Reporting Politics

The details
Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 27 June 2025
26 March 2024


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. Their use plus that of the UK Freedom of Information Act will be addressed. It is an important prerequisite to one of the key responsibilities of journalism, that of holding power to account.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have a detailed understanding of how the machinery of government works, at all levels.

  2. Have a knowledge of the public services and how they operate.

  3. Have an understanding of the devolved UK and the relationships between the four nations of the UK.

  4. Have 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. Have gained practical experience of the workings of local government, attending and reporting on local council meetings.

  6. Have 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. All the above will be approached from the perspective of a working journalist. 

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

This module will be delivered via:

  • Weekly 2-hour seminar plus visits to councils and other relevant trips (anticipated teaching delivery).


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

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    20% 
Written Exam  Test 2 (Spring) Week 19    30% 
Written Exam  Test 3 (Summer) Week 34    50% 

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. Tests will be in-person, closed book. Overall assessment and reassessment for this module is 100% by coursework.

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 1822 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
1822 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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