Media Law

This information is for the 2023/24 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 Autumn Term and Winter Term. Teaching will be conducted primarily through weekly two-hour seminars and a recorded introductory lecture. Students will also receive supervision in respect of an assessed research paper. This course includes a reading week in Weeks 6 of Autumn Term and Winter Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to submit two drafts of formative essays or essay plans, one in Autumn Term and one in Winter Term, 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 Busutill (eds) Gatley on Libel and Slander (13th edn, Sweet & Maxwell, 2022),
  • Moreham and Warby (eds), Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media (3rd edn, Oxford University Press, 2016), and
  • 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) in the ST.

Key facts

Department: Law School

Total students 2022/23: 28

Average class size 2022/23: 29

Capped 2022/23: 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