Graduates / Journalism degree / Journalism skills / NCTJ

A journalism degree – what does it entail?

I decided to go ahead with an English degree, rather than a journalism degree when I was a young A-Level student deciding on my future. That wasn’t because I didn’t want to pursue journalism, but because I enjoyed English Language and creative writing, and wanted to study this and continue finding work experience placements to boost my CV on the journalism side. My only journalism training has been those 3-4 months that I did my fast-track NCTJ after university, so I have very little knowledge of the contents of a journalism degree – what do you study for those three years, and is it worth it?


Leah Johnson, a journalism graduate spills all on her journalism degree…

On her degree modules…

My degree title was BA Hons in Magazine Journalism and I studied at the University of Bedfordshire. The two core subjects in my first year were Reporting and Writing and Essential Skills for Journalists ( along with Shorthand). Also in my first year we had to choose two more subjects to study out of; Digital Cultures, Video Skills and Production and Radio Skills. I chose Digital Cultures and Radio Skills.
The module options available in my second year were Documentary Practices, Radio Skills and New Media Production. I chose Radio Skills. So altogether in second year my subjects included Radio Skills, Print Production Design, Specialist and Feature Writing and Journalism Law and Public Administration.
As for my third year, the module options available were Online Publishing, Ethics and Journalism, Radio 24/7 and New Media. Once again I chose Radio 24/7 along with Publishing Magazines which was a core subject. I do think there was a good variety of modules available because before I started I had the impression that my degree would just consist of non-stop writing so it was nice to learn new things and pick up new skills.

On practical work…

In terms of practical work throughout my three years, I carried out radio shows, made radio jingles, photography and produced magazines/newspapers from scratch. I chose to do a final project instead of a dissertation and I absolutely loved it despite the stress it caused! I chose to the project alone (a fashion and music magazine) which was very challenging but I enjoyed every second of it and was happy with the outcome!

Advice to those looking to study journalism…

– Start a blog and make connections! Networking is key!
– Make sure you get lots of work experience to build up your portfolio.
– Don’t limit yourself to one format, the more skills you develop, the better!

A degree and beyond…

The careers advice post-university has been very useful! My old lecturer still sends me emails on journalism opportunities. Do I think the degree set me up well for a career? Yes and no. Yes because I developed a number of skills in many different areas which means I now have the option of working in a variety of fields. And no, simply because the journalism industry is a competitive industry to break into!

Thanks, Leah!

Follow Leah on Twitter here: @Leah_Jae

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