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JRN8001 Analytical and Opinion Writing (Masters)

Semester 2, 2015 External Toowoomba
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Arts and Communication

Contents on this page


Examiner: Caryn Coatney
Moderator: Dianne Jones


Pre-requisite: Students must be enrolled in the following Program: MARA

Other requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


This course makes it possible to study Journalism at the Masters level through an engagement with analytical and opinion writing practices and theoretical perspectives. Journalists who seek to add their voices to those in the public domain and to present a greater diversity of perspectives and ideas must be able to write persuasively, build and sustain an argument, state the opposite position?s best argument and counter it, while presenting the facts fairly and accurately. Students will advance their knowledge of the theoretical underpinnings of the changing relations between analytical and opinion writers, news media audiences, publics and users. The combined applied and theoretical coursework will facilitate students to develop a deeper insight into the crucial differences between analytical and opinion writing that will enable them to contribute creatively and constructively to the journalism profession.


This course advances students' understanding of the influences, practices and impact of journalistic analytical and opinion writing as they develop their ability to write news and feature articles with imaginative flair. Students will investigate major political and social issues through peer discussions, analysis and undertaking original research and writing projects. They will further explore some of the classical traditions in these areas of journalism including questions of moral certainty and argument as well as rhetorical strategies demonstrated by best practices in journalism. By developing a critical understanding of reporters' practices in editorialising and analysis of the contemporary issues affecting society, governance and humankind, the course helps students to achieve high professional standards in publishing investigative features, ideas and opinions.


On successful completion of this course students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate an understanding of the historical role of analytical and opinion writing in different media in society
  2. demonstrate an ability to evaluate critically the research practices used by professional journalists in analytical and opinion writing for different media
  3. demonstrate high skills in research and writing techniques to communicate an informed opinion on a newsworthy issue
  4. demonstrate an understanding of the theoretical underpinnings of analytical and opinion writing, news media audiences, publics and users
  5. identify how changing theoretical frameworks generate fresh challenges, issues, opportunities and forms of analysis in the practice of analytical and opinion writing
  6. apply ethical frameworks and methods of analysis in their own studies of analytical and opinion writing and critically reflect on these for achieving a high journalism standard
  7. write news analysis and opinion of a high-quality, publishable standard
  8. demonstrate substantial accomplishment in completing a professional project that shows original reporting in the area of analytical and opinion writing.


Description Weighting(%)
1. The elements of persuasive opinion writing 15.00
2. News analysis: constructing a convincing argument 15.00
3. Building arguments, structuring facts and comments 15.00
4. Editorialising and analysis: the dividing line 10.00
5. Editorials: from concept to completion 15.00
6. Evaluating and accounting for journalistic work 15.00
7. Best practices in journalism 15.00

Text and materials required to be purchased or accessed

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

  • Kovach, B & Rosenstiel, T 2007, The elements of journalism: what newspeople should know and the public should expect, Three Rivers Press, New York.
  • McLeod, C & Lockwood, K (eds) 2009, Style: the essential guide for journalists and professional writers, 4th edn, News Limited, Sydney, New South Wales.

Reference materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
  • Reference materials, to be accessed via URLs during the semester, will be listed on the course Study Desk.

Student workload requirements

Activity Hours
Private Study 165.00

Assessment details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
ASSIGNMENT 1 100 20 18 Aug 2015 (see note 1)
ASSIGNMENT 2A 100 25 10 Oct 2015 (see note 2)
ASSIGNMENT 2B 100 25 10 Oct 2015 (see note 3)
ASSIGNMENT 3 100 30 07 Nov 2015 (see note 4)

  1. Story pitch and reporting plan (500 words). PLEASE NOTE: No assignment submitted for this course can have been written for, or submitted for publication by any media outlet within three months of the assignment due date.
  2. Analysis of a selected newsworthy issue (1,250 words).
  3. Related news opinion of the issue (750 words).
  4. Essay (2,500 words).

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students? responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    It is the students? responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted
    marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course

  6. Examination information:
    Not applicable

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Not applicable

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Other requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.

  2. This course should be completed during the student?s last year in the program.