Public Relations MA
Alternative attendance modes for this course
Courses start in September, unless otherwise stated
View course-specific entry requirements
You should normally have a good first degree qualification (Upper Second Class Honours) or equivalent, although professional qualifications or substantial appropriate work experience may be acceptable instead. The course relies heavily on you being able to write and present effectively in English, and if English is not your first language, you need to have a minimum IELTS score of 7.0, with 6.5 in each element, plus sufficient academic or professional background.
This course is designed to produce the future leaders of the Public Relations Industry. You will not only learn the practical skills required to embark on a career in PR but also the research and analysis skills that will help you get ahead. You will create campaigns, pitch to clients, stage a press conference and create videos and blogs, as well as write research reports, essays and a dissertation. You will also explore issues affecting the industry, such as professional ethics and the impact of digital media.
The course has close links to the London-based PR industry, and is one of a select few chosen by the professional body PRCA for its University partnership initiative. These connections with leading PR practitioners help you gain the practical knowledge and understanding you need to work in PR.
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The course combines practice skills with analytical tools and is highly participative. You will take part in workshops, debates, seminars, presentations and group exercises including making pitches and presenting creative campaign ideas. The course runs for one year (full-time) or two years (part-time).
There are no formal examinations on this course. You are assessed on course work including essays, presentations, blogs, group work and your participation in class exercises.
The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. For more details on course structure and modules, and how you will be taught and assessed, see the full course document.
Contemporary Theory and Issues in PR
This module explores a range of perspectives on PR. We look at the social, cultural and management approaches to PR, and examine the tension between these theoretical models and their practical application.
Dissertation Research Skills
This module provides guidance on how to plan and conduct a piece of independent research into the PR industry. You will learn how to apply the theories, research methods and scholarly practice learned in your other modules to produce an original 15,000 word dissertation.
Planning and Managing a PR Campaign
This module gives you an opportunity to develop and enhance your campaign management skills. You will plan, design and present a creative public relations campaign and explore the relationship between PR agencies and your clients.
Public Relations and the Media
The module equips you with the professional practice skills to manage media relations including writing press releases, conducting media interviews and preparing media events. It also looks at the increasing role of digital media including Twitter feeds, blogs and online newsrooms.
Understanding Public Relations
This module provides a critical evaluation of the public relations industry and the context in which it operates. You will look at the role of the practitioner and explore whether perceptions of the industry are valid. You will also consider the professional aspirations of PR, ethics and how the industry is changing in the context of digital media.
The option modules are taught by leading practitioners and allow you to develop your interest in specialist sectors within the PR industry. You choose two option modules.
Advertising planning and strategy
This module focuses on the need for strategic planning to produce compelling advertising, and evaluate its effectiveness. You will study a range of planning processes including market research, insight identification, and trend forecasting, with a key focus on media selection and analytics. Throughout the module you would work with a client in order to structure a business problem into a creative brief.
Brand Management and Communications
This module highlights the role of brands in contemporary society, their use by organisations, and their significance for contemporary advertising and PR professionals. You will study the meanings of ‘brand’ and ‘branding’, and investigate the relationship between a brand, its products and its promotional strategies. Brand image and corporate identity are covered with attention paid to the ideas of brand building, brand development, brand equity and brand extension.
Campaigning for Social Change
As trust in institutions declines how can NGOs maintain their influence and change their techniques to deliver successful campaigns? What does the new political and campaigning landscape look like? What are the current techniques? And how can you decide which is the best technique to use for your campaign?
How do organisations manage their reputation even when in a crisis? These are some of the questions which you will address in this module. You will learn how to analyse stakeholders and prepare a communications strategy.
From luxury brands to the high street, the world of fashion relies on promotion and public relations. This module gives you an opportunity to take a backstage tour of the fashion industry and design a campaign for a leading fashion brand.
Digital and social media are changing both the communications landscape and the role of PR. This module looks at the different tools and explores how they can be used in PR campaigns as well as how they can be analysed and evaluated.
Political Communications and Public Affairs
This module is designed to offer a comprehensive introduction to the theory, principles and practices of political communications and public affairs. The course involves looking at the roles and responsibilities of the key actors involved – politicians, journalists, campaigners and public affairs practitioners – and the changing nature of the relationship between them. In particular, the course will focus on the role and impact of new digital technologies, online and social media, and convergence.
Pam Williams, course leader
Pam Williams was a key player in setting up the highly successful MA in PR and has over 20 years experience in a variety of senior roles in the industry. Her diverse career includes working in the corporate, political and creative sectors. As director of communications for the international brand strategy agency, Imagination, she advised major clients such as Ford and BT. Her corporate roles include that of director of Corporate Communications for BAA, a leading FTSE 100 company, where she was responsible for communications strategy and management. She began her career as a journalist before moving into Government communications where she worked on major public information campaigns in health and welfare and was a press secretary to Government ministers.
Visit Pam's profile page.
Jon Cope, course leader
Jon’s experience in public relations and journalism spans more than 20 years, with experience in the consumer, health and fashion sectors, both in senior agency and in-house roles and as a freelance journalist. Most recently, Jon’s freelance practice has focused on content creation for global healthcare and consumer/lifestyle brands. His current research concentrates on the use of visual materials in promotional communication. Jon co-authored and produced most of the photographs for the book Fashion Promotion in Practice, published by Bloomsbury in 2016. He holds an MA in Critical Global Politics from Exeter University.
Visit Jon Cope's profile page.
Michaela O'Brien, senior lecturer
Michaela O'Brien has 20 years experience in strategic communications roles and award-winning campaign communications (both online and offline). She has worked with major not-for-profits including Amnesty International, Action Aid, Business in the Community, Carers UK and Gingerbread, as well as government departments and trades unions. She established the first PR course module on NGO campaigns and communications in the UK as part of the MA in Public Relations and is currently planning research into public communications and public relations in NGOs.
Visit Michaela's profile page.
This course is particularly relevant if you want to start, or to progress, a career in public relations or one that involves communications with either internal or external stakeholders.
Length of course
Harrow and Central London
Additional costs information
To check what your tuition fees cover and what you may need to pay for separately, see our What tuition fees cover page.
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We provide our students with work placements and international opportunities to support them in becoming highly employable, globally engaged graduates, and with one million businesses operating within 20 miles of the University of Westminster, over 84% of our students are in work or further study six months after graduation. Our graduates work in a variety of sectors and organisations, from small/medium-sized companies and start-ups to large not-for-profit organisations and corporates.
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For more details, visit the employability section on our site.
Career Development Centre
Our Career Development Centre can help and support you throughout your study and after graduation.
We can help you to:
- find part-time/vacation, placement and graduate jobs, including voluntary experience
- explore how to develop the skills that employers are looking for
- plan your career development
- identify your career options
- market yourself effectively in CVs, application forms and at interviews
- develop your enterprise skills
We also organise a range of presentations and networking events with employers, professional bodies, alumni and other organisations throughout the year to help you with career planning.
Find out more about the Career Development Centre.
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More details on work placements can be found on our Work placements page.
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