Rhodes>JMS>Curriculum 2022> Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism

Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism

Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies 2022

with a focus on digital media in Africa


Year co-ordinator: Mr Rod Amner

Room: 229

Email: r.amner@ru.ac.za



The Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism and Media Studies (PGDip) is an NQF 8 level qualification offered by the School of Journalism and Media Studies. It looks to take students and working practitioners (with a previous NQF 7 qualification) from various backgrounds and provide them with practical coursework exposure to journalism production in a newsroom environment (with specific focus given to multimedia storytelling across audio, video, texts and photography).

PGDip students will spend their year working inside an award-winning digital news organisation, Grocott's Mail and a campus-based radio station, Rhodes Music Radio (RMR).

Grocott's will act as the teaching hub for journalism training and production as students are exposed to critical media issues. A variety of specialist desks will facilitate the students learning and publishing requirements as they gain essential skills and develop a portfolio of works.

Students will build a substantial portfolio through their experiential learning journey at Grocott's Mail and RRM while engaging critically with debates in Media Studies and current ideas in digital media production and engagement. The experience is designed to help students develop new mindsets and skillsets by experimenting with innovative approaches to journalism, like Engaged/Relational Journalism and Solutions/Constructive Journalism.

The PGDip aims to provide a bridge for aspiring students from varied backgrounds who wish to gain a formal qualification and training in the discipline of journalism. Being an NQF 8-rated qualification means this is the perfect step for experienced journalists and aspiring undergraduates to gain a solid postgraduate foothold in their career path.


The PGDip for 2022 consists of 5 core modules:

Internship  (terms 1-4): 48 credits, 40%

Media studies 1 (term 1): media law and ethics: 10 credits, 8%

Media studies 2 (term 2): public communication and social change: 10 credits, 8%

Media studies 3 (term 3): media and society: 10 credits, 8%

Praxis 1 (term 1): intro to the theory and practice of multimedia journalism: 10 credits, 8%

Praxis 2 (term 2): journalisms for social change: 10 credits, 8%

Elective (second semester): 12 credits, 10%

Capstone project (term 4): 12 credits, 10%


Module 1: Internship at Grocott’s Mail (and possibly also RMR)

In 2022, this course puts you at the centre of an AMM-based Grocott's Mail, which over time aims to become a citizen-first media organisation providing a wide range of content in multiple channels to the people who live, work and play in Makana. GM aims to be a high-quality, informative, accurate, and credible community news organisation that serves the needs and interests of local citizens. At the same time, Grocott's provides fertile ground for the education and training of young journalists.

All students will produce accurate, authoritative, engaging and essential news and feature stories for a broad cross-section of Makhandans. You will flex a wide range of reporting muscles and write in various genres and styles. You will learn from your exposure to the structure, routines, practices and professional ideologies of a mainstream newsroom and the skills of the newspaper's editorial staff members. The adrenaline rush of deadlines will fire you, and you should have fun. Since Grocott's is both a newsroom and a classroom, you will 'learn by doing' and critically reflect on your practice while you are in the scrum.


Critical reflection

You will enter into a learning contract with Grocott's, requiring you to operate as a 'professional' journalist. However, students will also reflect on and analyse their experiences and read and engage with one another's work during weekly seminars. For example, students will develop and contribute to the journalistic mission of Grocott's Mail by exploring the gaps in coverage and questioning some of the common-sense assumptions underpinning the routine practices of journalism. You will be encouraged to debate and test conventional definitions of news and develop appropriate, alternative beats, news values, and styles that encompass everyday problems and offer a more careful examination of community interests and concerns.

In doing so, the course aims to prepare you for a career as a thoughtful, resourceful, and skilled journalist in a rapidly evolving media landscape. It seeks to go beyond the reproduction and transfer of vocational skills so that you may one day play a role in contributing imaginative and effective reporting and writing approaches to journalism as a whole. The course will draw on the ideas in the Public Communication for Social Change course to raise debates around the role of journalists and journalism in society. You will write reflexive essays on what you have learned from your experiences and relate this to the relevant theoretical literature.


General, event and breaking news

As PGDips will work as 'general' reporters and develop your capstone projects, which you complete in the fourth term.

In the GM newsroom, you will:

  • cover breaking, event-based and general news assignments and produce at least one basic news story per week;
  • engage with the Makhanda community;
  • research innovative story ideas and develop different writing forms in Grocott's.

You will apply this subject knowledge to your capstone project work.


Photojournalism and multimedia work

You can draw on support from the photography lecturer (Harold Gess) and take usable photographs in your day-to-day reportage. Also, Jeanne du Toit for audio and Alette Schoon for video. The GM Engagement Editor, Nyx Maclean, will support you in using GM social media in your journalistic practice


Teaching methods

This course will be taught by a combination of experiential learning and reflection. You will come up with your ideas for stories and work on those stories under the guidance of Rod Amner. This is an open-ended process, and the benefit you gain from it will be directly proportional to the amount of time you spend discussing approaches and seeking feedback on what you have produced. At the same time, you will keep a reflective journal in which you think back on what you have experienced and learned and think forward about applying those experiences and lessons in the future. Keeping this journal will help you frame your reflective essay. It will also help your course lecturers monitor your progress and intervene with particular problems you are experiencing.

The course will be taught by means of weekly diary meetings held Monday at 8:30am. Story development and pitching practice with the Editor and writing staff every Tuesday from 9am to 11am. Thursday students will be asked to sub-edit and work on the practical mechanics of storytelling with our writing team from 10:30 am till 12 pm to be ready for the publishing run Thursday afternoon. Friday students will have a debrief session on their progress and difficulties/experience from the week's story with the editing staff.

The module will run across the academic year. Assessment will be done weekly on the stories produced for the paper across digital and print and build up towards a combined mark that evaluates the student's complete portfolio of work produced during the year.


Times and venues

Over the year, you will be expected to spend 22 hours a week (2.5 days a week) on this. News meetings will take place in the Grocott's lab in the Africa Media Matrix and will be broadcast on Zoom. Mr Rod Amner and Dr Nyx McLean will be working in the AMM and will be available for one-to-one consults throughout the week. 


Module 2: media studies

Media Law and Ethics – Mr Simon Pamphilon

This course will introduce students to:

Ethical questions that media practitioners face daily, the principled foundations upon which the practice of journalism is, or should be based and the broad conceptual parameters of what makes for an ethical media industry;

The statutory, regulatory and socio-legal framework within which media practitioners operate – including the South African legal system, law as it applies to media, current trends in regulatory thinking, and how all these factors influence the work and output of the modern journalist.

To achieve this, we will explore:

  • Ethics and ethical behaviour, and how those relate to the day-to-day practice of journalism, as well as the functioning of the media industry as a whole —including influential and prevalent codes of conduct for journalists.
  • The South African legal system.
  • The law as it relates to the media.
  • Juristic concepts such as freedom of expression, the right to privacy, copyright, defamation and "journalists' rights".
  • The way in which current and potential legal frameworks, socio-political contexts and ethical considerations can and do affect how issues are reported.

The course will be taught by means of two single-period lectures on Tuesday and Wednesday. There will be multiple minor assignments (2.5%) during the semester, a major assignment (5%) due at the end of the first term and an exam/assignment (5%) in June.


Public communication for social change – Mr Julian Jacobs and Mr Rod Amner

Media and Society – TBA


Module 3: praxis

Introduction to the theory and practice of digital journalism (5%)

Journalisms for social change (5%)


Module 4: elective
Module 5: capstone project

Students will be given the opportunity to work alongside staff and the editorial team to produce an individual feature story, or group of thematically-linked stories that incorporate print, audio/video and photography. This assignment can be considered the culmination of the year's studies and story development. Specific technical skills as well as the ability to produce an ethical, factually accurate and well referenced feature length story or set of stories will be key. The 3rd term will be dedicated to research, development and data collation, while the 4th term will see students working together with the writing team to develop their narrative and meet the critical outcomes of the assignment.

You will need to research and 'think' the capstone project from multiple vantage points and connect them to the intellectual and human resources that could aid you in that learning journey. As part of their subject research, you should:

  • explore the fields of knowledge and theoretical frameworks that apply to your subject/topic (including secondary references and resources in that field of knowledge, current debates, research reports, etc.);
  • identify and examine 'seminal' examples of media representations that have covered the topic in some way in the past ('annotated' examples could be included in the end-of-year portfolio);
  • create a sourcebook of potential sources which helps to map a micro, meso and macro ecology of state and civil society actors relating to the subject;
  • do primary background research on your topic area by interviewing some of the sources in their sourcebook (these interviews could become part of the media representations at a later point);
  • identify some of these sources to act as advisors, mentors for your project;
  • develop a map of the communicative ecology you will be working in;
  • possibly develop a 'tip sheet' and links to online resources.


Last Modified: Mon, 28 Feb 2022 11:37:12 SAST