Communication Ethics and Law


The basic objective of this course is to address the main ethical issues of communication in the face of its current challenges, such as hate speech, manipulation, fake news, and in the context of specific regulations of Social Communication Law in Portugal. Thus, the learning objectives of the course are:

To provide students with the philosophical concepts to understand and critically examine the ethical dimension of communication.

To provide practical tools to identify ethical abuses of communication and the ways to rectify them.

To understand the ethical and legal challenges of the media in Portugal.

To learn which are the main regulatory standards and to discuss their critical points.

To develop critical skills needed to analyze real cases in traditional and digital media.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Mehmet Ali Üzelgün, Giulia Terzian


Weekly - 4

Total - 168

Teaching language





  • Módulo I:
  • Blackburn. S. (2001). Ethics: A very short introduction. Oxford.
  • Frankfurt, H. G., (2005). On bullshit. Princeton.
  • Grice, H. P. (1975). Logic and conversation. New York.
  • Maitra, I., & McGowan, M. K. (2012). Speech and harm: Controversies over free speech. Oxford.
  • Saul. J. (2012). Lying, misleading, and what is said: An exploration in philosophy of language and in ethics. Oxford.
  • Stanley, J. (2015). How propaganda works. Princeton.
  • Módulo II:
  • Código da publicidade
  • Fidalgo, J. (2010). O Lugar da Ética e da Auto-Regulação na Identidade Profissional dos Jornalistas, Lisboa: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian.
  • Gonçalves, G. (2013). Ética das relações públicas. Edições MinervaCoimbra.
  • Novo Código Deontológico dos jornalistas
  • Regulamento da Comissão da Carteira Profissional de Jornalista
  • Sebastião, S. P. & Martins, P. (Eds) (2019). Ética em Comunicação: Reflexões sobre os atributos, os desafios e as práticas. ISCSP-ULisboa | Edições ISCSP.

Teaching method

Both modules combine three basic teaching methods: 1) Theoretical exposition by the professor; 2) Joint in-class discussion of the texts read and case studies analysed by the students; 3) Students joint work in working groups, guided by the professor and presented in the class: one weekly session will be dedicated to the discussion of case studies presented briefly by the students. Students will learn to critically understand the main ethical problems of communication, with a special application to the norms of social communication law in Portugal.

Evaluation method

Continuous assessment - - Final frequency (60%), - Participation in class activities and presentation of case studies (40%)

Subject matter

The course is divided into two modules:

I. Fundamentals and challenges of communication ethics

This module examines the basic philosophical principles of communication (freedom, equality, truth, respect, justice), discusses its permanent dilemmas, and analyzes several current communicative challenges such as:
a. Lies, bullshit and fake news
b. Propaganda and discursive manipulation
c. Hate speech (racism, sexism, homophobia)
d. Discursive injustice

II. Applications of communication ethics: Social communication law in Portugal

Module II extends Module I through a critical analysis of the main ethical norms of social communication in Portugal formulated in the Code of Ethics for Journalists, the Regulation of the Professional Journalist Card, the Advertising Code, and the Personal Data Protection Law, among others. Concrete case studies analyze the ethical dimensions of communication related to the themes of plagiarism, copyright, defamation, etc.