What you should really look for in a course, and honest reviews of the best options.
For those who can afford it, postgraduate study is an effective short cut into an industry where jobs are scarce and contacts vital.
Courses aren’t the only way to get a job, but they give you important technical skills and the big hitters boast impressive employment rates.
Location Being in a big city means better opportunities for work experience and shifts. As the home of the nationals, London is obviously the best bet. Big cities or areas served by large regional papers are also good.
People Take note of alumni, teachers and regular guests. Lots of names mean networking opportunities. You absolutely have to know people in journalism, so be shameless in that respect.
Practical skills There are three essential modules: media law, shorthand, and journalism practice. You need the first two to get a job and the third is vital if you are going to learn anything. Technical skills like video are useful too.
Employment prospects Look at the jobs graduates get from a course – it’s a good guide of what opportunities you will get.
What isn’t important
Theory Some courses are heavy on ethics and theory. Employers don’t care about your views on phone hacking or the decline of print. They want to know that you have the basic skills to do the job.
NCTJ accreditation You don’t need this to get a job, you need to be a good reporter. The worst case scenario is you will have to sit NCTJ exams when you start a job, which you will find easy. Some of the best courses are not accredited.
The course A journalism degree does not make you a journalist. Supplement any study with work experience and freelance shifts. Always prioritise real work over your course. Jobs don’t fall into your lap in this industry. You’ve got to learn the skills and then make it happen for yourself.
Below is a list of places worth taking a look at:
City University, London
Courses offered: MA programmes in newspaper, magazine, interactive, broadcast, television, investigative, financial, science and politics
City is the best course in the country for one simple reason: employability. There’s plenty on the course you shouldn’t waste your time with but unrivalled industry contacts and a London location make it the best place to get work experience, shifts and a job.
Courses offered: Plenty, but the one you want is the Become a Reporter course.
Fees: £4600 (London) or £4180 (Newcastle)
Cheaper than top MAs, 17 weeks long and with good employment prospects, the PA course is one of your best options. You can take the course in either London or Newcastle, working at local papers or PA’s offices. Forget the theory, this course focuses on the key skills you need: shorthand, reporting, law, public affairs, editing and writing.
Goldsmiths, University of London
Courses offered: MA programmes in general journalism, television and digital
Goldsmiths students benefit from a London location and a focus on reporting skills. The course runs an online paper called East London Lines which is widely read in the local area, meaning you get real experience of reporting day in, day out.
University of Cardiff
Courses offered: Postgraduate diplomas and MA programmes in newspaper, magazine and broadcast
Fees: MA £8,530. Diploma £6,950
Widely regarded as City’s slightly poorer cousin, Cardiff loses out because of its location, which makes it harder to feed graduates into nationals. Widely respected and with two press days a week, nowhere prepares you better for the newsroom routine.
University of Kent
Courses offered: Multimedia Journalism
Led by former Scotsman editor Tim Luckhurst, Kent has already taken the mantle of top undergraduate course, and is fast improving in the more important postgraduate stakes. There is no division between print and broadcast journalism here, just one Multimedia course. At a time where reporters need to be multi-skilled, this innovative approach could be your best bet.
Best of the rest
University of Sheffield
Courses offered: MA programmes in print, broadcast, magazine and web
Fees: MA £6,285
Kingston University, London
Courses offered: Postgraduate diploma and MA programme in journalism
Fees: Diploma £5,250. MA £5,850
University of Central Lancashire
Courses offered: Postgraduate diplomas and MA programmes in broadcast, international, magazine, newspaper, general journalism, journalism studies and journalism practice
Fees: Diploma tbc MA £6,000
University of Westminster, London
Courses offered: MA programmes in broadcast, and newspaper and online