BA Journalism Studies at Sheffield. The UK's number 1 journalism degree.

Rated number 1 in the UK, Guardian university league tables 2019Develop cutting-edge skills in digital reporting. Break your own news stories. Discover our world-leading research in journalism ethics, censorship, freedom of expression and more.

BA Journalism Studies at Sheffield is a unique degree rated number 1 in the UK. Join us at the top and see journalism's bigger picture.

Overview

Good journalists need traditional skills like spotting big stories and excellent newswriting – and digital skills like video editing and social media. With decades of journalistic experience themselves, our expert staff teach all these techniques superbly.

But Sheffield students don't just become good journalists: they become the best.

They do this because the best journalists aren't just good at working a camera and note-taking in shorthand. The best journalists understand the difference between good and bad journalism. They grasp the responsibilities of their profession – and its rich history. They know that journalism is about right and wrong, war and peace, liberty and democracy. It’s about the life stories of people, societies, and entire continents.

And as a prestigious Russell Group university, where teaching is based on the highest-quality research, our staff are living, breathing and teaching these ideas. And that's what's special about journalism studies at Sheffield: we don't just teach you how – we show you why. The technical skills and the reasons journalism matters.

That's why Sheffield journalists are the best. Join us and follow recent graduates who are working for the BBC, Press Association, Bloomberg, The Guardian and media all over the world.

Many universities can teach you journalism. Sheffield will show you journalism's bigger picture.

UCAS code
P500

Entry requirement
A Level grades ABB
Other qualifications

Duration
3 years full-time

Professional accreditation
National Council for the Training of Journalists
Professional Publishers Association

Your degree in depth

Students taking notes in a lectureAs you'd expect from a Russell Group university, the BA Journalism Studies degree is intellectually demanding.

The best journalists grapple with the complex legal and moral issues around their work. They need the brain power to make tough decisions in an instant and call it right every time. You'll need to prepare for this by getting stuck in to the heavyweight academic content on the course.

We'll also equip you with practical skills like framing a camera shot, shorthand (still a vital tool in journalists' locker) and editing digital audio and video. You'll learn to write sharp, attention-grabbing copy, structure news bulletins and use social media like a pro.

But it doesn't end there. You'll need to go out and uncover stories for yourself, attending council meetings and court cases, and making contacts in your 'patch'. Then with your team you'll turn your stories into TV, radio and web content back here in our newsrooms, meeting real deadlines to break the news.

So you’ll need initiative, persistence and imagination to be successful on the course – and as a journalist. It's no easy ride and we know it's asking a lot. But don't be put off. If you get a place on the course, it means you're good enough.

Course modules

Teaching on our degree courses is organised into modules. Each module is a programme of study concerning a particular aspect of journalism, media and communication. Modules all have their own particular reading lists, timetables of lectures and workshops, and systems of assessment (exams, coursework and so on).

All the content you'll cover in the first year of the degree is combined into an amazing new module called Essential Journalism. In your second and third years, core modules cover more of the fundamental skills and knowledge; while optional modules allow you to shape the degree to your career goals or research interests, such as investigative journalism, storytelling with data, or advanced broadcast production.

See below for more about each year and module.

If you are a student at the University of Sheffield based in another department but taking one of our modules, or you are joining us from another university on the Erasmus scheme, please refer to this module list.

Year 1

Essential Journalism

Our brand new course content features an innovative programme of teaching in year 1 which combines all the basics of media skills and knowledge into a single, far-reaching module called Essential Journalism. It's Sheffield's unique way of introducing you to journalism's bigger picture.

This programme will start to develop your news writing, interviewing, production and academic skills. You'll learn how to structure news stories, and source and use quotes. You'll get a grounding in how to use social media like a pro.

You'll also start to build a deeper understanding of how journalism works both in the UK and internationally. We'll begin to show you key themes that are developed later on in the degree, such as media law and ethics, and analysing information.

We'll also introduce you to some significant debates in the wider world of the media – journalism and politics; media freedom; journalism and society; audiences; technology and innovation in journalism; and analysing news agendas.


Two undergraduates with a video camera filming on a street in SheffieldWhy a single module? The world is an increasingly complex place and nothing exists in isolation. The debate around 'fake news', for example, encompasses issues in politics, technology, society, ethics and beyond.

And when you're pushing a deadline in the newsroom, out on the streets chasing a story, or interviewing in front of the cameras, you'll need to make the right decision in an instant.

You have to push hard to break big news, and you have to be certain that you're doing the right thing. To be capable of quick, joined-up thinking, to understand the bigger picture, to choose the most effective words and images, and to combine your technical skills across all strands of digital media.

The best way to explore interconnected concerns, and develop interconnected skills, is through an interconnected way of learning. So if you want to be a great journalist, we believe Essential Journalism is an essential first step.

Year 2

Core modules

You'll study all of the following modules in year 2.

Media Law for Journalists

At Sheffield we're committed to promoting journalism that respects ethical and legal boundaries. In this module you'll learn the essentials of media law in England and Wales and regulatory codes applying across the UK.

The laws cover issues like defamation, privacy and court reporting; while the codes address journalistic standards generally, including protection of people’s privacy and confidential sources. You'll discover how the freedom to find and publish certain stories in the UK can be justified in the interests of human rights and the public interest.

Court Reporting

Court reporting is a vital skill for journalists which needs particular expertise. In this module we'll introduce you to the skills required to write news reports on the judicial process as it happens.

To do this you'll go along to Sheffield courtrooms to make notes on real cases for your reports. We'll give you feedback on your notes, drafts and final stories, helping to develop your accuracy at note-taking and ability to file a report quickly to hit your deadlines.

Live News Production

In this module we'll work on your media production techniques across various digital platforms and formats, so you'll become a journalistic all-rounder with a far-reaching skill set.

You'll learn to work on your own initiative and as part of a team, in a fast-paced newsday production environment and on longer, more detailed projects such as features, documentaries and portfolios. You'll also make connections to other modules, showing that you can work to media industry guidelines and be aware of the academic theory that underpins your learning.

Optional modules

You'll choose one of the following modules in year 2.

Journalism: Critical Discourse Approaches

In this module we look at how issues like gender, ethnicity, social exclusion, migration and national identity are represented in the media. In particular, what is the effect of the language choices made by journalists and editors? How are international events and communities of 'outsiders' conveyed to national readerships?

You'll also learn how to do research by querying the vast Lexis database of texts in order to gather material for your final assessment.

Journalism and Political Communication

When a journalist covers a political event or process, their work doesn't just reflect the world: it also reshapes it. So does the media help to inform and clarify, or can it mislead and confuse?

In this module you'll discover just how that works, by looking at how political communication in the UK and internationally can influence democratic processes and the way they're perceived and understood by the people watching, listening to and reading the news.

Introduction to Investigative Journalism

When a journalist undertakes a deeper investigation on a particular subject, the skills and knowledge they need go deeper too. The module offers you a grounding in those skill sets, methodology and knowledge needed for investigative journalism, including use of the Freedom of Information Act. Once those are in place, you'll put them to use by planning and carrying out an investigation of your own.

Data-Driven Storytelling

The use of data is becoming an increasingly important technique for journalists. Established media institutions such as The New York Times, The Guardian and Press Association already have units that specialise in data journalism, and the next generation of media professionals will need to appreciate how data can be verified and used both to find stories and to tell stories.

This module is designed to make you confident and comfortable in working with data – and to expand your toolkit with data-driven, analytic and investigative journalism.

Alternatively, you can choose a module taught by another department in the University, as long as it has places available and no prerequisite study (ie. it doesn't require you to have studied another module beforehand).

Year 3

Core modules

You'll study all of the following modules in year 3.

Magazine Journalism and Production

Magazine journalism is a thriving section of the media industry which calls for particular skills in production, planning and marketing. In this module you'll work as part of a group to create and launch your own multimedia magazine brand for a specific target market.

We'll show you how to write and design the magazine as well as creating digital and social content and appropriate multimedia and commissioning content from colleagues. You'll do market research, analysising competitors and producing a business plan to demonstrate the commercial potential of your brand. Your team-working skills will develop as you learn to deal with different personalities and skill sets professionally as you produce a magazine that is the sum of all your work.

Final Project

In this module you'll have the chance to choose an issue that captures your imagination and run with it. The Final Project is a substantial piece of work which either analyses an issue in journalism, or is a piece of journalism publishable on a platform of your choice.

Under the guidance of a named supervisor you can select your own topic, and in the process you'll see how almost any issue can be investigated and researched from a journalistic and academic perspective. You'll be able to make an informed choice about the nature of your project in relation to your own strengths and ambitions.

Optional modules set 1

You'll choose one of the following modules in year 3.

Specialist Reporting

Many journalists, at some point in their careers, become specialists in subjects such as health, education, crime or politics. This module aims to coach, support and develop the skills required in specialist reporting. Study this module and we'll show you how to report more creatively and analytically on a particular topic and develop off-diary news-gathering abilities to appeal to both regional and national, and international audiences.

Television and Radio Live Production

The module covers the production of individual radio packages including pitching story ideas, and using sound and audio imaginatively to create radio packages. You'll be part of a team producing a television news magazine-style programme, where you'll put together longer TV news packages and special reports over a number of weeks.

Optional modules set 2

You'll choose one of the following modules in year 3.

Alternative Journalism

People can increasingly be heard discussing the 'mainstream media', but what sort of journalistic practices and products fall outside of that description? Study this module and you'll discover what's come to be known as 'alternative media': from the working-class press of the industrial revolution to anti-capitalist websites and oppositional social media of today.

You'll also get to compare journalistic practices between mainstream and alternative media, which helps to deepen your understanding of journalism as reflective practice.

Free Speech and Censorship

The subjects of freedom of speech and censorship have been at the forefront of philosophical and political debate for centuries. For journalists, debates about these issues are central to their obligations and role in democratic societies. Free Speech and Censorship looks at the history, current status, and limits on the liberty of the media. You'll look at topics like the philosophies of free speech; the history and significance of free speech; debates about harm and offence; the political economy of censorship; privacy and surveillance; censorship during war and informal censorship.

History of Journalism: Continuities and Contrasts

This module explores the fascinating international history of journalism and its changing definitions and strategies. It looks at the shaping of political reporting in the English Civil War and the American War of Independence, early 19th-century radical traditions of journalism, reader engagement, the
commercial popular press in America and Britain, and the difference between reporting and advocacy.

If you study this module you'll also compare different approaches to the coverage of particular events, such as women winning the right to vote. You'll learn how to use archives to assist your research.

Alternatively, you can choose a module taught by another department in the University, as long as it has places available and no prerequisite study (ie. it doesn't require you to have studied another module beforehand).

Your career

Your talent. Our reputation. And double accreditation for your degree, from the National Council for the Training of Journalists and Professional Publishers Association. It's a powerful combination, giving you serious clout in the jobs market when you graduate. Employers know a Sheffield graduate can make a world-class media professional.

Our close links with the media industry give us a direct line to newsrooms and editors. So we know what employers look for in journalism graduates – and we shape the practical content of the degree to meet their needs and yours.

Print may be a medium in decline, but more people than ever are accessing journalism in a range of formats. That's why our students become experts in digital content and multimedia – and why our graduates are so successful in the workplace.

Since 2012 alone, graduates from BA Journalism Studies have gone on to roles with the BBC, Bloomberg, the Press Association, a range of national magazines, local television and radio, regional newspapers and high-profile titles such as the Daily Mail and Guardian.

Martha KelnerGraduate case study

Martha Kelner, Sky News

  • Graduated 2011
  • Joined trainee scheme with Daily Mail; worked on secondment for Manchester Evening News
  • Reported on London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic games
  • Young Sportswriter of the Year 2013; nominated for British Press Award
  • Regular guest on TV and radio including BBC 5Live and BT Sport
  • Joined The Guardian as Chief Sports Reporter in 2017, moved to Sky in 2018

"I think the practical elements of the course were the most useful for me – being allocated a patch of the city to cover allowed me to experience real reporting for the first time, building up a contacts base and learning to recognise good news stories.

"I still find having a working knowledge of media law helps on a week-to-week basis because although the lawyers are on hand it is useful to have a good grasp on the legal implications of what you are writing. Even in sport you can often be asked to cover court cases so having experience of court reporting is invaluable.

"In the final year for my print portfolio I did a piece on the remaining survivors of the Holocaust and visited a few of them at the Beth Shalom Holocaust Centre in Nottingham. Getting my teeth stuck into a subject is something I enjoy doing now but don’t often get as much time to do so as I did at Sheffield."

How we help

1. Journalism careers days

  • At our journalism careers days you'll come face to face with media industry insiders. You'll get hot career tips from those in the know, and a chance to start building your professional network before you even start job-hunting for real.

2. Work experience placements

  • Our dedicated work placements officer is here to fix you up with employment experience which suits you and your interests. We hand-pick the employers to make sure you get a meaningful placement which develops your skills.

Visit our students' work placement blog

See our students' latest tweets about their work experience

3. The Careers Service

  • The University's brilliant Careers Service is here to provide support throughout your time with us – and even after you graduate!

Keep your options open

A degree in journalism studies doesn't just mean a job in journalism. The skills you'll learn on the course are transferable to many other vocational pathways. Students sometimes decide they’d like to pursue other careers where adeptness with language, empathy, and interpersonal skills are vital.

Many work in public relations, communications and marketing. Some become social media specialists. Others are teachers, authors and researchers. Recent graduates are working in roles like these with employers like Aviva, Centerparcs, Asda, Oxford University Press, police and local authorities.

The latest data

88%

of graduates in work or further study

82%

of graduates in graduate-level work or further study

£20,000

average salary

Employers

include BBC Manchester, Bauer Media, Daily Mail, Newsquest

Data from our 2017 graduates, approximately six months after graduation

Open days

Reading up about journalism degrees is all well and good. But choosing a university is about more than module outlines and rankings. It has to feel right too. And to get a proper feel for a university and see if it's right for you, it's best to get along to an open day.

There are two kinds of open days you'll experience if you apply for a place in the Department of Journalism Studies.

First there's the University open day, then there's the Experience Journalism day here in the department.

Students at an open dayUniversity open days

You'll come to a University open day first, usually before you apply. These run from early summer through to autumn (typically June to October).

Book a place and you can take a look around the University campus and Students' Union and look at our accommodation. They're a great way to get a general feel for the University and the city of Sheffield. If you're interested in studying with us, this is the place to start.

Dates, more information and booking

Experience Journalism days

If you apply and we offer you a place on our BA Journalism Studies course, you'll be invited back to Sheffield for an Experience Journalism day (sometimes called a "department open day").

Experience Journalism days are different from the University open day. In the morning, an exhibition at the Students' Union offers another chance to look again at University facilities. But after lunch you'll visit the Department of Journalism Studies. You'll get to meet your tutors and other Sheffield journalism students, look around your facilities and ask questions specifically about your course. It's the best way to get a real taste of life here in the department and help you make a final decision on which university suits you best.

Maps, directions and travel advice Support for international students

Applying

If you've decided the UK's number 1 journalism degree is for you, please apply for your place at Sheffield through UCAS.

BA Journalism Studies on UCAS

Entry requirements

Demand is high for places on our degree in Journalism Studies – so we have to set the bar high. Our standard entry requirement is grades ABB at A Level. If you're not taking A Levels, please see our equivalent grades for other qualifications.

Foundation year

An alternative way in is through the Foundation Year option, which offers people with non-standard entry qualifications a thorough and supportive academic preparation for successful degree-level study. This route can be especially suitable for mature students.

BA Journalism Studies with Foundation Year

Firm or insurance choice?

Some universities may make you an unconditional offer based on your predicted A Level grades, as long as you make them your firm choice.

At Sheffield we don't think that's the right thing to do. Our advice? Aim high. If Sheffield is your top choice, firm us. If you're good enough, you'll make the grade.

International students

The University of Sheffield is recognised as one of the most internationally focused universities in the world. Our #WeAreInternational campaign celebrates the contribution made to academic and city life by the 6,700 international students, from 150 countries, who have joined us here in Sheffield.

If English is not your first language, you'll need an IELTS score of 7.0 with a minimum of 7.0 in all sections (or equivalent).

Information from our International Office

Pathway programmes

Our International College provides international students with pathway programmes for progression to degree study at the University.

International Foundation Year

Fees & funding

Tuition fees for UK and European Union students are given on the University of Sheffield's webpages for undergraduates.

Tuition fees (UK/EU)

Tuition fees for international students can be found on the University's webpages for international students.

Tuition fees (international)

There is no additional charge for your first sitting of external exams administered by the National Council for the Training of Journalists – this cost is covered by the Department of Journalism Studies. If you resit the exams, however, you will need to pay the fees.

We will also pay the expenses (eg for travel) that you incur in reporting from your 'patch' when you go out into the city to find stories.

CalculatorStudent funding calculator

The University of Sheffield runs several schemes to help you fund your studies and enhance your learning experience. You can use the University's student funding calculator to find out which awards you could be eligible for.

Student funding calculator


Scholarship ChallengeScholarship Challenge

The University of Sheffield is looking for talented students with the potential to influence the world around them for the better. If this is you, just answer the following question for your chance to be awarded one of 25 scholarships of a year's free accommodation:

How would you use the influence and expertise you will gain at the University of Sheffield to change something in your community?

How to apply


International students

A range of scholarships are available for international students of high academic ability. Find out if you are eligible for a scholarship and how to apply by visiting the University of Sheffield's webpages for international students. 

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

Global Scholars

The University of Sheffield will pay your air fare to an overseas summer school, as well as tuition and accommodation while you are there. This scheme is part of the Sheffield Scholars programme.

Find out more

Sheffield Bursary Scheme

You may benefit from a bursary, which is the same as a grant, so you don't have to pay this money back, unless your circumstances change.

Find out more

Alumni Fund

These scholarships are funded by donations from alumni and friends of the University from around the world.

Find out more

Financial support

If you experience hardship while you are studying, you can apply for financial support from the University of Sheffield.

Find out more

FAQs

What are the entry requirements for the course?

Our standard entry requirement is A Level grades ABB. In some years a limited number of places may be available through Clearing to impressive students who narrowly miss out on these grades, or who have achieved them after a lower prediction.

Please see our equivalent grade requirements for qualifications other than A Level.

If you're interested in the course but don't have regular qualifications (particularly if you're looking to join us as a mature student), then BA Journalism Studies with Foundation Year may be your best option.

Do you recommend any subjects for A Level, A/S Level or Highers?

No. Our advice is to study what interests you, the subjects you find the most compelling. We want students with the ability to dig deep into a wide range of topics, but we do not need you to have begun already to explore journalism. Media studies is not an advantage.

Do I need any other qualifications?

Spell accurately and use grammar correctly. Otherwise, no. The most important section of your application is the personal statement. It should state clearly why you want to study journalism and it should explain that you know something about the work of the central figure in journalism – the reporter. Try to gain some work experience in a newsroom. Often the best experience is gained in small weekly newspaper offices, but local radio, free newspapers and hospital radio can all give you some idea of the reporter's job.

Will it help if I've already had some experience of journalism?

If you have already had journalistic work published or broadcast, or if you have produced a blog or podcast, or anything else that may be relevant, we would like to see it. Please send us links to your work online, or clips of your work in print or broadcast media. But if you have not had any previous experience in journalism or the media, please don't be deterred from applying. We would still like to hear from you and will treat your application on its merits.

Is there anything I can do to enhance my application?

You can apply only through UCAS. But the UCAS form does not have to be your only application. For example, you may have stories published in your local newspaper. Send them. If you complete work experience, ask your supervisor to write a reference – and tell them you are applying to a course accredited by the NCTJ. Persistence is a journalistic virtue we welcome in applications for admission.

Another university has made me an unconditional offer, if I make it my firm choice. If I firm the other university and make Sheffield my insurance choice, could I still come to Sheffield with ABB?

No. The UCAS system dictates that an applicant must go to their firm choice if they achieve the requirements. In the case of an unconditional offer, there are no requirements, so you would have to go to the other university.

Your only other option would be to withdraw from UCAS when exam results are published and enter clearing with your better-than-expected grades. This is risky, as the best courses might well be full already and have no places in clearing. (Sheffield has not entered clearing recently.) If Sheffield is your number one choice, we advise you to make us your firm.

Will you lower your entry requirements for me if I make Sheffield my firm?

No. Some universities may need to lower their requirements or make unconditional offers in order to fill all the places on their courses. Places at Sheffield are in high demand, however. If Sheffield is your top choice, our advice is to make us your firm and do your best to achieve ABB.

What if my application is rejected?

Ask for an explanation. We're happy to explain the decision and give advice. And you can ask for us to reconsider the decision, especially if you believe an important aspect of your application has been overlooked. From time to time we make offers to students who had originally been rejected.

Does the course include work placements?

Yes. We arrange placements for you during the second year. You will not be assessed on the time you spend on placement, but it is an important part of the course. We encourage and help you arrange subsequent placements.

How is the course taught?

We use a wide range of teaching methods – lectures, seminars, skills workshops, individual copy clinics (tutorials). You will be assessed by an equally wide range of criteria – essays, examinations, seminar contributions, news stories, newspaper pages, feature writing, radio reporting, television news and documentary. Journalism skills are taught in simulated newsroom conditions, and we believe the intensity and quality of teaching we offer is of the highest standard. The harder you work at being a journalist, the more we will teach you.

Will my degree give me a vocational qualification?

It depends what you mean by a vocational qualification. The course is not vocational in the sense that it does not lead directly to one specific job. However, it is double-accredited by two of the UK's major professional media training organisations: the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) and the Professional Publishers Association (PPA). This accreditation is recognised as a guarantee of quality and skill by media employers, who hold Sheffield in particularly high regard.

Graduates of the degree boast an excellent record of employment and achievement. The Sheffield BA in Journalism Studies is widely recognised across the media as a rigorous and demanding qualification. Many of our graduates are employed in journalism and the media. Others work in PR, communications and marketing. Some follow different pathways such as teaching. The skills and attributes you develop on the degree – language and communication, time management, team working, research, initiative, confidence, independence – are useful in a huge range of careers.

Many students add direct vocational qualifications to their degree by sitting the examinations of the NCTJ. We regularly hold NCTJ exams here, and the course teaches all you need to pass in shorthand, law and public administration.

Why is the degree called BA Journalism Studies and not just BA Journalism?

We'll teach you all the practical skills you need to hit the ground running in a media career. But we'll also encourage you to reflect critically on the practice of journalism, and to consider why excellent journalism is so crucial to a free, democratic society. Practical skills can make you a good journalist. But it's only by combining those skills with this view of journalism's bigger picture that you can become a great journalist.

That's why we call the course BA Journalism Studies. That's also why we think Sheffield journalists are the best in the business.

Is the course hard work?

Very. We think it is harder than other social science or arts degrees because students must go out and find stories, travelling far beyond the library or bookshop. For example, you will be assigned to neighbourhoods in the city where you will be responsible for unearthing stories and features. You will be sent to find court cases and council meetings to cover. In other words, you will need initiative, persistence and imagination – qualities that make good reporters.

Is it true that the course concentrates on newspaper reporting?

This is an important first step. We believe the aspiring journalist must first learn to write. You will be writing news – for digital publication, of course, as well as print – from the first week of the course to the last. By then, you will be reading widely from fiction and non-fiction to develop writing styles for features, interviews, investigations, sport and in-depth reports. But there is no conflict between newspaper and broadcast journalism. We believe newswriting skills adapt easily to radio and television, and you will have rich opportunities to become fluent in broadcast journalism.

What if I still have questions?

Ask. Keep asking until you understand, even if you want general career information. We're happy to help.

Contact Journalism Studies

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it’s up-to-date and relevant. This is in response to discoveries made through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. We update these web pages to reflect any changes to course content as soon as we can. If any information conflicts between these web pages and a printed brochure or prospectus, please take the information here as correct. Sometimes changes may need to be made to modules, courses, entry requirements and fees between your application and the start of your course. When these are significant in nature, we'll let you know as quickly as we can.