The Media Factory, UCLan, Preston Campus

The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will run a post-graduate certificate in Journalism Innovation and Leadership from January 2021 to shape the next generation of newsroom leaders.

The part-time course will combine online and face-to-face learning. In addition, every student will be matched up with a senior industry mentor from organisations like Reach Plc, Twitter, The Telegraph, The Times and Sunday Times and more.

It is the first university-certified course of its kind, with its roots in UCLan's Journalism Leadership Programme which ran from 2005-2015.

The modules have been shaped by the UK Society of Editors, the Digital Editors Network, and WAN-IFRA, the World Association of News Publishers, amongst others.

Skills of tomorrow

François Nel, reader in media innovation at UCLan, and the scholarship programme co-ordinator, told Journalism.co.uk in an email that the curriculum reflects what industry leaders and academics see as vital skills needed in the news industry.

"These [skills] range across issues related to people, product, profits and philosophy. It's about knowing how to do things, but also which things are worth doing and why," says Nel.

"Some of the key elements are the ability to distinguish between strategy and tactics and when and how to deploy both. A good understanding of how editorial, product and sales interlink for the best overall output - cross-functional thinking, if you will. 

"The capacity to leverage a critical understanding of audiences, data and trends to identify where to play or not to play. The skills to translate strategy into actions and to communicate those with different groups inside and outside of the organisation.

"Leaders also need to understand how to inspire people, especially if you are to take people out of their comfort zones, as well the humility to listen to those who disagree. Overall, innovative leaders need agility in thought and action, and personal resilience."

Module breakdown

The two modules will challenge students to come up with solutions for their own newsrooms. Two-thirds of the course will be spent on module one: journalism leadership. The remaining one-third is module two: journalism innovation. There are no traditional exams on this course.

The course description reads: "Our solutions-based approach means that you will be offered a range of assessments that allow you to demonstrate your ability to apply critical insights to professional practice. You will normally have individual and group tasks during the intensive teaching blocks followed by an Applied Learning Project that gives you a chance to provide immediate value to your organisation."

This course spans 30 teaching weeks from January to December 2021, comprising three 10-week blocks in the spring, early summer and autumn 2021. Typically, the course would require five hours per week for research, reading, discussion, reflection, and writing required for each module. Each term will include nine weekly online seminars along with an intensive teaching block online or on campus.

Roadmap of UCLan's Journalism Innovation and Leadership postgraduate certificate

Nel said it was important to take time out of the newsroom and learn from those with a proven track record of success.

"Reaching your leadership potential is not only about the knowledge and skills, it's also about the confidence to take on top roles," he continues.

"The mentors will advise the participants with their applied learning projects and their own personal development plans."

Scholarships and how to apply

Ten scholarships have been made available with the support of The Google News Initiative, which covers course fees totalling £2,295. Applications for the scholarship must be made after applying to the course by contacting fpnel@uclan.ac.uk or cecook@uclan.ac.uk. The deadline to apply is 15 November 2020.

Applications must be made via the UCLan website before completing a scholarship submission. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted the week of 22 November and invited to an online video interview, with a final decision to be made no later than 11 December 2020.

The website states that entry requirements include: "a strong interest in the challenges facing journalism and its leaders as evident in a 250-word statement that describes your daily duties, the relevance of the programme to your career, your goals for the course and how you will apply the learning in context."

  • Typically, an undergraduate degree in journalism or a related media subject, at 2:1 or above. 
  • Or evidence of professional journalism/media industry experience (normally five years). 
  • Appropriate computer literacy and internet access. 
  • International applicants are required to have an IELTS score of 7 or equivalent. 
  • Applicants will also be interviewed either in person or via electronic means.

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