Not available in 2020/21
Media Law

This information is for the 2020/21 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Scott

Mr Ollie Persey


This course is available on the BA in Anthropology and Law and LLB in Laws. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Course content

The course examines the legal and administrative regulation of the press, broadcasting, and other media. It centres on law and regulation in the UK, as influenced by European and international law.

The course opens with introductory lectures that introduce themes such as the ‘media ‘landscape’, the sources and forms of media law (ethical, cultural and technological constraints, self-regulation, common law, statute, EC law and international law), and the rights and values that frame this area of law (free speech; privacy; impartiality; the protection of rights to a fair trial).

Thereafter, the course moves through three ‘blocks’ of five problem-focused, group-based classes that run through the year. These blocks of study focus on (a) regulating content in defence private interests (misuse of private information, confidentiality and defamation), (b) regulating content in defence of public interests (contempt and the integrity of justice; political impartiality; offensive content; terrorism and national security), and (c) the control of journalistic newsgathering practices (risks to and protection of sources; constraints on ‘cheque-book’ journalism; access to government information (FoI, and official secrets); open justice and access to courts; regulation of the journalistic ‘dark arts’ (misrepresentation and subterfuge).


6 hours of seminars, 20 hours of classes and 20 minutes of help sessions in the MT. 4 hours of seminars, 20 hours of classes and 20 minutes of help sessions in the LT.

The teaching will be conducted primarily through weekly two hour group-based classes and one hour plenary seminars. This contact time will be supported by a series of presentation-based lectures covering each course theme. Students will also receive supervision in respect of a short research paper.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 15 problem sets in the MT and LT.


Each week, group-work in classes will focus on 2 sets of problem exercises, and 1 set of policy-focused themes. The problem exercises are designed to allow students to build the knowledge necessary to complete the summative problem-based assessment. The policy-focused sessions are intended to introduce students to themes that may be picked up as topics for the summative coursework.

Indicative reading

Supporting texts for the course include:

  • Millar and Scott, Newsgathering: Law, Regulation and the Public Interest (Oxford University Press, 2016);
  • 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 (50%, 4000 words) in the ST.
Coursework (50%, 3000 words) in the MT and LT.

During the year, students must complete three problem exercises in groups, following extensive preparatory group-based problem exercises in seminars. The best two grades achieved in these three exercises will comprise 50% of the overall grade for each student for the course. Each student must also complete one 4,000 word research essay on a theme to be agreed with the course convenor. The grade achieved for this paper will comprise the remaining 50% of the overall grade for the course.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2020/21 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the situation of students in attendance on campus and those studying online during the early part of the academic year. For assessment, this may involve changes to mode of delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: Law

Total students 2019/20: 24

Average class size 2019/20: 13

Capped 2019/20: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills