Freedom of Expression, the Law and the Media - JOUR5110

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2023 to 2024
Combined Autumn and Spring Terms 6 30 (15) David Acheson checkmark-circle


Basic Introduction to the English legal system. Introduction to the theory of, and law relating to, Freedom of Expression. Defamation. Breach of confidence and privacy. Contempt of Court. Reporting – courts and current events. Protection of journalists and their sources. Censorship. Copyright. Freedom of Information and Data Protection. Official Secrets.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 42
Private Study Hours: 258
Total Study Hours: 300


Compulsory to the following courses: BA (Hons) Journalism

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods

Coursework – essay (2500 words) - 30%
Coursework – essay (4000 words) - 70%

Reassessment methods

Reassessment instrument: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Barendt E (2005), Freedom of Speech, 2nd edn, OUP, Oxford.
Barendt E et al (2014), Media Law: Text, Cases and Materials, 2nd edn, Pearson education, Harlow.
Fenwick H and Phillipson G (2006), Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act, OUP, Oxford.
Hanna M and Dodds M (2020), McNae's Essential Law for Journalists, 25th edn, OUP, Oxford.
Quinn F (2018), Law for Journalists, (6th edn, Pearson Education, Harlow.

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.
The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Medway)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Understand, in detail, those elements of the English legal system within which the law relating to freedom of expression and the media is
2. Identify the main literature and sources relevant to the law relating to freedom of expression and the regulation of the media, and to use
key research techniques in locating and using those materials.
3. Identify the main functions and principles of law relating to freedom of expression and the media.
4. Understand, critically, the ethical principles underlying the notion of freedom of expression, its promotion by the state and also the
restrictions placed upon it by the law in England and Wales.
5. Critically assess the tensions between the state's support of freedom of expression and the legal restrictions placed upon it.
6. Critically examine the role of a free media in a democracy.
7. Understand and critically examine the efficacy of the restrictions place upon the media by the law.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1. Use a range of established techniques to initiate and undertake critical analysis of ideas and information.
2. Engage in meaningful debate about issues faced by media professionals.
3. Use primary and secondary source material to present accurate and reasoned arguments.
4. Correctly apply the law to complex scenarios.
5. Consider and evaluate their work with reference to professional standards.


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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