Computational and Data Journalism (MSc)

An innovative degree focusing on the development of knowledge and skills through research-informed practical learning in journalism, data science, computer coding and digital development.

The MSc in Computational and Data Journalism is a cutting-edge programme based at the UK’s leading Journalism School (Guardian’s University Guide 2016). It is jointly delivered by the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and the School of Computer Science and Informatics.

This programme provides the perfect vantage point from which to succeed in digital journalist and allows you to develops skills in both data journalism and newsroom development. No previous knowledge of computing is necessary and the programme is open to graduates from any discipline.

This MSc is ideal for recent graduates looking for specialist skills in digital journalism and coding that are proven to be in demand by leading organisations. We also work with working journalists looking to develop their skills in this growing area of the industry.

As a hands-on programme, it focuses on the development of knowledge and skills through research-informed practical learning in journalism, data science, computer coding and digital development.

During this one-year, full-time Master's degree, you will benefit from a combination of lectures, seminars and workshops to develop your skills in an open, discussion-driven environment.

You will develop a solid foundation in journalism and computing, before specialising in your areas of interest and finally completing a practical and research-based dissertation project using the unique skills that you have acquired.

This programme is the perfect foundation for a career at the forefront of digital journalism. It has been designed to respond to a shortage in skills reported by employers and built to develop professional writing and editorial skills. In addition, it delivers specialist training to understanding data, coding and web application development.

Distinctive features

  • This innovative programme is the first of its kind in the UK and is supported by leading industry bodies such as the Financial Times, the BBC and the Office for National Statistics
  • Specialist modules include science reporting, sport, business journalism, crisis reporting, visual communication and information design
  • The course has a strong focus on practical application of the skills acquired

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

Applicants should have a good first degree.

Applications must include a personal statement that outlines the reasons for applying, and at least one reference letter from a previous tutor or person in charge of a past professional experience. Work experience within the media or creative industries would be beneficial.

Applicants whose first language is not English must obtain a British Council IELTS score of at least 7.0 (with a minimum subscore of 6.0 in each component), or an equivalent English language qualification. However, applicants with an IELTS score of 6.5 (with a minimum subscore of 6.0 in each component) will be considered provided they undertake and successfully complete the University’s eight-week pre-sessional English course. This requirement may be waived if the applicant can furnish sufficient evidence that they are suitably proficient in the use of English.

Applicants will need to complete an online application form which will then be considered by an admissions tutor.

You will be asked to provide references in support of your application, one of which will need to be from previous academic study.

Applications are considered throughout the year.

This is a year-long, full-time course. It is taught through a mix of formal lectures, demonstrations, and practical exercises as well as individual and team projects but always with a focus on applying the skills in the real world.
 
The course is structured in three phases – foundation, application and specialisation, dissertation -  to support you in the development of skills and knowledge in the key aspects of the course.
 
You will initially gain a solid foundation in journalism and computing before specialising in your areas of interest and finally, completing a practical and research-based dissertation project using the unique skills that you have acquired.

Foundation phase

The first semester teaches you the basics of computing: learning how to program in Python, and how to create rich interactive web applications using HTML, CSS and JavaScript. 

Alongside this, modules focusing on Data Journalism and the key issues of reporting ethics and the media introduce the journalistic skills required by the industry. 

The first semester is supported by a series of 'lab' seminars, hosted by the programme leaders, where you will be able to solidify your skills in both computer science and journalism, and experiment on side projects in a safe environment.
 
Application and specialisation phase

The second semester presents a chance for specialisation, with the ability to select optional modules focused on your own specialist interests.

Additionally, a core 'Digital Investigation' module will see you working as a data team to complete a 'real-world' project, either an investigative data journalism piece, a software development project, or a combination of the two

Dissertation phase

Finally, your dissertation will allow you to hone your research and development skills and complete a project that displays your computational and data journalism skills to prospective employers.

 

 

Module titleModule codeCredits
Information Processing in PythonCMT10320 credits
Web Application DevelopmentCMT11220 credits
Reporters and the ReportedMCT50910 credits
Digital InvestigationMCT54220 credits
Data JournalismMCT55910 credits
Data JournalismMCT55910 credits
Dissertation ProjectMCT54360 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a variety of formal lectures, practical exercises, and individual or group projects which replicate an industry environment.

You will benefit from a dedicated programme of seminars to complement your skills and understanding across the two different disciplines and to bring together the issues arising from the existing teaching modules.

You will also attend a cross-computing/journalism set of workshops and seminars, which support early application and development of the skills developed through each of the subject areas.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor in both the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and the School of Computer Science & Informatics to support you during your studies. They will be available to help and support your academic and pastoral needs, and will be available when needed to discuss progress and provide advice and guidance.
 
You will be supported by the Student Support services in the school and through wider university resources.
 
You will have regular tutorials with the programme directors as well as the opportunity to meet with module leaders on request.
 
Feedback

Feedback is provided at each assessment point for summative assessments, formative feedback is provided in practical sessions and throughout teaching.

 

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a wide range of formative and summative assessments throughout the course. These range from practical class room activities to academic essays and examinations.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge and Understanding

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the main principles and theories that are applicable to the practices of digital journalism and computer science
  • Show knowledge of contemporary issues and thinking to which data journalists and developers have had to respond over the period of study
  • Identify and utilise the main research methods relevant to addressing the themes and case studies presented in the course
  • Demonstrate advanced knowledge and critical understanding – displaying originality, depth and insight – of an area relevant to the field of Computational Journalism in your final dissertation project

Intellectual Skills

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify, synthesise and critically analyse literature which underpins the study of the issues facing data journalism and the interface with computer science
  • Analyse issues and problems arising in data journalism and computer science using appropriate theories, concepts and techniques to arrive at solutions
  • Complete a dissertation project, which combines an understanding of journalism or media issues and applies computer science techniques to deliver an editorial outcome. These include: designing the project, collecting relevant data and information and presenting the material in a logical and coherent manner.

Application of Knowledge and Practical Skills

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Identify, prepare and use relevant information for data journalism employing computer science techniques
  • Utilise data resources (including analytics and databases) in addressing journalistic problems and issues
  • Analyse problems facing different branches of journalism and the interface with computer science and propose solutions: for example the transition of print publications onto digital platforms and growing consumer demand for visualised information
  • Identify, analyse and devise strategic approaches to political, social and ethical issues affecting media performance, such as concerns around data privacy, pluralism and trust

Transferable Skills

On completion of the course, you will be able to:

  • Communicate relevant theories and principles, in writing and orally, in an effective and engaging manner
  • Engage in team working and make a positive contribution to the development of innovative editorial content through the use of data analysis and the application of computer science and digital technology
  • Effectively use a full range of IT resources, including the internet, electronic journals, databases, word processing, spreadsheets and social media platforms
  • Identify the challenges in data science and analysis and the presentation of information for public consumption
  • Identify media industry trends and display awareness of the need for and techniques for achieving innovation in the face of rapid technological and market change

The skills taught by this MSc are in demand with employers. Students from the course have gone on to work as data journalists with national news organisations. Students on this programme have also included working journalists looking to specialise in this important area of growth within the media.
 
“The new course in computational journalism looks like a great initiative and will no doubt equip graduates with a deeper understanding of technology that will be invaluable in their future careers. Media organisations need close liaison between editorial and technology teams, and this course can really focus graduates on helping to bridge what can be a dangerous divide.”
Peter Clifton, Executive Editor, MSN UK (Microsoft) now editor-in-chief Press Association
 
“Finding and making best use of data to discover and tell stories is a key skill for any news organisation, and we need people who can combine digital and data skills with a journalistic grounding and ability, so this course looks very promising.”
Steve Herrmann, Editor, BBC News
 
“If you arrive in the newsroom with journalism skills on top of … an understanding of programming and how to use a spreadsheet – that is something really, really valuable."
Marianne Bouchart, ex-Bloomberg News now Global Editors Network

 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.