Journalism is part of our everyday lives. From television and radio, to newspapers and magazines, to websites and social media. News and journalism are the tools in which people learn about current affairs all over the world, and journalists can influence the general public in a way that few other professions can.
Whether it’s in sports stadiums or war zones, journalists are creative and intelligent observers who dedicate themselves to the art of storytelling.
Some colleges and sixth forms offer journalism, so you’ll be at an advantage if you have this. But most don’t, so the important subjects are the humanities: English language, English literature, history, and media studies. Grade boundaries should be attainable, but journalism degrees can be competitive.
To show you have the right type of character for journalism, you should demonstrate strong written, communication, analytical, critical-thinking, and research skills.
A levels – Entry requirements range from CDD to BBB, with the universities and colleges most commonly asking for BBC.
Scottish Highers – Entry requirements for Highers (the most common qualification) range from BBCC to AABB, with universities or colleges most frequently requiring BBBB. Occasionally, universities ask for Advanced Highers to supplement Highers. If Advanced Highers are requested, universities or colleges typically ask for CCC.
Vocational courses – Other Level 3/Level 6 qualifications (e.g. Pearson BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma, or an SCQF Level 6) may be accepted as an alternative to A levels/Highers by some providers. It’s essential that you check alternative entry requirements with universities or colleges.
- Apply by 15 January
- Write a personal statement
- Submit a portfolio
- Audition for a place
- Attend an interview
- Pass an entry test
- Show work experience
While radio and television journalists may spend less time writing than their counterparts in print and online, writing is still one of the fundamental skills of journalism. You will need to have strong written and verbal communication skills to be accepted onto a course.
Journalists are at the forefront of information sharing. Most content we read or consume started out in the hands of a journalist, so they have an incredible ability to share their stories with the world. They are also in high demand, as media organisations grow and there is a demand for more content in developing countries.
Journalists will also graduate with a wide variety of highly transferable skills, more so than many other graduates. Even if you choose to enter another career, you’ll be doing so with high levels of teamwork and solo working experience, along with talent in communication, presentation, analytics, and research.
94% of graduates are in work or further study within six months, earning an average of £18k as a starting salary.
Some modules you may study are:
- Advanced digital storytelling
- The ethnography of speaking
- TV documentary journalism
- Creative work in the cultural industries
- The professional newsroom
- Religion and media
- Media law
- Popular music and society
One of the greatest things about journalism is its flexibility. Not only within the industry itself, where you can choose to report on subjects as diverse as cars, fashion, politics, and crime – but also your career options, if you choose to do something else.
Some universities will divide the types of journalism into specific degrees, but most are general. For these degrees, everybody starts off by studying the basics and then moves onto the advanced modules that they want to specialise in.
Journalism is a demanding course, which requires you to develop your own style to stand out in your field. You will need initiative, persistence, and imagination to become a good journalist, and you will learn these skills during your degree.
You’ll spend around 12 hours of time in the classroom each week, which is a little less than most subjects. But you can expect to spend a lot of your spare time researching, in the reading and watching of content to influence your work. And if you do pursue a work placement, you can expect 35+ hours per week.
Contrary to popular belief, there is far more reading than writing, so expect to spend a lot of your spare time reading and watching the work of other journalists.
Most journalism degrees will last three years and result in a BA. Some universities will offer a one-year placement, while others will encourage short-term work placements. Much of journalism takes place outside the academic world, so take advantage of these opportunities – which can be in local news publications, or in industry-specific businesses like sports clubs, community centres, or the public sector.
Like most degrees, you will master the basics of your subject in the first year and then choose to specialise in the second and third years. You may choose to pursue a specific type of journalism (like online, print, or broadcast), or you may master all three but in one subject (like football, crime, or politics).
Journalism undergraduates can expect the following tasks during their studies:
- writing reports and essays
- attending lectures and seminars
- hearing from industry speakers
- placements and industry experience
- project and teamwork
If you want to combine work and study while earning a salary, you could consider an apprenticeship. Which apprenticeships are available, and how you apply, depends on where you live.
Each apprenticeship sets out occupational standards for specific job roles, designed by employers. The standards outline the skills, knowledge, and behaviours required to demonstrate that an apprentice is fully competent in the job role.