills and intellectual ideas appropriate to your award, supported by a systematic exploration of methods for research or production development. The work here is done in partnership with a live industry client based on an identified contemporary challenge facing online journalism.
MA by Practice (60 Credits)
To complete your award, you will originate, execute and deliver an individual and extended practice-based professional project at the forefront of your field.
You will develop and consolidate your mastery of key skills, and knowledge of and engagement with current opportunities in the field of production. This modules encourages and tests skills of initiative and independent practice and is conducted largely outside the classroom with support from a tutor.
Assessments usually emphasise scholarly or professional practice through which the key learning objectives are tested. Three weeks are set aside for assessment work.
Paul Bradshaw is a Reader in Online Journalism at the School of Media. He joined the University in 2001 with a background in magazines and editorial website management. His expertise lies in online journalism and his Online Journalism Blog is one of the most widely-read authorities on the subject. In addition he also runs a website for ‘crowdsourcing’ investigative journalism: Help Me Investigate.com.
The news industry is changing rapidly and Paul Bradshaw is at the helm, helping to steer those changes. Unwittingly, he has become one of the world’s leading voices about social media after writing a series of articles online about the model for the 21st century newsroom.
Written as a challenge to the newspaper and media industry, the articles have been picked up by organisations across the world and used as a model of excellence to build their multi-platform operations.
Paul was approached by dozens of organisations, including a television station in Brazil and industry leaders in Norway, Ukraine, USA, as well as from across the UK.
Paul admitted he was surprised by the reaction to the articles, which total about 10,000 words. He was expecting them to be used as a discussion point. “As someone who prefers to be challenged and to challenge other people, in some ways it was disappointing that they were just picked up and used.”
His links with industry – and delivering talks to industry leaders on the subject of the future of journalism - are helping to shape the future of journalism globally and he is passionate about helping traditional forms of media to experiment and look at new ways of communicating and delivering the news.
What excites Paul is the shift in power from traditional media outlets delivering the news to the online possibilities that allow “ordinary” people to become empowered and communicate directly with the outside world on matters that are important to them. “We have a wave of start-ups that are beginning with a blank canvas and are battling with the established powers.
“These start-ups don’t have the ear of the powerful, but they have an efficient way of doing things and are inviting their audience to take part in it.
“There are tremendous opportunities for new journalism: exploring the way they tell stories, find them, distribute them and the way we can engage in the stories. That’s what I find most interesting. It is incredibly empowering. There shouldn’t be passive consumption of news anymore.”
Among the social media project Paul has been involved with is the JEECamp, an “unconference” for those involved with the media, exploring how you can make a living from it in a world of free information.
A second one was held in May, it attracted people from the traditional areas of journalism, as well as entrepreneurs and experimenters with multi-media.
At Birmingham City University, Paul has developed an MA in online journalism to address the rapidly changing world of the industry. Students on this “course without walls” will study business models for online journalism, newsgathering and production, distribution, as well as experimentation.
The course, which launched in 2009, is unique among journalism courses offered in the country. It is another example of how the University is innovating, leading the way and providing courses that are relevant to today’s changing society.
“Birmingham is a significant place nationally and internationally in the way the creative community operates, which makes it such a great place to be. I’ve had offers to go elsewhere, but the city is special and is far more interesting than other places.
“It is important for the University to be part of that. It is a phenomenally important part of the local economy and engaging with the community is what we should be doing.”
Prospective students from the UK or EU
- Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
- If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
- Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from non-EU countries
- International enquirers from non-EU countries may enquire via the International Enquiry Form.
- Alternatively, call us +44 (0)121 331 6714.
Birmingham School of Media
Birmingham City University
City North Campus
Telephone: +44 (0)121 331 6618
Fax: +44 (0)121 331 6501