Postgraduate Taught › Data Journalism - MA / PgCert
Work from Data Journalism
Work from Data Journalism
Work from Data Journalism
A cartogram showing the winning political parties within areas of Barcelona
A cartogram showing the winning political party per county within Spain
A graph showing the gender of the top political candidates within Spain

Data Journalism - MA / PgCert

Currently viewing course to start in 2023/24 Entry. Switch to 2022/23 Entry

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....

  • Level Postgraduate Taught
  • Study mode Full Time/Part Time
  • Location City Centre
  • Award MA / PgCert
  • Start date September 2023
  • School Birmingham School of Media
  • Faculty Faculty of Arts, Design and Media

Overview

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 has relationships with Huffpost and the BBC, 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.

This course is open to International students.

What's covered in this 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 wider data communities as you make a name for yourself in your chosen sector. Previous students have worked with organisations including the BBC, ITV News, Bureau Local, The Guardian, FullFact and the European Data Journalism Network.

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 course have gone on to work as data journalists, data designers, digital editors and journalism consultants.

I honestly couldn't have done my job without the MA: I'm using R constantly and a lot of OpenRefine. The course taught me which sources I’d need to use to find data and how to accurately report what the figures mean.

Carmen Aguilar García, Data Journalist at Sky News

Why Choose Us?

  • Our unique partnership with HuffPost UK will give you the chance to receive tutorials and masterclasses from the HuffPost UK team, as well opportunities for placements and visits to their bureaus.
  • Course leader Paul Bradshaw is a leading innovator in the field of online journalism. An experienced and practising journalist who works with the BBC 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.
  • The course has relationships with newspaper publishers and 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.
  • This is the only course in the UK to be part of the Global Investigative Journalism Network, due to its excellence in the field.
  • Birmingham is the base of the BBC'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

Studying with us during the Covid-19 pandemic

The University has put in place measures in response to Covid-19 to allow us to safely deliver our courses. Should the impact of the pandemic continue in future years, any additional or alternative arrangements put in place by the University will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.

Open Days

Join us for an on-campus Open Day where you'll be able to explore our campus and facilities in person. You'll be able to hear more about your chosen subject area from our academics.

Register your interest

Entry Requirements

Essential Requirements 
Essential

You should have a 2:1 or higher in a related discipline from any UK university.

IELTS overall 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in each band.

International Students

Entry requirements here

Fees & How to Apply

Please select your student status to view fees and apply
  • UK Student
  • International Student

UK students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Award: PgCert

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

International students

Annual and modular tuition fees shown are applicable to the first year of study. The University reserves the right to increase fees for subsequent years of study in line with increases in inflation (capped at 5%) or to reflect changes in Government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament. View fees for continuing students.

Award: MA

Starting: Sep 2023

  • Mode
  • Duration
  • Fees

Access to computer equipment

You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.

Printing

You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.

Field trips

All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.

Access to Microsoft Office 365

Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.

Key software

You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.

Key subscriptions

Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.

Free access to Rosetta Stone

All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.

Specialist equipment (mandatory)

This course requires the purchase of specialist equipment, including a laptop capable of storing large datasets and running spreadsheet software and/or software such as Rstudio and Open Refine.

Excess printing (optional)

Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.

Books (optional)

All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.

Placement expenses (optional)

If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.

Field trips (optional)

This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.

Memberships (optional)

You may wish to join a union or professional body related to this course.

Applications (optional)

You may want to experiment with apps that aid your production, some of which may have a cost associated.

Personal stationery and study materials (optional)

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £30 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials.

Accommodation and living costs

The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.

Personal statement

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.

Course in Depth

MA modules

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 140 credits):

Major Project: Media 60 credits

In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.

Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.

PgCert modules

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.

The PGCert version of the course consists of 60 credits of study completed across three semesters covering 12 months. The credits are obtained on three modules: Data Journalism in semester 1, and both Specialist Journalism, Investigations and Coding and Law, Regulation and Institutions in semester 2, with deadlines for those staggered across semester 2 and a final summer semester. This allows students to focus on building cutting edge skills in data journalism and investigation alongside their current employment.

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

Student stories

Victoria Oliveres 1

Victoria Oliveres

Scooped a £4000 prize in the 360 Giving data visualisation competition


"As part of a competition launched by 360Giving I built a data visualisation that showed themes, amounts and organisations funded by grant makers. My tutor Paul shared the competition details and he’s always encouraging us to try new things, so I thought it would be a good way to practise and develop some of the visualisation skills we’ve learned. When my work was selected as one of the winners I felt so happy and euphoric! I couldn't believe it as I wasn't an expert in this field and was awarded £4000!"

Jonny Jacobson

Jonny Jacobsen

Part of Jonny’s final project was published in the Royal Statistical Society’s magazine, Significance


"I wrote a first draft during my two-week RSS work placement in London and developed it further over the summer, interviewing key sources in London, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The main article ran in the October issue of the RSS magazine, Significance. I also published a separate piece in The Daily Mirror on some scandalous British Coal memos I found in the National Archives."

Employability

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 on the MA can choose to undertake an industry placement, work with a client on a project or research entrepreneurship in practice. Previous students have undertaken placements or projects with clients including the BBC, The Guardian, the Open Knowledge Foundation, The European Data Journalism Network, the Royal Statistical Society, and the Centre for Investigative Journalism.

More about our placement opportunities

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.


Our graduates

Carmen Aguilar Garcia

Carmen was employed by Sky News in 2018 and was the first Data Journalist at the company. Her role involves working on data stories with other reporters for digital and TV.


“Honestly, I couldn't have done this job without the MA, because I'm using R constantly and a lot OpenRefine. The course taught me which sources I’d need to use to find data and how to accurately report what the figures mean.

I chose to study at Birmingham City University because the course curriculum really stood out to me, along with the expertise and career path of the course leader. I would say the highlight was the industry events we attended and my advice to students would be to take advantage of the different events, hackdays, conferences and work placement opportunities.”

International

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.

Facilities & Staff

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 £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.

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.

Our staff

Paul Bradshaw

Course Leader (MA Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism)

Paul Bradshaw leads both the MA in Data Journalism and the MA in Multiplatform and Mobile Journalism at Birmingham City University, and works as a consultant data journalist in the BBC England data unit. He is also the founder of the investigative journalism crowdsourcing site, Help Me Investigate, which was shortlisted in...

More about Paul

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.

More about Diane

Marverine Duffy

Director of Journalism Courses and Senior Lecturer

As a News Anchor for world-renowned international rolling news channel, Sky News, Marverine handled countless major breaking news stories, broadcasting to an audience of millions worldwide, presenting its nightly 5-hour 'World News and Business Report' programme. She’s also been a Newsreader and Reporter for the BBC, ITV News, and 5 News....

More about Marverine

Nina Robinson

Lecturer BA Hons Journalism courses, Foundation courses, and MA Mobile & Multiplatform Journalism

Nina Robinson delivers Mobile and Multiplatform Journalism lectures to Masters and BA Hons Journalism to undergraduate students at Birmingham City University, home to the Sir Lenny Henry Centre for Media Diversity for whom she has been a recipient of grant funding for research into diversity of senior leaders in Radio News and has also written for...

More about Nina

Dave Harte

Deputy Head of School and Associate Professor in Journalism and Media Studies

Dave Harte is Associate Professor in Journalism and Media Studies. He researches the emerging trend of local community ‘hyperlocal’ news websites and has published widely on the subject. Within the School of Media he leads on teaching and learning initiatives and teaches modules on Journalism Studies, Social Media, and Alternative and Community...

More about Dave

Dr Sarah Wood

Head of Birmingham Institute of Media and English

Sarah Wood holds degrees from JMU, the University of Liverpool, and Birmingham City University, where she gained her PhD. Her research interests are in feminism and science fiction. She has an article on Octavia Butler forthcoming in FEMSPEC and is working on further studies of Butler as well as of Nalo Hopkinson and slave narrative.

More about Sarah