Strategic Communication & Public Relations (Joint Degree)


The University of Stirling is ranked 1st in Scotland and top 10 in the UK for Media and Film Studies (The Guardian University Guide 2018).

98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16).


This variant of our established MSc Strategic Public Relations & Communication Management course is delivered jointly with our partner Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain. This course provides students with a solid international perspective on strategic communication and provides an opportunity to study in both Stirling, UK, and Barcelona, Spain.

The MSc Strategic Communication & Public Relations is an interdisciplinary, advanced level course taught by established academics and practitioners. It offers a hands-on approach while at the same time providing you with the theoretical foundations necessary to practise public relations at a managerial level.

You will be offered the opportunity to attend a Public Affairs and Lobbying seminar series in Brussels, which includes visits to the European Parliament, the European Commission as well as specialist industry seminars with leading public affairs and public relations experts in Brussels.

This course is taught completely in English and students will obtain a joint MSc degree from the University of Stirling and Pompeu Fabra University. Students spend the Semester 1 at the University of Stirling and then move to Pompeu Fabra University for Semester 2. Students then decide if they would like to have their dissertation supervised by Stirling or Pompeu Fabra.

Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc
  • Study methods: Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration: 12 months
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Alenka Jelen-Sanchez Email: Tel: +44 1786 466225
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Alenka Jelen-Sanchez

Division of Communications, Media and Culture
University of Stirling

  1. You will benefit from valuable international experience, gained not only by studying international public relations and communication, but actually experiencing them first-hand in different cultures.
  2. The course offers an excellent balance between theory and practice. As well as educating students on how to perform certain tasks in practice, we also give them theoretical knowledge.
  3. You will experience university life in both Stirling and Barcelona – two of the most beautiful campuses in Europe.
  4. One of the major strengths of the course is the emphasis on employability and encouraging students to develop their own networks by visiting different institutions.
  5. The course is taught by a lecturing team with both practical and international experience, and who are all research-active

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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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

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

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.

Flexible Learning

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

Fees and costs


2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU £6,300

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

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

Delivery and assessment

Delivery methods include lectures, seminars, workshops, case studies, small group tutorials, field trips and visiting speaker presentations.

Methods of assessment include academic essays; timed assignments, public relations and communication campaigns including presentations and reports; press conferences; a media relations portfolio which includes press releases, feature articles, and blogs; practical communication reports and strategic plans; case studies; research designs; content analysis; in-class contributions and presentations.

Students also complete a 12,000-word dissertation.


Academic Year 2017/18


SemesterModule 1Module 2Module 3Module 4Module 5 
Semester 1
Public Relations and Public Communication Theories
Media Relations and Production
Research for Dissertation/Research Design
    All Core Modules
Semester 2
(Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona)
Strategic Public Relations Planning
PREP90 –
Research and Evaluation for Practice
Public Affairs and Advocacy
Public Diplomacy and Strategic Communication
PREP67 –
Public Relations and Digital Media
All Core Modules
Semester 3 PREP10 – Dissertation
Students can choose to complete their dissertation at Pompeu Fabra or Stirling.

This listing is based on the current curriculum and changes may be made to the course in response to new curriculum developments and innovations. 

Recommended reading

General public relations literature:

Tench, R., & Yeomans, L. (2017). Exploring public relations: Global strategic communication (Fourth ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson.

 Ihlen, Ø., van Ruler, B. & Fredriksson, M. (2009). Public Relations and Social Theory: Key Figures and Concepts, London: Routledge.

L’Etang, J., McKie D., Snow, N., & Xifra, J. (Eds.) (2016). The Routledge Handbook of Critical Public Relations. Oxon, New York: Routledge. 

Broom, G. M. & Sha, B. L. (2013). Cutlip and Center’s Effective public relations (11th ed.). Pearson, International editions. (or earlier editions of Effective public relations by Cutlip, Center & Broom)


Research methods:

Daymon, C. & Holloway, I. (2011). Qualitative Research Methods for Public Relations and Marketing Communications. London: Routledge.

Allen, M., Titsworth, S., & Hunt, S. K. (2009). Quantitative Research in Communication. London: Sage.

Wimmer, R.D., Dominick, J.R. (2014). Mass Media Research. An Introduction. Boston: Wadsworth.


Specialist areas:

Smith, R.D. (2013). Strategic planning for public relations (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Taylor and Francis.

Hicks, W. (2006). English for Journalists (3rd ed.). London: Routledge.

Hicks, W. (2008). Writing for Journalists (2nd ed.). London: Routledge.

Anholt, S. (2007) Competitive Identity. The New Brand Management for Nations, Cities and Regions. New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

Snow, N. & Taylor, P. (Eds.) (2009) Routledge Handbook of Public Diplomacy. Routledge, New York.

Levine, B. J. (2009). The Art of Lobbying. Building Trust and Selling Policy. Washington: CQPress.

Libby, P. (2012). The Lobbying Strategy Handbook. London: Sage

Modes of study

Full-time, based at the University of Stirling, Scotland and at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona, Spain.

Study method


Example timetable

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




Public Relations & Public Communication Theories


Lectures: TUE, 10:00 – 12:00

Seminar Groups:

TUE, 14:00 – 18:00


Media Relations & Production



THU, 14:00 – 17:00


Research for Dissertation PREPP64

Lectures: FRI, 12:00 – 14:00

Seminar Groups:

FRI, 09:00 – 10:30

FRI, 10:30 – 12:00


 View the timetable for Barcelona modules in Semester 2

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.


Research within Communications, Media and Culture had 70 percent of its research rated as either ‘World-leading’ or ‘Internationally Excellent’ in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. Pompeu Fabra staff are also research active and publish internationally.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .


Academic strengths

This course provides a unique multicultural and intercultural experience for students as well as an innovative and challenging curriculum that is regularly updated. Students will develop a solid theoretical foundation as well as learn practical skills necessary for working within the public relations industry.

Students benefit from the experience and expertise of the academic research active team at Stirling and Pompeu Fabra; students are able to study in both northern and southern Europe (Scotland and Spain) and will develop an international outlook.

Students are able to attend a two-day Public Affairs and Lobbying seminar series delivered in Brussels (additional cost).

Our students

“To be able to live and study in two different countries is a wonderful opportunity. The courses and teachers were excellent in both schools. I loved the combination of a semester in each country. It was great to be able to experience the fall in Scotland, and then the spring and summer in Barcelona.

I have made good friends from all over the world and you can’t put a price on that.”

Dagur Odinsson, 2015


“The course structure is impeccable and gives the student adequate theoretical knowledge, as well as practical experience. As a specialisation course, it not only gives more insight on the field to PR practitioners, but also introduces the concept of Public Relations to beginners, by starting from the basics.”

Mia Raghavi, 2014

Our staff

University of Stirling:

Dr Alenka Jelen-Sanchez is Programme Director of the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations (Joint Degree) and teaches public relations theories, public affairs and advocacy, and research methods. Her current research focuses on public relations as an academic discipline; relationships between media and politics; gender in media and public relations; and health communication.  More information can be found here

Dr William Dinan teaches and researches on promotional culture, communication and power. Interests include spin, propaganda, political communication, lobbying and civil society advocacy, freedom of information, transparency and governance. More information on his research can be found here

Dr Derek Hodge teaches digital media in public relations, strategic public relations planning, media relations and research methods. Originally trained as a biologist holding a PhD from the Department of Microbial Genetics at the University of Sussex, he was working in a variety of management roles in the retail sector before moving into public relations. He was a partner in a public relations consultancy in Scotland for nine years working mainly on corporate communications campaigns for clients in the public and private sectors.

Dr Mariola Tarrega holds a PhD in Public Relations from Queen Margaret University. Her thesis explored the figure of spin doctors in Scotland and Catalonia. She has taught PR, social research methods and media sociology at Queen Margaret University and supervised MA students at Stirling University. Her current research is focused on the interplay between the political and the media sphere in sub-state nations and the practice of political public relations.


Universitat Pompeu Fabra:

Dr José Fernández-Cavia is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Communication, Universitat Pompeu Fabra. He teaches and researches in the fields of advertising, public relations, place branding and public diplomacy. Currently leads a research project, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness entitled "The Tourist on the Web. Informational habits and destination choice" (ITOURIST).

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. 

Dr Mònika Jiménez-Morales is a Senior Lecturer at the Communication Department of  Pompeu Fabra University. She has also been Visiting Scholar in the University of California, Berkeley. Her main research lines are focused on the effects of media discourse as well as on PR and events management. She has published several papers and books and has coordinated several studies related to the mentioned topics.

Dr Frederic Guerrero-Solé specialises in social media, media effects and political communication. He teaches Sociology of Communication, Quantitative Research Methods and Public Relations and Digital Media. He is the Co-Director of the MSc in Strategic Communication and Public Relations.

Dr Reinald Besalú specializes in audience research and political communication. His research focuses on qualitative and quantitative analyses of media texts and discourses. He also teaches communication methodologies. Further information on Reinald’s research may be accessed here:

Elisenda Estanyol is Lecturer at the Information and Communication Sciences Department at the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC) and an Associate Professor at the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, the Institut d’Educació Contínua (IDEC-UPF) and at the Istituto Europeo di Design (IED). Before joining the university, she has worked for several years in public relations consultancies (Llorente & Cuenca, Hill + Knowlton Strategies) and in-house communication departments (CAATEEB, DiR).  Her research interests are focused on public relations, creativity, social media and gamification.

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

This course prepares students for international careers in public relations, strategic communication and 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 of communications officer/manager, public relations officer/manager, press officer, social media officer/manager, internal communications officer/manager, corporate affairs officer/manager etc.  Some graduates start 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.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16
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