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Court Reporting

  • Module code: JO7005
  • Year: 2018/9
  • Level: 7
  • Credits: 0
  • Pre-requisites: None
  • Co-requisites: None

Summary

This module will give you an understanding of how the UK court system works, and get you ready to report from a variety of courts and hearings, including magistrates and crown courts, county courts and inquests. You'll get a chance to visit Kingston Crown Court - just across the road from campus - and practise your legal, shorthand and reporting skills. The module, which is not-for-credit, is taken by all students studying for the MA Journalism, and may also be of interest to MA Magazine Journalism students. It culminates in the NCTJ Court Reporting exam.

Aims

The aims of this module are to enable you to: 

  • build up a detailed understanding of procedures in criminal and civil justice systems in England, Wales and Northern Ireland;
  • develop a critical awareness of the functions and forms of reporting restrictions imposed on journalists covering the courts;
  • evaluate and act on available methods to challenge court orders;
  • engage critically with wider debates about the roles and functions of the different types of civil and criminal courts and their powers of sentence, the role of juries in complex criminal cases and the changing relationship between  the judiciary, parliament and the media.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:

  • operate confidently and accurately as journalists reporting on proceedings in both criminal and civil courts;
  • work within the framework of reporting restrictions in the courts and recognise when they are within their rights to challenge judges' decisions on reporting restrictions;
  • be prepared for the National Council for the Training of Journalists' court reporting law exam 

 

Curriculum content

  • Legal terms and court structures (including magistrates' courts, Crown courts, coroners' courts, youth courts, civil courts and the small claims court). The role and function of employers' and industrial tribunals.
  • Reporting restrictions for sexual offences and proceedings involving children. Contempt and Magistrates Court Act. The debates about allowing television cameras into courts
  • How the press can and should challenge discretionary reporting restrictions, including under  the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.
  • Court reporting techniques and story structure 

Teaching and learning strategy

This module will be taught primarily through a three-hour lecture/seminar in weekly sessions. These will provide an overview of issues and give students the opportunity to debate the topic, examine relevant case studies and check their understanding of legal terms and concepts. Tuition in court reporting style and technique will also be given. There will also be organised visits to magistrates' courts and Crown courts and the option to also attend county courts, the High Court, inquests and employment tribunals. Students will have the opportunity to use the knowledge and understanding acquired in this module in combination with practical reporting and shorthand skills acquired in other modules and classes.

Breakdown of Teaching and Learning Hours

Definitive UNISTATS Category Indicative Description Hours
Scheduled learning and teaching Lecture/seminar and court visits. Three hours per week over 10 weeks 30
Guided independent study Court visits and independent study 60
Total (number of credits x 10) 0

Assessment strategy

No MA assessment as not a credit-bearing unit. However, court reports may be submitted as part of the portfolio required for the MA Journalism Hands-On module

Professional assessment - NCTJ Court Reporting Law exam

Mapping of Learning Outcomes to Assessment Strategy (Indicative)

Learning Outcome Assessment Strategy
operate confidently and accurately as journalists reporting on proceedings in both criminal and civil courts Formative assessment through class court report workshops and court visits
work within the framework of reporting restrictions in the courts and recognise when they are within their rights to challenge judges' decisions on reporting restrictions; NCTJ Court Reporting exam. Formative feedback on court reporting exercises
be prepared for the National Council for the Training of Journalists' court reporting law exam Formative assessment through mock exams. NCTJ Court Reporting exam

Elements of Assessment

Description of Assessment Definitive UNISTATS Categories Percentage
0
Total (to equal 100%) 100%

Achieving a pass

It IS NOT a requirement that any major assessment category is passed separately in order to achieve an overall pass for the module

Bibliography core texts

Banks and Hanna, McNae's Essential Law for Journalists, Oxford, 21th Edition, 2012

Bibliography recommended reading

Robertson, G and Nicol, A. (2007) Media Law 5th edition, Sweet and Maxwell, London.

Grove, Trevor (2000) The Juryman's Tale Bloomsbury, London

Grove, Trevor (2003) The Magistrate's Tale: A Frontline Report from a New JP Bloomsbury, London

Davies, FG (2012), Anthony and Berryman's Magistrates' Court Guide Butterworth, London

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