Postgraduate Taught

MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations

 See 19/20 Student Handbook (please note that 20/21 course details, particularly timetabling, may vary)

Equip yourself with in-demand skills, craft a professional portfolio, and forge industry connections on this flexible, forward-looking course that offers an internationally recognised postgraduate qualification.

Complex, digital and global – today’s world can be daunting in its scope and speed of change. Yet for communications and public relations (PR) professionals with the right blend of skills and the confidence to grapple with any challenge, now is a thrilling time to build a career. This highly respected course can help you turn your communications or PR ambition into a rewarding future.

As QMU is a Partner University of the PRCA, our PR and Communications students can take the PRCA Online Certificate for free.

Check out the bottom of the page for case studies and staff profiles.

Why QMU?

  • Develop the modern strategic communication skills that employers are looking for.
  • Create a professional-standard piece of work to showcase your skills, and make connections with influential industry figures.
  • Earn an internationally respected postgraduate qualification on a course that is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA).
  • Tailor your learning to your future career, developing knowledge, skills and learning in a rich and diverse environment from tutors who are internationally published researchers and practitioners with years of professional experience.

Course overview

Social media, smartphones and the internet have changed how we talk to each other – and how organisations talk to their customers – forever. Stories spread round the world in the time it takes to order a latte. Word of mouth has never been more powerful at generating interest for organisations. But how can this wave of change be harnessed? In our digital age there is a rising demand for communications professionals with the skills to plan strategic PR campaigns and drive success for businesses, charities and government organisations.

On this course you will develop the specialist skills needed to communicate effectively across a range of media and digital platforms. It’s important to understand the bigger picture, and you will study within a framework that emphasises strategic thinking and a critical stance, enabling you to make an effective, ethical and responsible contribution to your organisation.

You can tailor your learning to your career aspirations and gain practical experience – and always-valuable contacts – on an industry placement.
You will learn from tutors who have many years of experience in communication and public relations roles and who are widely published. Most of our staff continue to work in professional practice and undertake fresh research.

The course is suitable if you:

  • Want to start a career in communication and PR – you can do an industry placement (optional) and we’ll support you in developing industry relevant knowledge and skills, help you to produce a professional portfolio, and provide you with opportunities to meet, work alongside and network with current practitioners
  • Already work in a communication or PR role and want professional development — you can study part-time and tailor your learning to your own development needs
  • Aim to progress to a research career in communication or PR – members of QMU’s teaching team author key texts and regularly present at conferences all over the world.

Exit awards

 MSc (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)


To obtain a specific postgraduate award at QMU you must complete a number of credit-bearing modules. You can opt to study for the full MSc or a PgDip. If you can’t manage to spend the time studying for a full MSc or PgDip, you can complete our PgCert — see pages 112-113. Individual modules on this course can be taken on a standalone CPD basis and credits subsequently applied to a higher award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Students learn from an academic team which includes internationally published researchers and practitioners with years of professional experience. In many modules students learn alongside and network with practitioners working in communication and public relations roles.

Teaching involves face-to-face and directed learning (normally delivered online) as well as your own self-directed activity.

Face-to-face teaching is delivered on campus. You can choose to undertake an industry placement. We are proud of our strong links with organisations that agree to be placement hosts. Core module assessments may include case studies, essays, projects, blogs, proposals, campaign materials and briefing documents of between 1,000 and 5,000 words. There is also a Dissertation (12,000 words) or a Master’s Communication Project (project plus 5,000 words). Many of these assessments can contribute to a portfolio that will support your search for employment.

Teaching hours and attendance

Students take six 20-credit modules as well as the Dissertation/ Project (60 credits).

Full-time students attend classes for two semesters and then submit their Dissertation/ Project in August (for September full-time starts) or April (for January full-time starts). Part-time students normally attend classes for four semesters and then complete their Dissertation/ Project.

Our carefully designed delivery pattern provides continuous and frequent face-to-face teaching for full-time students. Part-time students benefit from a delivery pattern that requires attendance at intensive day blocks and which you can fit alongside other commitments. Your own timetable will depend on what you choose and whether you study full-time or part-time. The two semesters run from September to December and mid January to mid April. Assessments are mostly due at the end of each semester.

Class sizes

Class sizes will depend on the modules chosen but will normally be between 15 and 30 students.

Links with industry/ professional bodies

QMU is an accredited teaching centre of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and a partner institution of the Public Relations Consultants’ Association (PRCA).


 You must gain 60 credits from the following modules:

  • Media Theory and Campaigning (20 credits)
  • Digital Communications (20 credits)
  • Strategic Communication and Digital Practice (20 credits)
  • Public Affairs (20 credits)
  • You will also select two further 20 credit options, which may include a Communication Placement as well as a choice from a range of other modules.

If undertaking the MSc, you will also complete a Dissertation (60 credits) or a Master’s Communication Project (60 credits). Students taking the Dissertation will normally be required to take a research module in one of the optional slots.

Specified module exemptions are awarded to applicants who already hold some CIPR diploma level awards and those who join the course from an established pathway.

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (September 2019) but are subject to change. In the event that modules are changed, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students. 

Single modules for CPD

Register as an associate student to study single modules in areas of interest. Contact Paolo Casteltrione for more information.


You can choose to do a 20-day placement. Many of our students find that this is a very valuable option that helps expand their learning and build personal connections. If relevant, you can arrange to do this with your current employer. It is the student’s responsibility to secure the placement, but QMU provides support.


Where this course takes you is up to you. Our graduates have an impressive track record in achieving their career aspirations, going on to take key roles in a wide range of organisations across the globe. The course has also provided professional development for those already working in consultancy and in-house roles and is a pathway to an academic career in the subject area.

Entry requirements

Students will normally possess an honours degree or equivalent from a relevant subject area (eg Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences). Students without an honours degree may be admitted (subject to interview) to the course if they have other relevant qualifications and appropriate work experience.

International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Application deadline


More information and contacts

Admissions or Paolo Casteltrione on tel: +44(0)131 474 0000.

Please Note:  

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2020/201 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).






Course Overview

On campus in short intensive blocks
Full-time: 1 year; Part-time: 2-7 years
Start Date
September 2020
January 2021
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding

Related Professional Bodies

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Engage with the Team

A Student Story (see bottom of page for more)

Mario Previsic - MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations "My QMU degree equipped me with lots of strategies and ideas." Read my story