Media Law

This information is for the 2022/23 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 freedom of speech and the legal and administrative regulation of the mainstream and social 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 diversity and impartiality; disinformation, fabrication and ‘fake news’; offensive content; terrorism and national security), and (c) the control of journalistic newsgathering practices (risks to and protection of sources; technological circumvention of source protection;  access to state information (FoI, and official secrets); open justice and access to courts and court documents; the 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 seminars and a recorded introductory lecture. Students will also receive supervision in respect of two short, assessed research papers. 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.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2021/22: 30

Average class size 2021/22: 15

Capped 2021/22: Yes (30)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

  • Communication
  • Specialist skills