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JRN2006 Media Law and Ethics

Semester 2, 2021 Online
Short Description: Media Law and Ethics
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : 2021 Grandfather Funding Cl 1
ASCED code : 100703 - Journalism
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Caryn Coatney

Other Requisites

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


While legal systems differ from country to country, this course considers the laws that affect journalists and the media. It provides a legal and ethical framework for professional practice.


Students will examine the Australian legal system, defamation law, contempt of court and parliament, and the law of copyright. The study of major developments in moral philosophy will form a foundation on which to analyse specific case studies, with particular reference to the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance
(MEAA) (Journalists) Code of Ethics.


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

  1. extend their knowledge by examining the laws and practices that apply to the ethical reporting and writing of journalistic work;
  2. analyse legal, ethical, and industry standards, and evaluate published copy that is defamatory, contemptuous or infringes copyright;
  3. communicate complex ideas and evaluate the impact of technology on the ethical practice of journalism;
  4. critically reflect on the principles of ethical and legal decision-making processes in industry;
  5. apply codes of practice and ethical principles and research to identify, evaluate and resolve journalistic case studies;
  6. analyse the media portrayal of ethnicity, gender, disability, sexuality, age and race, including indigenous populations.


Description Weighting(%)
1. Australian legal systems 5.00
2. Principles of defamation 25.00
3. Principles of contempt 25.00
4. Other legal issues 5.00
5. History of moral philosophy 5.00
6. Code of Ethics 15.00
7. Current ethical issues 20.00

Text and Materials

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. (

Little, J 2013, Journalism ethics and law: stories of media practice, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, Victoria.
Pearson, M & Polden, M 2019, The journalist's guide to media law, 6th edn, Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.

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.

Student Workload Expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 68.00
Independent Study 97.00

Assessment Details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
1500 WD MEDIA LAW ASSIGNMENT 100 25 24 Aug 2021
1800 WD MEDIA ETHICS ASSIGN 100 35 19 Oct 2021
TAKE HOME EXAMINATION 100 40 End S2 (see note 1)

  1. This will be a take home exam. Students will be provided further instruction regarding the exam by their examiner via StudyDesk. The examination date will be available via UConnect when the Alternate Assessment Schedule has been released.

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 for that item.

  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:
    A Take Home Examination is one in which candidates may have access to any printed, written, or online material.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  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. Use of correct English is essential to Journalism. Spelling, grammar and punctuation will be taken into consideration in marking assignments. Severe deficiencies could mean failure in the course.

Date printed 8 November 2021