The Hands-On Approach

Tuesday, 1st August 2017

Fergal Quinn - Graduate Diploma / MA in Journalism

I’m the course director for the Graduate Diploma/Masters in Journalism. It’s an intensive 12 month course where students get strong practical training as well as a decent academic overview. Of all the master’s degrees and graduate diplomas in journalism out there I think this one stands out because of its practicality, it’s very hands on, you get a good basis in newswriting, reporting, radio and television journalism and most staff have an industry background. The classes are quite small with 15 students this year. The graduate diploma consists of 8 months of taught modules over two semesters, MA students do the same modules as the Grad Dip students but they also have another 4 months working on a journalism project and a thesis.  This course is an intense fast track and very demanding; we expect a lot out of our students. There are assessments but students are also building up their portfolios so they are job ready and confident to apply for jobs in the media.

UL’s high academic standard is one of the elements that makes our course quite intensive. Students will have to operate within certain institutional contexts, political, economic contexts or challenging environments and they need to understand issues surrounding ownership and ideology, how to analyse media and question what they do. This gives students the knowledge to reform media practices; the more educated and thoughtful a journalist is the more chance they have of changing these systems rather than becoming a cog in the wheel.

At UL we have terrific facilities and they are improving all the time, we have a bespoke newsroom exclusive to the journalism class and a state- of- the- art radio studio. Last year we had significant investment in television equipment and mobile journalism equipment that students can use to turn their mobile devices into equipment to tell stories visually.

In the springtime there is a weekly seminar series called “Issues in Irish Journalism” that we invite industry speakers to. We had an important conference last year, “Journalism in Times of Crisis”, with 25 speakers addressing current issues which was a real statement of intent from our department; we have a very critical eye and we work closely with industry partners, whether broadcast or print. For example, RTÉ conducted a seminar series last year in mobile journalism where a team of some of their top people, including MOJO Champion Philip Bromwell and Head of Digital Declan McBennett, conducted five intensive day-long workshops. These conferences and seminars are critical to student networking and help our students go on to establish themselves in national and international media corporations.

Limerick is a great news town, there’s a great tradition of journalism here as well as a fine newspaper and local radio scene. It’s an exciting place to work, it’s an exciting campus and it’s an exciting place to teach journalism.