Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2007-2008 (archived)

Module LAW54130: Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act

Department: Law

LAW54130: Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2007/08
Tied to


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to provide an in-depth study of certain aspects of the law governing media freedom in the UK in relation to the media freedom jurisprudence developed under the European Convention on Human Rights and, to a lesser extent, in other comparable jurisdictions.


  • Free Speech theories: the intention is to examine critically the main free speech theories and their implications for the rights and responsibilities of the media;
  • consideration of the Human Rights Act and its particular application to the media;
  • consideration of the Strasbourg jurisprudence applied domestically, including assessment of the underlying principles; differentials in terms of speech protection (political/artistic/commercial speech); comparisons; English common law; Germany, Canada, USA (especially the latter), ICCPR;
  • Contempt of Court: theoretical approaches; the Strasbourg approach; comparisons with the US and Canadian approaches;
  • Restraining Freedom of Expression on the grounds of offensiveness and of protecting morality; Blasphemy, Seditious Libel, Hate speech;
  • Censorship, Licensing and Regulation of the Visual Media;
  • privacy-asserting rights against the media;
  • conclusions and future directions under the Human Rights Act: overall evaluation of current and prospective legal trends.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
Subject-specific Skills:
Key Skills:

    Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

    • Through an in-depth knowledge of the relevant domestic and Convention provisions and jurisprudence in the context of comparative material.
    • By allowing students to develop a critical understanding of the theories underpinning media freedom and of their recognition within the provisions and jurisprudence studied.

    Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

    Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
    Seminars 15 Weekly with a few reading weeks. 2 30
    Preparation and Reading 270
    Total 300

    Summative Assessment

    Component: Unseen written examination Component Weighting: 100%
    Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
    Unseen written examination. 3 hour 100%

    Formative Assessment:

    Two assignments of approximately 2,000 words each in Michaelmas Term and Epiphany Term.

    Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University