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Media Law

Media Law

This course takes the form of 12 lessons which incorporate reading, writing and revision assignments designed to consolidate your knowledge of the subjects covered.

The course is structured to take account of the difficulties students most frequently encounter in understanding media law and the suggested method of study is based on techniques previous students have found most productive.

The textbook for the course is an invaluable reference book which has become a legal bible for journalists across the country - McNae's Essential Law for Journalists, edited by Tom Welsh and Walter Greenwood. Published by Butterworths, this definitive guide to media law is currently in the 23nd edition, issued in April 2014 and fully updated to take account of changes in the law.

McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists can be purchased from most good bookshops or from

Course content focuses on the law as it applies in England and Wales. The law in Northern Ireland is broadly similar, although students are referred to chapter of 35 of Essential Law, which outlines the main differences. Scotland has its own legal system and any journalists intending to work in Scotland will be required to study Scots law in detail.

Course Syllabus:

  1. Lesson 1: Journalists and the Law

    Course introduction
    Defamation and Contempt
    New media risks
    Rights and Restrictions
    What is a free press?
    Reporting crime stories

  2. Lesson 2: Crime & The Courts

    Reporting the courts
    Children in court

  3. Lesson 3: Reporting the courts 1

    Preliminary hearings
    Children in adult court
    Anti-social behaviour orders
    Family courts

  4. Lesson 4: Reporting the courts 2

    Crown Court trials
    Sexual offences

  5. Lesson 5: Libel risks

    Defamation Acts 1996/2013
    Internet libel
    What the claimant must prove
    Identification issues

  6. Lesson 6: Libel defences

    Honest comment
    Absolute privilege
    Qualified privilege
    Public Interest
    Other libel defences

  7. Lesson 7: Contempt of Court

    Right to a fair trial
    Contempt of Court Act 1981
    Court stories
    Juries and photographs
    Challenging the courts

  8. Lesson 8: Civil courts, inquests and tribunals

    Civil courts
    Libel and contempt revision

  9. Lesson 9: Confidentiality and freedom of information

    Human Rights Act 1998
    Breach of confidence
    Protection of sources
    Official Secrets Acts
    Freedom of Information
    Information from government

  10. Lesson 10: Privacy and copyright

    Codes of conduct
    Privacy law
    Copyright law
    Trademarks and brands

  11. Lesson 11: Exam preparation

    Youth justice dilemmas
    Defamation dilemmas
    Contempt dilemmas

  12. Lesson 12: Law Exam

    Law updates
    Law exam (including marking and feedback)

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