Reporting Politics

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
22 March 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA P500 Multimedia Journalism,
BA P501 Multimedia Journalism (Including Year Abroad),
BA P503 Multimedia Journalism (Including Placement Year)

Module description

This module provides an introduction to the workings of central and local government and social and political institutions at local, national and European levels, in the context of reporting the workings of government at all levels in an informed and engaging way.

It also contributes to the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism. At the end of the module you will sit the NCTJ examination in Essential Public Affairs.

Module aims

The aim of the module is to give you a knowledge and understanding of how government and society work, which will in turn enable you to find, assess, analyse and tell stories about government at all levels. Many of these stories will be found in published data. It is an important prerequisite to one of the key responsibilities of journalism, that of holding power to account.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module, you will have:

1. a detailed understanding of how the machinery of government works, at all levels.
2. a knowledge of the public services and how they operate
3. an understanding of the devolved UK and the relationships between the four nations of the UK
4. an understanding of the relationships between local government, central government, the European Union, and international institutions such as the UN, NATO and the IMF.
5. gained practical experience of the workings of local government, attending and reporting on local council meetings.
6. been prepared to take the NCTJ Public Affairs exam, which is a key element of the NCTJ Diploma.

Module information

General Reading:

Morrison James (2017) Essential Public Affairs for Journalists, 5th edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Term 1 and Term 2

Your classes during these terms will take you through the details of how democracy works in action, the processes and decision-making powers of individuals, institutions and the nations of the United Kingdom.

The classes will cover: the British constitution; the role of the monarchy; Parliament, and how laws are made; the Prime Minister, the Cabinet, the legislative programme; the role of the Treasury; the role of the Opposition; coalition government; local government structure and workings; local, national and European elections; devolution-who exercises what powers; international relations and institutions; FOI and the right to know; holding government to account; spin, and how to recognise it; the European Union.

You will begin to attend and write reports on council and other meetings, and when these are associated with work experience, your reports may appear in print.

Term 3

During the summer term you will revise for and sit the external NCTJ exam in Essential Public Affairs.

Learning and teaching methods

Anticipated teaching delivery: Weekly 2-hour seminar


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Formative Assignment: in-class exercise and feedback (Week 6)    0% 
Written Exam  Test 1 (Autumn) Week 9    30% 
Written Exam  Test 2 (Spring) Week 19    30% 
Written Exam  Test 3 (Summer) Week 34    40% 

Additional coursework information

The NCTJ exam in Essential Public Affairs will be held in the summer term (duration 105 minutes). This exam will be marked and assessed externally.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Mr Tim Fenton, email:
John Cary
LiFTS General Office - email Telephone 01206 872626



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 43 hours, 36 (83.7%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
5 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.


Further information

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