Media Law

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Scott


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 study. These blocks of study focus on (a) regulating content in defence of private interests (misuse of private information, data protection, confidentiality, copyright 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).


This course will have a minimum of two hours of teaching content each week in Michaelmas Term and Lent Term. 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. This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Michaelmas Term and Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to submit two formative essays or essay plans, one in MT one in LT, in support of the development of their 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 (13th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, 2021), Moreham and Warby (eds), Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media (3rd edn, Oxford University Press, 2016), 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.
Essay (50%, 4000 words) in the LT.

During the year, students must complete two 4,000 word research essays on themes set by or agreed with the course convenor. The grades achieved for these papers will each comprise 50% of the overall grade for the course.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 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 differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching 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 2020/21: Unavailable

Average class size 2020/21: Unavailable

Capped 2020/21: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills