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Writing for Publication: Freelance Journalism (Online) (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Fancy getting into print? Come and learn how to write for newspapers and magazines. Advice and exercises on different genres, style, editing, market analysis and submission of work. Lively class discussion and evaluation are encouraged.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidently use videoconferencing software and be comfortable with using websites.

Special Information

In order to participate in this course, you will need access to a computer with a speaker, microphone and an internet connection.

Content of Course

Modern Journalism: Market Study: identifying audiences for print, digital, and blogs. Considering editorial policy and influence. What would your blog be about? The student will write a blog post.

1. What is freelance journalism? How the Press functions. Study and analysis of contemporary newspapers.

2. Getting Started. Market study and reader-identification. An in-depth study of a particular newspaper or magazine to ascertain its background and editorial policy. The student will write “a letter to the editor”.

3. What to write. Write what you know. Make use of specialist knowledge. Analysis of a newspaper’s specialist columns e. g. the news pages, arts, sports etc. Plan and write a short news item.

4. Research. Learning to ask the right questions. The importance of accuracy. Accessing material. With a given topic, the student will construct a list of relevant questions and plan a feature article.

5. Interviewing. Acquiring information. Making a “question plan”. Suitable equipment. Interviewing techniques explored.

6. Construction. How an article is constructed. Examples of fluency, tight writing, irresistible openings, paragraph joiners and good endings. Class exercises in writing attention-grabbing openings and snappy conclusions. The student will start to write a short feature article.

7. Style. Clarity. The right word in the right place. Sound grammar. Sentence length. Keeping it simple. The study of different house styles. Analysis of the broadsheet versus the tabloid followed by written exercises. Completion of feature article.

8. Magazines. The market and range of opportunities for the freelance. Illustrations. A critical analysis of various contemporary magazines. The student will plan and write one of the following: a travel, fashion, lifestyle or food article.

9. The review. Book, film, television, theatre, art, dance or radio. Its importance. A detailed study of a published review. The class will listen to a short story broadcast on the radio. After a group discussion the student will write a review of the short story.

10. Manuscript preparation and submission. Contacting an editor. Manuscript lay-out. Useful journalistic jargon. The correct fee. Lastly, a lucky dip! The student will be given a random subject to write about in class.

Teaching method(s)

This course will be taught through a combination of available materials and live online sessions.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Use new research skills efficiently;

  • Practice interviewing techniques successfully;

  • Express him/herself clearly and with accuracy in English on a variety of themes;

  • Demonstrate knowledge in how and where to present work for publication in newspapers and magazines.


Core Readings

  • Dick, Jill. 2003. Freelance writing for Newspapers, A & C Black, London.

  • Dick, Jill. 2009. Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, A & C Black, London.

  • Hoffman, Ann, 2003. Research for Writers, A & C Black, London.

  • Evans, Harold, 2000. Essential English, Pimlico, London.

  • Harcup, Tony, 2003. Journalism Principles and Practice, Pluto Press, London


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.