Number of lesson modules  12 Fees information  
  Average duration  9-15 months Enrolment form  


Freelance and Feature Writing


The great advantage of freelance writing is that it can be done either in conjunction with another career, or as a career in itself. It can also be a very well paid profession, whether part-time or full-time. This course is an ideal starting point and covers the whole field of modern freelance writing. Flexible in its approach, it is geared to the specific needs of each individual writer.

The scope is huge - 8,000 periodicals are published in the UK alone, ranging from newspapers, magazines and the controlled circulation press to technical, scientific, and in-house journals. It is quite usual for over 50% of published content in any one publication to have come from freelance writers.

Your tutor will concentrate on those subjects which interest you most, and those of which you have detailed knowledge. Many new writers start by making their hobby or profession their specialised field and over 80% of our students are having their work published by the time they complete the course.

You can choose to take this course with additional modules in the following specialist subjects:

Course Syllabus:

Lesson 1: Starting Out
What makes a good journalist? Learning about the real world of journalism, and the responsibilities and ethics of the profession. A brief look at the way in which the British Press has evolved and an analysis of different categories of newspapers and magazines. Ten key elements which may affect your ability to get your work published.
Assessment tasks include:
Identifying personal aims, skills and experience
Researching potential markets and target readership

Lesson 2: Readers and Markets
Learning what readers and editors want, assessing the scope for getting material published and knowing how to research potential markets. How to present manuscripts professionally, avoiding common grammatical, spelling and punctuation errors and learning what is meant by 'house style' and 'newspaper English'.
Assessment tasks include:
Rewriting poorly written copy
Conducting a detailed readership profile

Lesson 3: What is News?
Developing a strong news sense and recognising what makes a good story. Exploring the practical process of newsgathering, making contacts and identifying and following story leads. The opportunities for freelance contributions in the field of sports journalism.
Assessment tasks include:
Writing a report of a real news or sporting event

Lesson 4: Writing Features
Exploring the difference in approach required for a features article. Focusing on the importance of interviews in features writing; learning how to adapt the tone and style of your writing to different categories of subject matter. Dealing with topical news features.
Assessment tasks include:
Comparing the merits of published news features and personal profiles

Lesson 5: More about Features
Progressing to in-depth features profiles; how to conduct successful face-to-face interviews. Using 'standfirsts' and different features introductions to play up a strong news angle or maximise a story's human interest. Exploring eyewitness and offbeat approaches.
Assessment tasks include:
Tackling a 600-800 word in-depth features profile

Lesson 6: Specialist Writing
The particular skills required by a range of specialist newspaper writers - from motoring journalists to gossip writers, from political columnists to critics, sports writers and photo-journalists.
Assessment tasks include:
Writing a book, film or TV review
Tackling a specialist column or feature

Lesson 7: Directing your Writing
Looking in depth at ways of developing ideas into saleable articles and at some of the subjects which provide most scope for freelance contributors. Learning the basic guidelines for producing articles for publication.
Assessment tasks include:
Comparing different newspaper and magazine outlets
Outlining a proposed treatment for a saleable article

Lesson 8: Journalists and the Law
Legal restrictions and how journalists can avoid costly legal action. The dangers of libel and other pitfalls; qualified privilege and unintentional defamation; criminal libel; and the need for fairness and accuracy. Restrictions on court reporting, and the dangers of contempt of court when matters are sub judice. The Official Secrets Act, the rights of the Press and a brief look at copyright.
Assessment tasks include:
Reviewing passages for libellous content
Producing a safe, fair and accurate crime report

Lesson 9: Successful Packages
How to develop saleable ideas from the most unlikely sources and how to research your finished articles. How to 'package' intriguing and attractive ideas for newspapers and magazines, and the ground rules for successfully dealing with editors.
Assessment tasks include:
Identifying ideas for saleable articles
Writing an 800-word feature or news item

Lesson 10: More About Markets
You are now in a position to analyse accurately how to produce and sell articles targeted at different markets, from the regional and national press to mass market and specialist magazines and trade and technical publications.
Assessment tasks include:
Writing articles for different markets

Lesson 11: Television and Radio
The differences in approach between broadcast and print journalism. Learning the writing requirements of various radio and television outlets. Markets are explored in detail, with advice on how to develop treatments and final scripts for broadcast.
Assessment tasks include:
Writing a short radio script
Outlining a treatment for a television documentary or feature

Lesson 12: Going it Alone
The final lesson gives you the vital preparation required to launch your freelance writing career, whether on a part- or full-time basis. A questionnaire and detailed revision notes provide an opportunity to tie up any loose ends in your training, while businesslike advice about record-keeping and administration offers a firm foundation for pursuing a professional approach to future writing assignments.
Assessment tasks include:
Drawing up a personal 12-month action plan with clear achievement targets