Rhodes>JMS>Student Resources> Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism

Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism

Ryan hanckoks  Sue Mcleanan  Simon pamphilion  Jeanne Du Toit 

Year Co-ordinator: Mr Ryan Hancocks

Grocott’s Editor: Ms Sue Maclennan

Media law & Ethics: Mr Simon Pamphilon  Media Fundamentals: Dr Jeanne Du Toit

Room: 205 


GM newsroom

(behind the AMM) 


Room: 228 

Emails.pamphilon @ru.ac.za  

Room: 108


Media Studies: Dr Priscilla Boshoff 

Room: 109




The Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism (PGDip) is a 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 a variety of 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 the Grocott’s Mail newsroom.

Grocott’s Mail, an award-wining community newspaper (in both print and online), will act as the teaching hub for journalism training and production as students are exposed to critical issues in the media and a variety of specialist desks will facilitate the students learning and publishing requirements as they gain essential skills and develop a portfolio of works.

The PGDip is aimed at providing 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 strong postgraduate foothold in their career path.

The PGDip for 2020 consists of 6 core modules:

1. Media Fundamentals (with Multimedia Storytelling) – co-ordinated by Dr Jeanne du Toit

Students develop foundational storytelling competence in the production of audio, the written text, photography, videography and web design. They will learn how to locate such production within a given social context, particularly by using social media to build relationships with targeted audiences. The modules are designed to provide students with a foot-hold into a medium-specifc learning process that will empower their making of journalism for the remainder of the course.

The course is based on the assumption that multimedia storytellers are selective in their choice of media for each story they tell. Each time they tell a story, they make choices to determine the most effective media elements, choosing from the possibilities of audio, the written text, video, stills photography, etc. Some stories may be entirely driven by audio or presented only as a combination of writing and photography, while others may combine a wide range of media. With this in mind, students learn about three areas of competence that enable them to operate as multimedia storytellers:

Within each media fundamental unit, students draw on a particular social media platform to build an audience for the stories they produce. These platforms include YouTube (for the videography unit); Facebook (for the writing and editing unit); Instagram (for the photography unit) and SoundCloud (for the audio unit).

Choosing a storytelling topic: As part of the planning that takes place in the first week of the module, each student is required to choose a story theme or topic that they will pursue during all four of their media units. Throughout the Media Fundamentals module they should experiment with the particular strengths that each medium brings to storytelling about that theme or topic.


During the nine weeks of the Media Fundamentals module, students design and construct a website using WordPress. The site is dedicated to their exploration of the power and pleasure of storytelling in the four different media units, these are Audio, Texts, Video, Photography. Lectures will be held during Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings weekly until the end of the module.

In Week One of the module, students will be trained on the basics of WordPress by the Grocott’s Mail digital team and then be tasked with building the framework for their website. During the remainder of the module, they continue to refine the overall presentation of the website and populate it with content. Students are expected to update content at the end of each of their media specific units so that they can receive feedback from staff on their progress. Deadlines for publishing therefore fall on Sundays, on March 1, March 15, April 20 (after the Easter break) and April 26. By the time of this fourth publishing date the website should be ready for final assessment.


The course is 20 credits (16% of PGDip) over terms 1 and 2.

2. Media Law and Ethics – taught by Mr Simon Pamphilon

This course will introduce students to the following:

  1. 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;
  2. 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.


The course is 10 credits (8% of PGDIP) over terms 1 and 2.

3. Media Studies – taught by Dr Priscilla Boshoff

This course is designed to introduce students at a broad level to some of the key theoretical issues and contemporary debates about journalism, and its role in contemporary South African society. It begins by asking what the role of journalism ought to be in our developing post-colonial democracy, paying particular attention to the challenges that face journalism in our digital age. It then goes on to examine the work that journalists do: how they go about representing the world for others. Here, we draw specifically on the theory of representation, applying it to our own media production, to develop insights into our role as media producers who make representations for and about others.


The course will be taught by means of two double-period lectures on Monday and Wednesday. The course is assessed through a range of written tasks that are sometimes linked to media production work. The specific course assessment will be discussed between the lecturer and the class at the beginning of term 2.


The course is 30 credits (25% of PGDIP) over terms 2 and 3.

4. Grocott’s Mail Newsroom – taught by Ms Sue Maclennan

Throughout the academic year students will be based at Grocott’s Mail. This can be considered a year-long internship with the newspaper as students will be trained to use the content management system that runs both the paper and digital side of the organisation. Students will be exposed to the practical side of journalism production through their role as working staff inside the media organisation. Diary meetings, story discovery, interview skills, practical data journalism techniques and social media platforms will all form part of your weekly news cycle during the year. The first terms will introduce the entry level skills of being a community journalist in the digital era to novices with a thorough exposure to all the technical skills required. Building on your skills, term 2 will see students pitching, investigating and publishing their work for the paper. Assisted by our teaching staff, the rigorous process of investigative journalism and the range of writing techniques required to be a well-rounded journalist will be covered with the end goal of students being able to publish stories across multiple mediums. Students will be instructed by the Grocott’s Mail Editor as well as the teaching staff of the School of Journalism and Media Studies. The module aims to expose students to realistic working conditions and expectations of a modern newsroom environment and will produce graduates that are able to enter the workspace of a media company with a distinct advantage.


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 10:30am till 12pm 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 full portfolio of work produced during the year.


The course is 34 credits (28% of PGDIP) over the full academic year.

5. Seminars – co-ordinated by Mr Ryan Hancocks

Weekly seminars will be held that allow students to discover topics outside the core thematic direction of the diploma. Industry experts as well as content specialists will present specifically themed seminars over the duration of the second semester that will augment the core knowledge of the course with exposure to a widened set of material.


The Grocott’s Mail seminars will be held during terms 3 and 4 on Friday afternoon between 2pm and 4pm. Students will be asked to have studied all pre-reading materials submitted by the lecturer of that week and have prepared a brief overview and feedback on the content for the class. This document will be used by the lecturer to evaluate the students' understanding and contribution to the academic discussion.


The course is 10 credits (8% of PGDip) over term 3 and 4.

6. Project Assignment

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.


This module is a combined work production assignment and will be assessed through a rubric. This will be provided to students at the beginning of term 3. They will be given the opportunity to submit a draft for comments before the final assignment is graded. Submission will be the beginning of swot week in term 4.


The course is 16 credits (13% of PGDIP) over term 3 and 4.


PGDIP 2020120 
Media Fundamentals  24 20% 
Media Law and Ethics  12 10% 
Media Studies  24 20% 
Grocotts Mail Internship  36 30% 
Seminars  12 10% 
Capstone project 12 10% 

Time Table

    GROCOTTS MAIL (seminars)   


  Day Planner
Monday MF MS MS & PA meeting PA meeting
Tuesday GM & ML & E GM GMs (Digital storytelling workshops) GMs (Digital storytelling workshops)
Wednesday MF & ML &E MS MS GM
Thursday GM GM GM Free (project day)
Friday Crash Course GM GM Seminar GM Seminar

Last Modified: Tue, 15 Dec 2020 14:32:59 SAST