MA Visual Journalism

This Masters level course in journalism and communications practice has a strong visual theme, designed for both the journalism and wider communications sectors. The curriculum will allow you to focus on mastering a broad suite of technical and practical (and most often visual) communication skills, such as smartphone/mobile journalism and content creation, video, audio, stills, pages, graphics, news/feature writing and scripting, and media law. In addition, the PR element of the course includes topics such as the theory and practice of  corporate and institutional reputation management, and the communications toolkit roles and elements such as lobbying, campaigns, content marketing, events, SEO and evaluation. Opportunities for work-based learning are integrated, and at the heart of the course, our students have the opportunity of working with industry partners.

The course recognises that content is king when it comes to communications and offers a practical and theoretical approach to understanding the way the digital age has impacted on the business of communications and journalism. It has the key Reithian principles of 'inform, educate and entertain' at its core. It encourages an understanding and practical application of the production and circulation of information in the digital era and seeks to build critical competencies while recognising that the way we live, work, and communicate has been reconfigured in recent years.

This course is subject to validation.

2021/22 update: Blended learning approach for USW courses.

[Update excludes online-only courses].

The wellbeing and health and safety of our students and staff is paramount to us. We are committed to delivering all of our courses and services as safely as possible. Due to the pandemic, the methods and activities adopted for the coming year may differ from those previously published and may be subject to further change through the course of your study if such change is necessary due to public health concerns, health and safety guidance or in response to Government Guidelines. USW is committed to providing you with a fantastic student experience and a wealth of support, and you can hear how students have benefitted from this approach here: Learn more about blended learning.

Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Part-time 2 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Study Mode
Duration Start Date Campus Campus Code
Full-time 1 Year September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B
Part-time 2 Years September Cardiff (ATRiuM) B

Students who study full-time will complete the course in a year. Part-time students will take two years. The course combines a mix of core and optional modules, including the following.

Professional editorial writing techniques 

Using the fundamentals of journalism practice as a starting point, this module will explore  writing and storytelling for a range of platforms and outlets, from press releases to commercial copy writing to  news stories. It will require students to develop their own unique style while appreciating the requirements of the professional communicator to develop a wide skill base and appreciation of accuracy, tone, and the ability to follow an agreed brief feeds into the written narrative.

Presentation skills

Whether you are contributing to a video call, delivering a presentation to a conference, creative campaign pitching or contributing to a live broadcast or podcast, how you prepare, look, sound and what you say will make all the difference to the way a message is received. This module will analyse the various approaches to presenting and the skills required to ensure the right message is heard and understood, while ensuring students develop confidence and credibility in this area.

Mobile content creation

Understand and apply the basic principles of shooting and editing on a mobile phone, including, framing, exposure, focus, recording and editing for professional use. Focus will be on digitising content for transmedia platforms including Instagram Stories, blogs, YouTube etc.

Social and digital media in practice

Provide a critical yet practical understanding of the key aspects of digital and social media and their roles within the production process in the digital age. This module will offer students insight and understanding into the way social media has changed communications and journalism.

Law and ethics

Law, ethics and regulation will be studied in relation to the communications professional. This module will offer students the confidence to operate safely and require them to discuss, critique and work with the emerging challenges in this area, from who owns the copyright of an image to whether a tweet could result in a court appearance.

PR concepts and practice

An introductory critique of key concepts and tools of modern PR practice and implementation. It will examine the theoretical underpinnings of the subject by exploring how PR is utilised to ameliorate or influence issues within society, industry and the environment.

Research and practice in the creative industries

This module will encourage a critical engagement with approaches to creative practice, and with ideas, debates and issues in the creative and cultural industries.

Operating as a freelance professional. (20 credits, optional)

This module focuses on gaining an insight and understanding of what it takes to succeed in this area. Areas including setting up as a freelancer, marketing yourself and your business and understanding the requirements of the industry will be explored alongside a series of professional case studies with insights and experience of this fast-growing area. 

Research project

Dissertation of 18,000 words based on a piece of communications/journalism work on a subject of your choosing.

Final major project

Create a significant body of work that exhibits the level of your technical, aesthetic, and intellectual abilities, in relation to your chosen specialism.


Students will be taught via a mix of workshops, seminars, lectures and tutorials, as well as guest lectures and masterclasses from industry professionals and the opportunity to work with industry partners on projects and placements. Students will have the opportunity to join a rich range of added value activities offered around the faculty plus bespoke ones for their own course. 

The MA Visual Journalism is delivered from USW Cardiff, our city centre campus. You should expect to be on campus one to two days each week of term time (full time students) with the addition of online delivery for some elements of the course. On campus delivery may include some early evenings and occasional weekend activities, to best fit around students’ work-life balance.

You will also develop a professional portfolio in a range of media and a strong social media presence, along with learning essential skills to prepare you for employment or freelance working in the communications and/or media industry.


Assessment will be via a series of practical assessments based around live briefs and production projects, combined with written reflections and critical analysis of students’ work.


Students at USW Cardiff benefit from industry-standard equipment, software and studio and production facilities.

There are on-site journalism suites, along with media loans equipment available to students to produce their work. We also host guest lectures and masterclasses. 


A minimum 2:2 Honours degree in a relevant discipline or appropriate professional qualification, or an HND/HNC and relevant experience; or equivalent international qualifications.

Those without such qualifications will be considered on an individual basis, where prior experience will be taken into account.

Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.

August 2021 - July 2022 Fees

  • Full-time UK:  £9000

  • Full-time International:  £14300 

  • Part-time UK: TBC

August 2022 - July 2023 Fees

  • Full-time UK: TBC

  • Full-time International: TBC

  • Part-time UK: TBC

Additional Costs

Students have access to a wide range of resources including textbooks, publications, and computers in the University’s library and via online resources. In most cases they are more than sufficient to complete a course of study. Where there are additional costs, either obligatory or optional, these are detailed below. Of course students may choose to purchase their own additional personal resources/tools over and above those listed to support their studies at their own expense. All stationery and printing costs are at a student’s own expense.

The course team will help you find face-to-face or remote/online placements with employers in the journalism and communications industries in Wales and beyond. The team has excellent contacts and a track record of helping more than 100 undergraduate media students find placements each year. The campus hosts regular industry networking events putting you in touch with creative industries leaders.

The journalism and media subject area has existing placement arrangements with ITV, BBC and Global (for radio) plus informal connections with leading PR and communications organisations.

There’s also a focus on entrepreneurship and self-employment, with the help of our Cardiff campus’s Startup Stiwdio (Stiwdio Sefydlu), which is the first standalone university-based business incubator in Wales and provides a safe haven in which to test and develop enterprising ideas.

The skills you gain are sought after by employers in the journalism and communications industries but, beyond that, in every workplace that puts a premium on talking to its stakeholders. That means hiring people who can conceive, create and disseminate compelling and effective visually-led stories. 

This Masters degree offers you the chance to distinguish yourself in a competitive field and fast track your way into roles, which demand mature thinkers who have mastered the communications toolkits and can demonstrate an enthusiasm for change and innovation.

Possible career options include:

Communications, journalism, public relations, marketing, advertising and related areas in the business, public and charitable sectors.

Digital content producer; content marketing executive; press relations officer; journalist; communications officer; social media executive; content editor.