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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

COMM2300 Journalism Ethics

20 creditsClass Size: 68

Module manager: Dr Adrian Quinn

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHIL2726Media Ethics

Module replaces

COMM 2365 Broadcast Journalism Ethics

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Contemporary journalism demands clear personal ethical standards, along with understanding of the journalism industry and research into its potential harms. This module is intended to encourage intellectual engagement with journalism research and critique, and provide an opportunity for critical reflection on journalism with reference to its ethical challenges. The module includes a range of perspectives and experiences from staff in SMC with experience in journalism; a workshop session allows students to apply theoretical knowledge of ethical problem-solving to real world problems.


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...
The module aims to provide students with the opportunity to critically engage with questions of ethics relevant to the field of journalism. It will allow students to examine the responsibilities of journalists and critically reflect on the social impact of journalism. It also aims to provide students with practical guidance and strategies for critical and moral reasoning when confronting ethical dilemmas in journalistic practice.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should be able to:
1. Discuss key theories and approaches to ethics of particular relevance to journalism
2. Recognise ethical issues in journalism practice and justify decision making in terms of ethical principles or ideas
3. Make informed contributions to critical debate about journalism and ethics


Topics covered include: peace journalism, the journalism of attachment, war reporting and the reporting of extremism.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours32.00
Private study hours142.00
Total Contact hours26.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Independent online learning: VLE will be deployed to provide students with a range of international resources and interactive exercises to examine the treatment of journalism ethics around the world, and some video programmes to screen independently. Reporting on this research will be linked to seminar and in-class discussions.
Students will be required to read 4-8 articles/book chapters weekly; apx. 8 weekly hours of reading (80 hours over 10 weeks).

Each student should spend apx. 44 hours working on the completion of the essay assignment, and 20 hours on the group project assignment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

All students will be encouraged to meet with the instructor twice in the semester: once, to discuss progress on team projects; and again, to discuss the preparation of their final paper. The group project serves as a formative task that gives students the opportunity to get feedback on their understanding of the key theories and ideas covered in the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1 x 3,500-3,750 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Group project: Students will work in teams of approx. 5 each to examine a contemporary real-world case of a significant ethical challenge to journalists and to discuss the resolution of that challenge in the context of journalism research, philosophical critique, and ethical principles. Resit for the group project will be in the form of a 3,500 word essay. The Module Leader will provide an essay question. Essay: Students will have a choice of essay topics tied to key class themes, and connected to seminar discussions. Students needing to resit the essay will be asked to complete a new essay addressing a different essay question.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 13:36:39


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