LL4H2      Half Unit
Freedom of Speech, Media and the Law

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Scott NAB6.25


This course is available on the LLM (extended part-time), LLM (full-time), MSc in Media and Communications (Media and Communications Governance) and University of Pennsylvania Law School LLM Visiting Students. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course examines freedom of speech and the legal and administrative regulation of mass media publication that bears upon it (principally the press, the broadcast media, and institutionalised Internet publication). The course is introduced with consideration of a number of themes that underpin the rest of the syllabus: the role(s) of the media in society (including conceptions of the 'public interest'); the main social, technological and regulatory influences that shape media publication practise, and rights jurisprudence (in particular, the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in national and international law). The course then examines potential restrictions on publication that are aimed at promoting or preserving specific private and/or public interests. The key private interests considered are those in reputation (defamation), privacy, and confidentiality. The key public interests considered are the integrity of the judicial process (contempt and reporting restrictions), the impartiality of political representations, the avoidance of offence (obscenity and religion), and national security.


20 hours of seminars in the MT.

There will be a reading week in week 6. 

10 weekly two-hour seminars in MT. The course is also supported by a series of specialist seminars with outside speakers, and by an online discussion forum.


Formative coursework

Students must submit an essay plan and working bibliography for the assessed essay. All students are expected to contribute to a series of class and online exercises, and to submit one 1,500 word essay.

Indicative reading

Supporting texts for the course include Parkes and Mullis (eds) Gatley on Libel and Slander (Rev 12th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, 2015), and Barendt et al, Media Law: Texts, Cases and Materials (Pearson, 2013); Leveson, An Inquiry Into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press: Report, HC 780, 2012. These and other materials relevant to the course are generally made available via the BLPES electronic resources or online.


Essay (100%, 8000 words).

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2018/19: 29

Average class size 2018/19: 27

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills