Data Journalism - MA / PgCert

Attendance:
MA - Full Time
PgCert - Part Time
Starting:
September 2018
Campus:
Fees:
£6,900 for UK/EU Full Time 2018 entry (view all fees)

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.

The course includes partnerships with The Telegraph, Haymarket magazines, Trinity Mirror newspapers in the UK, La Nacion in Argentina and Convoca in Peru, as well as a number of other organisations covering broadcast, online and print data journalism, all of which are keen to bring in the skills that you will be developing on the course. You should indicate on your application in you wish to be considered for opportunities with those organisations during the course.

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.

What's covered in the course?

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

Why Choose Us?

  • Course leader Paul Bradshaw is a leading innovator in the field of online journalism. An experienced and practising journalist who works with the BBC England data unit, he publishes the Online Journalism Blog, has authored a number of books about data journalism, and has a reputation as one of the most influential people in data journalism. Professor Diane Kemp worked for BBC radio and television as a broadcaster, reporter and producer and for a number of commercial radio stations before joining the University. Bob Calver has more than four decades of journalistic experience across the BBC, regional newspapers, news websites and magazines, one of which he also owns and publishes. Jon Hickman has worked on interactive projects with news organisations, and Yemisi Akinbobola won the CNN MultiChoice African Journalist Award for her data-driven investigation into football agents.
  • The course has partnerships with newspaper publishers, broadcast data teams both in the UK and internationally, a number of magazine brands covering both consumer and business media, and two online data operations in South America. The department is also part of Google’s News Lab University Network.
  • Birmingham is the base of the BBC England’s Data Unit as well as the BBC’s shared industry data team, the BBC Academy and BBC Three. Students regularly work with projects involving those teams.
  • You’ll be involved in the annual Data Journalism UK conference, organised by Birmingham City University School of Media and the BBC Academy. It’s a chance to meet and learn from some of the country’s leading data journalists.
  • Graduates have gone on to occupy senior positions in the media as Data Journalist, Data Designer, Stanford University Fellow, and media analyst, and been shortlisted for and won awards.

*Photo by Sara Chaudhry: the Data Journalism UK conference, organised by MA students with the BBC Academy

Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Saturday 4 November 2017, between 12 and 3pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Book your place now

This course is open to International students

Journalism Student Stories

Graduate achieves prestigious Stanford University award

Birmingham City University graduate Barbara Maseda has been awarded a prestigious fellowship at Stanford University. Only 18 journalists and journalism innovators from around the world are selected to receive this fellowship.

Read more 

New £10,280 postgraduate loans

You may be able to take advantage of the government’s plans to make loans of up to £10,280 available for postgraduate study.

More about postgraduate loans

Entry Requirements

UK students
Essential

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.

International Students

Entry requirements here

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2018 FT 1 year £6,900
PgCert Sep 2018 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.

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MA Sep 2018 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 in line with inflation based on the Retail Prices Index or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

Personal statement

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:

Your passion and motivations

Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?

Why this course?

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.

What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?

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.

Relevant academic or work experience

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

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*Non-EU students are not required to submit a personal statement when applying for this course.

Additional costs

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. 

This course is available part-time

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

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?

Postgraduate loans

Modules

Data Journalism
20 credits

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
20 credits

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
20 credits

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
20 credits

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
20 credits

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
60 credits

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
20 credits

The Entrepreneurship in Practice module will give you the confidence to think strategically about your career and build relationships within your chosen field. 

Industry Placement
20 credits

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.


Classroom hours

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.

Classroom projects

Examples of classroom activities you will be involved in include:

  • Data-driven investigations that put a human face and establish the facts on topical issues
  • Live newsrooms within various contexts, from online-only to broadcast newsrooms with associated online presence
  • Experimentation with new forms of storytelling, from virtual reality and bots to interactivity and new social media platforms

Overseas opportunities

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.

Further study

Studying MA Data Journalism can form a platform for further study at PhD level, such as our Media and Cultural Studies PhD research degree. 

Trips and visits

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. 

Placements

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.

More about our placement opportunities...

OpportUNIty

OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

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.

Links to industry

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 jobs

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:

Our students

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.

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

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

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.

Learn more about BCUIC

Parkside and Curzon Buildings

Our Facilities

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.

State-of-the-art facilities

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.

Paul Bradshaw

Course Leader (MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism)

Paul is a leading innovator in the field of online journalism. An experienced and practising journalist, with a background in magazine and website management, he is best known as the publisher of the Online Journalism Blog, described by the UK Press Gazette as one of the country’s “most influential journalism blogs”. He has also contributed to a number of books and has published elearning books. He acts as a consultant and trainer to a number of organisations on social media and data journalism, including the Centre for Investigative Journalism, the Balkan Investigative Reporters Network, and Sky.

Read Paul's full profile

Jon Hickman

Degree Leader, Web and New Media

Jon researches and publishes work on digital culture and creative industries, specifically exploring social media. This work is applied to his role as the Degree Leader for Web and New Media within our undergraduate programmes, and his teaching on the MA Social Media.

His industry experience in new media also makes him a key member of our Knowledge Transfer team.

Prior to joining the Birmingham School of Media and the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural research as an academic, Jon worked in the creative industries in Birmingham for eight years on new media and film production projects. Prior to this he was a student of the School of Media.

One of Jon's first tasks when he joined the Birmingham School of Media was to provide technical assistance to the AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship (KTF) team, helping them to build prototypes as part of their projects. Jon has since led or developed a number of knowledge transfer projects, including several Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) projects and the Digital Champions project for Birmingham City Council.

Jon teaches across a number of programmes in the Birmingham School of Media; specialist areas taught include web and social media production techniques, innovation and enterprise, social media, visual culture, and digital culture.

Jon also leads the BA (Hons) Media and Communication (New Media) degree specialism within the School, including evaluating and developing our courses, as well as networking with industry and recruiting and managing visiting lecturers and guest speakers.

Jon is an external examiner to the PgCert Digital Media Communication at the University of Ulster and to the BA (Hons) Advertising at University College Falmouth.

Previous Experience
  • Knowledge based supervisor, various KTP projects
  • Project management and KT delivery, Digital Champion
  • Local Researcher, Creative Metropoles
  • Reviewer for Higher Education Academy Doctoral Programme
  • Programme Committee, Making Sense of Microposts, 2010-2011
  • Various peer reviews of books and articles
  • External expert for revalidation, Coventry University
  • Chair, Sutton Coldfield Festival of Arts
  • Convenor and Speaker, Digital Britain Unconference - West Midlands
  • AHRC Knowledge Transfer Fellowship, Technical Developer
  • Account Manager and Creative - web and graphic design industry.
Social Media and Websites

Twitter: @jonhickman

Read Jon's full profile

Yemisi Akinbobola

Dr Yemisi Akinbobola

Visiting Lecturer

Yemisi is originally from Ondo State, Nigeria and is a freelance writer for the United Nations Africa Renewal magazine, and founder and editor-in-chief of IQ4News, a collaborative platform for news about Africa, which publishes reports from professional journalists alongside those of citizen journalists, journalism students, bloggers and field experts. Yemisi holds a PhD in Media from Birmingham City University, where she now contributes her expertise as a visiting lecturer.

Professor Diane Kemp

Professor of Broadcast Journalism

Diane worked for BBC radio and television as a broadcaster, reporter and producer and for a number of commercial radio stations before joining the University. She is course director of several postgraduate broadcast journalism courses and is deputy chair of the UK’s national accreditation organisation, the BJTC.

Bob Calver

Senior Lecturer

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.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295