A sports journalism degree for 2023
We’ve completely overhauled our curriculum to be fit for 2023, with new modules on e-sports, videography, social media, feature writing, commentary and punditry, data analysis and visualisation, the societal impact of journalism, and more.
This is in response to changes in the industry, such as the proliferation of specialist sport websites and the shift in power away from traditional media. Sports clubs and organisations are now taking control of their own narrative and looking for well-qualified media professionals who can help them build their audiences and communicate directly with fans. Our aim is to help you build those skills alongside the essential aspects of traditional journalism, like interviewing, newswriting and media law.
Throughout your studies, you will gain significant hands-on experience of news gathering, reporting, and producing content for your chosen sport — including sports reports, social media videos, stories and profiles of athletes, podcasts, feature articles, and blogs. You’ll cover all aspects of the news cycle from previewing events to live reporting and post-event analysis. To see what our students get up to and view the content they produce, take a look at our StoryHub website and Twitter feed.
As well as producing content, you’ll also be asked to analyse the work of current journalists to understand what best practice looks like. You will also learn more generally about communication, media, and societal issues in journalism.
Get professional experience
Our tutors are well-connected in the industry. They will put you in touch with sports and media organisations, so you can start to gain valuable work experience while you are studying.
For example, we recently arranged for groups of students to cover the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham (we were one of only two universities there) and we’re also attending the 2023 Cycling World Championships in Glasgow.
We also have strong links with around 30 clubs, so our students are reporting on sports like rugby, football, cricket, boxing, motor racing, tennis, athletics, netball, basketball, horse racing, cycling and more.
For example, one student is currently working for Leicester Riders Basketball Team writing all their match reports, and interviewing the players and manager. Another student is being paid to cover tennis events, such as the Nottingham Open and Queens Club Championships. And several students are working at Donnington Park covering motor racing. We have many others working at football clubs too, such as Wolverhampton Wanderers, Birmingham City, Derby County, and Nottingham Forest.
By the end of the course – provided you’ve made the most of these opportunities – you should have an impressive editorial portfolio to show prospective employers.
Follow your passion
Unlike other sports journalism courses, you have the option to specialise in a sport of your choice — from the more obvious ones like cricket, rugby and football, to minority sports. You are expected to gain an in-depth knowledge of your sport, covering every level — from grassroots to the biggest names in international sport. You will learn about the business, finance and use of data in sport, and critically explore other current issues.
This specialist sports journalism degree is also extremely varied, with optional modules in years two and three, so you can tailor your degree to your own talents and interests.
Be inspired by guest speakers
You’ll gain fascinating insights into the profession thanks to our programme of guest lectures by sports journalists, broadcasters and industry insiders. In recent years these have included:
- Broadcaster Mark Pougatch
- Commentator Jonathan Pearce
- Former professional boxer and commentator, Carl Froch
- Professional footballer George Friend
- Journalist Henry Winter
- Commentator Rob Palmer
- Journalist Paul Hayward.
You'll be based at our Markeaton Street and Kedleston Road sites, which have everything a journalist needs. Our facilities include three radio studios, a fully equipped television studio, video editing suites, Mac suites and a newsroom featuring the latest software, including Adobe Creative Suite.
Our radio studios have recently been refurbished and fitted with Calrec technology — a leading range of broadcast audio mixing consoles and equipment. All large media companies are now migrating to this technology, so we're ahead of the game.
All of this means you’ll be confident using industry-standard technology, giving you an advantage when you're looking for a job.
We can offer opportunities for you to spend time in another country, including studying at our partner universities or working on a placement or internship.
The key to becoming a journalist is to learn the essential skills so, at the start of your degree, you will learn the basics of finding and telling stories. As you progress you will develop more advanced skills in multimedia content production.
You will learn in a variety of ways – for example through:
- Lectures and seminars, including guest lectures from industry experts
- Practice-based workshops
- Trips to sports events and clubs
- News days
- Group work
- Independent study.
Our assessments are focused on teaching you how to be a journalist. There are no exams and you’ll be assessed mainly on the content you produce, which might be blogs, podcasts, videos, features, and news articles. For some modules, you will need to complete more academic assessments, including essays, case study reports and presentations.
Who you'll meet
Niall Hickman is the Programme Leader for Specialist Sports Journalism. He worked in the industry for three decades, covering a variety of sports including football, cricket, rugby, golf, boxing, athletics and even the World Pooh Stick Championships! He’s worked for media outlets such as the South London Press, ITV, Sky Sports, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express. Niall has also ghost-written two autobiographies for boxing world champions Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch. His career highlights were interviewing the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Lennox Lewis and German footballing legend Lothar Mattheus.
Peter Lansley is a senior lecturer, Guardian football writer, and FA coach mentor. He’s had 20 years’ experience writing for broadsheets, 13 of which were as The Time’s Midlands and Women's football correspondent. Pete has reported from 20 major tournaments but says the pinnacle was reporting on the Lionesses winning the 2022 Women's Euros with Derby students.
Neil Manship is a senior lecturer and cricket fan. He began his career as a sports reporter at the Derby Telegraph and then moved into radio and TV, working as a reporter, producer and presenter for the BBC. This included 13 years as a lead producer and manager for BBC Look North. He’s most proud of producing ‘Programme of the Year’ in The BBC Nations and Regions Awards.
Neil Roberts is an Everton fan and has spent 25 years in journalism (newspaper and TV). While working for ITV News, he interviewed many sports people including David Beckham, Johnny Wilkinson, Joe Calzaghe and Sir Bradley Wiggins. Neil was also involved in the re-brand of the Premier League in 2016, as executive producer of their global TV channel.
Carly Baldwin is a lecturer and sports journalism graduate herself. She spent 13 years working predominantly in PR and communications roles across the sector, including with football clubs, national governing bodies and at major multi-sport events. Her career highlight was working at the London Olympics 2012. Carly’s a fan of many sports but she especially enjoys watching cricket and following (not always with enjoyment) Wolverhampton Wanderers during the football season!
Richard Bowyer is a senior lecturer and an award-winning journalist with more than 30 years’ experience. He’s worked on numerous Midlands’ newspapers, including the Wolverhampton Express and Star, Lincolnshire Echo and Stoke Sentinel, rising through the ranks to become Editor-in-Chief of Staffordshire Sentinel Newspapers (his career highlight) and later, Group Editor of West Staffordshire Newspapers and its associated websites. His favourite sport is cricket.
Chris Hall is a lecturer whose passion is football. He worked in the communications team for his beloved West Bromwich Albion for eight years, managing their social media and broadcast products. Chris then spent five years at the FA running Wembley’s digital team. His career highlight was organising all the on-field activity for Sir Alex Ferguson’s final game as a manager.
These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2024 entry. Contextual offers may apply to students who meet certain criteria.
|Requirement||What we're looking for|
|GCSE||GCSE Maths and English Grade 4/Grade C (or above) or equivalent qualification|
|Access to HE||Pass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 with a minimum of Distinction: 15, Merit: 24, Pass: 6|
Offers will be made initially based on your application, including predicted grades and/or grades you have already achieved. You may be given the opportunity, within your offer letter, to submit a portfolio. If you submit a strong portfolio we will make you an unconditional offer, to reflect the quality of your work and your potential.
Additional entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS: 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each skills area)
By the end of this specialist sports journalism degree, you should have plenty of professional experience and contacts to get your career off to a flying start.
The course develops the broad range of knowledge and skills you need to become a sports journalist today, but it also prepares you for broader careers in journalism, PR and marketing, advertising, corporate communications, law and public administration or politics.
Our specialist sports journalism graduates are now working for clubs and organisations like Leicester Tigers Rugby Club, Leicester City FC, Channel 5 Boxing, British Swimming, the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association), England Netball, World Snooker, Bet 365, BBC Radio Derby, Derbyshire County Cricket Club and many more.
Ensuring you’re ‘work-ready’
Our Careers and Employment Service will provide you with support from day one of your course to ensure you leave Derby as a ‘work-ready’ graduate - industry aware, motivated and enterprising. Throughout your studies, you’ll also benefit from our Personal Development Planning (PDP) scheme which enables you to reflect on your learning and develop your career ambitions. The support continues once you’ve completed your course too: you are entitled to further help and guidance from the Careers and Employment Service for up to three years after leaving the University.
Additional information about your studies
Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.
Additional costs and optional extras
We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.
The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.
Included in your fees
- Access to the Equipment Centre which stocks a huge range of cameras, audio equipment, and accessories which are available for booking by students at no cost
- Mandatory trips to media companies or other interesting organisations. Previous trips have included visiting BBC Radio Derby, the Derby Telegraph, the Nottingham Post and BBC News and Sport at Salford
Mandatory costs not included in your fees
- Some equipment including storage drives (about £10) and external storage drives (£50 - £100) for use with cameras
Optional costs not included in your fees
- It is useful but not essential to have a smartphone (£50 - £750)
- Some students choose to buy accessories for the phone such as external microphones (approx. £10 - £15) and tripods (£5 - £25)
- Some students also find it useful to purchase their own laptop for use in the field but this is not required (from £150)
- It is also possible that you will want to travel to cover particular news stories - as this is not required by the course, the cost is not covered in your fees
Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.