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Diploma in Journalism by distance learning

This level 5 qualification will prepare learners for the demands of a newsroom, teaching the skills needed to work as a professional journalist.

Delivered online via the Journalism Skills Academy, the Diploma in Journalism is the NCTJ’s entry-level qualification that is widely recognised in the industry.

Once enrolled on the course you will receive access to the e-learning site, where you will be able to access your multimedia learning materials, join learner forums and access tutor support.

To gain the qualification, you must achieve a minimum of 82 credits, including the four mandatory modules (see the modules below).

Modules can be purchased individually as you work through the course.

Click here to view our handy qualification chart.

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Mandatory modules

These modules (totalling 47 credits) must be passed in order to achieve the qualification. They can be purchased as a bundle for £510 (including VAT).

Essential journalism

22 credits

Essential journalism

22 credits

Module cost: £240
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 220

The essential journalism module is designed to equip you with the journalism skills and knowledge required to become a competent journalist working in today’s digital newsrooms across all media sectors. The programme of study teaches the vital core skills including multiplatform story-telling and how to be a successful journalist in the digital age.

Using social media for journalism, videojournalism, understanding website statistics and finding stories buried in data are all included.

This module is assessed by an online exam and completion of an e-portfolio of evidence.

You will be sent the following textbook by post: Essential Journalism by Jonathan Baker.

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Essential journalism e-portfolio

12 credits

Person working on laptop

Essential journalism e-portfolio

12 credits

Module cost: £58.80
Learning hours: 120

The essential journalism e-portfolio is an assessment that demonstrates the journalistic skills and abilities you will gain when studying the diploma. It will demonstrate your ability to cover a range of content across different platforms. This can include on and off-diary stories, court, council, sport and features. Reviews and human-interest stories can also be included. You may relate your work to one specific topic, i.e. sport or fashion, if you intend to concentrate on a particular field of journalism.

You will have to submit online ten pieces of work which includes meeting three mandatory categories and it may be tailored towards news or magazine journalism.

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Essential media law and regulation

10 credits

Essential media law and regulation

10 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 100

All journalists must know the legal and regulatory boundaries of what they can and cannot report. This includes both the Editors’ Code of Practice and Ofcom Broadcasting Code.

The programme of study covers all the media law essentials as well as an introduction to court reporting. There are three different programmes of study and exams for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland.

This module is assessed by an online exam which assesses your knowledge and practical application of media law and regulation.

You will be sent the following textbook by post: McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists by Mark Hanna and Mike Dodd.

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Essential journalism ethics and regulation

3 credits

Essential journalism ethics and regulation

3 credits

Module cost: £103.50
Exam price: £15.00
Learning hours: 30

Journalists are expected to work to high ethical standards. This module does not seek to engage in a debate around moral philosophy. It is intended to bring forward ethical issues faced by journalists in their day-to-day work and how they might be resolved. You can expect learning from this module to be integrated into much of your practical journalism work.

This module is assessed by an online, multiple-choice newspaper and magazine regulation test, or, if you are studying broadcast journalism, an online broadcast regulation exam.

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Broadcast regulation

3 credits

Broadcast regulation

3 credits

Module cost: £103.50
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 30

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.

Candidates who study the broadcast regulation module will do so alongside essential journalism ethics and regulation, but they do not have to take the newspaper and magazine regulation test to earn the credits.

This module is purchased as part of the TV and/or radio journalism module(s).

Elective skills modules

In addition to the mandatory modules, you must make up the remaining 35 credits with a selection of these elective modules.

Public affairs for journalists

7 credits

Public affairs for journalists

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

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. The programme of study covers the following key areas: controlling power; holding government to account; controlling money and key services. There are three different programmes of study and exams for England and Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland

This module is assessed by an online exam which assesses your knowledge and practical application of public affairs.

You will be sent the following textbook by post: Essential Public Affairs for Journalists by James Morrison.

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Sports journalism

7 credits

People running

Sports journalism

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module teaches you how to cover sports stories, building on your essential journalism knowledge and skills. The programme will teach you how to produce the different types of story required at each point in the sports news cycle; from a preview and a live report, to reaction and analysis. It also covers sports politics and public affairs, attending press conferences, conducting interviews and writing sports features.

This module is assessed by a two-part, online exam which includes testing your live match reporting skills.

You will also receive the following textbook by post: Sports Journalism: A practical introduction by Phil Andrews.

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Business and finance journalism

7 credits

Business and finance journalism

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module will equip you 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.

It also covers the other main situations in which business and finance writers operate, including the analysis of financial reports, developing and operating a wide range of informative contacts for stories away from the traditional PR cycle. Business and finance features are also covered.

This module is assessed by a two-part, online exam.

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Videojournalism for digital platforms

7 credits

Videojournalism for digital platforms

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module is designed to enable you to become a confident producer and user of video as a significant element of digital journalism. You will learn to exercise editorial judgment in relation to digital videojournalism, and make informed decisions about the use of a variety of digital platforms and devices.

You will learn the technical skills required to shoot, edit and publish video online. You will be aware of emerging platforms, technologies and trends,
and you will learn the effectiveness of video on news websites, social media, on desktop and mobile devices.

This module is assessed by an online exam and a piece of videojournalism coursework.

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Media law court reporting

7 credits

Media law court reporting

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module builds on an introduction to court reporting in the essential media law and regulation (one of the mandatory modules) 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.

Your learning materials should be studied with the latest edition of McNae’s Essential Law for Journalists (book not included).

This module is assessed by an online exam which assesses your knowledge and practical application of court reporting.

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Editing skills for journalists

7 credits

People working at computers

Editing skills for journalists

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module builds on the introduction to editing in the essential journalism syllabus. Journalists are publishing stories without the luxury of copy being checked, and are expected to ‘get it right first time’. Editing skills are valuable and transferable – the module would also suit working journalists who wish to make the move to sub-editing, or equally for anyone wishing to get into journalism from another industry.

This module is assessed by an on-screen, sub-editing exam.

You will also be sent the following textbook by post: Waterhouse on Newspaper Style by Keith Waterhouse.

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Shorthand notes written on paper

Shorthand for journalists

14 credits

Shorthand notes written on paper

Shorthand for journalists

14 credits

Module cost: £103.50
Exam price: £16.80
Learning hours: 140

Teeline shorthand is the most popular shorthand system in the UK and uses the same principle as all other shorthand methods by assigning a unique outline to each word. This helps journalists take down accurate notes quickly. Teaching yourself shorthand requires a lot of dedication and perseverance. It’s like learning another language and is a steep learning curve requiring daily practice. The industry standard for shorthand is 100 words per minute (wpm).

This module is assessed by exams delivered from 60wpm to 120wpm.

You will also be sent the following textbook by post: Teeline Gold Standard for Journalists by Marie Cartwright.

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Magazines

Practical magazine journalism

14 credits

Magazines

Practical magazine journalism

14 credits

Module cost: £384*
Exam price: £118.80
Learning hours: 140

*This includes the cost of one mandatory preparation workshop

This double elective option will provide you with the opportunity to learn and practise feature writing skills on multiple platforms for the magazine industry.
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.

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

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PR and communications for journalists

14 credits

PR and communications for journalists

14 credits

Module cost: £384*
Exam price: £118.80
Learning hours: 140

This double module will enable you to understand the objectives, strategies and tactics employed by PR staff with whom you will come into contact as a journalist. It can also prepare you to work at a junior level in public relations. The programme of study will include: how to produce a campaign strategy, including key messages and tactics; commonly used PR terms; how to create accurate news releases; understanding the scope of the PR function including legal and ethical issues; and how to use social media to deliver PR objectives.

This module is assessed by a two-part, online exam.

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Journalism for a digital audience

7 credits

Journalism for a digital audience

7 credits

Module cost: £162
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

This module 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 including understanding and using website CMS systems and how to develop brands.

Many jobs in the field of digital and social media, like much of journalism, require close interaction with the public. You will need to have, or swiftly gain, sufficient confidence to handle such situations, including being in front of the camera.

This module is assessed by an online exam and a piece of digital journalism coursework.

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TV journalism

7 credits

TV journalism

7 credits

Module cost: £325.50*
Exam price: £118.80
Learning hours: 70

*Includes the cost of the broadcast regulation module, and an exam preparation workshop

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. This is included in the cost.

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.

Radio journalism

7 credits

Radio journalism

7 credits

Module cost: £265.50*
Exam price: £59.40
Learning hours: 70

*Includes the cost of the broadcast regulation module

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. This is included in the cost.

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.

Entry requirements

We do not set any specific entry requirements, though we recommend you complete our self test before enrolling. You can find the self test marking guide here. A minimum of five GCSE passes (with one in English) or equivalent is recommended.

Costs

The price of each individual module, and exam costs which are charged separately, can be found by clicking on the modules above. The four mandatory modules can be purchased as a bundle for £510 (including VAT).

Tutor support

One hour of tutor support is included in each module. Distance learning tutors are experts in their subject and can advise you on areas you are struggling with or have questions about. You will receive contact details for tutors in the e-learning site.

Exams

When you are ready, you can book to sit your exams. We hold national exams three times a year and they can be sat in-centre or remotely from home. Click here for more information.

Duration

You can begin your studies at any time and can work at your own pace, but we would advise you to aim to complete the course within two years. The diploma qualification is reviewed each year to ensure it remains current and up-to-date with industry practice. Updates to the syllabus content and assessments may be made. You will be informed of these changes as they happen and updated programmes of study and assessments will be made available to you.

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