Strategic Public Relations & Communication Management

Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc


Introduction

The MSc/Dip in Strategic Public Relations and Communication Management equips students with the necessary practical and analytical skills for a professional career and it examines how to design, implement and evaluate public relations (PR) and programmes.

Accreditation

The MSc/Dip in Strategic Public Relations & Communication Management is recognised by the UK Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

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: Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, MSc
  • Study methods: Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration: Full Time: MSc, one year Diploma: nine months Part Time: MSc, two years Diploma: 21 months
  • Start date:

    September

  • Course Director: Dr Will Dinan
Download postgraduate prospectus

Will Dinan

www.stir.ac.uk/arts-humanities/

Division of Communications, Media and Culture,
University of Stirling
Stirling
FK9 4LA
Scotland
UK

1.       Our emphasis on how theory can help inform practice is beneficial for those seeking to progress their careers and work in strategic management positions.


2.       We have an alumni network dating back to the 1990s and we are recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. These provide important networking opportunities and mean a Masters from Stirling is widely recognised in the industry.


3.       We keep up to date with new advances, including how public relations practice is adapting to digital media.


4.       The course at the University of Stirling is one of the longest established Public Relations Masters programmes in Europe.


5.       We have an excellent guest speaker programme, fieldtrips and research placements, and we provide students with the opportunity to work for real clients as part of the course.

Course objectives

Public relations courses at the University of Stirling are designed for students from a variety of degree backgrounds to develop the appropriate intellectual skills at Masters level for a management-level career in Public Relations, Strategic Communications or Public Affairs. The course helps students develop a critical appreciation of the role of public relations in society, and to develop key analytical and professional skills.

Our approach is founded on the following principles:

  • Public relations contributes to the effectiveness of organisations by improving organisational relationships and facilitating public conversations and debate.
  • Public relations is concerned with corporate social responsibility through its issues management function and responsibility for reputation, which means that it can help organisations change to meet the new challenges of sustainability.

  • Research-led teaching on strategic public relations can facilitate better understanding of how issues are communicated. This helps promote a critical media literacy, as well as diffusing core concepts and practices that can benefit Scotland’s private and public sector enterprises: small, medium and large. Improved understanding of this organisational function can aid government and NGOs in political and policy communications.

Public relations takes place at points of change and moments of transformation in complex contemporary societies. Typically, public relations activity clusters around public policy formation, organisational change and development, public issues such as the environment, and major global shifts such as conflict, unstable international environments, globalisation, natural disasters or human disasters such as war or global financial collapse.

Bearing all this in mind, public relations education is necessarily embedded in the contemporary issues of the day in a very wide range of environments (political, economic, technological, socio-cultural, regulatory/legal) and contexts (sports, health, religion, tourism, development, regeneration).

Our courses are regularly restructured to improve their effectiveness and efficiency in meeting both academic and professional requirements. Modules relate to the Public Relations Education and Training Matrix developed with, and endorsed by, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and the Public Relations Consultants Association.

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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Live Life

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.

INTO University of Stirling offers a Graduate Diploma for those students who do not meet the required criteria for this course. If you successfully complete the Graduate Diploma in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences and meet the required progression grades, you will 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 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 graduate.admissions@stir.ac.uk to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

2017/18 Overseas £14,600
2017/18 Home/EU £6,200

 

2018/19 Overseas £15,250
2018/19 Home/EU TBC

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for all postgraduate taught courses are to be 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

Scholarships & funding

http://www.stir.ac.uk/postgraduate/financial-information/

The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Master's course or £1,000 for part-time study.  Further information on the scholarships is available here.

Scholarship finder

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The course includes six modules, comprising 3 compulsory and 3 optional modules, and a dissertation. The taught elements of the course are in two semesters which run from September until December and from January until the end of May. Master's students are then expected to spend the summer carrying out a Research Project and to submit a 12,000-word Dissertation in August.

Delivery and assessment

Lectures, seminars and workshops. Methods of assessment include exams, essays, case studies, presentations and practical reports. For some of the more practical modules students are required to produce a portfolio of work which they can present to potential employers at job interviews.

Modules

Academic Year 2017/18

Full Time

SemesterModule 1 Module 2 Module 3 
Semester 1 PREPP62 –
Public Relations and Public Communication 
Theories
core PREPP64 –
Research for Dissertation/Research Design
core

Select one module from: 

PREPP63 – Media Relations and Production

PCMPPX2 – Public Affairs and Advocacy

option
Semester 2 PREPP61 –
Strategic Public Relations Planning
core

Select two modules from: 

PREPP67 – Public Relations and Digital Media

PREPP70 – Tourism and Strategic Public Relations

PREPP95 – Strategic Communications Research Placement

PCMPPX3 - Advertising

option
Semester 3

PREPP10 - Dissertation

core

 Part-time

SemesterModule 1 Module 2 Module 3 
Semester 1 PREPP62 –
Public Relations and Public Communication 
Theories
core

Select one module from: 

PREPP63 – Media Relations and Production

PCMPPX2 – Public Affairs and Advocacy

 

option
Semester 2 PREPP61 –
Strategic Public Relations Planning
core

Select one module from: 

PREPP67 – Public Relations and Digital Media

PREPP70 – Tourism and Strategic Public Relations

PREPP95 – Strategic Communications Research Placement

PCMPPX3 - Advertising

option
Semester 3 PREPP64 –
Research for Dissertation/Research Design
core    
Semester 4

Select one module from:

PREPP67 – Public Relations and Digital Media

PREPP70 – Tourism and Strategic Public Relations

PREPP94 – Communications and Democracy: power, politics and mobilisation

PREPP95 – Strategic Communications Research Placement

PCMPPX3 - Advertising

option
Semester 5

PREPP58 - Dissertation

core

This listing is based on the current curriculum and changes may be made to the course in response to new curriculum developments and innovations. Module information for 2017/18 will be made available in due course.

Recommended reading

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 the range of theory, research and practice  in the field of public relations and will be of great use throughout the course. 

 

Further recommended reading:

  • Gregory, A. (2015) Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns - A Strategic Approach. (4th ed.) London: Kogan Page.
  • Wilcox, D. Cameron, G. and Reber, B. (2014) Public Relations: Strategies and Tactics (11th ed.) Harlow: Pearson Education.

  •  

    Wolstenholme, S. (2013) Introduction to Public Relations. Harlow: Pearson Education.

Study method

Full-time, Part-time

Example timetable

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.

 

Autumn

Public Relations & Public Communication Theories

PREPP62

Lectures: TUE, 10:00 – 12:00

Seminar Groups:

TUE, 14:00 – 18:00

 

Research for Dissertation

PREPP64

 

Lectures: FRI, 12:00 – 14:00

 

Seminar Groups:

FRI, 09:00 – 10:25

FRI, 10:35 – 12:00

One of:

Media Relations & Production – PREPP63

THU, 14:00 – 17:00

 

Public Affairs & Advocacy

PCMPPX2

WED, 10:00 – 12:00

Spring

 

Strategic Public Relations Planning

PREPP61

 

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

Why Stirling?

Video

REF2014

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.

Rating

In the most recent UK wide research assessment (REF2014) the Division of Communication, Media and Culture continued to be recognised as a leading international centre for media research and scholarship. Our research impact was ranked the highest in Scotland, over 70% of research activity was rated as world-leading or internationally excellent, and our research environment (which includes postgraduate research) was all recognized as internationally excellent and world leading.

International Students

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

Study abroad opportunities

No formal study abroad opportunities at present

Strengths

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

Our students

“The MSc programme at Stirling prepared me for a career in communications in more ways than I ever expected. Not only were the modules academically challenging and interesting, but the practical applications discussed in class and the network I built with my fellow students have benefited me in my career and my personal life.

The course’s design in moving from theoretical perspectives to practical applications and scenarios prepared me for the kind of critical thinking and skills I need to find a position in communications and to do my job well. I am so glad I found this program — I know I made the right choice.

The portfolio we created in our coursework throughout the year helped me immensely in my job hunt after graduating — I presented my sample communications plan, press releases, and articles to prospective employers, and ended up with my ideal job at a university in the US shortly after graduating. My knowledge of public relations theories, best practices, and history has served me well in my job and helped me to be confident and competent at work.

The instructors put a great deal of effort into making sure that we had every opportunity not only to learn from them, but to gain valuable insights through field trips and seminars with professionals, networking and volunteer opportunities, and practical work placements. I’m so grateful for all the opportunities I had at Stirling, and I recommend the program wholeheartedly to anyone interested in starting (or boosting) a career in public relations.”

Ashton Robertson, MSc, graduated 2016

  

"Talking to the public policy experts both in Brussels and at Holyrood truly brought communication to life. It was a unique experience to gain such a deep insight into public affairs, lobbying, and actions which take place in the frontstage but also in the backstage of the parliaments. Realizing what a vital and important role strategic communication plays in politics and how many perspectives there are to work in this field as a professional was very enriching for me.“ 

Christoph Wegener, MSc, graduated 2016

 

"Choosing to do the MSc in Public Relations and Strategic Communications was one of the best choices I have made for my career to date. Despite having no prior knowledge of PR, the course gave me a solid foundation to start a successful career in industry. Without going to Stirling I would not have secured an internship at one of the worlds biggest healthcare companies or gained confidence in my own ability as a professional communicator."

Lynsey Tyson, MSc, graduated 2015

  

'"The fieldtrips were definitely the highlights of the semester. They really let us see first-hand the key role public affairs and public relations play in politics. The insight into the industry given by our guest speakers on these trips was invaluable and have changed the way many of us look at the PR and public affairs industry.​" 

Rebecca Jardine, MSc, graduated 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Careers and employability

Employability

The degrees offer 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 Master's level courses in public relations have successfully established careers in the public relations field working for a wide range of organisations all round the world. Recent examples include Nike, the UK Government, Office Depot, Police Scotland and the National Museum of Wales.

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 businesses. Others stay in academia, going on to gain PhDs and then work as lecturers, teaching and researching public relations in universities all over the world. 

Skills you can develop through this course

By studying this course you will gain a solid understanding of the theory behind public relations and you will have many opportunities to put this theory into practice. You will gain practical skills in campaign planning and the production of public relations materials such as news releases, feature articles and blog postings. This material can make up the basis of a portfolio of work which can be shown to potential employers.

We’re here to help

We offer a comprehensive employability and skills programme to help you maximise your time at university and develop the graduate attributes required by employers. We have a dedicated Faculty Employability and Skills Officer and a Career and Employability Service who work in partnership with academic staff to ensure you get the best out of your University experience and are given the right opportunities to make you ready for the world of work.

Students have access to advice, information and career opportunities not only in the UK, but worldwide.

Chances to expand your horizons

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 students can attend CIPR Scotland events, allowing them to meet practitioners working in the field and to extend their network of contacts.

As part of this programme you will:

  • Have the opportunity to undertake placements and internships within the programme. The research placement module in spring semester is designed to give students the opportunity to 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.
  • Receive talks from visiting speakers from industry and alumni – every year we invite guest speakers to run master-classes, workshops and seminars. These reflect on key challenges faced by communications professionals from a range of sectors. Students are also encouraged to participate in industry relevant events, including the CIPR Scotland seminar series.
  • Participate in field trips – there are a number of fieldtrip opportunities across our programme, including a trip to Brussels as part of the Public Affairs & 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 & Democracy module and there is a fieldtrip as part of the Tourism and Public Relations class.  
  • You will also be encouraged to take part in clubs and societies – one of the exercises in your first semester requires students to blog about their experiences in a student run club.

Where are our graduates now?

Graduates of our Masters-level courses in public relations have successfully established careers in the public relations field working for a wide range of organisations all round the world. Recent examples include Pfizer, Nike, the UK Government, Office Depot, Police Scotland and the National Museum of Wales.

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 on to work as lecturers, teaching and researching public relations in universities all over the world.

 

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