The London School of Journalism

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 24th edition, issued in June 2018 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

The course ends in an 'open-book' exam which accounts for 50% of your final grade.  Your assignments, submitted during your course, account for the other 50%.

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
Lesson 2: Crime & The Courts
Reporting the courts
Children in court
Lesson 3: Reporting the courts 1
Preliminary hearings
Children in adult court
Anti-social behaviour orders
Family courts
Lesson 4:  Reporting the courts 2
Crown Court trials
Sexual offences
Lesson 5:  Libel risks
Defamation Acts 1996/2013
Internet libel
What the claimant must prove
Identification issues
Lesson 6:  Libel defences
Honest comment
Absolute privilege
Qualified privilege
Public Interest
Other libel defences
Lesson 7:  Contempt of Court
Right to a fair trial
Contempt of Court Act 1981
Court stories
Juries and photographs
Challenging the courts
Lesson 8:  Civil courts, inquests and tribunals
Civil courts
Libel and contempt revision
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
Lesson 10:  Privacy and copyright
Codes of conduct
Privacy law
Copyright law
Trademarks and brands
Lesson 11:  Exam preparation
Youth justice dilemmas
Defamation dilemmas
Contempt dilemmas
Lesson 12:  Law Exam
Law updates
Law exam (including marking and feedback)
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