Qualification in Practical International Journalism by distance learning

This level 5 qualification covers all the core elements of being a working journalist operating in an international arena.

A journalist working overseas needs an array of skills and knowledge. They must be self-starting, able to find and source stories, have strong interviewing skills, be able to tell compelling stories for a variety of platforms and be technically adept at using all the digital tools available to communicate appropriately with their audience.

They also need to be able to take still photographs, produce and edit audio and video and understand how to deal with the many ethical issues they will confront in their day-to-day work. They must be able to identify appropriate responses dependent on their international environment and should have an awareness of media law and public organisations on the global stage.

This qualification will deliver the above skills and is designed for candidates with a minimum English language standard of 6 IELTS or an equivalent.

It may be studied by candidates with English as a first language, but it does not prepare you for work as a journalist in the UK. To prepare for work in the UK you will need the Diploma in Journalism.

This qualification is assessed by an e-portfolio of evidence. The aim of the e-portfolio assessment is to ensure candidates can write, shoot or record engaging, accurate, well-balanced and ethically sound stories that have an international dimension. Candidates can submit the e-portfolio at four points during the year.

Delivered online via the NCTJ’s Journalism Skills Academy, you will receive access to an e-learning site that includes multimedia learning materials.

Key details

  • The total qualification time an average candidate can expect to take to complete the qualification is 600 hours.
  • Study units
    • News story-telling
    • Features story-telling
    • Interviewing skills for all platforms
    • Social media and analytics
    • Ethics of International Journalism
    • Media law for the international journalist
    • International affairs
    • Photography, video and audio skills
  • Assessment will be through a single online portfolio of five real-world published stories in formats chosen by the candidate which may include digital, print, video, audio, broadcast and documentary.
  • Candidates have the opportunity to submit their portfolio for marking four times a year.
  • Each submission must have an international dimension and will be accompanied by a brief cover sheet, providing students with the opportunity to describe their core story-telling skills.
  • Each story must include at least one quote from an interview conducted by the candidate. This can be done in any format, face-to-face, telephone, email, etc, but contact details of the interviewee must be supplied.

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Level 5 Qualification in Practical International Journalism - Frequently asked questions

  • What qualification do I get at the end of the course?

    On completion of the course and assessment, learners will receive a vocationally-related ‘Level 5 Qualification in Practical International Journalism’ which is regulated by Ofqual. This qualification, which covers all the core elements of being a practical journalist operating in an international arena, is aimed at non-native English speakers. It may also be studied by learners with English as their first language, but it does not prepare them for work as a journalist in the UK.

  • What is the cost of the qualification?

    The cost of the qualification is £1,495 + VAT and includes assessment costs.

  • When and how can I enrol on the course?

    You can enrol at any time on our website.

  • Is this qualification only open to learners from overseas?

    No. The qualification is aimed at non-native English speakers, but may be taken by learners with English as their first language. It is important to note that this qualification does NOT prepare learners for work as a journalist in the UK.

  • Is there a minimum standard of language ability?

    This qualification recognises that learners will mainly be non-native English speakers and expects a minimum language standard of 6.0 IELTS or equivalent.

  • There are 600 hours total qualification time – what does this mean and how long will it take for me to complete the course?

    The time is an estimate based around the learning materials and the amount of self-study required to complete the course and produce a quality e-portfolio for assessment. The length of time it will take to complete the course will depend entirely on the individual – the pace at which an individual learns and the time they are able to commit to study.

  • Can I study for this qualification alongside a full-time job or other commitments?

    Yes, absolutely. The advantage of studying via distance learning means you can study around other commitments.

  • Why is the assessment a portfolio of evidence and no timed exam?

    This qualification does not lend itself to timed exams. Employers want evidence of real-world journalism in whatever genre or geographical field the learner wishes to specialise in. The e-portfolio provides the flexibility for the learner to choose their platform – digital, broadcast, print etc – as well as the type of stories, for instance, sport, politics, or general news etc. which must have an international dimension and must cover all the key study units. When the e-portfolio is complete it will include five pieces of journalism, presented on any platform (see conditions below). The completed e-portfolio will be a useful demonstration of a learner’s ability and experience to potential international employers and may help learners in the search for their first job outside of the UK.

  • There are mandatory conditions for all submissions to the e-portfolio – why is that?

    While there is plenty of flexibility built into this qualification it is important that you are able to demonstrate the core skills required by all journalists. That is why all five submissions must have involved an interview of some type: face-to-face, telephone, email etc and the contact details must be recorded.

  • The PIJ e-portfolio requires published work – why is that?

    Learners are expected to demonstrate their journalism skills and aim to have their work published or publish it themselves via social media or a website etc. Published work must be uploaded in a viewable format plus a link to the website where appropriate.

  • All stories will have an international dimension – what does this mean?

    Learners can include stories from their country of origin or they may include an international dimension; for instance, a Chinese student may interview Chinese people living in the university’s city about their reflections on Donald Trump’s visit.

  • Can students produce submissions for their e-portfolio from work placements?

    Yes, of course. It is recommended that learners obtain work placements in an international newsroom while following the course. This will enable you to consolidate the academic and practical aspects of the course and enhance your career development. Learners will need to have at least five pieces of published work – you may self-publish on your own website or social media account.

  • Am I allowed to use third-party material for video or audio submissions?

    Up to one third of total footage may be third-party material, where editorially appropriate.

  • Would it be possible to submit some articles for my final e-portfolio that were published in another language, if I provide translations?

    No, all submissions must be made in English.

  • How does the coversheet work for submissions with the e-portfolio?

    A reflective commentary should be written describing the skills used for each submission. One coversheet is required to be submitted with each story. This knowledge can be spread across the five submissions – for example Story 1 may demonstrate news story-telling, video shooting and photography skills as well as understanding of media law; Story 2 may demonstrate news story-telling, interviewing, and social media skills as well as taking into account a strong ethical element etc.

  • How is the qualification taught via distance learning?

    Learners will gain access to distance learning materials which is mainly in written format. There are exercises throughout to test your knowledge as you work through the materials.

    You will also be directed to further reading and sources of information to enhance your studies. These are available on the Journalism Skills Academy’s e-learning platform. All of the modules are available here, and you will also find additional information including a programme of study and assessment guidelines.

  • How are the learning materials and self-study interactive? If I am solely assessed on an e-portfolio, is the bulk of the course just reading slides and watching videos?

    No. The distance learning materials are mainly in written format. There are exercises throughout to test your knowledge and understanding as you work through the materials. You will also be directed to further reading and sources of information to enhance your studies.

  • Is one-on-one tutoring available at any point to discuss specific issues, topics and/or my portfolio?

    Yes, you will have access to a 60-minute tutor support session to discuss the portfolio. This can be booked via our website.

  • Are there any books that accompany the course?

    There are no mandatory books, but the following recommended texts can be purchased through the NCTJ’s online shop:

    You are also directed to further reading and sources of information throughout the course.

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