The NCTJ Level 6 National Qualification in Journalism (NQJ) is the NCTJ’s professional senior qualification that examines all-round competence in a range of essential journalism skills.
It is designed to meet the needs of employers and to provide trainee or apprentice journalists with the knowledge and skills required by a senior journalist working across the media sector.
The NQJ is available to all journalists including senior journalist apprentices working across the media and is tailored to meet different sectors’ needs.
There is flexibility for candidates and employers to choose a pathway relevant to their skills and the area of the media they’re working in.
Currently, there is a news pathway for print, online and broadcast journalists and a production pathway for production journalists. There are also discrete pathways for community news reporters, local democracy reporters and journalists working in specialist brand (magazine) publishing.
Additional pathways tailored for different journalists' roles may also be developed including sports journalism and for journalists working in PR and communications.
All assessments are completed online: there are two online examinations and an e-logbook assessment which is completed as you progress through your period of training.
- Media law and ethics in practice: a two-hour online exam covering key subjects such as defamation, contempt, copyright, privacy etc. This is an open book exam with candidates able to refer to McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists, the Editor’s Code and the Ofcom Code.
- E-logbook of evidence: 10 sector-specific tasks set to specific requirements and all delivered via a bespoke online assessment portal. Topics covered may include handling data, use of social media and analytics, visual journalism, court and inquest coverage and political stories.
- Online practical skills-based exam: candidates will choose which pathway they are taking to sit the applicable online practical skills-based exam. NB this choice must be made at the point of registration
More details about the NQJ assessments can be found in the document links below.
Most candidates begin their NQJ training when they take up their first job, after gaining the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism qualification (with the industry ‘gold standard’ - grades A-C in all subjects plus 100 words per minute shorthand, if applicable).
Such candidates will – by virtue of that earlier qualification – have evidence of their abilities to find, research and produce news stories; to deploy social media and analytics skills; and to use legal, regulatory and ethical knowledge.
Other candidates may join the programme with no previous journalistic training. Typically, they will be graduates, but will not necessarily have studied journalism as part of their degree.
However, if you have no prior learning in journalism you will need to demonstrate you have journalism skills to 'gold standard' diploma level before moving on to the more advanced skills, knowledge and behaviours applicable to the NQJ (you can do this by taking diploma modules via distance learning, for instance). You will also need to evidence a minimum period of employment as a journalist to sit the NQJ exams.
By the time you take your NQJ exams, you should have at least 18 months’ experience working as a journalist and will have completed an e-logbook of evidence that is one of the assessments for the NQJ.
Please note that some employers (notably in the local and regional news sector) will only support a trainee through the NQJ once they have achieved the 'gold standard' Diploma in Journalism (including media law court reporting and public affairs modules, and shorthand at 100wpm). The grades achieved in essential media law and regulation, media law court reporting and public affairs must also not be more than five years old.
If you have not gained the Diploma in Journalism (to gold standard) and would like to discuss your eligibility to register for the NQJ, please contact us by phone or email. We can assess each individual candidate, validate any prior learning and determine your eligibility to begin working towards the NQJ.