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Essentials of Journalism


Admission requirements

Required course(s):



This introductory course seeks to give students a critical understanding of the core principles of journalism. Students explore what news is, how news values have developed through time, and they gain insights in the specifics of reporting, news writing, and interviewing. They also learn to critically reflect on these specifics in light of current debates about what journalism is and should be in a digital and global age. Students develop journalistic skills, by actually going out, get and write news stories, while critically self-reflecting on the journalistic principles that guide their practice.

Course Objectives

After successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of what journalism entails in today’s digital world and how to access and assess sources

  • show insight in how journalism has changed over the past few decades

  • grasp discussions among scholars and practitioners about (global) journalism ethics

  • report and write news stories and features – by actually going out, practice interviewing, making choices in covering news

  • evaluate strengths and weaknesses of different types of media (audio, video, print)

  • critically self-reflect on journalism theory, ethics, and practice


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2023-2024 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

Most of the classes will be in the form of lectures, with time for discussion. There will be several in-class assignments (with time limitations) and in-class interviewing exercises. There will also be talks by alumni or others currently working in journalism. One film on investigative journalism will be shown. I will be available every week for individual meetings with students to discuss their work.

Assessment Method

Students will be given regular writing assignments in the form of news stories – at times based on articles handed out by the lecturer, at others students will be expected to go out and do reporting in the Hague. Most of the news stories will be relatively short (300 to 400 words).


  • News story 1 (either in class or take home): 10%, Week 1

  • News story 2 (either in class or take home): 10%, Week 2

  • News story 3 either in class or take home: 15%, Week 3/4

  • Test: 15% (ongoing)

  • Essay: 10%, Week 5

  • News story 4: 25%, Week 6

  • Overall participation in discussion: 15% (ongoing)

News stories will be assessed for:

  • Quality of Sources and Findings

  • Writing Style (includes clarity, grammar, spelling, punctuation and adherence to specifically journalistic style as taught in class)

  • Organization

Reading list

The Elements of Journalism by Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel

Other works are to be announced.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Fernande van Tets