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TVNZ presenter Ali Pugh talks about her time on the UC Journalism programme

If you are interested in study journalism in 2017, contact Senior Lecturer Tara Ross.

The University of Canterbury’s Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism is a one-year programme aimed at preparing graduates for significant careers in journalism, and our graduates can be found in leading newsrooms throughout the country.

At UC, you will receive intensive training in media ethics and law, newsgathering and writing, research and analysis, and multimedia skills. It’s hard work and requires commitment — but then, we are talking about a career in the real world.

UC’s Journalism programme has won the 2016 UC Teaching Innovation Award and international recognition for its joint disaster training exercise with UC’s Master of Disaster Risk and Resilience programme. The International Association of Emergency Managers awarded its 2015 Oceania Technology & Innovation Award (Division 2) to the collaborative exercise, which pits journalism and hazard management students against each other in a role-play simulation based on a real-time natural disaster. At its industry moderation, the UC programme was rated first-class by industry leaders, who praised the programme for its content, academic rigour and clear demonstration of producing work-ready students of the highest calibre.

Each year, most, if not all, of our graduates win jobs, many of them before the programme has even finished. Halfway through Term 4, nearly two-thirds of the 2015 class had jobs. In 2013, a majority of the class had job offers before they’d even finished their study and all of our students were working in newsrooms within four months of graduating – at the New Zealand HeraldThe Press, TV3, Radio NZ, RadioLIVE, NewstalkZB, CTV, The Star, Stuff.co.nz and various Fairfax community papers – debunking the myth that reporting jobs are hard to find.

The programme has a strong emphasis on practical work, and we maintain a close relationship with the profession through our many guest lecturers. Throughout the year, you will report for local newsrooms and contribute to a range of media, including radio station RDU 98.5 and our own digital news outlet, The Record. Mid-year, you will work at a South Island newspaper and, later in the year, we send you further afield for a capstone internship in a radio, online or print newsroom.

We aim to produce highly competent and multi-skilled professionals who think critically about their work and care about standards. University of Canterbury journalism graduates took out the top two awards at the 2016 Canon Media Awards: Rebecca Macfie (Class of 1987) won the Wolfson Fellowship and best politics feature; Barbara Fountain (Class of 1989) won Editorial Leader of the Year. Tess McClure (2013) won Junior Feature Writer of the Year, UC graduates Katie Kenny (2013) and Blair Ensor (2008) accepted the award for Best investigation for their Faces of Innocents project about violence against children, and Naomi Arnold (2008) won best Lifesyle Feature. Canterbury graduates were also among top finalists, with Talia Shadwell (2011) a finalist for reporter of the year, and Katarina Williams (2005) a finalist for best journalist – news or sport at the radio awards. Their work, along with that of all the winners, is a testament to the vital and compelling journalism that is produced in New Zealand.

Radio NZ head of digital media Glen Scanlon

UC graduate Glen Scanlon was probably destined to be a journalist – his mother has been writing great yarns for nearly 40 years, his twin brother is an award-winning journalist, and he is married to a journalist. He started as a crime reporter at The Dominion before working at The Press, The Dominion Post and as chief reporter on the Waikato Times. Glen then disappeared overseas for five years with stints at The Guardian and CNN, among others. He returned to be the Waikato Times’ assistant editor before becoming Stuff.co.nz’s news editor and editor, and is now the head of digital media at Radio NZ. Glen is a previous winner of UC’s Robert Bell Travelling Scholarship and last year won Fairfax NZ’s Mike Robson Scholarship, allowing him to spend a month studying investigative journalism in Europe.

When I was quite young mum worked from home for Radio New Zealand. I can still remember her packing us in the car, with her portable radio pack the size of a fridge, and roaring out to stories. I’m not quite sure how she did it but it left us with a taste for the job. Journalism has been my passport around the world. I have met some incredibly talented (and crazy, bless them) people and tried to learn a little bit off all of them. The change in 16 years has been immense – when I started there was only one computer on our floor that could access the internet (and very slowly). Now it travels around in my pocket. It might be a roller coaster but there is still nothing that beats the thrill of a great news story.

Award-winning senior writer Martin van Beynen

Former UC graduate Martin van Beynen is now an award-winning senior writer and columnist for The Press. In the 2010 Canon Media Awards he won the Story of the Year award for a feature on the trial and acquittal of David Bain, and was later named Fairfax Media Journalist of the Year 2010–11. At the 2012 Canon Media awards, he won Senior Reporter of the Year, Senior Newspaper Feature Writer of the Year, and the prestigious Wolfson Fellow to Cambridge University. His book, Trapped: Remarkable Stories of Survival from the 2011 Canterbury Earthquake, was published in 2012.  

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Award-winning investigative journalist and former UC journalism graduate Martin van Beynen says every day as a journalist is “interesting, different and challenging”.

I still think, even after 25 years in journalism, it is a noble job. You may not change the world but in many ways you are the eyes, ears, conscience, advocate and analyst for the public. Journalism has plenty of mundane moments but generally every day is interesting, different and challenging. You have a lot of control over your work and you can shine as an individual or as part of a team. Rapidly changing technologies and media vehicles or platforms provide many more opportunities for career development and variety. Journalism has given me the opportunity to work in other countries, to indulge my interests, to try different things including management and play a role in the community. Most of all I like the people who are attracted to the job.

How do I apply?

You can find application details and the application form here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need straight A’s to get in?
We look for intelligence allied with good work habits and a high standard of English. You are not ruled out because your degree fails to meet some arbitrary grade average. A first-class honours degree is not a passport to the course. However, a sound academic record is normally essential.

What subjects should I study?
Take what interests you. We look for graduates in a wide range of disciplines. The industry needs more journalists with degrees in science, Maori and computer science. Obviously some subjects like economics, law, political science, history, and media and communication are also useful, but we have an open mind.

What do you look for?
A sense of vocation about journalism. We look for people who know why they want a career in journalism and who have a realistic understanding of what being a journalist involves. It’s not enough to say you like writing and meeting people.

How can I show my commitment?
Have you visited newsrooms? Have you spoken to journalists? Have you had work published? A portfolio is not mandatory, but it is an advantage.

What are my chances of being admitted?
We accept up to 25 students a year. You can improve your case by thoroughly investigating journalism as a career and taking steps to show you are serious about becoming a journalist. You will be required to attend a formal interview and may also be asked to sit a writing test. International students must demonstrate a high level of English fluency.

How heavy will the workload be?
This is a postgraduate course and the workload and commitment expected of students is higher than in undergraduate years. Students will need to commit at least 30 hours a week to course work.