Ah, the joys of being a finalist. Internships, job applications and a dissertation. I’m currently in the process of applying for journalism masters degrees, but what should you consider when you’re looking? The postgraduate league tables (when I could find them!) were not of much help, so I took a look at three top universities to study for journalism MAs, and looked at the differences between them.
- The reputation
I’ve been told countless times that I shouldn’t bother going anywhere else, and just go to City. Its strengths are the good contacts and industry expert lecturers, which will teach you the real tricks of the trade, now, not how it was ten years ago.
However, these are closely followed by Sheffield and Cardiff, who also have great reputations, especially for student satisfaction for which Sheffield tops the chart.
- The accreditation
Despite the intense and well-respected nature of City, it is not NCTJ (National College of Trainee Journalists) accredited. Sheffield and Cardiff’s courses are. Many local and regional newspapers will insist on this qualification, which could rule out some jobs for you automatically.
That said, a degree from City or another form of journalism course (as long as you have basic reporting skills, media law and shorthand) will still see you in good light for a graduate job.
- The location
The advice for getting onto the Daily Mail as a trainee from the Press Gazette states that those who are at universities outside of London may find it harder to make contacts and get extensive work experience placements. The nationals and bigger companies are based there, transport is generally easier, and the capital is where everything is happening.
On the other hand, Cardiff and Sheffield are still interesting and vibrant cities. In fact, with less journalists working on the same patch, the chance of getting a good story might be even greater. There could be more of a chance to have an impact on the daily regional papers than at The Telegraph, as Tom (AKA The Chancer – remember him?) found when comparing work experience at a local and national paper.
Whether you want to be close to the shops, to home, or to an airport, bear this all in mind. Sheffield is excellent for shopping, and Cardiff and the neighbouring areas are full of highly-rated nightlife.
- The cost
London ain’t cheap. That’s clear. With the course fees totalling £9,000 for just nine months, that will leave just a grand left to live on, should you choose to apply for a career development loan. House prices are higher, travel costs extortionate, and god forbid you choose to buy a pint in central on a Friday night.
Cardiff clocks in at just £6k with some of its courses, with Sheffield’s course is just behind at an average of £5000. Not only that, but outside of London is considerably cheaper to live in, especially in the north of England. If money is a huge concern for you, Sheffield might be for you.
- The course content and facilities
Of course, it’s harder to compare this. All three claim to have top of the range facilities for a range of journalistic disciplines. The uni that stands out, for me at least, is Sheffield. The excellent facilities appear to be as ‘cutting edge’ as they claim to be, which is supported by the students that I’ve spoken to.
All of the courses offer basic journalist training, including media law, shorthand and a range of other skills which will be vital to your CV and portfolio. All involve a range of practical projects, public administration, and optional extras which are sure to train you well for a career.
So, overall, I guess it depends what you’re looking for in your postgraduate degree. If you want to be in the centre of everything, where work, night-life, and just about everything else in Britain comes together, head for City. If you want something perhaps a little quieter (and cheaper!) with more of a focus on regional journalism, then Cardiff of Sheffield might be for you. Wherever you decide to go, these three will get you a fantastic degree with a qualification that will help you get your foot on the career ladder in journalism.
|Course price||£8,700 – £9,500||£4000 – £6000||£6,300 – £8,500|
|Accreditation?||BTJC/PTC accredited – NO NCTJ accreditation||NCTJ/BTJC/ PTC accredited||NCTJ/BTJC/PTC accredited|
|Location||Capital of England – great for contacts and work experience.||Major city, but far from London. Better regional links.||Capital of Wales – another major city. Harder to get to.|
Are you looking at a masters in journalism? What do you rate as your most important factor when choosing for a postgraduate? Tweet us @wannabehacks.
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