Advanced Certificate in Journalism

Study writing, editing, photography and photoshop. A comprehensive qualification in media studies with a focus on journalism. Learn all the skills necessary to help you start a career in journalism.

Course Code: VWR022
Fee Code: AC
Duration (approx) Duration (approx) 900 hours
Qualification Advanced Certificate
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Train As A Journalist 

Writing can be an exciting profession, but before embarking on a substantial course of study with us or anyone else be sure you fully understand what is involved. Some people simply don't succeed perhaps because the dream is not the same as the reality or maybe they are simply not the right personality.
This job is not just about writing well; it also requires you to be able to write quickly and work under pressure. You also need to be prepared to write what an employer wants, which is not always the same as what you want to write about. This is the reality of journalism. If you can get past these considerations, with a bit of luck you may be able to forge a serious career. 


Hone your writing skills

Journalists are primarily writers who write for periodicals (ie. things published at regular intervals). Some journalists work on staff for a publisher (full time or part time),from the publishers office; while others may work freelance or contract, from home, submitting articles which have been commissioned, or on spec (ie. in the hope they will be accepted).

Freelance journalists often start slow, only getting occasional articles published early in their career; but with persistence and good luck, they can develop a reputation and network of publishers who accept their work (so much so that they can earn a comfortable living from their writing).

Some in house journalists will find themselves being used to perform a range of other jobs in the office where they work. Particularly in smaller publishing houses, they may need to help with editing, layout -preparing publications for printing, web site development, marketing copy writing, conducting interviews, answering the phone, research for articles, photography, etc.

Some freelance journalists supplement their income by undertaking other work as well, such as contract editing for publishers, writing advertising copy or web site development, taking and selling photos, etc.
This qualification is designed to not only develop your capacity to write commercially viable copy, but also understand the publishing industry, and develop a variety of skills which will be useful to employers or yourself when pursuing a career in journalism.

Note: Your choice of modules from those listed should be determined according to deficiencies in your past studies or experience. Your choice of electives can (and should) be made, after completing the compulsory modules.


Core ModulesThese modules provide foundation knowledge for the Advanced Certificate in Journalism.
 Editing I (Editing and Proofreading) BWR106
 Freelance Writing BWR102
 Journalism Practice I BWR203
 Publishing II BWR202
 Photojournalism Practice I BPH302
Stream ModulesStudied after the core modules, stream modules cover more specific or niche subjects.
 Industry Project I BIP000
 Research Project I BGN102
Elective ModulesIn addition to the core modules, students study any 2 of the following 22 modules.
 Industry Project II BIP001
 Children's Writing BWR104
 Computer Operations VIT101
 Creative Writing BWR103
 E Commerce BIT100
 Html (Writing a Website) VIT102
 Introduction To Photography BPH100
 Photographic Practice BPH101
 Publishing I (Self Publishing Children's Books) BWR107
 Advanced Freelance Writing BWR201
 Advertising and Promotions BBS202
 Ethics BPS217
 Graphic Design BIT205
 Information Security BIT203
 Photoshop (Beginner To Medium Level) VIT202
 Research Project II BGN201
 Research Project III BGN202
 Editing II BWR302
 Publishing III BWR303
 Research Project IV (Thesis Preparation) BGN301
 Statistics BSC304
 Technical Writing (Advanced) BWR301

Note that each module in the Advanced Certificate in Journalism is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.


Every piece of writing has a structure, and in most cases, it is essential to plan that structure before writing. The overall structure creates a blueprint for the writer, and acts as a map to the writer, ensuring that she or he is always working towards the desired end.

Plot is an important part of structuring a narrative. Conventionally, it contains these essential features, and in this order:

  1. Introduction of conflict (internal or external)
  2. Complication or development of conflict
  3. Climax (where conflict rises to a peak or a point of crisis)
  4. Resolution of the conflict.

This structure is quite acceptable for short stories, but may be too predictable for long and complex novels. Nevertheless, novels of popular fiction (westerns, romances, detective novels) still use this basic structure, which can be, and often is, expanded to contain several climaxes, called anti-climaxes. In those cases, the reader is led to a point of heightened suspense as some resolution is promised, only to find that there is only partial resolution, or some previously overlooked element is still to be considered.

There are many possible ways of structuring a piece of writing. The story may bounce back and forth in time, focus around key events, with little transition between them, or return to where it started. The only way to really get a grasp on the possibilities is to study the structure of many different works in the fields that you most write in.

The basic element of structure is the paragraph. A paragraph is a unit of sentences that present one idea, or one aspect of an idea. For instance, you may wish to write about a particular dog. You might have one paragraph to introduce the dog (to create interest), another to explain why you want to write about him (your theme), three on the relationship between you and the dog, one on the relationship between the dog and your partner, and two on the relationship with your children. You might have two or three paragraphs recounting various experiences with the dog that support and elaborate on your theme, then another to draw conclusions, and perhaps a final one referring back to the why you wrote the piece in the first place. Then again, you could structure it in an entirely different way, even reversing that structure completely.

Paragraphing is a skill, and it does not come naturally. Prior to the invention of the paragraph, readers used fingers to keep track of where they were on a page. When planning and writing paragraphs, the key point is to ask, “What do I want this paragraph to do? Explain, illustrate, give more detail about what I said in the previous paragraph, describe…?”

In the short feature article below, every paragraph serves a function. With more editing, the writer might have re-arranged some of the paragraphs, combined or even dropped some, but if the writing is to hold up, the reader should see how each paragraph fits into the whole.

This tendency to evaluate societies and cultural or racial groups according to one’s own values results in all kinds of misunderstandings and stereotypes. This can include misunderstandings over accepted personal space, etiquette, and more. However, it is important to remember that while one group might have the power to push their values and way of life onto another, no group is innocent of ethnocentric thinking or prejudiced attitudes.
 [Illustrates the idea]

In 1580, the French philosopher Montaigne wrote: “Every man calls barbarous anything he is not accustomed to; we have no other criterion of truth or right reason than the example and form of the opinions and customs of our own country.  There we always find the perfect religion, the perfect polity, the most developed and perfect way of doing anything”.
 [Provides further support for the main idea]

Because of this, writes Montaigne, we would be wiser to refrain from judgement. Of course, this is difficult. However, we can withhold judgement a little longer, be a little more willing to accept that the other group might not be wrong, just different.
Apparently, this is very hard to do, because so few of us do it. We rush in with judgements - That’s disgusting! How cruel! What stupidity! - and immediately, we stop observing, we stop learning, we stop trying to understand. That might work if we all still lived in small isolated communities, but in today’s global village, closed minds and ethnocentricity are a lethal combination, leading to hatred, demonising, and many other evils.
 [Presents the main argument]

So, are there customs, values, and habits that are wrong or bad? Of course there are! We are all human, after all, and therefore capable of great error and stupidity, alone or collectively. Then how do we decide which values and customs to accept and which to reject? Well, there are some principles that seem almost universal, and we can begin with those. For a start, we can agree that life is sacred, and oppose killing. We can agree that every human being wants to live in dignity, and ensure that everyone has food and shelter. We can agree that everyone wants to exercise some control over their lives, just as we do, and uphold human rights everywhere. We can agree that all life depends on the well being the Earth, and protect it from harm.
 [Argues for alternatives and concludes]

Paragraphs might begin with a statement that suggests what will follow (or a topic sentence), a statement that tells what will follow (e.g. “Let me tell you what she did then”), or a statement that creates a transition between sections (e.g. “The battle went badly.”). Keep in mind that using any one method of beginning a paragraph will result in boring and repetitive writing. Again, the best way to develop your paragraphing skills is to read and study many examples of paragraphing.

Who will benefit from this course:

Writers looking to expand their skill set or move into freelance journalism.

Early career journalists who are "learning on the go".

Copyeditors wanting to offer further services to their clientele or move into writing.

Bloggers and other digital media producers wanting to improve their writing and learn more about journalism and publishing in today's rapidly evolving marketplace.

At the end of this course you will:

  • Know how to structure a variety of different article types to create an engaging story
  • Understand how to advertise and promote yourself and your work
  • Understand how to analyse any piece of writing and describe what works and what doesn't
  • Adapt to different genres and modes, and be able to work with more technical subjects.
  • Understand the general hierarchy and inner-workings of periodical and digital publishing
  • Know how to edit and polish your work to a high standard
  • Understand how to pitch your work

• Reputation: well-known and respected in publishing and writing
  The school runs a successful publishing business, the principal has been
  editor of national magazines; many of the staff are published authots)
• Industry focus: courses designed to suit industry needs and expectations
• Different focus: develop problem solving skills that make you stand out from others
• Hands on: develop practical as well as theoretical skills
• Lots of help: dedicated and knowledgeable tutors.
• Efficient: prompt responses to your questions
• Reliable: established in 1979, independent school with a solid history
• Up to date: courses under constant review
• Resources:  huge wealth of constantly developing intellectual property
• Value: courses compare very favourably on a cost per study hour basis
• Student amenities: online student room, bookshop, ebooks, social networking, acs garden online resources.
Member of Study Gold Coast Education Network.
ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

How can I start this course?

You can enrol at anytime and start the course when you are ready. Enrolments are accepted all year - students can commence study at any time. All study is self paced and ACS does not set assignment deadlines.

Please note that if a student is being assisted by someone else (e.g. an employer or government subsidy), the body offering the assistance may set deadlines. Students in such situations are advised to check with their sponsor prior to enrolling. The nominal duration of a course is approximately how long a course takes to complete. A course with a nominal duration of 100 hours is expected to take roughly 100 hours of study time to complete. However, this will vary from student to student. Short courses (eg. 100 hrs duration) should be completed within 12 months of enrolment. Certificates, Advanced Certificates and Awards (eg. over 500 hours duration) would normally be completed within 3 -5 years of enrolment. Additional fees may apply if a student requires an extended period to complete.
If a student cannot submit their assignments for 6 months to ACS, they should advise the school to avoid cancellation of their student
registration. Recommencement fees may apply.

Simply click on the ENROL OPTIONS button at the top of this screen and follow the prompts.

You can see the course price at the top of this page. Click 'enrolment options' to see any payment options available.

You can pay by Credit Card, PayPal, Afterpay or bank transfer.

Yes! We have payment plans for most courses. Click 'enrolment options' to see the available payment plans.
We also have Afterpay that will allow you to pay for your course or payment plans in four instalments (if you are in Australia).

What do I need to know before I enrol?

There are no entry requirements that you need to meet to enrol in our courses, our courses are for everyone.
If you are under 18, we need written permission from your parent/ guardian for your enrolment to continue, we can arrange that after you have enrolled.

You don’t need to purchase any additional resources to complete our courses.

We aim to teach you the essentials without you having to purchase any specific computer program.
We recommend that you have access to a word processing program, such as Microsoft Word or Google Docs, so that you can easily complete and submit your assignments.

You sure can. We are here to help you learn whatever your abilities.

Yes, if you are enrolling in a Certificate or Advanced Certificate, you might be eligible for credits if you have evidence of your previous studies or relevant experience. More information is here.

We recommend that you are able to browse websites, send emails and conduct online research. You will need to be able to type and submit your assignments.
If you have limited computer skills, we can make special arrangements for you.

This is possible, it depends on the institution. We recommend that if you would like to use our courses that you contact the institution first. Our Course Handbook is a good resource for this.

Our courses are written in English and we only have English speaking academic staff. If you can read and complete your assignments in English, our courses are ideal for you.

Our courses are designed to build knowledge, hands on skills and industry connections to help prepare you to work in the area, running your own business, professional development or as a base for further study.

This course is aimed at providing you with a solid understanding of the subject. It has been designed to take 600 hours, which includes your course reading, assignment work, research, practical tasks, watching videos and more. When you complete the course, will have a good understanding of the area/ industry you want to work in.

It’s up to you. The study hours listed in the course are a rough guide, however if you were to study a short course (100 hours) at 10 hours per week, you could finish the course in 10 weeks (just an example). Our courses are self-paced, so you can work through the courses in your own time. We recommend that you wait for your tutor to mark and return your assignment before your start your next one, so you get the benefits of their feedback.

The course consists of course notes, videos, set tasks for your practical work, online quizzes, an assignment for each lesson (that you receive feedback from your tutor from) and ends in an exam (which is optional, if would like to receive the formal award at the end), using our custom built Learning Management System - Login.Training.

Our courses are designed for adults to gain professional development and skills to further their careers and start businesses.

Our custom online learning portal allows you to conduct your learning online. There may be practical tasks that you can do offline. You have the option of downloading your course notes or print them to read later.

There is also the option to pay an additional fee for printed course notes and or USB (availability limited to location and deliverability).

Yes, if you don’t have access to the internet, you can receive the course as paper notes or on a USB stick for an additional fee. We can also make alternative arrangements for you to send your assignments to us.

We offer printed notes for an additional fee. Also, you can request your course notes on a USB stick for an additional fee.

Yes, your tutor is here to help you. Simply post any questions you have in your portal or contact the office and we can pass on a message to your tutor.

We are more learning focussed, rather than assessment focussed. You have online quizzes to test your learning, written assignments and can complete an exam at the end of the course (if you want to receive your certificate). You will not receive a pass/ fail on your course work. If you need to add more details on your assignment, we will ask you to resubmit and direct you where you need to focus. If you need help, you can ask your tutor for advice in the student room.

Each module (short course) is completed with one exam.

Exams are optional, however you must sit an exam if you would like to receive a formal award. You will need to find someone who can supervise that you are sitting the exams under exams conditions. There is an additional cost of $60 incl. GST for each exam.
More information is here

There are practical components built into the course that have been designed to be achieved by anyone, anywhere. If you are unable to complete a task for any reason, you can ask your tutor for an alternative.

When you complete the course work and the exams (8-9 exams) and you will be able receive your course certificate- an Advanced Certificate. Otherwise, you can receive a Letter of Completion.

You can bundle the short courses to create your own customised learning bundle, Certificates or Advanced Certificates. More information is on this page.

Yes, our courses are built to be applicable for people living anywhere in any situation. We provide the fundamentals, and each student can apply their own unique flair for their own interests, region and circumstances with the one-on-one guidance of a tutor. There is also a bit of student directed research involved.

Employers value candidates with industry skills, knowledge, practical skills and formal learning. Our courses arm you with all of these things to help prepare you for a job or start your own business. The longer you study the more you will learn.

ACS has an arrangement with OAMPS (formerly AMP) who can arrange Professional Indemnity from Australian and New Zealand graduates across all disciplines. Ph: 1800 222 012 or email

Who are ACS Distance Education?

ACS Distance Education have been educating people for over 40 years.

We are established and safe- we have been in education for over 40 years.
We are focused on developing innovative courses that are relevant to you now and what you will need to know in the future.
We are focused on helping you learn and make the most of your experience.
You can enrol at any time, you can work on your course when it suits you and at your own pace.
We are connected to many industry bodies and our staff participate in continuous improvement and learning activities to ensure that we are ahead of what learning is needed for the future.

Our courses are not accredited by the Australian Government. However many of our courses are recognised and held in high regard by many industry bodies.

Our courses are written by our staff, who all have many years experience and have qualifications in their speciality area. We have lots of academic staff who write and update our courses regularly.

How do I enrol my staff/ sponsored students?

Yes, you can do a request for a bulk enrolment and request an invoice on our Invoice Request Form

We can prepare an invoice, quote or proforma invoice. Simply complete your details on our Invoice Request form

We can arrange bulk discounts for your course enrolment, please get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

Yes, we have many students who are in locked facilities, such as prisons or hospitals. We can cater by also offering paper notes at an additional cost.

What if I have any more questions or need more information?

We can assist you to find the right course for your needs. Get in touch with us via email ( call on +61 7 5562 1088 or complete our course advice form.

What if I change my mind?

Please get in touch with if you would like to be removed from our mail list.

If you would like ACS Distance Education to delete your information at any time (whether you are a customer or a prospective customer), please contact our privacy officer and we will process this ( ).

Course Contributors

The following academics were involved in the development and/or updating of this course.

Rachel Syers

Rachel has worked as a newspaper journalist for the past 15 years in a range of roles from sub-editor and social columnist to news reporter, covering rounds such as education, health, council, music, television, court, police, Aboriginal and Islander affairs, and agriculture.
Her current role is Fashion Editor, features writer and features sub-editor with The Gold Coast Bulletin. She has co-authored a successful biography "Roma: From Prison to Paradise" about former prisoner-of-war turned yoga guru, Roma Blair, as well as freelanced as a writer, reviewer and researcher for Australian music and celebrity magazines such as WHO Weekly, Rave, Australasian Post and New Idea.
Rachel has a B.Journalism.

Rosemary Davies

Businesswoman, Journalist, Editor, Broadcaster, Teacher, Consultant for over 30 years.

Tracey Jones

Widely published author, Psychologist, Manager and Lecturer. Over 10 years working with ACS and 25 years of industry experience.
Qualifications include: B.Sc. (Hons) (Psychology), M.Soc.Sc (social work), Dip. SW (social work), PGCE (Education), PGD (Learning Disability Studies).

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