Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2023-2024 (archived)

Module LAW3461: MEDIA LAW

Department: Law


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2023/24 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • Introduction to English Law and Legal Method (LAW 1121) and The Individual and the State (LAW 1081) and UK Constitutional Law (LAW 1091) and Criminal Law (LAW 2221) (at discretion of Chair of Board of Studies any/all could exceptionally be co-requisites).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to the study of the legal protection of freedom of expression in the UK in terms of both theory and practice.
  • To introduce students to free speech theories as they are recognised in UK law.
  • To enable students to assess the extent to which freedom of media expression is recognised in UK law.
  • To enable students to improve their analytical skills.
  • To enhance the ability of students to comprehend and apply the European Convention on Human Rights in the domestic context, under the Human Rights Act, and to analyse and reason from the Convention jurisprudence in relation to both statutory and common law provisions.
  • To introduce the student to some of the legal, moral, social and political debates which inform the substantive content of aspects of media law.


  • Free speech theories
  • The protection of media freedom under the Human Rights Act.
  • Media freedom: restraining the media to protect the administration of justice.
  • Restraining the media on moral and political grounds.
  • Restraining the media on racial and religious grounds.
  • Restraining the media to protect privacy and copyright.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate a sound understanding of the existing law on media freedom in England and Wales.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Apply the existing law to given factual scenarios and advise accordingly.
  • Analyse and evaluate the existing law in the light of the legal, political and moral questions raised.
  • Engage in informed debate concerning the effect of recent reforms and of developments under the Human Rights Act.
Key Skills:
  • Students should be able to:
  • Demonstrate developed research and writing skills, including the ability to work independently; the student should be able to take responsibility for his/her own learning.

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

  • Lectures are used primarily to impart knowledge - and also to suggest approaches to evaluation and critical analysis;
  • Tutorials will be used to develop and enhance students capacity for legal-problem solving in a particular factual situation, evaluative critical analysis and their appreciation of laws' linkage with broader fields of enquiry;
  • Students will be supported in the development of their research and writing skills by the provision of guidance on identifying and retrieving relevant sources and generally on research methodology in the field of media law.
  • Students are expected to work on the two formative assessments independently but the tutorials preceding them will provide framework guidance; they will be guided as the sources to be used but will be expected to conduct some independent research.
  • Module staff will provide ongoing support and guidance as appropriate.
  • The examination tests the ability to focus on relevant legal issues and organise knowledge and argument appropriate to questions raised. The examination questions will provide the means for students to demonstrate the acquisition of subject knowledge and the development of their problem-solving skills..

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Tutorials 5 Normally: two in Michaelmas, three in Epiphany 1 hour 5
Preparation and Reading 175
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Written examination 2 hours 100%

Formative Assessment:

2 written essays 2000 words maximum

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