Course and Examination Regulations


Sec. 1 Course Objectives

  1. The course objective at the Open School of Journalism (the school) is to provide students with the professional and technical knowledge and competencies they need to carry out their job as journalists. The students should also be able critically reflect on journalism, its general framework, goals and effects as well as how it is embedded in society.
  2. A more general course objective for students is to use the method of distance learning to improve their ability for self-guided studying and therefore create a foundation for lifelong learning.



Sec. 2 Admission Requirements

  1. Requirements to take part in the course are
    • very good English language skills,
    • a graduation/school-leaving qualification according to ISCED-2011-level 3 (upper secondary education).
  2. Applicants who do not speak English as their native language have to provide evidence for English language proficiency. This is possible by
    • a school report card that indicates that the applicant had at least seven years of English language instruction,
    • a First Certificate in English (FCE), Certificate in Advanced English or a Certificate of Proficiency in English by Cambridge University (Cambridge Certificate),
    • a certificate by the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) with a score of at least 5.0 points,
    • a certificate of the Tests of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) with scores of at least 80 points in the Internet-based-Test, 170 points in the Computer-Test or 500 points in the Paper-Test,
    • a certificate of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) with a score of at least 400 points (listening) and 385 points (reading)
    • some other type of evidence to show equivalent proficiency, or
    • carrying out in English a telephone-based or personal interview with a staff member of the school.
  3. If applicants have no qualification according to Section 1(2) then they can be admitted if they
    • take on an internship or another vocational position with a publisher or broadcaster in parallel to the course, or
    • can give evidence that they have at least five years of experience in the media industry.
  4. Students should have a good basic knowledge for the use of computers, commonly used office software and the internet.



Sec. 3 Registration and Course Start

  1. Applicants need to use the registration form in order to register.
  2. The registration form must be accompanied by the certificates required for admission according to Sections 2(1), 2(2) and 2(3).
  3. The school will confirm the registration.
  4. The complete course materials will be made available to students at the beginning of the course. The course materials remain property of the school, are intended exclusively for personal study purposes and are protected by copyright. It may therefore be neither sold, leased, lent or used for the purposes of teaching others.
  5. As part of registration the student agrees that
    • personal information that was submitted through the registration can be stored electronically;
    • documents that were submitted as part of the registration can be stored electronically by the school and paper-based documents can be subsequently destroyed;
    • personal data with first and last name can be posted in the password-protected participant section of the Online-Campus.

6. The course starts with receipt of the login data to the online campus if no timely cancellation is provided by the student (Section 5(4)).



Sec. 4 Duration

  1. The course should be completed within 12 months (standard period of study).
  2. Students can shorten the duration of the course at their discretion or extend it to a maximum of 24 months.
  3. Students can submit a request for extension up to one month prior to the end date of the maximal course duration. The school will grant an extension if the student can provide credible evidence for the necessity of extending the course duration due to unavoidable and non-self-inflicted circumstances. A doctor's note shall be presented in the case of illness.



Sec. 5 Early Termination of the Course

  1. Students can terminate the course prior to completion. Without being required to provide a reason, students can terminate the course at the earliest for the end of the first six months by giving at least six weeks advance notice. After the first six months students can terminate the course at any time by providing three month's advance notice. A termination has to be made in writing (regular mail, email or fax).
  2. The right of the student and the school to terminate the contractual relationship at any time for important reasons remains unaffected. An important reason exists when the terminating party, considering all the circumstances of the particular case as well as the interests of both parties, cannot be expected to continue the course up to the previously agreed upon end date or the period of time required by giving advance notice.
  3. Students can revoke the course without providing justification within 14 days following the confirmation of registration and receiving the login data for the online campus by either written communication (regular mail, email or fax) or by sending back the course materials. The timely date of sending either a note of termination is sufficient for the time period required for advance notice of termination.
  4. In case of an effective termination, services are to be returned to each other and - if appropriate - gains (for example interest) are to be handed over. A monetary compensation must be made by the participant to the school if the participant can return the received service not at all or only in part. Responsibilities for the refund of payments have to be fulfilled within 30 days. For participants, the termination period starts when sending the written termination notice whereas for the school it starts when receiving the notice.
  5. The value of assignment, consumption or use of materials or the provision of teaching up to exercising the termination is not to be refunded (Section 4(3) FernUSG). The right for termination expires at the point where both parties have completely fulfilled their obligations under the contract for distance learning, at the latest however at the end of the first six months following the first delivery (Section 4(2) FernUSG).



Sec. 6 Course Design

  1. The course consists of:
    • Modules in several areas of competency to gain knowledge (§ 7),
    • if applicable, practical workshops to practice journalistic skills (§ 8),
  1. In total, at least 24 Study Points (SP) must be achieved during the course.



Sec. 7 Competence Areas

  1. The competence area "Journalistic Working Techniques" consists of the following modules that are weighted with two Study Points each:
    • JT010 Journalistic Investigation
    • JT020 Interviews
    • JT030 Journalistic Writing
    • JT040 Writing for Radio
    • JT050 Writing for TV
    • JT060 Writing for Online Media
    • JT070 Sub-editing
  2. The competence area "Areas of Journalism" consists of the following modules that are weighted with two Study Points each:
    • JD010 Arts Journalism
    • JD030 Business and Trade Journalism
    • JD040 Environmental Journalism
    • JD050 Fashion Journalism
    • JD070 Foreign Affairs and World News
    • JD080 Local and Community Journalism
    • JD090 Media Journalism
    • JD100 Medical and Health Journalism
    • JD110 Music Journalism
    • JD120 Political Journalism
    • JD130 Science Journalism
    • JD140 Sports Journalism
    • JD160 Travel Journalism
  3. The competence area "Genres of Journalism" consists of the following modules that are weighted with one Study Point each:
    • JG010 Advocacy Journalism
    • JG020 Ambush Journalism
    • JG030 Backpack Journalism
    • JG040 Bandwagon Journalism
    • JG050 Checkbook Journalism
    • JG060 Churnalism
    • JG070 Citizen Journalism
    • JG080 Collaborative Journalism
    • JG090 Comics Journalism
    • JG100 Computational Journalism
    • JG110 Computer-Assisted Journalism
    • JG120 Data Journalism
    • JG130 Data-driven Journalism
    • JG140 Embedded Journalism
    • JG150 Enterprise Journalism
    • JG160 Gonzo Journalism
    • JG170 Gotcha Journalism
    • JG180 Human Interest Journalism
    • JG190 Immersion Journalism
    • JG200 Innovation Journalism
    • JG210 Interactive Journalism
    • JG220 Investigative Journalism
    • JG230 Literary Journalism
    • JG240 Mobile Journalism
    • JG250 Muckraking Journalism
    • JG260 Narrative Journalism
    • JG270 New Journalism
    • JG280 Not-for-profit Journalism
    • JG290 Open Source Journalism
    • JG300 Peace Journalism
    • JG310 Positive Journalism
    • JG330 Preventive Journalism
    • JG340 Public Journalism
    • JG350 Scientific Journalism
    • JG360 Sensational Journalism
    • JG370 Service Journalism
    • JG380 Solutions Journalism
    • JG390 Tabloid Journalism
    • JG400 Watchdog Journalism
    • JG410 Wiki Journalism
  4. The competence area "Public Relations" consists of the following modules that are weighted with two Study Points each:
    • JP010 Introduction to Public Relations
    • JP020 News Releases
    • JP030 News Conferences
    • JP040 Content Marketing
    • JP040 Content Marketing
    • JP050 Crisis PR
    • JP060 PR Performance Measurement and Evaluation
    • JP070 Investor Relations Communication
  5. The competence area "Media Context and Working Conditions" consists of the following modules that are weighted with two Study Points each:
    • JC010 US Media and Press Law
    • JC020 British Media and Press Law
    • JC050 Ethics in Journalism
    • JC060 History of Journalism
  6. For the competence areas students have to enroll in modules that total at least 16 SP.



Sec. 8 Practical Workshops        

  1. Enrollment practical workshops is optional.
  2. The following practical workshops that are weighted according to the shown Study Points are offered:
    • JW010 Investigation Workshop (2 SP)
    • JW020 News Writing Workshop (2 SP)
    • JW030 Feature Writing Workshop (2 SP)
    • JW040 Opinion Writing Workshop (2 SP)
    • JW050 Interview Workshop (2 SP)
    • JW060 Journalistic Report (4 SP)
    • JW070 Sub-Editing Workshop (1 SP)



Sec. 9 Examination Structure

  1. The modules for the competency areas (§ 7) as well as the practical workshops  (§ 8) each conclude with an assignment (§ 10) as an examination.
  2. Each of the practical workshops (§ 8) concludes with practical work (§ 10) as an examination.
  3. Examinations are for the purpose of documenting the progress in learning. They provide evidence that the examination candidate has acquired the necessary professional and technical knowledge and competencies required for working as a journalist and understands the context of journalism.



Sec. 10 Assignments and Practical Work

  1. The modules in the competency areas as well as the practical workshops taken by the examination candidate are each to be completed with an assignment or practical work, all of which need to be submitted prior to the end date of the course.
  2. By handing over the assignment or practical work the examination candidate confirms that he/she has prepared those themselves and without the help of outside third parties.
  3. The work done by the examination candidate to prepare the assignments and/or the practical work as well as commenting and evaluation by the supervisors is carried out in the Online Campus of the school.
  4. The evaluation of assignments and practical work by the tutor shall take no longer than two weeks.
  5. Each test grade is weighted into the final grade as a function of its Study Points.



Sec. 11 Evaluation of Examinations

  1. The following grading scale is used for the evaluation of examination results:
    • grade A+ ("excellent", 4.3 grade points) for a level of performance between 96% up to and including 100%;
    • grade A ("excellent", 4 grade points) for a level of performance between 91% up to and including 95%;
    • grade A- ("very good", 3.7 grade points) for a level of performance between 86% up to and including 90%;
    • grade B+ ("good", 3.3 grade points) for a level of performance between 82% up to and including 85%;
    • grade B ("good", 3 grade points) for a level of performance between 78% up to and including 81%;
    • grade B- ("good", 2.7 grade points) for a level of performance between 74% up to and including 77%;
    • grade C+ ("satisfactory", 2.3 grade points) for a level of performance between 70% up to and including 73%;
    • grade C ("satisfactory", 2 grade points) for a level of performance between 66% up to and including 69%;
    • grade C- ("satisfactory", 1.7 grade points) for a level of performance between 62% up to and including 65%;
    • grade D+ ("poor", 1.3 grade points) for a level of performance between 58% up to and including 61%;
    • grade D ("poor", 1 grade points) for a level of performance between 54% up to and including 57%;
    • grade D- ("poor", .7 grade points) for a level of performance between 50% up to and including 53%;
    • grade F ("failure", 0 grade points) for a level of performance below 49%.
  2. The examination will be graded with F in case of cheating or use of non-permissible means by the examination candidate.
  3. The overall grade is determined by averaging the grades for the individual examination results.
  4. Only the first decimal place is used when calculating the overall grade. All further decimal places are dropped without rounding.
  5. The course is considered failed if the overall grade is below D-.



Sec. 12 Credits for Previous Examinations

  1. Credits of up to 8 SP can be given for examination results from another equivalent course upon request.
  2. The request is to be made in writing together with the registration (§ 3).
  3. The course fees (§ 16) will be pro-rated appropriately.



Sec. 13 Report Card and Certificate

  1. The examination candidate will receive a report card as well as a certificate within four weeks of passing the examination.
  2. The report card will specify the grades for the individual examinations as well as the overall grade.
  3. No grades will be specified in the certificate.
  4. Both final documents will be signed by the program director.
  5. In case of a failing grade for the course, the examination candidate will receive a certificate of attendance that will specify the grades that were achieved for the examinations.
  6. The report card and the certificate will be issued after full payment of the tution fees.



Sec. 14 Tuition Fees

  1. Tuition fees are specified in the applicable registration form.
  2. There will be no increases in tuition fees subsequent to initiation of the course. However, there is an exemption for those fees that result from voluntarily signing up for additional course modules or practical workshops or that arise from individual arrangements.
  3. Tuition fees are payable in USD or EUR. Currency risks shall be for the account of the student.
  4. If the student finishes his studies before the end of the payment schedule, the tuition fees have to be paid in full.
  5. In case of an early termination of the course (Section 5) the participant is only responsible for that portion of the course fees that were due according to the installment plan.
  6. In case of termination (Section 5 (3) et seq.) the participant does not have to pay course fees. If he/she has already paid, he/she will receive a full refund.



Sec. 15 Effective Date

The course and examination regulations specified in the present document come into effect the day following their publication on the web page of the Open School of Journalism.