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MSc Strategic Public Relations and Communication Management

Gain a thorough understanding of the role of public relations (PR) in modern society while developing key analytical, management and communication skills.

Strategic Public Relations and Communication Management

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Start date September
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based, Stand-alone modules

Our Strategic Public Relations and Communication Management course gives you the chance to design, implement and evaluate public relations campaigns, helping you to develop the practical and analytical skills you'll need for a successful career in communications and PR.

You'll develop a critical appreciation of the role of public relations in society, as well as key analytical and professional skills. You’ll also gain a solid understanding of the theory behind PR, and have many opportunities to put this theory into practice.

By the end of your studies, you’ll have the necessary skills to work at managerial level in PR. You’ll be able to analyse environments, issues, organisational cultures and relationships – as well as set objectives, and design and implement public relations strategies.

We’re continually updating this well-established course in line with new advances, including how communication campaigns may successfully integrate digital media. Field trips and guest lectures offer opportunities to discuss strategic communication issues with leading practitioners. These also give you networking opportunities and an understanding of current best practice. The course is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

  • Top reasons to study with us
  • Professional accreditations

    We're members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

  • Work placements

    As part of this course you’ll have the opportunity to undertake placements and internships. The research placement module in spring semester is designed to let you undertake an original piece of research with a non-academic partner that is related to live strategic communications and public affairs campaigns. There are also opportunities to undertake applied or work-based dissertation projects over the summer semester

  • Flexible learning

    Find out more about our Strategic Public Relations (Online) course

    If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

  • Research

    Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling had 70 percent of its research rated as either ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).

  • Academic requirements

    A minimum of a Second Class Honours degree (2:1 preferred) in a relevant subject or equivalent is required. If you don’t have these formal qualifications, but have significant relevant work and life experience, we still encourage you to apply.

    Other routes of entry

    If you don’t meet the required criteria for this course, INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences. If you successfully complete the course and meet the required progression grades, you’ll be guaranteed entry onto year one of this Masters degree.

  • 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 sub-skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 176 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 169 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with 56 in each sub-skill
    • IBT TOEFL 80 overall with 18 in reading, 23 in writing, 19 in listening and 21 in speaking
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Merit in all sub-skills, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

  • Pre-sessional English language courses

    If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

    Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

The course includes six modules, comprising three compulsory and three optional modules, and a dissertation. Modules include:

  • public relations and public communications theories
  • strategic PR planning
  • public affairs and advocacy
  • research methods and more

The taught elements of the course are carried out across two semesters, which run from September until December and from January until the end of May. Masters students are then expected to spend the summer carrying out a research project and submit a 12,000-word dissertation in August.



The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course Details

  • Teaching

    You’ll be taught by lectures, seminars and workshops.

    Guest lectures from public relations practitioners provide networking opportunities and expose students to current practice in the industry. The course is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, and you can attend CIPR Scotland events, allowing you to meet practitioners working in the field and to extend your network of contacts.

  • Fieldwork

    There are a number of fieldtrip opportunities across this course, including a trip to Brussels as part of the Public Affairs and Advocacy module (this trip is optional for any student on our programme). We also run fieldtrips to Edinburgh (including the Scottish Parliament) linked to the Communication and Democracy module and there is a fieldtrip as part of the Tourism and Public Relations module. 

  • Assessment

    Methods of assessment include:

    • exams
    • essays
    • case studies
    • presentations
    • practical reports

    For some of the more practical modules, you’re required to produce a portfolio of work – which you can present to potential employers at job interviews.

  • Classroom hours

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

    The following Autumn and Spring timetables are illustrative, and subject to change. Guest speakers and fieldtrips are not included here; these will be announced during term time. During each of our two semesters, you can expect to spend around two-to-four hours in lectures, seminars or workshops for each of your modules. There may also be dedicated fieldtrips as part of the teaching on particular modules. In the summer semester, you will have regular meetings with your dissertation supervisor. Students can conduct their research overseas, communicating with their supervisor using email, the telephone and Skype.


    Public Relations and Public Communication Theories


    Lectures: TUE, 10:00 – 12:00

    Seminar Groups:

    TUE, 14:00 – 18:00

    Research for Dissertation


    Lectures: FRI, 12:00 – 14:00

    Seminar Groups:

    FRI, 09:00 – 10:25

    FRI, 10:35 – 12:00

    One of:

    Media Relations and Production – PREPP63

    THU, 14:00 – 17:00

    Public Affairs 

    and Advocacy


    WED, 10:00 – 12:00


    Strategic Public Relations Planning


    Lectures: MON, 12:00 – 14:00

    Seminars: WED, 10:00 – 13:00

    Two options of:

    Public Relations and Digital Media  - PREPP67

    THU, 14:00 – 17:00

    Tourism and Strategic Public Relations  - PREPP70

    THU, 12:00 – 14:00

    Advertising  -  PCMPPX3

    Lectures:  WED, 09:00 – 10:00

    Workshops:  THU, 14:00 – 16:00

  • Course director
  • Key staff
    Ask an expert

    Dr Katherine Champion Lecturer in Media and Communications

    Lecturer, Dr Katherine Champion, a specialist in Media and Communications, explains how studying at Stirling can enhance your career prospects.

    Ask an expert in media, culture and communications

  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (fees are different for each course)


    Home/EU Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course*

    If you’re domiciled in Scotland, you may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for a loan of up to £10,000 to cover your tuition fees and associated living costs. Students domiciled in the EU can also apply for tuition fee support, although may not be eligible to receive funding to support living costs.

    If you're domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, you should be eligible to apply for a loan from your regional body.

    English students apply for a loan of up to £10,609 per year as part of the UK Postgraduate Loan Scheme, Welsh students can apply for a non-means tested loan of up to £13,000 from the Welsh Government and Northern Irish students are eligible to apply for support of up to £5,500.

    *Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    Fees shown are for full-time, one-year Masters course. Fees for students who apply for a Postgraduate Diploma or Postgraduate Certificate will be paid on a pro-rata basis.

    If the course is taken over two years then the fee will be split evenly over the two years. Fees are not pro-rated for students who enrol on a Masters course and decide to exit with a Postgraduate Diploma - the full fee is charged.


    Please note: You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

  • Scholarships and funding

    If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

    Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

  • Additional costs

    There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

  • Cost of living

    If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

    EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

    Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

  • Payment options

    We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

Careers in public relations (PR)

This course is for those who want managerial careers in PR, organisational communication, corporate communications or communication management.

Graduates of our Masters degree have successfully established careers in the PR field, working for a wide range of organisations spanning public, private and voluntary sectors all around the world. Organisations our graduates work for include:

  • Pfizer
  • Nike
  • UK Government
  • Office Depot
  • Police Scotland
  • The National Museum of Wales

Others have stayed in academia, going on to gain PhDs and then work as lecturers, teaching and researching in universities.

  • Employability skills

    We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at university and develop the attributes that employers look for. In the Faculty of Arts and Humanities we have a dedicated Employability and Skills Officer. The University of Stirling’s Career and Employability Service works in partnership with academic staff to ensure you get the most out of your University experience, and are ready for the employment market.

The MSc programme at Stirling prepared me for a career in communications in more ways than I ever expected.
Ashton Robertson
MSc Strategic Public Relations and Communication Management
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