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David Clarke

Dr David Clarke PhD

Principal Research Fellow


David teaches Media Law, regulation and ethics on the undergraduate and postgraduate journalism courses at Sheffield Hallam. As Principal Research Fellow he leads on integrating teaching and research in the Journalism Subject Group. His publications and wide experience as a broadcaster and consultant/curator for The National Archives UFO project has brought international recognition to the University as a centre of expertise in the study of contemporary legends.

  • About

    David joined Sheffield Hallam University in 2006 as a founder member of the journalism team and helped to write and deliver the core modules for the BA (Hons) in Journalism. He leads on Media Law and Ethics in teaching and journalism practice on the undergraduate and postgraduate Journalism courses. He became Course Leader for the BA (Hons) Journalism in 2010 and was promoted to Principal Research Fellow in 2015. He is a member of the Cultural, Communication and Computing Research Institute (C3RI) and Communication and Computing Research Centre.

    His responsibilities as Reader include PhD supervision and mentoring colleagues who wish to become research active. His high international profile as an expert in contemporary legend and investigative reporting has resulted in on-going collaborations and consultancy work with both the BBC and The National Archives. His website, Folklore and Journalism, has received 340,000 visits since 2011.

    Specialist areas of interest

    Media Law and Regulation
    Investigative Journalism
    Contemporary Legend and Folklore

  • Teaching

    Subject area



    Journalism BA (Hons)
    MA Journalism/International Journalism


    Law and Public Affairs
    Journalism: Professional and Academic Development (JPAD)
    Media Law
    Media Law and Regulation 1 and 2

  • Research

    Using social media to enhance collaborative learning for media law students (with Julie Gillin)
    WW1 Rumours and Legends
    Centre for Contemporary Legend Research
    The National Archives UFO Project (curator)

    BBC (consultant)
    The National Archives (consultant)
    International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (European representative)

  • Publications

    Book chapters

    Clarke, D. (2013). Extraordinary experiences with UFOs. In The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures (pp. 79-93).

    Clarke, D. (2011). It came from a friend of a friend : media-spread urban legends. In Batholomew, R.E., & Radford, B. (Eds.) The Martians have landed! : a history of media-driven panics and hoaxes (pp. 130-155). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & co Inc


    Clarke, D. (2015). How UFOs conquered the World: the history of a modern myth. London: Aurum Press

    Clarke, D. (2013). Scared to death: and other ghost stories from Victorian Sheffield. Sheffield: ACM Retro

    Clarke, D. (2009). The UFO files: the inside story of real-life sightings. Kew: National Archives

  • Other activities

    • Member of the steering group, Castlegate regeneration project, Sheffield City Council
    • Fortean Times (columnist and feature writer)
    • The Skeptic (editorial board)
    • International Society for Contemporary Legend Research (European representative)
    • Member of The Folklore Society

  • Postgraduate supervision

    PhD supervision 2015: ‘Discourse and Identitites: The changing shape of post-Leveson UK print journalism’
    PhD topic: ‘Myth, magic and Folklore in British 1970s television’

  • Media

    Journalist David teaches modules in media law and investigative journalism. He has a lifelong interest in folklore and ‘extraordinary experiences’ (with UFOs, ghosts and other supernatural phenomena). His PhD is in British folklore and cultural tradition. He is frequently quoted by national and international media as an expert in these areas and is a consultant for The National Archives UFO files project.

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