Elective options

Study for the Diploma in Journalism is based on a core and options model. To gain the Diploma in Journalism, you must complete the madatory modules (gaining 47 credits) and at least three elective options (gaining a minimum 35 credits). The elective options are designed to allow learners' choice and to build the diploma qualficiation that will help you further your career in journalism.

If you want to work as a news journalist you will also study public affairs, media law court reporting and shorthand to 100wpm. Other media sectors may have different requirements and training providers will offer elective options to meet different employers' needs.

The following specialist elective options are available to study: public affairs; shorthand (double unit); media law court reporting; sports journalism; videojournalism for digital platforms; business of magazines; editing skills for journalists; *broadcast journalism (double unit); Introduction to PR for journalists; PR and communications for journalists (double unit); *Radio journalism; *TV journalism; practical magazine journalism (double unit); business and finance journalism; and broadcast regulation.

* If you choose to study broadcast journalism, TV or radio journalism, you MUST also study the broadcast regulation module.

 

Broadcast journalism
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This double module covers the additional skills required to operate effectively as a broadcast journalist in television and radio. Candidates will learn how to research, write and produce high-quality reports for radio and television. It will also instil a degree of familiarity with the technology, techniques, language and regulation of broadcast journalism and teach practical skills. It will reflect the best current practice in broadcast newsrooms in the UK.

* Note: if you choose to study broadcast journalism you MUST also study the broadcast regulation module.

Assessment: candidates are required to submit one piece of radio coursework, take a practical, timed radio news exam and sit a TV newsday assessment.

Business and finance journalism
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The business and finance option takes the principles of general news reporting covered in the reporting syllabus and applies them to the full range of business and finance reporting. It ensures candidates can produce the different types of story for all platforms required from each part of the business and finance news discipline.

This module equips candidates with sufficient understanding of both domestic and international politics and economics to be able to report on a wide range of issues relating to business and finance, and to do so with the ability to humanise complex subjects, making them accessible to a general audience. 

Asseessment: candidates will sit a two-part business and finance journalism examination. 

Business of magazines
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The programme of study includes: the roles of B2B, general consumer and specialist consumer magazines; the importance of identifying and writing for an audience; company accounts; the roles of editorial, marketing, advertising and other departments; revenue streams; editorial strategy; and means of distribution.

Assessment: online examination in which candidates answer questions covering the full syllabus.


Please note: The business of magazines elective module is being withdrawn from the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism from 31 August 2021 for new registrations, following an industry-wide review of the elective modules for this qualification. It is replaced by the practical magazine journalism double module. The unit end date for the module is 30 September 2023. Please see published transition arrangements below.

Business of magazines transition arrangements

Data journalism
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This option builds on the introduction to the subject in the essential journalism module. It is about learning the knowledge and skills to operate as an audience-focused data journalist.

It will provide knowledge of how to find data, analyse that data in the most efficient way to find great stories, how to visualise the information found and go on to develop the data into content which will appeal to readers and viewers.

Assessment: candidates will sit a 75-minute online exam designed to test a candidate’s knowledge and skills in handling a large data set. 

They will also submit a piece of data journalism coursework. Published on appropriate platform(s), using any appropriate program(s), the submission will include the completed piece(s) of content with appropriate visuals produced by the candidate.

Introduction to PR for journalists
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This single module will enable trainee journalists to understand some of the methods employed by PR staff with whom they will come into contact. It will also help to prepare them to work at a junior level in public relations and use professional techniques and tools to produce a basic PR campaign; and create accurate and effective news releases suitable for publication in a variety of media outlets.

Assessment: a two-hour online exam: candidates are required to produce a basic campaign strategy, including key messages and detailed tactics and produce a 300-word news release targeted at the local media.

Journalism for a digital audience
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This option builds on the introduction to the subject in the essential journalism module. It is about learning the knowledge and skills to operate as an audience-focused digital journalist in a multimedia newsroom.

Assessment: candidates will sit a 90-minute online exam designed to test a candidate’s knowledge, understanding and practical application of the skills and knowledge learnt in this module. Questions will be set from all areas of the programme of study.

They will also submit a piece of digital journalism coursework. Published on appropriate platform(s), it will contain evidence of how analytics were used, SEO, digital writing skills, use of illustrative material and social media.

Media law: court reporting
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The specialist court reporting option builds on an introduction to court reporting in the essential media law syllabus. It covers court reporting restrictions, regulatory and ethical considerations. It is an important option for those who wish to focus on hard news for any platform as courts remain an excellent source for stories.

Assessment: an online examination which assesses knowledge and application of media law related to court reporting.

Photography for journalists
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The photography specialist option is designed to equip a trainee journalist with the photography skills required to produce images of publishable quality that meet industry standards.

Assessment: e-portfolio of images including a 150-200 word news story and evidence of any ethical and legal considerations when taking or publishing the images.

NB: Candidates opting to take this unit are also encouraged to take the videojournalism for digital platforms option. Video skills are vital to be able to create distinctive videojournalism which is accurate, clear and communicative and compliments the skills gained in stills photography in this unit.

Practical magazine journalism
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This double elective option provides candidates with the opportunity to learn and practise storytelling skills on multiple platforms in the magazine industry. It will be studied alongside the core journalism skills of the diploma. Key to the proficiency of a magazine journalist is the ability to generate fresh, original ideas that are relevant to the targeted audience and in a variety of sectors including consumer, B2B, specialist, customer and in-house supplements. 

Assessment: candidates will produce a real-world feature through a combination of coursework and a timed assessment called the ‘magazine day’ which will be conducted under newsroom conditions and will be published online.

PR and communications for journalists
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The PR and communications elective option is available to candidates alongside the mandatory subjects of the entry-level NCTJ Diploma in Journalism.

This programme of study will enable trainee journalists to understand the objectives, strategies and tactics employed by PR staff with whom they will come into contact. It can also prepare them to work at a junior level in public relations.

Assessment: a two-part online exam. Part one asks candidates to produce a basic campaign strategy and a 300-word news-release. Part two tests knowledge and understanding. 

Editing skills for journalists
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This specialist editing option builds on the introduction to editing in the essential journalism syllabus. Editing skills are an important skill as journalists publish stories without the luxury of copy being checked. The culture of getting it right first time needs to be instilled into trainees.

The programme of study includes: desktop publishing, editing different types of stories; headline writing; typography; pictures and captions; proof reading; and design.

Assessment: candidates sit an on-screen editing exam for a templated page in print and online and must produce online headlines, edit a selection of stories and nibs, write a sell-on and demonstrate the ability to crop and edit a picture story.

Public affairs
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All professional journalists should have a broad understanding of how government works at a local and national level, how they link together, where news stories come from and how to develop such stories.

Public affairs learning should be integrated with practical journalism and candidates must have an awareness of current news issues related to public affairs.

There are three different programmes of study and examinations for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

Assessment: candidates are required to sit an online exam which assesses their knowledge of public affairs and its practical application to the job of a journalist.

Radio journalism
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This single module will equip candidates with the essential skills to work as journalists in radio newsrooms. It will be studied alongside the core journalism skills of the diploma. Candidates will learn how to research, write and produce high-quality reports for radio. 

Note: if you choose to study radio journalism you MUST also study the broadcast regulation module.

Assessment: candidates will sit a radio news exam testing their ability to produce and record a two-minute news bulletin from material provided for a given market audience.

They will also produce as coursework a radio news package or a podcast.

Shorthand
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Shorthand is an extremely valuable skill for the competent journalist. The NCTJ’s gold standard is to achieve at least 100 words per minute (wpm) and to be able to identify a newsworthy quote. The exam format for higher speeds has been developed to test listening skills as well as accuracy and speed.

The syllabus enables learners to acquire the skills required for reporting accurately using Teeline, an industry-recognised system of shorthand.

Assessment: the exams test the ability to take down the spoken word verbatim at a range of speeds – 60, 80, 100, 110 and 120 wpm – and to produce an accurate transcript within an error tolerance of three per cent. In addition, trainees must identify and accurately transcribe a key quote at speeds of 100 to 120wpm.

Sports journalism
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The sports journalism option takes the principles of general news reporting covered in reporting and applies them to the full range of sports reporting skills inlcuding sporting public affairs and politics.

Assessment: an online exam delivered in two parts. For part one, candidates will watch a football match and produce a match report filing 250 words within five minutes of the final whistle. Candidates will then have a further 30 minutes to produce a 200-word ‘reaction piece’ using quotes and tweets from managers and/or players/fans, supplied to them at the final whistle. For part two, candidates write a 200-word round-up, answer a sports interview question and write a story for the web from a press release.

TV journalism
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This single module will equip candidates with the essential skills to work as journalists in TV newsrooms. It will be studied alongside the core journalism skills of the diploma. Candidates will learn how to research, write and produce high-quality reports for TV. 

Note: if you choose to study TV journalism you MUST also study the broadcast regulation module.

Assessment: candidates are assessed on a practical TV newsday assessment. They will film their own news story, including interviews, prior to the assessment day. On the day, they will produce a TV package and reversion their footage for two different platforms.

Videojournalism for digital platforms
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The videojournalism for digital platforms module is designed to enable trainees to produce short, focused video news reports for use online on news websites and social media and to understand how to use the platforms effectively. 

Assessment: candidates sit a two hour video-editing examination which assesses their basic editing and reporting skills and ability to drive traffic to a news website using video with subtitles through social media.

They are also required to submit a coursework assignment at the exam, which assesses their ability to create a video package for a website and a social media video demonstrating how they would use it to drive traffic to a news website.

Broadcast regulation
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The broadcast regulation module is compulsory for candidates studying broadcast journalism, TV journalism or radio journalism.

Assessment: candidates will sit a one-hour, online exam testing their ability to explain and apply the principles of broadcast regulation as set out in the Ofcom Broadcasting Code.