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2010/1 Module Catalogue
 Module Code: LAW3036 Module Title: MEDIA LAW
Module Provider: School of Law Short Name: LAW332
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: DAVIES S Mr (Schl of Law)
Number of credits: 30 Number of ECTS credits: 15
Module Availability
Both Semesters
Assessment Pattern
Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark (%)
Qualifying Condition(s) 
Overall Mark of 40%
Module Overview
This module analyses the law governing the media in England and Wales.
Criminal Law/ Public Law/Law of Tort
Module Aims
The primary objective of this module is to identify those areas of general law which have special significance for the media and to develop understanding of them and their impact on the presentation of information and the arts to the public. The module is structured to provide students with a contextual background for studying substantive law. It sets out the legal bodies which control the media and the legal context in which they perform their functions. These studies will be set in the wider context of the European law and, in particular the effect of the European Convention on Human Rights under the Human Rights Act 1998. It will consider whether the English law achieves the correct balance between freedom of expression and the rights of the state and the individual.
The module considers the ethical values, philosophical principles and the political constraints relating to the maintenance of that balance.
Students address such questions as:
  • What is the nature and scope of freedom of expression?
  • To what extent can the State maintain government secrets in the national interest?
  • In what circumstances can the media be in contempt of court?
  • To what extent should the state censor material available to the public on moral grounds?
  • To what extent does the right to reputation limit the freedom of the media?
  • Is there a right of privacy and to what extent should this be protected?
  • How is the press regulated and controlled?
  • How is the provision of broadcasting services organised and regulated?
  • How are public performances regulated?
  • How are the authors of new material protected from plagiarism?
  • What rights do the public have to official information?
  • How is personal stored data protected?
  • What rights of access does the media have to court proceedings?
Learning Outcomes
At the end of this module the students are able to:
  1. Demonstrate a basic understanding of the historical, philosophical and political influences on the development of media law.
  2. Understand the concept of freedom of expression as this relates to the media and its protection under common law and the Human Rights Act 1998.
  3. Understand the effect of the Official Secrets Acts and other legislation protecting state secrets.
  4. Comprehend the control exercised on obscene publications by the common law, the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and other statutes.
  5. Understand the law of defamation as it applies to the media, particularly in relation to defences and remedies.
  6. Comprehend the provisions of the Contempt of Court Act 1981 and the common law relating to contempt.
  7. Understand the issue as to whether a right of privacy exists or whether the development of the common law (particularly in relation to confidentiality) provides sufficient protection of individual rights.
  8. Comprehend the control systems for the press, broadcasting and public performances in theatres, cinemas and on video.
  9. Understand the law relating to the protection of copyright.
  10. Comprehend the effects of the Data Protection 1988 and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 on the media.
  11. Assess the privileges and constraints placed on media reporting of court proceedings.
Module Content
  • Freedom of Expression
  • Needs of the State
  • Official Secrets Acts
  • Obscenity
  • Defamation
  • Contempt of Court
  • Disclosure of Journalists’ Sources
  • Privacy and Breach of Confidence
  • Controls on the Press
  • Controls on Broadcasts
  • Controls over films, videos and theatre
  • Copyright
  • Data Protection
  • Freedom of Information
  • Media reporting of court proceedings
Methods of Teaching/Learning
One 2 hour lecture (weekly) plus one 1 hour tutorial (fortnightly)
The lectures will introduce the students to the subject areas and provide an over-view to enable students to understand the basic principles and underlying concepts. The tutorials will open out the subject, consider key principles and legislative provisions and provide the student with signposts to background and supplementary reading. During tutorials students will be expected to have researched topic areas and to apply that research to discussing given legal problems. Guided reading programs will be supplied and students must demonstrate during tutorials that they have undertaken them. Students will be expected to present logical arguments founded on legal authorities. Their ability to challenge the propositions of others and to respond to challenges to their own will be monitored and developed. Special importance will be given to students’ ability to give comprehensive advice in scenarios mirroring real life situations and to present solutions in language comprehensible to lay clients. The teaching and learning strategy is designed to stimulate private study using derivative and original sources both paper-based and electronic sources, and develop an understanding and critical awareness of the essential principles and under-lying ethical values and philosophies of the law relating to media law.
Selected Texts/Journals
Expected purchase:
Fenwick/Phillipson, Media Free under the Human,  O.U.P. Rights Act.
Background Reading:
Welsh/Greenwood/McNae's, Essential Law, for Lexis/Nexis 18th ed. Banks Journalists
Carey/Sanders, Medial Law, Sweet & Maxwell 3rd ed.
Stone, Textbook on Civil Liberties and O.U.P. 5th ed, Human Rights
Spilsbury, Media Law, Lexis/Nexis, 17th ed.
Nelson/Robb, The Law of Human Rights, and Sweet & Maxwell And Media
Barendt/Hitchens, Media Law, Cases and Materials
Carey/Verow  Media and Entertainment Law
Robertson/Nicol, Media Law Sweet & Maxwell 4th ed
Reference only:
Carey  Media Law
Robertson/Nicol Media Law
Entertainment and Media Law Reports Sweet & Maxwell
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