LL4H3      Half Unit
Media Law: Regulating Newsgathering

This information is for the 2023/24 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Andrew Scott


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 as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.


This course has a limited number of places and demand is typically high. This may mean that you’re not able to get a place on this course.

Course content

This course focuses on the legal and normative frameworks regarding the obtaining of information by journalists and others. It examines in particular the legal and administrative regulation of newsgathering and content production practices undertaken by professionals working in the media sector, but extends to citizen-journalism, academia, and the activities of others across society. 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 newsgathering practise, and rights jurisprudence (in particular, the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in national and international law). The course then examines a number of news- and information-gathering practices that are either facilitated or proscribed by law and/or other forms of regulation. These include the protection of sources and journalistic materials; the technological circumvention of source protections; legal risks to sources and whistleblowers; 'cheque-book journalism' (including payments to witnesses and to criminals); access to information held by the state (freedom of information); access to courts, court documents and other criminal justice contexts (prisons); the safety of journalists and newsgatherers; reporting from conflict-zones; media-police interaction; harassment and media intrusion, and the regulation of surreptitious newsgathering practices (hacking, tapping and subterfuge).


This course will have 20 hours of teaching content in Winter Term. There is a Reading Week in Week 6 of Winter Term.

Formative coursework

Students must submit a formative essay plan and working bibliography during the development of the assessed essay.

Indicative reading

Supporting texts for the course include Millar and Scott, Newsgathering: Law, Regulation and the Public Interest (Oxford University Press, 2016); Levine et al, Newsgathering and the Law (Mathew Bender, 2018); Leveson, An Inquiry Into the Culture, Practices and Ethics of the Press: Report, HC 780, 2012, Warby, Moreham and Christie (eds), Tugendhat and Christie: The Law of Privacy and the Media, (3rd ed, OUP, 2015), Flat Earth News (Chatto & Windus, 2008); de Burgh, Investigative Journalism (Routledge, 2nd ed, 2008). Many of these and other materials relevant to the course are 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: 27

Average class size 2022/23: 27

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Value: Half 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