NCTJ Level 5 Diploma in Journalism

The NCTJ  Diploma in Journalism is the qualification that editors look for when recruiting a trainee journalist.

You can study the diploma by attending one of our accredited centre-based courses or by distance learning. For centre-based courses, please contact the course provider directly for further information including fees, start dates and entry requirements. 

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The qualification will equip you with the knowledge and skills for professional entry level journalism and has four under-pinning values:

  • to focus on the vital skills of finding and telling stories accurately and to deadline
  • to reflect that most journalists work in a multimedia environment and that digital and
  • ‘traditional’ skills should be fully integrated and embedded in training and assessments
  • to ensure the core essential skills are covered and assessed to a national standard, but with flexibility to specialise

To achieve the diploma, candidates will complete and pass four mandatory subjects: essential journalism; essential journalism e-portfolio; essential media law and regulation; and essential journalism ethics and regulation (gaining 47 credits), plus at least four of the elective options (gaining 35 credits). To pass, candidates must achieve grades A-E in all modules; and/or a minimum 60 words per minute shorthand (if studied). A minimum of 82 credits is required to complete the qualification.

To gain the industry ‘gold standard’ Diploma in Journalism, recognised by employers, candidates must achieve A-C grades in every subject taken including the mandatory modules and pass 100 words per minute shorthand earning a minimum 82 credits.

Candidates may also gain a ‘gold standard’ diploma without shorthand as long as they gain A-C grades in all subjects taken including all mandatory modules earning a minimum 82 credits.

All subjects are assessed by exam except for the e-portfolio (there are also coursework assessments for some elective options).

The Diploma in Journalism qualification specification can be downloaded below.

Transition from the Level 3 Diploma in Journalism

On 1 September 2020, the NCTJ Level 5 Diploma in Journalism was introduced. This qualification will replace the Level 3 Diploma in Journalism after a transisition period. This change reflects the increased level of digital skills and knowledge used by journalists over the last few years. The diploma has progressively evolved to include the digital skills as standard throughout the qualification, but the level of the qualification has remained the same. The industry-led Diploma in Journalism is a vocationally-related qualification that assesses occupational competence. Employers support the change in level and emphasis on digital skills throughout the diploma which reflects the greater level of digital skills and tools that trainee journalists must have when entering the industry. A three-year transition period will ensure no learners are adversely affected by the change. Full transition arrangements are published below. 

For learners studying towards the level 3 Diploma in Journalism, the qualification specification is also provided below. Achievement of the level 3 qualification attracts a UCAS tariff of 48 points and continues to be recognised by employers as the industry standard.

Business of Magazines elective module

The business of magazines elective module will be withdrawn from the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism from September 2021 for new registrations, following an industry-wide review of the elective modules for this qualification. The unit end date for the module is 30 September 2023. Please refer to the document below for full transition arrangements.