The MA in Data Journalism is a cutting edge course designed to give you the interactive storytelling skills needed to work within a growing number of jobs in the media and beyond.
Studying under internationally renowned course leaders in a city with a vibrant cultural sector, and with access to a range of media organisations, you’ll learn exciting new skills in data journalism and interactive storytelling across a range of contexts, from mobile-first data journalism on social platforms, to practising data driven journalism within online and broadcast newsroom contexts. Partnerships with newspaper, magazine, online and broadcast organisations provide unique opportunities for students to build contacts and experience, and work on live projects.
This practical course is designed to help you respond to work within a range of data journalism roles, from sourcing data, to investigating leads, and communicating your stories in new, engaging ways, in a range of newsroom contexts
Under the guidance of award-winning journalists who have worked with organisations ranging from the BBC and The Bureau of Investigative Journalism to The Guardian and specialist magazines, you’ll develop a keen eye for a story, develop advanced data driven journalism techniques that help you establish the facts, find out how to work within a range of newsroom contexts and tell those stories across a range of platforms.
You’ll get access to some of the industry’s most respected journalists who are working in the field now, learn about the legal, commercial and ethical contexts surrounding the future of journalism, and you’ll have the opportunity to work with with wider data communities as you make a name for yourself in your chosen sector. Previous students have worked with organisations including the BBC, ITN, the Manchester Evening News, Guardian, Carbon Brief, Period Living magazine, Oxfam and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
You’ll have access to the facilities at BCU’s new Parkside campus, including radio and TV studios, and audio and video editing suites. You’ll have access to video and still cameras, audio recording equipment and mobile journalism kits to get out and capture the human side of the story too. You’ll be expected to find and report stories regularly, experimenting with new formats while exploring and testing the latest research into this exciting period in journalism’s development.
As the course progresses you will develop more specialist skills and connect with others already in the industry, building your reputation as you prepare to enter the industry. Graduates of the previous MA Online Journalism course have gone on to work as data journalists, data designers, digital editors, journalism consultants and professors, and media analysts.
"Studying Online Journalism at Birmingham City University was fantastic. It not only provided me with the skills and confidence to transition from a traditional journalism role into an emerging digital sector, but the contacts I made helped me launch my successful infographics and data design company." Caroline Beavon, Data Designer, Consultant and Trainer
*Photo by Sara Chaudhry: the Data Journalism UK conference, organised by MA students with the BBC Academy
You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,280 available for postgraduate study.
You should have a 2:1 or higher in a related discipline from any UK university.
Applicants should submit a portfolio of examples of their media production work. That might include examples of journalism online, in print or video or audio. The more varied this is, the better. If you have any other relevant work, such as photography, web or print design, film making, research, or running online communities, then please include that too.
|MA - New course for 2017/18||Sep 2017||FT||1 year||£6,900|
|PgCert||Sep 2017||PT||8 months||£2,300|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.
|MA - New course for 2017/18||Sep 2017||FT||1 year||£12,000|
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our PDF application form instead.
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.
UK / EU students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.*
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.
You will be expected to report using your mobile phone and laptop, so you will need a good quality handset and a data plan large enough for uploading multimedia. You should also ensure your laptop is powerful enough to run data journalism tools. The course often includes opportunities to visit external events and organisations. These are not compulsory but you may need to be able to cover transport costs where applicable.
If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.
Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.
We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.
Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?
Data journalists need to be able to find the right information, and turn it into a compelling story. In this module you’ll move from core spreadsheet techniques to using coding to find and make interactive stories as you build your speed and adaptability in reporting regularly for a website.
Specialist Journalism, Investigations and Coding
This module provides an opportunity to develop your technical and editorial skills in depth. Focusing on a particular field, you’ll touch on a range of advanced journalism techniques such as network analysis, text mining and scraping, before applying and developing your own skills further on an in-depth story. You will also be encouraged to develop contacts in ‘communities of practice’ around the technical and editorial areas you are particularly interested in, as you begin to build your reputation in those fields.
Narrative: From Media to Interactive Media
Data alone doesn’t tell a story. This module explores a range of skills in turning your data into stories across a range of media, from audio and video to interactivity and social media, as well as the ethical issues that narrative techniques raise. You’ll create a narrative that runs across multiple platforms.
Research in Practice: Newsroom
As newsrooms undergo rapid change research skills and a critical mindset are essential to explore new ways of producing journalism. This module develops both, alongside core methodological and project management skills that aid the successful completion of the MA project, as well as the potential for routes into PhD progression beyond.
Media law, Ethics and Security
Data journalism raises a number of new legal, ethical and security challenges. You will examine the ethical, regulatory and legal debates within which media workers create content including defamation, censorship, human rights law, copyright, privacy, security and contempt and those areas of law that work to protect journalists.
MA by Practice
This is your chance to produce an exceptional piece of original work that showcases your technical knowledge and your online journalism skills. Previous students have established and run new websites, published ebooks and conducted in-depth investigations. They’ve also worked with organisations such as the BBC and have worked as independent freelancers.
You will also choose one of two industry-facing options.
Entrepreneurship in Practice
The Entrepreneurship in Practice module will give you the confidence to think strategically about your career and build relationships within your chosen field.
The Industry Placement option develops professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and critical reflection upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers. The MA Data Journalism has a number of industry partnerships and you will have the opportunity to apply for opportunities with these organisations. Typically, the placement duration is 70 hours.
The MA is completed full time across three semesters covering one year. The first semester focuses on a broad range of skills: you will be introduced to data gathering techniques, computer assisted reporting, and interactivity. You will also explore how to tell stories across different platforms using a range of media, including text, audio, video and visual journalism. You will also be developing an understanding of different research methodologies.
You’ll benefit from a blend of academic learning and practical application, exploring and applying the latest industry and academic research on cutting edge newsgathering, production and distribution techniques. Alongside this you will develop essential understanding of the legal and ethical contexts surrounding modern journalism.
In the second semester you explore data journalism in more depth, developing more advanced coding skills for finding and telling stories, alongside investigation skills and an understanding of law, regulation and security.
The final semester sees you developing a project or dissertation to build your reputation as a practitioner in your field. Previous examples have ranged from live working news websites and documentaries to ebooks, investigations, broadcast packages and portfolios of work for clients.
Masters level study is built around the independent development of the individual’s chosen path. You will be expected to spend around a quarter of your time within classroom activities, across three classes, with the remainder of your time on independent study and practice of the techniques explored. There will also be additional opportunities to participate in newsroom production and events.
Examples of classroom activities you will be involved in include:
The final MA project can be completed from overseas. Previous students have, for example, run a hyperlocal news site based in Canada, built a data project in Portugal, and crowdfunded for an investigative longform ebook from Northern Ireland.
Students on the course are given regular opportunities to attend industry events and newsrooms. These have included hackdays at the Times and BBC, trips to the BBC, Guardian, Telegraph, FT, IPC magazines, the Centre for Investigative Journalism Summer School and the Nordic data journalism conference NODA in Helsinki.
The course focuses on developing graduates at the cutting edge of contemporary professional practice, with a critical knowledge of the field leading practical application.
In addition to specific technical skills, students will also develop highly employable qualities in adapting to new technologies, and work towards building their contacts and reputation in the field. Opportunities to work with industry clients often lead to employment or the establishing of new enterprises.
Students can choose to undertake an industry placement of 72 hours, work with a client on a project or research entrepreneurship in practice. Previous students have undertaken placements or projects with clients including the BBC, Centaur magazines, ITV News, the Birmingham Mail, Manchester Evening News, Birmingham City Council, Oxfam, arts and cultural organisations, and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
The course has strong links across all aspects of the media industry, including online, broadcast, magazines, newspapers, NGOs and new media startups. The school of media hosts the annual industry event Rethink Media, while Paul Bradshaw organises the annual Data Journalism UK conference in the city and is regularly invited to speak at industry events all over the world. The school’s global reputation in multiplatform journalism leads to frequent approaches from media organisations looking for cutting edge expertise or student input into new projects: examples range from Al Jazeera involving students in the design of a ‘news game’ and The Telegraph recruiting students to liveblog news events, to Centaur magazines inviting students to improve their social media performance and the BBC testing out new Snapchat content in class. Every year students attend a hackday at The Times, and one-off hackdays organised with the course include a music festival data hackday, transport data hackday and BBC election hackday.
Graduate employability on the course is extremely high, with alumni working as digital editors, reporters, social media managers, data journalists, data designers, production assistants, UGC reporters, journalism consultants and professors, and media analysts.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
The course regularly attracts Spanish-speaking students and we have a strong network of contacts in the Spanish-speaking world. Previous students have undertaken projects based in Spain and some of the course material is also available in Spanish. Paul Bradshaw is even learning to speak the language!
We have a growing network of contacts in Nigeria: two members of staff – Paul Bradshaw and Yemisi Akinbobola – won the prestigious CNN African Journalist of the Year award for an investigation published in Nigeria, and the pair plan to do more in the region.
Canadian students have done particularly well on the course. Undertaking projects in Canada as part of their studies enabled them to build their reputation in that jobs market. One now teaches journalism in Canada.
International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.
BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses. With an investment of £260 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
Birmingham School of Media is recognised as a key centre of excellence in interactive media training, television production and education by Creative SkillSet, the UK Sector Skills Council for the audio visual industries.
You will learn in our state-of-the-art facilities - including the £62m fully-digital Media Centre - located on the City Centre Campus. You will enjoy access to extensive studio and workshop space including four TV studios, six radio studios and broadcast-standard edit suites, as well as cutting-edge equipment and software.
Facilities include the largest TV floor of any university in the UK, a ‘green screen’ and the MILO motion control camera - we are one of just two universities in Europe to offer MILO technology.
Our four broadcast-standard edit suites are based on the industry-standard Avid editing system, used in almost all films and the majority of UK television. Two of the suites are specialised for Audio Finishing and Colour Grading. Our six digital radio studios are all linked an equipped with the best news and production software.
You will have access to our full broadcast-standard dubbing suites, which are based on a multi-layered ProTools desk and can dub both film and TV with up to 120 simultaneous sound sources. We also have an ADR (Additional Dialogue Recording) booth and the ability to record Foley (additional live sound).
The Parkside Building has been designed to maximise light and encourage collaboration between artists and students. It is the perfect setting for the workshops and teaching spaces of our design courses, as well as the state-of-the-art media centre for the advanced teaching facilities of Birmingham School of Media.
All this ensures that The Parkside Building offers a first class learning environment and a true central location for students in Birmingham City Centre.
Bob has more than four decades of journalistic experience, including 18 years as a reporter, producer and editor with the BBC. He has worked in regional newspapers, for online news sites and for magazines. Alongside his role at the University, where he teaches broadcast journalism and media law to postgraduate students, he edits two magazines - one of which he also owns and publishes. This work forms the basis of his current PhD by practice research.