Degree course gets practical seal of approval

A JOURNALISM degree at Glasgow Caledonian University has become only the fourth such course in Scotland to be awarded accreditation from the National Council for the Training of Journalists (NCTJ) – thus underlining a commitment to practical newspaper journalism skills.

The award was made after an inspection of student work, facilities and course and assessment documents, and meetings with teaching staff and students.

The BA Journalism course currently accepts around 20 students a year from some 400 applications to learn the tricks and tools of the trade. These pupils will now be put forward for the NCTJ’s professional ‘prelim’ exams in newspaper journalism, shorthand, law and public affairs, as part of the course.

The university says it is also the first NCTJ-accredited undergraduate journalism degree in Scotland to include aspects of broadcast journalism as part of the course’s curriculum.

Says Julian Calvert, a former newspaper editor and now journalism lecturer at the university: “Going for NCTJ accreditation has been important right from the outset. It reflects the emphasis we place on practical skills like reporting and is looked for by editors and employers, so is key for employability.

“There are lots of new journalism courses starting up in Scotland and we wanted to set ourselves apart. Other courses may not go for NCTJ accreditation because they may not have as much practical content, so they won’t see it as quite the priority we did.

“What this will mean is that we can keep on producing a better quality of candidate. If we can make it a very strong course we will improve our graduates’ employment chances.”

The course was started four years ago and saw its first honours students graduate this month. As is standard for new courses, the accreditation will be provisional for the first three years.