Pictured next to the 19th Century Imperial Hand Printing Press at the University of Limerick Library are (l-r) Professor Pat O'Connor, Dean, Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Ombudsman, Emily O'Reilly and Professor Don Barry, President UL.
The Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Limerick has launched the first full suite of journalism postgraduate and undergraduate degree programmes outside of Dublin and the first BA in Journalism and New Media in Ireland.
The commencement of these new programmes in September 2008, which were officially launched by Ombudsman and former journalist Emily O'Reilly at UL, will be the first time journalism is available to prospective students at University of Limerick. The programmes include an undergraduate Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and New Media and two postgraduate programmes, a Graduate Diploma and Taught Masters in Journalism.
The BA in Journalism and New Media, as well as equipping the graduates with skills essential for working in the challenging and rapidly changing media industry, will offer the opportunity to study journalism and new media in conjunction with Sociology, Economics, History, Law, Politics and Local Government, and Languages, including Irish. .
In keeping with the UL tradition of maintaining close contact with industry and awareness of its needs, the courses were devised after consultation with journalists from both local and national broadcast and print media.
The undergraduate programme will include a six-month co-operative education work placement in the print and broadcast media and the opportunity to study journalism in either North America or Continental Europe. The undergraduate programme will be open to CAO Applicants and Mature Students. It is expected that the postgraduate programmes will attract recent graduates as well as those working in the media industry who wish to improve their skills.
Speaking at the launch of the new undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, Professor Pat O'Connor, Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, said that the decision by UL to offer these programmes was prompted by discussions between UL and journalists from the national print and broadcast media; and in response to clear evidence of student demand and the desire to be in a position to produce graduates who will bring critical analytical skills to bear on understanding issues in Irish society and stimulating public discussion of them through the media.
"Limerick and the Mid-West region have traditionally been a very competitive media environment, known for its high journalistic standards, and it was a natural progression for UL to provide journalism courses to ensure that the media in this region has a ready supply of top quality graduates.
"The media is constantly evolving. Local print media has existed in Limerick since 1768 and the biggest selling national newspapers have had representatives based in the region for decades. On top of that, the last twenty years have seen the broadcast sector revolutionised with the advent of local radio and we also, of course, now have national radio station Lyric FM based in the city as well as the Mid-West's first regional radio station, SPIN South West.
"In recognition of this, UL sought the opinion of local and national media in framing these programmes and this consultation process was hugely beneficial to us as it gave us a clear indication of skills which graduates would need to have to be attractive to the industry.The UL journalism programmes have been designed to ensure they are as relevant as possible, equipping students with the essential skills they will need to work in the Irish and international media," said Professor O'Connor.
The new programmes in journalism are the culmination of a series of vibrant developments at UL in the areas of media and communications. The University already offers , degrees in English and New Media and Irish and New Media (An Ghaeilge agus na Meáin Úra). They will also draw upon the expertise being made available through the UL-based Regional Writing Centre.