Discover what an MA in Investigative Journalism is all about

Marco is studying a masters degree in Investigative Journalism.

Hi! I’m Marco, and I’ve just finished my MA in Investigative Journalism at City! Here’s some

What you will be doing

Marco journalism student

While you get trained to use filming equipment, and get to make films as part of the course, Investigative is definitely more print focused than other MA’s on offer like Broadcast and TV.

The ‘Patch’ day is on Thursdays and essentially what it entailed was being given a select area of Camden to wander around and get stories that you have to send in every Saturday. It is very daunting having to walk up to shop owners and pedestrians and ask if they know anything worth reporting but it’s good training nonetheless as you’re expected to fearlessly ask questions to anyone as a journalist!

A key focus in this course is on investigating things, so for example, you’re expected to go above and beyond to prove that an individual/organisation has acted in an unethical way.

You’ll be taught how to write and send Freedom Of Information (FOI) requests, as well as Right of Replies, alongside the obvious Law and Ethics training that all MA journalists get. You don’t have to expose the wrongdoing of an official or politician for example, but you will be trained and expected to produce work that is pretty hard-hitting.

For your final project you can either make a 7 minute film or write a 5,000 word investigation. You’ll also be learning how to produce data pieces and visualisations. This is a pretty tough part of the course if you’re not familiar with this stuff (like me) but apparently data journalists are really sought after so it can’t hurt knowing it all!

The hours

The first term (between September – December) is pretty packed with tutorials, lectures, and seminars. I was in uni every day apart from Thursday, which was the designated ‘patch’ day. Some classes like Law, and Data were shared with other MA Journalism groups, and they were right at the end of the day meaning I’d be in uni from 11am-7pm some days. This obviously doesn’t include all the time I was spending in editing suites working on radio and film pieces, and at the library too.

The second term was a lot lighter in terms of scheduled contact hours (not workload!) and ran from Monday to Wednesday meaning I was off for the rest of the week. The workload definitely stepped up a notch though because you were in university less. But, then the lockdown happened halfway through the middle of the term and we were all at home anyway.

Part time jobs

Apparently part time jobs aren’t necessarily recommended by the course tutors because you are expected to spend a lot of time studying. However, living in London is really expensive and lots of people on the course including myself had part time jobs on the side.

In the first term I worked 15 hours a week as a waiter at a restaurant in Islington. When lectures ended in early December, I got a temp job at Flying Tiger which meant I was working 50+ hours a week – I really do not recommend this unless you want eyebags down to your legs! It was necessary money but it was definitely tough balancing the course and the job and I left in January.

Fun fact
Lecturer talking in university hall
Photo by Matej Kastelic/

A cool part of doing an MA in Journalism at City is the fact that every other week a well-known journalist will come in and do a talk. Guardian columnist, Gary Younge came in once, as did Jeremy Paxman, which was interesting to say the least.

Tips for applying

You are expected to be able to write fluently and concisely, and it’s highly recommended that you have some student journalism experience prior to applying. On my application, I made an effort to highlight my prior experience as a Music Editor at a student magazine, and regular contributions to the student newspaper. Also, this isn’t a stop-gap course for people who aren’t sure about what they want to do afterwards – you’re expected to really want to become a journalist!

Another note I’ll add is not to worry if you can’t find any work experience during the course: I didn’t find any during the Christmas break because I couldn’t afford it, and then coronavirus happened so I didn’t get any for Easter.

I have however pitched successful articles to VICE and Dazed without having any formal work experience!

Good luck!

City’s MA in Investigative Journalism is a 10 month course suitable for students that have already undertake an undergraduate degree and have a keen interest in digging beyond the daily headlines and a hunger to expose injustices and abuses of power. 

Read about our undergradutae Journalism student experiences: Sam’s journalism experience and Amy’s journalism experience.

Visit our Youtube channel and hear how MA International Journalism student became a BBC producer.

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