Module title: Specialist and Investigative Journalism

SCQF level: 11:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: JAC11140
Module leader: Rachel Younger
School School of Arts and Creative Industries
Subject area group: Media and Screen


2018/9, Trimester 3, Online,
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: Online
Location of delivery: MERCHISTON
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Rachel Younger
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
A range of online lectures and learning materials, both written and audio-visual, will enable you to engage with module content in your own time. You will also be directed to supplementary electronic resources, including e-books and e-journals to further support your learning, and you are encouraged to engage independently with these additional learning resources. (LO1-5)
During weekly class debates that are facilitated in our weekly Moodle forums, you will develop the idea for a unique investigation into a relevant specialist topic of public interest and you will discuss your experiences with peers and tutor, as you experiment with the use of a range of investigative tools and techniques. You are required to take an active part in set activities scheduled for weekly tutorials as they will support your learning and help you complete assessed work. (LO1-5)
Embedding of employability / PDP / scholarship skills / CPD
This module focusses specifically on equipping you with investigative skills and financial knowledge that are transferable to a wide range of professional environments and activities. The ability to engage in rigorous, in-depth enquiry and the ability to present complex specialist information to appeal to a wide audience will be valuable in a wide range of professional contexts. Online peer-to-peer discussions will strengthen your ability to engage in critical thinking crucial to the workplace as well as your ability to take into account global differences in practice.
Research / teaching linkages/CPD
Tutors on this module have substantial professional expertise as well as an academic background relevant to the module content. They will introduce you to academic research as well as encouraging you to engage with the academic body of work relevant to the module content.
Supporting equality and diversity
Activities on this module take into account, welcome and build on the global diversity of Edinburgh Napier’s student population. Our flexible online virtual approach to learning, working and filing submissions includes the possibility to timetable learning activities to suit individual schedules and to focus on themes relevant to individual learners. Learning materials include both written and audio-visual content, which suits a range of learning styles.
This module will strengthen your understanding of different approaches to investigative journalism around the globe. Fellow students with diverse cultural backgrounds will contribute a range of perspectives from their world regions to class discussions. Tutors have substantial international professional expertise and will highlight differences in practice around the globe.

Formative Assessment:
Over the course of this module, you will select a topic for a specialist investigation of your choice, and you will apply a range of investigative tools to your individual journalistic enquiry. These include, but are not limited to, engaging with human sources and data, filing freedom of information requests and following the money. You will post regular progress updates on your research activities to weekly forums on Moodle. Here you will discuss challenges you encounter with both tutor and peers, and you will be provided with suggestions relevant to your individual investigation and with formative feedback on progress and on draft work you share.
This module provides you with the opportunity to tailor your assessment to support your individual learning and career objectives. Module activities and assessment provide you with the opportunity to apply what you learn to your professional practice. As you engage with peers based around the globe in online module activities, both debate and production, you will benefit from culturally diverse formative feedback provided by an international community of fellow students

Summative Assessment:
Assignment 1, an 800-word investigative journalistic article, will present your initial findings from your inquiry into a specialist topic of public interest, and demonstrate your use of a range of investigative tools, which can include computer assisted research, consultation of public records, social networking and interaction with human sources. This first short article on your specialist topic of enquiry should include evidence that you have investigated financial issues relevant to your story. In lieu of a written article you may also submit a short TV or radio report of investigative nature. Assignment 1 is worth 30% of the overall module mark and is to be completed by week 6 (LO1-4).
Assignment 2, an investigative portfolio, will provide you with the opportunity to conduct an in-depth and substantial journalistic investigation into a topic of public interest that is sustained over the duration of the module. You will submit a 2,000-word investigative journalistic article. Your portfolio will also include evidence of original research you conducted, for example of a freedom of information request you filed. It will also include a 1,000-word reflective log in which you critically reflect on the practical process of investigation, on methods used, challenges tackled, and on the legal, ethical and regulatory considerations you faced whilst managing the investigation. You should reference academic opinion in this reflective log. Assignment 2 is worth 70% of the overall module mark and is to be submitted by week 12 (LO1-5).

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Online Lecture 12
Online Tutorial 24
Independent Learning Guided independent study 164
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Project - Practical 30 1-5 6 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 800
Portfolio 70 1-5 12 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 3000
Component 1 subtotal: 30
Component 2 subtotal: 70
Module subtotal: 100

Description of module content:

12. Module Content
This module will provide you with the opportunity to conduct an in-depth journalistic investigation into a specialist journalism topic of your choice. You will be introduced to advanced tools for investigative journalism, including modern technology and database journalism, computer assisted research and consulting public records, but also freedom of information legislation and social networking. You will learn how to access contacts, gain the trust of witnesses and evaluate tip-offs and information from human sources such as insiders, whistle-blowers, axe grinders, corporate representatives or consumers. You will discuss ways to check the authenticity of documents, to uncover miscarriages of justice and carefully guarded evidence for political and corporate corruption, and to see through inaccurate claims made by professional propaganda machineries.
Following the money is key to any journalistic enquiry, so you’ll be introduced to the global world of business and finance, gain an insight into the impact markets thousands of miles away can have, and gain an understanding of political risk and why it matters. You’ll be introduced to key issues in global economics and to the way organisations report their finances, and you’ll learn what to look for in financial statements. You’ll learn to track the financial trail of international criminal networks, unearth financial secrets buried in tax havens and to understand and unpick company and stock market records with a view to informing your investigation.
You’ll receive tips for building a sturdy case, formulating a strong story and managing an investigation over a sustained period of time. You will be introduced to strategies for finding exclusives, for identifying ideal interviewees, and learn to digest complex information and to package stories to appeal to non-specialist audiences. You will also compare ethical, regulatory and legal frameworks for investigative journalism around the world, including press freedom and censorship, the rise of super-injunctions, libel laws, privacy laws, anonymity, confidentiality and the protection of sources in different world regions. You’ll debate the value of going undercover, taking on a false identity, fabricating set-ups, employing private investigation agencies and check book journalism. Finally, you’ll also learn about the practical and legal implications of cross-border investigations.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:
LO1: critically, thoroughly and accurately investigate a relevant specialist topic of public interest
LO2: demonstrate an ability to unearth financial information relevant to your investigation
LO3: produce a well formulated piece of investigative journalism that appeals to a wide audience
LO4: apply core journalistic skills including sourcing of original content and appropriate interviewees, writing with flair, accuracy, impartiality, balance and attribution to source where appropriate
LO5: demonstrate a critical understanding of legal, ethical and regulatory concerns as they relate to in-depth journalistic investigations

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
Contact your module leader