Strategic Public Relations (Online)

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc


This online learning public relations course was specially created to provide access to those whose work or domestic commitments prevent them from attending a full-time course. In recognition of the special requirements of online learning, support networks have been set up in the form of a student network, academic tutors and residential schools.

Key information

  • Degree type: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Online, Campus based
  • Duration: Part-time: MSc 30 months Diploma: 20 months
  • Start date: October
  • Course Director: Dr Derek Hodge

Dr Derek Hodge Division of Communications, Media and Culture
School of Arts and Humanities
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 466215

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Course objectives

The course develops a critical appreciation of the role of public relations in contemporary society as well as key analytical, management and communication skills. The course marries vocational skills, tested through practical exercises, and theoretical knowledge.

By the end of the course you should have mastered the skills needed to work at a managerial level in the public relations industry. You should be able to:

  • Analyse environments, issues, organisational cultures and relationships relevant to an organisation’s reputation
  • Set objectives, design and implement public relations programmes
  • Carry out research and evaluation including opinion polls and be able to commission market research
  • Apply mass communication, media and psychological theories in a variety of contexts
  • Analyse and make full use of digital media

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Please note: If you are a student from overseas and applying with a Tier 4 student visa, we unfortunately can not accept your application for this course as it falls into the category of being part-time, delivered online or a distance learning course.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.5 with 6.0 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade B
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 60 with 56 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 90 with no subtest less than 20

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course includes six compulsory modules, two optional modules and a dissertation. The taught elements of the course run over two academic years. Master's students are then expected to carry out a Research Project, starting in October and ending in May, and to submit a 12,000-word Dissertation.

Delivery and assessment

Course materials will be delivered in a number of formats. The primary teaching materials are the original course contents presented in each of the modules. Each module is divided into a number of topics. This material will be available via Succeed, the University of Stirling's chosen online learning environment. All the topics for a module will usually be available at the start of each module. This content is originally-produced material, written by the course team especially for this course. As well as core materials, module contents include reading lists of additional sources of information students can use to supplement their studying. Assessments include essays, project work, and reports.


Academic Year 2015/16

Autumn Year 1

Spring Year 1

  • PREPP86 - Strategic Public Relations Planning

One of

Autumn Year 2

  • PREPP81 - Research for Dissertation

Spring Year 2

One of

Year 3

  • PREPP58 - Dissertation

Recommended reading

You will be provided with detailed reading lists for each module. These will all contain core texts and suggestions for further reading and revised every year to ensure that they are up to date. 

Students coming on the course who wish to familiarise themselves with the basic concepts of public relations should read Tench, R., & Yeomans, L. (Eds.). (2009). Exploring public relations (2nd ed.). Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education Ltd.  

We suggest that all students buy Heath, R. (Ed.). (2010). The SAGE handbook of public relations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Sage. This text covers a wide range of theory, research and practice in the field of public relations and will be of great use throughout the course. 

Modes of study

Online: 30 months

Study method


Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

The first two years of the course run from October until May, with breaks at Christmas and Easter.  During this time students are expected to complete four modules in Year 1 and four modules in Year 2 – a total of eight modules. The final seven months are devoted to the preparation of a 12,000-word Dissertation presenting an independent piece of research conducted by the student.

There is a three-day residential school every year and students are required to attend at least one during the course of their studies. It is estimated that around ten to twelve hours a week studying is required while studying a module.

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, around half of the research submitted from the subject areas that now make up the School of Arts and Humanities was judged to be world-leading or internationally excellent in quality, with over 10% of that research placed in the highest (world-leading) category. 85% of the assessed research from the Arts and Humanities was judged to be recognised internationally.

Study abroad opportunities

No formal study abroad opportunities at present.


Recognising Achievement in Teaching Excellence 2012 -  Teaching staff on the course have been nominated for a number of RATE awards since they were launched at Stirling.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The degree offers the necessary conceptual skills for managerial careers in public relations, organisational communication, corporate communications and communication management and related posts in a variety of contexts and sectors.

Graduates of our online public relations course have successfully advanced their careers in the public relations field, working for a wide range of organisations all round the world. Many of our graduates work in public relations consultancy, including some of the big names in the PR world, and some have even gone on to start their own business. Others stay in academia, going on to gain PhDs and then work as lecturers, teaching and researching public relations in universities. 

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).



2016/17 Overseas £13,950
2016/17 Home/EU £6,100
2015/16 Overseas £13,500
2015/16 Home/EU £6,000

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge for the conferral of your degree. This will be charged at the rate applicable when you complete your studies. View more information

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