Course Title: Journalism Law and Ethics

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Journalism Law and Ethics

Credit Points: 12.00


Course Code




Learning Mode

Teaching Period(s)


City Campus


345H Media and Communication


Sem 1 2020,
Sem 2 2020,
Sem 1 2021,
Sem 2 2021,
Sem 1 2022,
Sem 2 2022,
Sem 1 2023,
Sem 2 2023,
Sem 1 2024,
Sem 2 2024

Course Coordinator: Dr Josie Vine

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3596

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Building 9, Level 4

Course Coordinator Availability: By appointment by email

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

Required prior study   You should have satisfactorily completed COMM2657 Understanding Journalism before you commence this course. Alternatively, you may be able to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge before you start this course.   Contact your Course Coordinator if you think you may be eligible for recognition of prior learning.  Further information go to the RMIT Student Page on Applying for Credit.   You should undertake COMM2835 Journalism Writing and Reporting at the same time as this course as it contains areas of knowledge and skills which are implemented together in practice.


Course Description

In this course you will examine the key laws, regulations, and regulatory bodies that govern the media and journalism practice. You will also explore the ethical codes that underpin journalism.    The role of the ‘Fourth Estate’ will be analysed and its relationship with the legislative, executive and judiciary will be examined. You will also discuss self-regulation and its impact on journalism practice.   Through critical examination and analysis, you will develop the knowledge and skills needed to apply these legislative regulations to different aspects of journalistic practice. You will also develop practical skills in legal and court reporting.


Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

Program Learning Outcomes    In this course you will develop the following program learning outcomes:  

  • Apply a body of theoretical and practical knowledge and specific skills in media and communication, particularly in journalism, in which to base your professional practice or          future study.
  • Demonstrate creativity, critical thinking and innovation when identifying and solving problems in diverse contexts within the discipline of journalism.

Course Learning Outcomes:   Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:  

  1. Examine key laws and regulations that impact on journalism. 
  2. Analyse and apply codes of conduct that impact on media and journalism to your practice.
  3. Compare and contrast the different roles of courts, tribunals and regulatory bodies in relation to journalism.
  4. Apply the laws of defamation and contempt of court, privacy regulations, broadcasting law and intellectual property to your practice.
  5. Report on court hearings and legal issues.


Overview of Learning Activities

You will be actively engaged in learning that involves a range of activities such as field trips, lectures, tutorials, online and in class discussion, individual and group activities.


Overview of Learning Resources

RMIT will provide you with resources and tools for learning in this course through our online systems. A list of recommended learning resources will be provided by your lecturer, including books, journal articles and web resources. You will also be expected to seek further resources relevant to the focus of your own learning. The University Library has extensive resources for journalism students. The Library has produced a number of subject guides that includes quality online and print resources for your studies  The Library provides guides on academic referencing and subject specialist help via your Liaison Librarians


Overview of Assessment

You will be assessed on how well you meet the course’s learning outcomes and on your development against the program learning outcomes.

Assessment Tasks

Assessment Task 1: Class Project,30% CLO 1, CLO 2 and CLO 3

Assessment Task 2: Court Report, 30% CLO 4 and CLO 5

Assessment Task 3: In-class test, 40% CLO 1, CLO 2, CLO 3, CLO 4 and CLO 5

Feedback will be given on all assessment tasks.

If you have a long term medical condition and/or disability it may be possible to negotiate to vary aspects of the learning or assessment methods. You can contact the program coordinator or Equitable Learning Services if you would like to find out more.

Your course assessment conforms to RMIT assessment principles, regulations, policies, procedures and instructions.