The Centre for Investigative Journalism
The Centre for Investigative Journalism

Story-Based Inquiry Method – Online

This four-part online course, which takes place over four days, gives you the basics for starting, deepening, organising and writing an investigative report.

Dates: 13, 15, 20, 22 November 2023
Times (for each day): 7pm till 8:30pm (London, UK time).
Group size: 35 people.
Class duration: 1.5hrs x 2 days a week x 2 weeks
Level of participation: high, with regular Q&A sections.

The course sets out the Story-Based Inquiry (SBI) method, which has been successfully used by thousands of journalists, academics and NGO researchers since its publication by UNESCO in 2009. The method can be used for feature writing or documentary filmmaking as well as reportage. Its language and approach have been integrated into leading journalism organisations and NGOs worldwide.

This is one of our most popular courses at #CIJSummer Conference.

“This method is a must for any investigative journalist. It will give you the tools to organise your material for the better. The manual equips with you a number of skills, but most importantly it structures your investigation. So when it comes to filing your story you are fully prepared and not looking for that quote in the cloud”

#CIJSummer 2020 feedback

“This was the most useful course I have ever attended. Clear, hands-on, and superbly delivered.”

Feedback 2021

“It was great. I’d do it again and I’d recommend it to people. I wanted to learn how to organize my reporting process and the course gave me just that. I’m already using some of the techniques in my work.”

Feedback 2021

“Luuk and Mark are so engaging, with a clear passion for the method and a genuine interest in those attending the course and their development.”

Feedback 2022

The course fee includes not only the lectures, but also the electronic versions of two of our CIJ handbooks – The Hidden Scenario and The Story Tells the Facts – that dive deep into the techniques covered in the lectures. If you prefer to receive hard copies of the books, you will need to purchase them from our website.

Technical Requirements

This course will be hosted on Zoom.

Our Zoom account’s default settings have been modified to maximise information security and ensure all training participants’ data protection and privacy. See details of our Zoom infosec settings HERE


Our training is not recorded: if you miss a session, it is lost – you cannot watch a recording of it, nor will you be allowed to attend that session at a later date.

13 November 2023 – Part 1: From question to hypothesis.

A hypothesis is what you think happened -- a provisional story based on available evidence. It enables rapid assessment of the interest and viability of your idea and potential sources before investing your time in further research. Our colleagues at ICIJ call it a core skill in contemporary investigative projects.

15 November 2023 – Part 2: Nailing the timeline.

Timelines provide a backbone to your story, allowing you to see not only what happened, but what must have happened between known events, and how the story may end. It allows you to focus on dramatic scenes that deepen the impact of your work. In the process, it creates one possible structure for your narrative.

20 November 2023 – Part 3: Mapping the stakeholders.

A stakeholder map shows you who is involved in your story – as actors, witnesses, and victims. The map leads you to further sources, and enables you to spot relationships among everyone involved. It also indicates the core audience for your story, which is essential to promoting its impact. Not least, it captures an alternative way to structure the story.

22 November 2023 – Part 4: From Masterfile to masterpiece.

Organisation is a core process for depth reporting. A Masterfile is a simple yet effective database that we use to collect and analyse our material. We leverage organisation to facilitate the composition of final reports. The time you spend in this session will save you thousands of hours across your career. You will also learn writing techniques that enhance the power of your work.

Booking Form

  • 13 November 2023 19.00–20.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 15 November 2023 19.00–20.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 20 November 2023 19.00–20.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
  • 22 November 2023 19.00–20.30 Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
Timezone: GMT (UK Time)
Location: Zoom meeting
Goldsmiths students (full time)*
Students (full time)*
Small Media/Education/NonProfit Organisations (<10 staff)
Large Media/Education/NonProfit Organisations (10+ staff)
Other Organisations

One ticket per person.

In line with our non-profit mission, our pricing operates on a sliding scale, ensuring large organisations pay more to subsidise places for smaller newsrooms, freelancers and students.

*Students places for this course are capped, due to limited capacity. Anyone registering as a student will be asked for a photo/scan of their student ID ahead of the course.

**Employed individuals who cannot have their employers pay for the course are entitled to the freelancer rate. Note that we are a small charity and rely on your honesty so please do not register as a freelancer if your employer is reimbursing you for the course.

We have a strict policy of No Refund and No Transfer of bookings.

The Hidden Scenario

by Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter

The Hidden Scenario focuses on how making a scenario can help you investigate. Part One details the basic principles of constructing a chronology. In Part Two, we move on to the construction of powerful scenes.

£7 Buy Handbook

The Story Tells the Facts

by Luuk Sengers and Mark Lee Hunter

This book will help you to make your investigative writing better by focusing on writing skills, because they transpose very well into other media. To order, please complete the order form. If you can tell a story in words and capture information in a narrative, the odds of telling a good story in film or radio go up, too.

£7 Buy Handbook