Leeds puts BBC staff online to MA

November 26, 1999

The BBC has hired the University of Leeds to help train its managers in digital media.

Leeds has developed an MA in media management, to be taught partly over the internet, designed to help middle-ranking employees develop their careers by giving them a broader view of the industry.

Ian Hayward, head of business training at the BBC, said: "We wanted to create a course that was about managing the media in a changing world."

Among the eight compulsory modules are strategic management, the impact of digital technology on consumers, marketing, audience measurement and public-service broadcasting in a multicultural society.

The BBC had considered four universities for the job of managing the course, Mr Hayward said: "Leeds had a well-established institute of communications and a business school with a combination of the right skills. It also had an existing internet mechanism for delivery with five years' experience of putting material online."

He added: "Leeds showed flexibility rather than offering something off the shelf. It is an academic partner prepared to meet the BBC's needs."

The delivery mechanism was a plus point for BBC engineering manager Paula Mathews, one of 17 students on the course's initial intake. She has two small children and wanted a course that would not take her away from home. "The course, which seems less theoretical than a traditional MA, is closely related to broadcasting and has a technology element that reflects my own background," Ms Mathews said.

Each module is taught over ten weeks and assessment is based on essays and other work. There is one face-to-face tutorial day for each module. Candidates must attain at least 50 per cent in each module and complete a 10,000-word essay by the end of the three-year course.

Mr Hayward expects students to work from home and from the office, around the edges of the working day.

Students are able to log on to Leeds University's "virtual science park", an internet site where they can download

information, communicate on bulletin boards with tutors and meet each other in the chat room. The site offers a full range of resources as well as search engines and connections to online journals.

But course director Robin Brown said some problems had arisen. "Most organisations have a firewall around their corporate networks, which can present problems when students try to access information."

Mr Hayward said: "This course is not a one-off, but will show the way forward. It is the first of its kind and we will investigate opportunities for bringing it to a wider market."

About 50 candidates applied for the course, which is aimed at journalists, editors and middle managers. Applicants for the MA do not need to already hold a degree.

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