Public Relations - MA
Public Relations shapes our world. Organisations use PR to get noticed, to change opinions, and pass on vital information that helps us to make decisions about health, education and welfare. PR is a fast-growing discipline, employing 83,000 people in a £13bn industry offering a wide range of job opportunities....
Studying with us in 2021/22
It is possible that the 2021/22 academic year may be affected by the ongoing disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Information about the arrangements the University has put in place for the 2021/22 academic year in response to Covid-19 and the emerging variants can be found here.
Should the impact of Covid-19 continue in subsequent years of your course, any additional and/or alternative arrangements put in place by the University in response will be in accordance with the latest government public health advice, pandemic-related/health and safety legislation, and the terms and conditions of the student contract.
Public Relations shapes our world. Organisations use PR to get noticed, to change opinions, and pass on vital information that helps us to make decisions about health, education and welfare. PR is a fast-growing discipline, employing 83,000 people in a £13bn industry offering a wide range of job opportunities.
Our MA teaches you how to construct an effective PR campaign, combining theory with the practical skills needed to communicate persuasively on behalf of businesses, charities, public bodies, community groups and activists.
What's covered in this course?
The MA in Public Relations combines theory and practice, providing real intellectual challenge with a sharp focus on real-world events and firmly grounded in extensive industry links. We recognise that most applicants are looking to build a career in PR and our emphasis is on employability.
We look at techniques for raising awareness, listening to stakeholders and influencing ethical policies. We will develop your strategic planning and help you to engage with a wide range of tactical devices, including building expertise in using a range of social media platforms and tools. You will also learn techniques that will build your confidence as a presenter and a communicator.
The MA explores the ever-changing media landscape while critically examining PR’s impact on society.
Birmingham City University has extensive experience in teaching the skills and knowledge that PR organisations worldwide are looking for. In addition to well-established undergraduate programmes, the Birmingham School of Media works closely with the leading professional body for PR in the UK, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations, as well as teaching their qualifications - the CIPR Professional Certificate and Professional Diploma.
We also have the distinction of being based in Birmingham, England's second city and a major centre for PR activity in both the public and private sectors. We work closely with employers from public and private sector organisations who support us with visiting speakers, resources and case studies, enabling students to work on genuine and realistic PR campaigns as part of their assessed work.
Why Choose Us?
- Emphasis on employability
- Wide range of career paths
- Excellent industry links
- Up to the minute course design
- Stimulating choice of modules
Applicants should possess at least an upper second class first degree (or equivalent), or have considerable experience in a related field and be able to demonstrate outstanding ability and potential.
Good spoken and written English are vital. IELTS level 6.5 is a minimum.
Applicants should have sound academic skills (research, writing, presentation), an interest in ideas and their application, as well as some basic competence in IT skills (word-processing, internet activities etc).
Above all, applicants need to have an inquiring mind, an aptitude for research, sharing and communicating ideas, and a desire to develop as an independent and self-motivated thinker.
Fees & How to Apply
- UK students
- International students
Starting: Jan 2022
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £7,700 per year
- Full Time
- 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
- £7,260 per year
Starting: Jan 2022
- Full Time
- 1 year
- £13,200 per year
- Full Time
- 18 months (including Professional Placement - see below*)
- £14,520 per year
Access to computer equipment
You will require use of a laptop, and most students do prefer to have their own. However, you can borrow a laptop from the university or use one of our shared computer rooms.
You will receive £5 print credit in each year of your course, available after enrolment.
All essential field trips and associated travel costs will be included in your course fees.
Access to Microsoft Office 365
Every student at the University can download a free copy of Microsoft Office 365 to use whilst at university and for 18 months after graduation.
You will be able to download SPSS and Nvivo to your home computer to support with your studies and research.
Subscriptions to key journals and websites are available through our library.
Free access to Rosetta Stone
All students can sign up to the online learning language platform for free through the Graduate+ scheme.
Free Adobe Creative Cloud licence
Students studying on this course can request a free licence to install the entire suite of applications on up to two personal devices.
Excess printing (optional)
Once you have spent your £5 credit, additional printing on campus costs from 5p per sheet.
All module key texts will be in the University library, but in limited numbers. You may choose to purchase a copy.
Placement expenses (optional)
If you choose to undertake a placement, you'll need to budget for accommodation and any travel costs you may incur whilst living or working away from home.
Field trips (optional)
This course includes the option of additional trips that may enhance your experience, at extra cost.
Personal stationery and study materials (optional)
Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £30 for each year of your studies for your personal stationery and study materials.
Accommodation and living costs
The cost of accommodation and other living costs are not included within your course fees. More information on the cost of accommodation can be found in our accommodation pages.
*Professional Placement option
The Professional Placement version of the course is optional and is offered as an alternative to the standard version of the course.
This will allow you to complete a credit bearing, 20 week Professional Placement as an integral part of your Master’s Degree. The purpose of the Professional Placement is to improve your employability skills which will, through the placement experience, allow you to evidence your professional skills, attitudes and behaviours at the point of entry to the postgraduate job market. Furthermore, by completing the Professional Placement, you will be able to develop and enhance your understanding of the professional work environment, relevant to your chosen field of study, and reflect critically on your own professional skills development within the workplace.
You will be responsible for finding and securing your own placement. The University, however, will draw on its extensive network of local, regional and national employers to support you in finding a suitable placement to complement your chosen area of study. You will also benefit from support sessions delivered by Careers+ as well as advice and guidance from your School.
Placements will only be confirmed following a competitive, employer-led selection process, therefore the University will not be able to guarantee placements for students who have registered for the ‘with Professional Placement’ course. All students who do not find a suitable placement or do not pass the competitive selection process will be automatically transferred back to the standard, non-placement version of the course.
Students are required to submit a personal statement as part of their application for this course.
Your postgraduate personal statement is going to shine a light on your personal experience, academic success, personal skills and any other factors that will support your application for further study.
Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:
Your passion and motivations
Studying a postgraduate course usually means you want to specialise in something. So what’s driving you?
Why this course?
Show that you’ve researched the course offering. What is it about this particular course that appeals to you? Is it the lecturers? The modules? Etc.
What makes you a good postgraduate candidate?
Tutors want to know that you can handle postgraduate study, so show them how your undergraduate experiences or work life has equipped you for a more advanced level of study. Key areas to address are research and group work but this can vary depending on your chosen course.
Relevant academic or work experience
Add anything relevant that relates back to your chosen course and shows how your skills will contribute towards your learning. What extra-curricular activities have you taken part in? What awards have you won? What employment or voluntary experience do you have that has helped you develop transferable skills? How do these specifically relate to the course you are applying for?
You should also mention your future plans and how a postgraduate qualification fits in. Try to look beyond your postgraduate study – do you plan to jump straight into a specific career or follow your studies with a research degree? Lastly, use plain, professional English and, where possible, utilise the language of your chosen industry.
Get more information on writing personal statements.
Course in Depth
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete all the following CORE modules (totalling 140 credits):
PR Theory and Context is the core module for the PR MA route. It teaches the fundamental elements of PR theory and examines the societal implications of PR practice. Topics include models of PR practice from propaganda to relationship-building, media relations, PR and promotion, issues management and crisis PR, the role of the PR practitioner, public opinion and the public sphere, and global PR issues.
Communication Planning and Action is designed to complement Semester 2 option module Strategic Communication for Social Change. It is possible to study either module independently or both simultaneously. In Communication Planning and Action the emphasis will be on communication for commercial organisations, from blue chip corporates to fashion and lifestyle businesses. Throughout the course students will be reminded that PR can be seen as a strategic management function designed to deliver organisational objectives over the short- medium- and long-term.
The module is intended to help you develop and consolidate your ideas for your MA Major Project. By providing a common module that comprises of all MA Media cohorts, Research in Practice aims to facilitate a shared skillset that aids the successful completion of the MA Major project, as well as the potential for routes into PhD progression beyond. It is also designed to encourage interdisciplinary discussions across MA awards.
The purpose of the module is to enable you to undertake a sustained, in-depth and theoretically informed research project exploring an area that is of personal interest to you. It is important that we can support you appropriately, so you will be guided towards choosing a research topic which is relevant to your discipline and in which your lecturers have expertise. The outcome may take the form of a written dissertation or a practical outcome with accompanying reflective, critical and contextual material. The main consideration when choosing your topic is that it must be relevant to your programme and you should consider the relevance of this topic to your future academic or professional development.
The purpose of this module is to enable you to develop professional attributes and subject skills through experience in the work place, and to critically reflect upon your learning in that context. You will normally be expected to arrange your own placement, with support from academic staff and BCU Careers. It is also possible to fulfil this module via a shorter placement duration and a linked ‘live’ project set by the employer.
In order to complete this course you must successfully complete at least 40 credits from the following indicative list of OPTIONAL modules.
This module develops a sophisticated understanding of the processes and outcomes of planning a communications strategy for a range of organisations that strive to bring about social change. Throughout the emphasis is on the communication challenges facing activist, not-for-profit, charity, and public sector organisations and developing persuasive messages to explain complex issues to a range of stakeholder groups.
Within the context of media integration and convergence, Narrative: from media to interactive media aims to help students to build a flexible skillset that provides a basis to critically adapt to both new and developing storytelling technologies.
This module is intended to give an overview of the current state of scholarly research into the use of social media platforms as a communication tool and also enable students to develop as social media practitioners who can develop innovative solutions to communications problems and develop their expertise at using social networking platforms in sophisticated ways. To that end, the module combines engagement with academic texts through lectures and seminars, with a series of practicebased workshops. The module explores the role of social media as an aspect of everyday communications, examining the technologies and practices that are put to use by citizens, activists, media producers and others, examining the range of practices that are emerging and their social and cultural role and character.
This module offers an extension to the other modules on the MA Events, Festivals and Exhibitions Management pathway. Whilst being an integral part of the pathway the module also works as a standalone optional module for those students on other pathways who can apply the key learnings to their own specialism.
This module provides an in-depth look at a major crux for the film industry: film festivals. Film festivals play a part in the financing, distribution and marketing of independent films and therefore the study of them is a core part of the overall. The present module will give students an understanding of the importance of film festivals to the industry, and give them insight into the skills needed to mount a successful marketing and public relations strategy at a festival.
Law, Regulation & Institutions focuses on key areas of the law and regulatory systems as they relate to the media, as well as allowing you to research those institutions which are important sources of news.
This module explores the current state of international academic knowledge and debates based on the research interests of staff and students involved with the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. It will provide you with a systematic understanding of approaches to researching media cultures and the opportunity to develop your insights through an area of interest, connected to your MA project.
Core modules are guaranteed to run. Optional modules will vary from year to year and the published list is indicative only.
MA Public Relations takes a year to complete, full-time. You study three modules in Semester One (Sept-Jan), three in Semester Two, (Feb-May) then complete a dissertation or practical project that you submit in late August.
Classroom activities and projects
Mixing theory and practice we work together to plan campaigns, dissect case studies, and analyse topical examples. You will hone your presentation skills, and learn to talk confidently and persuasively on behalf of a range of organisations.
Tarek is a graduate of the MA Public Relations course.
There are many opportunities for PR students at Birmingham to build strong links with the professional community in the region and worldwide.
PR programmes taught at this university are supported by an active panel of employers who meet regularly to provide case studies, live projects and placement opportunities. You will have several opportunities for direct contact with employers, not least through our annual PR Students Conference in which students from all our PR programmes present papers to delegates of peers and professionals.
We work closely with practitioners, including the CIPR, to match skills with industry expectations, PR demands flexibility, imagination, focus and creativity and we explore many ways to build personal profile and contribute to industry debate.
As a result of studying PR at this university, you will not only build up the knowledge and skills needed for employment in the public or private sectors, but also a level of professional experience of live project and campaign work plus a network of contacts that will dramatically enhance your employability prospects.
OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.
It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.
Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.
The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK.
Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:
Facilities and Staff
When you join Birmingham City University, the first thing you will notice is the high standard of our campuses.
With an investment of £340 million across our buildings and facilities, we are committed to giving you the very best learning environment to help shape your experience.
You will learn in our state-of-the-art facilities - including the £62m fully-digital Media Centre - located on the City Centre Campus. You will enjoy access to extensive studio and workshop space including four TV studios, six radio studios and broadcast-standard edit suites, as well as cutting-edge equipment and software.
Facilities include the largest TV floor of any university in the UK, a ‘green screen’ and the MILO motion control camera - we are one of just two universities in Europe to offer MILO technology.
A Senior Lecturer for Public Relations at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, Philip has significant experience as an award-winning journalist and owner of a successful PR company.
Before joining Birmingham City University in 2015, Philip previously taught at the University of Sunderland, where he organised and spoke at several innovative PR conferences, which introduced almost 1,000 practitioners to social media. He has been investigating the impact of social media on PR since 2005, as a lead researcher on the pioneering EuroBlog project, as well as being a co-author of Online Public Relations.
Philip has also previously taught at Lund University in Sweden, as well as participating in conferences and talks in Poland, Belgium and Germany.More about Philip