Inside Story: The Graduates

Everyone has to start somewhere - even the biggest players in the British media. There are more training courses, in more places than ever, but which have the best track record? Ed Caesar combs the campuses
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The Independent Online

What's on offer? A BA in media studies as either a single or joint-honours course, as well as an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate diploma in journalism.

De Montfort University

What's on offer? A BA in media studies as either a single or joint-honours course, as well as an undergraduate degree and a postgraduate diploma in journalism.

Why here? Until 1992, this institution was called Leicester Polytechnic, and has since tried to merge the best of both the poly and university ethos to focus on "creative and vocational excellence". While the media studies department has excellent new-media facilities, it also concentrates on the more traditional journalistic skills.

Who's done it? In the short time it has existed, De Montfort has turned out successful graduates in all areas of the media. One such is Miranda Eason, acting editor of Cosmo Girl!

University of Central Lancashire

What's on offer? Through its Lancashire Business School, undergraduate and postgraduate courses in every aspect of journalism.

Why here? The BA courses in journalism offer an insight into both theoretical and practical aspects of the profession, and have tutors who focus on sport, international and broadcast journalism. MA students work in a newsroom situation, are taught by practising journalists, and go from theory to practice over a short period.

Who's done it? Simon Kelner, editor of The Independent; Victoria Derbyshire, BBC Radio Five Live presenter; Ian Payne, Sky Sports presenter; Catherine Marston, BBC North of England correspondent; Polly Billington, BBC News 24 political reporter; Angelique Chrisafis, Ireland correspondent for The Guardian.

Cardiff University

What's on offer? A BA degree in journalism, film and media, but the reputation of the department is based on its postgraduate diplomas in journalism, media and public relations.

Why here? Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies was established in 1970, making it one of the oldest such establishments in Britain. It is still regarded as one of the best training centres for journalists, and its starry alumni confirm this. Illustrious tutors include Richard Tait, former editor-in-chief of ITN, and Ian Hargreaves, former editor of The Independent.

Who's done it?

John Witherow, editor of The Sunday Times; Ben Brown of BBC News; Donald Macintyre The Independent's Jerusalem correspondent; Dawn Bebe, managing director of Emap Elan; Laura Jones, Newsround presenter; Paul Waugh, deputy political editor of the Evening Standard ; Oliver Holt, chief sports writer for The Mirror; Eloise Twisk, producer on BBC Radio 4's Today programme; David Derbyshire, The Daily Telegraph's science correspondent; Matt Dickinson, chief football correspondent at The Times.

University of East London

What's on offer? Undergraduate degrees ranging from media studies to film and video. A combination of theoretical and practical study.

Why here? The university has the biggest department in the UK whose sole remit is the media: the department is made up of 2,300 students and 150 staff. Admitting roughly 200 students a year on to undergraduate media and culture courses, the university also runs extended degree programmes for "bright students who have neglected their studies at secondary school". Professors, such as Haim Bresheeth, a world authority on Middle Eastern cinema, have strong academic credentials, but the faculty is keen to encourage practical participation in all areas of the media.

Who's done it?

Mark Frith, editor of Heat; Daljit Dhaliwal, CNN International presenter.

University of Stirling

What's on offer? Film and media studies BA for undergraduates, and MAs including media management and public relations.

Why here? Stirling's film and media course took its first students in 1978. The jewel in the crown is the Stirling Media Research Institute, which is frequently used by the Government and EU for studies. Prominent figures from the media are often brought in to teach and advise.

Who's done it?

Mark Daly, BBC reporter; Jim Adamson, managing director of Speakeasy Productions.

University of Westminster

What's on offer? A BA in media studies that is divided into four parts: journalism, television production, radio production, and PR.

Why here? Westminster boasts the oldest media studies BA in the country, and has cutting-edge facilities and top academics, such as Professor Colin Sparks. Last year, undergraduates won gold, silver and bronze prizes in the BBC Radio 4 File on Four journalism awards.

Who's done it? Michael Jackson, former chief executive of Channel 4; John Woodward, CEO of the UK Film Council.

City University, London

What's on offer? An undergraduate journalism course and, its real strength, the postgraduate diploma in broadcast, international, magazine and newspaper journalism.

Why here? This private university's postgraduate diploma has rightly accrued legendary status within the media. The course is primarily practical, as it has been since the diploma's inception in 1976, and has turned out some of journalism's brightest stars. Has unparalleled access to media facilities, such as its own radio station DiverCity FM; and top-notch professors, such as Stewart Purvis, former editor then CEO of ITN, and Roy Greenslade, Guardian columnist and former Mirror editor.

Who's done it? Sophie Raworth and Dermot Murnaghan of the BBC; Guardian foreign correspondent Gary Younge; Samira Ahmed and Brigid Nzekwu of Channel 4 News.

Harlow College

What's on offer? Harlow is one of the top NCTJ (National Council for the Training of Journalists) establishments supplying completely vocational one-year journalism courses for school-leavers, and 19-week fast-track postgrad courses .

Why here? Focuses entirely on print journalism. In keeping with the vocational ethos of the NCTJ, emphasis is on traditional journalistic skills, such as shorthand.

Who's done it? Alan Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian; Kelvin MacKenzie, former Sun editor and TalkSport Radio chief; Piers Morgan, former Mirror editor; Kim Fletcher, former editor of The Independent on Sunday, now editorial director of Telegraph Group.

Darlington College of Technology

What's on offer? Another NCTJ outpost, Darlington takes on both A-level and graduate students who wish to learn the skills needed to succeed in journalism in a variety of areas, such as sub-editing or magazine journalism.

Why here? The course organisers are keen to stress that academic qualifications will only get you so far in the cut-and-thrust world of journalism. The college is well-equipped to deal with the relatively small number of students who come through its doors, and has excellent facilities.

Who's done it? John Sergeant, former political editor of ITN, dozens of local and national newspaper hacks.

Trinity & All Saints

What's on offer? Leeds University-accredited BA in media, and more vocational postgraduate journalism and media qualifications.

Why here? Excellent facilities are an obvious draw, as are the "research-active" teaching staff.

Who's done it? Ryan Parry, the Mirror journalist who infiltrated Buckingham Palace.

Glasgow Caledonian/Strathclyde University

What's on offer? These two universities joined forces 12 years ago to form the Scottish Centre for Journalism Studies. The centre offers both a postgraduate diploma and an MLitt in journalism.

Why here? The centre's facilities provide an excellent environment for hands-on training. Coupled with this is the high calibre of teaching staff - every tutor has had extensive experience in a specific aspect of journalism, with some, like the features tutor Jean Rafferty, being leading lights in their field.

Who's done it? David Milne, news editor on Glasgow's Sunday Herald; Sarah-Kate Templeton, Sunday Times health correspondent; Carla Romano, GMTV correspondent.

London College of Communication

What's on offer? The LCC provides courses in journalism and the media at foundation, undergraduate and postgraduate level. It also offers a number of short-term vocational courses in specific areas, such as feature writing and sub-editing.

Why here? Formerly famous for its journalism training as The London College of Printing, a name change has done this establishment's prestige no harm. Students have access to highly qualified tutors and visiting speakers. The intensive postgraduate diploma in journalism is particularly well regarded.

Who's done it? Helen Boaden, the BBC's new Director of News; Garry Bushell, columnist and broadcaster; Jane Root, former controller of BBC2; Rebekah Wade, editor of The Sun.

Trinity Mirror Editorial Training

What's on offer? Trinity Mirror's graduate programme and prestigious editorial-training scheme for journalists. At its heart is a 16-week foundation course teaching both trainees and journalists the essentials of the profession. Trinity Mirror journalists are then sent on to newspapers around the country.

Why here? Unrivalled as an in-house training programme, and used by many journalists from other newspapers. The course was established in 1969, and since then, legions of writers and editors have undertaken the intensive four-month course. Students can work at the Newcastle Chronicle as they learn.

Who's done it? BBC political editor and former Independent editor Andrew Marr; James Naughtie, BBC Radio 4 Today programme presenter.

The Editorial Centre

What's on offer? A number of different courses, all focused on vocational journalistic training. The most popular is the 15-week "refresher" course for journalists.

Why here? Based in Hastings, students come to the Editorial Centre to learn "on the job". The centre runs as a newsroom, with students required to produce a daily newspaper. With the Press Association having recently invested significantly in the centre, students now have access to the very best facilities and equipment.

Who's done it? David Yelland, former Sun editor; Andy Coulson, editor of News of the World; John Sage, editor-in-chief of Teletext; Sharon Henry, Sun women's editor.

Bournemouth University

What's on offer? A broad-based BA in multimedia journalism, covering television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and the Net.

Why here? The course organiser claims that this BA, which attracts 1,000 applicants for its 72 places, "is not for the faint-hearted." All undergraduates attain proficiency in editing, reporting, and writing for all media, and are encouraged to reflect upon and critique all aspects of the profession.

Who's done it? Ashley Bird, editor of Kerrang!; Bella Crane, presenter of A Place in the Sun; Gemma Calvert, News of the World reporter.

Highbury College

What's on offer? An NCTJ-accredited diploma in journalism that is popular among graduates and non-graduates alike.

Why here? Students are given hands-on experience at every step of their training: industry professionals teach the nuts and bolts of journalism in a cutting-edge newsroom, and students are required to work on evening and weekend papers from early in the course. More than 90 per cent of Highbury graduates go on to full-time employment as journalists, and many are headhunted before the course has finished.

Who's done it? Mark Austin of ITN; Jon Pienaar of the BBC; Chris Cramer, managing director of CNN International; Virginia Wheeler, Sun reporter; Richard Hannaford, former BBC Radio 4 health correspondent; Stephen Castle, The Independent's Brussels correspondent.

The Sheffield College

What's on offer? For graduates, there is an 18-week fast-track course in journalism every September and February. For students with a minimum of two A-levels, the college runs a more in-depth 35-week course.

Why here? The emphasis, as with all NCTJ-accredited courses, is on practical experience. Students are required to gather news stories and write to deadlines, while skills such as Teeline shorthand.

Who's done it? Jeremy Clarkson, TV presenter and Sunday Times columnist ; Dan Chung, staff photographer at The Guardian; Paul Sanders, picture editor at The Times.