Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Postgraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2012-2013 (archived)

Module LAW54215: Introduction to Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act

Department: Law

LAW54215: Introduction to Media Freedom under the Human Rights Act

Type Open Level 4 Credits 15 Availability Available in 2012/13 Module Cap


  • None


  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • to provide a critical study of the impact of the Human Rights Act on media freedom.


  • 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;
  • Methods of asserting rights to privacy against the media: the Strasbourg approach; comparisons with the US and the Canadian approaches.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should gain an in-depth understanding of:
  • the theoretical problems underlying conflicts between free speech and privacy
  • the ways in which particular constitutional arrangements effect the manner of the resolution of this conflict and the outcome reached;
  • strands of common and contrasting reasoning across jurisdictions in approach this conflict and the phenomena of "constitutional migration"
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • interpret and critically evaluate relevant international treaty provisions, particularly the ECHR and their application to domestic law
  • identify key reasoning tools employed by international and constitutional courts in resolving free speech conflicts and be capable of applying these to new situations and legal provisions;
  • appreciate how cultural, social and historical factors affect legal approaches to key free speech problems
Key Skills:
  • Students should also:
  • demonstrate an ability to understand and critically analyse complex issues of international and comparative law;
  • develop expertise in conducting research into legal materials from a variety of national and international jurisdictions

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.
  • 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 8 Weekly with 2 reading weeks 2 hours 16
Preparation and Reading 134
Total 150

Summative Assessment

Component: Unseen written examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen written examination. 1.5 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

One assignment of approximately 2,000 words in Michaelmas 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