BBC editorial standards: A simple guide

BBC editorial standards apply to all of our content, whether made by or for the BBC. This page, intended for the general public, contains digital courses, resources and guides to our editorial standards.

Note: BBC staff should not complete these courses here as they will not be recorded as part of your training history.


Gathering Material

This module tests skills in establishing facts, avoiding misleading audiences, handling user generated material, single anonymous sources and achieving due accuracy. Includes two masterclasses - one with the Director of BBC Radio, Helen Boaden, the second on user generated content. Dur: approx. 30 mins

Reporting Statistics

Presented as a quiz, this module will test the users skills in reporting statistics and risk responsibly, providing context, understanding graphs, the difference between correlation and causation, averages, outliers, surveys and samples. Dur: approx: 10 mins

Finding & Verifying Contributors

This quiz module will test the users research skills, the finding of contributors for sensitive topics, the appropriate use of advertising and sources, and checks for verifying contributors. Dur: approx. 10 mins

Factually Based Drama

The module addresses issues of accuracy, including due accuracy, signposting and fairness, in a masterclass with the award winning executive producer and documentary film maker, Colin Barr. Dur: approx. 15 mins




This module will test skills in achieving a breadth and a range of opinions across BBC output, ensuring due impartiality and due weight in reporting controversial subjects. It also deals with personal view content and achieving impartiality over series’ and over time. Dur: approx. 15 mins


Harm & Offence


This module tests understanding of the appropriateness of strong language in various contexts, time slots and on different media as well as tone and signposting. Also features a masterclass with Former Director of BBC Television, Danny Cohen. Dur: approx. 20 mins Contains strong language

Violence in News & Factual Programmes

Using real footage, this module asks users to consider the balance between the demand for accuracy and the danger of causing unjustified distress. Features a masterclass with Director, BBC World Service Group, Fran Unsworth. Dur: approx. 20 mins Contains violence and upsetting scenes

Violence in Drama

This module asks users to consider production techniques, signposting, context, tone, audience expectations and the public interest in the production of violent scenes in drama. Includes two masterclasses with BBC drama executives. Dur: approx. 45 mins Contains violence and upsetting scenes

Intimidation, Humiliation & Portrayal

This module guides users through a new guideline on intimidation and humiliation by asking them to reflect on issues of tone, creative risk taking and audience expectation. Features a masterclass with Former Executive Editor, BBC Entertainment Commissioning, Suzanne Gilfillan from BBC. Dur: approx. 30 mins

Imitative Behaviour

This module asks users to consider how BBC output might be interpreted by a young person and asks users to apply the Guidelines relating to the welfare of children and young people. Dur: approx. 20 mins



Privacy & Consent

In this module users are tested on filming in public or semi-public places, recording on private property and what to do if asked to stop. This module also covers use of personal material sourced from social media sites. Dur: approx. 15 mins

Reporting Death, Suffering & Distress

This module asks users to balance the media’s right to report, with people’s right to privacy. Users are asked to make decisions on what to film and broadcast from the scene of a fictional traffic accident. Dur: approx. 15 mins

Secret Recording

This module tests knowledge on how to conduct an investigation, from gaining approval for secret recording, right through to door-stepping. Lisa Ausden, Creative Director, Consumer and Live Programmes, London Factual, conducts a masterclass. Dur: approx. 25 mins Contains strong language

Secret Recording for Consumer Research

This is a masterclass in which Bridget Boseley, Executive Producer at Outline Productions talks about secret recording as a method of consumer, scientific and social research, using her series 'The Secret Tourist' to illustrate. Dur: approx. 10 mins

Secret Recordings made by Third Parties

Fran Unsworth, Director, BBC World Service Group hosts a masterclass on secret recordings made by third parties and how decisions are made about their use. Sarah Ferguson and Lord Triesman feature among others. Dur: approx. 15 mins


Fairness, Contributors & Consent

Fairness, Contributors & Informed Consent

This scenario-based module will test users’ knowledge of the Editorial Guidelines on fairness, obtaining consent, anonymity, deception, withdrawal of consent, right of reply and refusal to take part. Dur: approx. 25 mins


Children & Young People as Contributors

Informed Consent for Children & Young People

This module covers making decisions about consent when contributors are children. Consider the potential consequences of children taking part in the output. The casting director of children's show Escape from Scorpion Island conducts a masterclass. Dur: approx. 20 mins Contains strong language

Children in Drama

This module outlines our obligations when working with child actors. There's a masterclass with the Executive Producer of 'Turn of the Screw', Jessica Pope about how her production handled child welfare. Dur: approx. 15 mins


Conflicts of Interest

Conflicts of Interest

This module takes the form of a quiz which will test users' judgement on conflicts of interest. The user finds themselves in several different roles, both behind the scenes and on air and is asked to respond to a number of hypothetical questions, including requests for public appearances, media training, commercial advertising, promotional activity and endorsements. Users will be given a score at the end. Dur: approx. 15 mins


Interacting with our Audiences


This module sees users in charge of an unruly radio presenter intent on running a competition. Users navigate their way round the Editorial Guidelines and the guidance. They also get a photographic competition off the ground. Dur: approx. 20 mins


Reporting Crime & Anti-Social Behaviour

Reporting Crime & Anti-Social Behaviour

In this module the user is the producer of an observational documentary who is made aware of crime and criminal activity. This is as test of nerve and skills in handling such sensitive information. Dur: approx. 15 mins

Dealing with Criminals, Witnesses & Victims

In this module, users are pursuing a drugs story and a fast moving police investigation. What can they report, who can they speak to and how do they care for the victims? Dur: approx. 15 mins


External Relationships & Funding


This module is a masterclass on how to get the most out of public value partnerships to get more out of productions and leverage the value to the licence fee payer. A History of the World in 100 Objects, Frankenstein’s Wedding and The Tate Movie Project are studied. Dur: approx. 15 mins


Politics, Public Policy & Polls

Polls & Surveys

Opinion polls, surveys and questionnaires are useful and fruitful ways of listening to our audiences, but we must be scrupulous about setting them up and reporting them. In this module users will handle fictional data relating to the NHS making sure they report it accurately and fairly. Dur: approx. 30 mins

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