MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree UPF Barcelona)

Study at the University of Stirling and Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, where you’ll gain an international perspective on strategic communication and public relations.

Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree UPF Barcelona)

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc
  • Start date September 2024
  • Application notes The closing date for applying for this course is Monday 24 June 2024.
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months
  • Mode of study full time
  • Delivery on campus


Immerse yourself in a variety of cultures while you study on this interdisciplinary, advanced postgraduate course in Strategic Communication and Public Relations delivered jointly by the University of Stirling and Universitat Pompeu Fabra. You will benefit from an international perspective and experience, having the opportunity to study in both Stirling and Barcelona.

Taught entirely in English, the course offers a hands-on approach, while at the same time providing you with the critical theoretical foundations you need to practise public relations and strategic communication at a managerial level and understand the role of public relations in society.

You’ll obtain a joint Masters degree from the University of Stirling and Pompeu Fabra University. You spend Semester 1 at the University of Stirling and then move to Pompeu Fabra University for Semester 2. You may then decide if you would like to have your dissertation supervised by staff at Stirling or Pompeu Fabra.

Our PR graduates have been nominated and won EUPRERA Master Thesis Awards for Excellence in 2019, 2021 and 2022.

Semester dates for 2023/24

  • Autumn semester (University of Stirling): Monday 25 September - Friday 8 December 2023
  • Spring semester (Universitat Pompeu Fabra): Monday 8 January – Friday 22 March 2024
  • Dissertation period: April – July 2024 (Universitat Pompeu Fabra), May – September 2024 (Stirling)

Learn more about the course by visiting the Pompeu Fabra University website.


Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • develop an advanced and critical understanding of complex communication phenomena and theories underpinning them;  
  • develop, execute and evaluate strategic communications plans and campaigns;
  • communicate effectively to a wide range of publics, using appropriate communications tactics, technologies and terminology;
  • advise on appropriate channels and messaging to meet strategic communications objectives;
  • integrate theory, research findings and awareness of communications technologies into strategic communication planning;
  • recognise and respond appropriately to the ethical challenges associated with strategic communication and public relations;
  • set objectives and design and implement public relations activities and tactics to meet those objectives;
  • conduct research and evaluation appropriate to public relations and strategic communications activities.

Professional accreditation

Awarded CIPR (Chartered Institute of Public Relations) Recognition.

Awarded with a CEI label (International Campus of Excellence) by the Spanish Ministry of Education, Pompeu Fabra is a modern university with prestigious international rankings.

We're also members of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), EUPRERA (European Public Relations Education and Research Association) and ECREA (European Communication Research and Education Association)

Study abroad

You will spend at least one semester at Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Spain.

Research overview

Communications, Media and Culture at the University of Stirling was ranked 2nd in Scotland overall in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), with 100% of our research environment and 88% of our overall research classed as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Pompeu Fabra staff are also research active and publish internationally.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.

As this is a joint degree with Barcelona, you must additionally be eligible to meet the PFU entrance requirements which are set by the Spanish government. You can find further details on these requirements on the Pompeu Fabra University website.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

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 Academic or UKVI 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 61 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.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these 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.

Course details

The course covers a range of modules, including: public relations and public communications theories; strategic public relations planning; media relations and production; public diplomacy and strategic communication; public relations and digital media; public affairs and advocacy; and research methods.

The taught elements of the course are carried out across two semesters, which run from September until mid-December in Stirling and from January until the end of March in Barcelona. Masters students are then expected to spend the summer carrying out a research project and submit a 12,000-word dissertation, which they can choose to complete either at the University of Stirling or Universitat Pompeu Fabra. 


The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the academic year that starts in September 2024. Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details


You’ll be taught by lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies, small group tutorials, field trips and visiting speaker presentations.

Guest lectures from public relations practitioners provide networking opportunities and introduce students to current practice in the industry. We work closely with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), and you can attend CIPR events, allowing you to meet practitioners working in the field and to extend your network of contacts. 


You’ll have the opportunity to attend a public affairs seminar series in Brussels, which includes visits to the European Parliament, the European Commission and specialist industry seminars with leading public affairs and communication experts in Brussels.


Methods of assessment include:

  • essays;
  • academic and practice-based papers;
  • timed assignments;
  • public relations and communication campaigns, strategic communication plans and reports;
  • a media relations portfolio which includes organisation of media conferences, digital media production and designing media packs;
  • case studies;
  • research designs and projects;
  • in-class contributions and presentations.

You will also complete a 12,000-word dissertation.

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

During the semesters, you can expect to spend around two to four hours in synchronous in-class and asynchronous sessions (e.g. lectures, seminars, webinars, workshops and discussions) per week for each of your modules. These will be combined with around 32 hours (full-time study) of your independent study. There may also be dedicated fieldtrips and online guest lectures as part of the teaching on particular modules. 

During the dissertation period, you will have regular meetings with your dissertation supervisor and dissertation seminars. 

Key staff

University of Stirling

Dr Alenka Jelen is Course Director and teaches public relations theories; public affairs and advocacy; media relations and production and research methods. Her current research focuses on public relations as an academic discipline; gender in public relations and media; relationships between media and politics; and health communication.

Dr William Dinan teaches and researches promotional culture, communication and power. Interests include spin; propaganda; political communication; lobbying and civil society advocacy; freedom of information; transparency and governance.

Grant Thoms teaches and has research interests in public relations practice, media relations, public affairs and lobbying. He is a chartered public relations practitioner with a varied client base.

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Professor Jordi Xifra is Programme Co-Director of the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree) at Universitat Pompeu Fabra. His research focuses on the intellectual history of public relations, and the role of film in building public relations discourses. He has published more than 15 books on public relations and public affairs in Spain, and his articles have been accepted for publication in Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, and American Behavioral Scientist, among others. He founded Public Relations Inquiry (Sage), a key critical journal in the field of public relations.

Dr Lluís Mas specialises in the relationship between branding and political communication in social media; sound branding; body image and advertising; and PR strategies. He teaches Public Affairs and Advocacy. 

Ask an expert

Dr Katherine Champion Lecturer in Media and Communications

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 funding

Fees and costs

Students from the UK and Republic of Ireland£8,700£9,100
International (including EU) students£8,700£9,100

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our  Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

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

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Eligible students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

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

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

This course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

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.

International (including EU) 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

After you graduate

Our Masters in Strategic Communication and Public Relations prepares you for an international career in public relations, strategic communication or related areas in consultancies, private sector companies (in-house positions), NGOs and international organisations, including the EU and the UN.

Our graduates typically occupy positions such as:

  • Communications Officer/Manager
  • Public Relations Officer/Manager
  • Digital Media Officer
  • Social Media Officer/Manager
  • Internal Communications Officer/Manager
  • Corporate Affairs Officer/Manager 
  • Public Affairs Officer/Manager

Some graduates have started their own companies or work as project managers. Others stay in academia, going on to gain PhDs and then work as lecturers, teaching and researching public relations in universities.

Testimonial quotes

My time at Stirling was enjoyable, very worthwhile and I found it to be enriching and challenging, with a real international feel to the campus.

Julian Lohaus, Germany 

Employability skills

We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at both universities and develop the attributes that employers look for. First-hand international experience you will gain during your studies has been consistently emphasised as one of the key skills of future communication professionals.  

In the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling we have a dedicated Employability and Skills Officer. The University of Stirling’s Careers 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. Similar programmes are in place at Universitat Pompeu Fabra.

Companies we work with

Companies and organisations we work with include the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, the Scottish Government, the European Commission, the European Parliament, Scotland Europa, Weber Shandwick, CONCORD Europe, United Technologies Corporation, Creative Stirling, FC Barcelona, DIPLOCAT (Public Diplomacy Council for Catalonia) and several local organisations and small businesses in Scotland and Catalonia.  

What our students said

Julian Lohaus
Julian Lohaus
MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations
My time at Stirling was enjoyable, very worthwhile and I found it to be enriching and challenging, with a real international feel to the campus.
Read Julian's story

Which course would you like to apply for?

MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree PFU Barcelona)

Search for another course