MSc/PgDip Strategic Communication and Public Relations
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 ambitions 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. The course is also accredited by the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).
- Develop the modern strategic communication skills that employers are looking for.
- Earn an internationally respected postgraduate qualification on a course that is accredited by the 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.
- Flexible block-study means you can combine study with your existing work and life commitments.
- This course is accredited by the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI). The DMI accreditation shows employers that your degree and learnt skills/knowledge are up to date with the latest findings in marketing and that you have received a high quality multi-disciplined degree (see 'DMI accreditation' tab for more information.
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 communication 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.
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 are influential published authors and regularly present at conferences all over the world.
MSc (180 credits)/PgDip (120 credits)
You can opt to study for the full MSc, a PgDip or a PgCert. You can also register as an associate student to complete a single module for CPD. On completion of a single module, you may wish to complete further modules and progress your studies to a named award.
Teaching, learning and assessment
Students learn from an academic team that 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 comprises a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, and tutorials. Teaching involves face-to-face and directed learning as well as your own self-directed activity. Face-to-face teaching is delivered on campus.
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
We timetable most teaching to take place on Fridays and Saturdays to enable people in full-time work or with caring responsibilities to take part. Your specific timetable will depend on the electives you choose and whether you study full-time or part-time.
The two taught semesters run from September to December and mid-January to mid-April. Assessments are mostly due at the end of each semester. 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.
Class sizes will depend on the modules chosen but will normally be between 15 and 30 students.
Links with industry/professional bodies
QMU is a partner institution of the Public Relations Consultants’ Association (PRCA).
This course is accredited by the Digital Marketing Institute (DMI).
Who are DMI?
DMI is an internationally recognized network of over 60,000 members working in every major city across the globe.
QMU has chosen to partner with DMI in delivering this course as DMI accreditation is recognized by a Global Industry Advisory Council containing international organizations in Europe, North America and Asia. The DMI accreditation shows employers that your degree and learnt skills/knowledge are up to date with the latest findings in marketing and that you have received a high quality multi-disciplined degree.
What does accreditation mean for me as a student on this course?
With DMI accreditation, all students on this course will be given a membership account with the DMI. Students can login to the DMI website at their leisure and can access a wealth of information to assist with their studies, keep up-to-date, discover what is happening in digital marketing today – all of which is sure to help with your future employability.
As a member, you will be able to:
- access to an extensive database of marketing research resources such as articles, videos, eBooks, toolkits, specialised courses and lessons;
- view a back library of podcasts as well as view new biweekly podcasts from industry experts, which will help you sharpen your views and mindset;
- view monthly webinars delivered by guest speakers including some of the leading experts in digital marketing;
- access a glossary of industry terms which will ensure you understand what is meant by the terminology, acronyms and phrases used every day in the digital marketing industry and
- access the DMI job’s board which will help you easily find current vacancies in the industry.
As a student on the MSc Strategic Communication and Public Relations you will study the core module ‘Digital Communications’, which the DMI has specifically accredited. On completion of your degree, which requires that you successfully pass this module, you will obtain a CDMA (Certified Digital Marketing Associate) accreditation from the DMI.
- Media Theory and Campaigning (20 credits) - This module aims to provide a solid disciplinary orientation to key problems and theories in the field of mass communication and media studies in a historical perspective. It introduces persuasion and theories of learning to contribute to students’ ability to engage critically with media campaigning and public communication. Students apply their theoretical knowledge to campaigning and reflect on the ethics of professional practice. The module provides students with the theoretical expertise needed to examine critically the concept and practice of public relations.
- Strategic Communication and Digital Practice (20 credits) - On this module students develop a critical understanding of the role of strategic communication within wider contexts including business, organisations, agencies, campaign groups and NGOs. They take a critical perspective to ethics, social responsibility and social justice and explore how strategic communication can impact on society. Theory is applied to produce creative PR campaigns including a range of communication activities and digital tactics.
- Digital Communications (20 credits) - The evolution, diffusion, and adoption of digital technologies have fundamentally altered the way we live, work, relate to one another, and conduct business. These technological and societal changes are having a far-reaching impact on the communications, public relations and marketing disciplines, presenting huge challenges as well as opportunities to the industry. This module provides a sound theoretical and practical knowledge of digital communications based on a critical understanding of current and emerging technologies, digital strategies and social media platforms. The module examines a number of topics including: digital strategy; social media; search engine optimisation; online community building and management; stakeholders analysis; issues management; web analytics and big data; content marketing; web design; online customer journey; ethical and legal aspects of digital communications; and more.
- Public Affairs (20 credits) - On this module students to develop knowledge of public affairs as a strategic organizational function focused on the political environment. It enables students to develop a sound conceptual framework for professional public affairs practice (with special attention to aspects of political communication) and strategic planning and public affairs competencies including research and problem definition, argumentation and campaign planning. Students reflect on public affairs as a professional practice including consideration of ethics and regulation.
- Optional modules: You will also select two further 20 credit options, which may include an Industry-based Learning and Professional Development module (this involves a communication placement or other forms of experiential learning such as a work-based project or freelance working) as well as a choice from a range of other modules.
Optional modules may include:
- Media Theory and Media Campaigning
- Strategic Communication Planning and Digital Practice
- Digital Communication
- Strategy and Leadership
- Accounting for Managers
- Markets, Innovation and the International Consumer
- Marketing and Society
- Leadership, Governance and Strategy: Not-for-profit
- Fundraising, Development and Finance
- Managing Corporate Resources
- Planning and Marketing Cultural Projects
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 (October 2021) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students.
Single modules for CPD
Available. Contact Paolo Casteltrione
As part of the course, students can choose to do 150-hours on placement or other forms of experiential learning such as a work-based project, freelance working, development of a professional portfolio, or volunteering. 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. While it is students’ responsibility to secure the placement and arrange their own experiential learning, QMU provides support. We are proud of our strong links with organisations and industry partners, many of which agree to be placement hosts.
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 communication 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.
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 to the course if they have other relevant qualifications and appropriate work experience.
International: 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.
For International applicants only (Jan 2023 start): Applications submitted after Sunday 20th November 2022 will automatically be considered for the next available intake after January which will be in September 2023.
September 2022 and January 2023
Sample Student Handbook
Opportunities to meet us
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Fees and transitionary scholarships for postgraduate EU students in 21/22 and 22/23
As part of our management of the Brexit transition, for many of our courses, including this one, we have introduced an EU transitional scholarship for EU full-time postgraduate students commencing their studies on campus in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23. This provides a 40% discount on international tuition fees. The scholarship is available to EU students for whom the international fee rate applies and covers the courses marked with a # in the Postgraduate Fees – Full-Time Study section of our Fees page. This transitional scholarship is not applicable to students from the Republic of Ireland, who will continue to be eligible for the home fee rate.
View course presentation 2022
The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2022/23 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).
Teaching staff is subject to change.