Manchester Metropolitan University

PgCert/PgDip/MSc

Public Relations

2017 entry

Features and benefits of the course

  • This programme has an advanced standing route for mature students who have relevant professional qualifications or who have previously studied for a postgraduate certificate or diploma. Through advanced standing we can give you academic credit for your current qualifications. Consequently you only need to study selected units and can achieve an MSc in a shorter timeframe. The tuition fees for this route are also lower because you only pay for the units you need to take rather than having to study all the units for the MSc.
  • This course is approved and accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations and we are a partner university of the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). As a PR student at Manchester Met, you can gain FREE student membership of these professional organisations whilst on the programme, with a range of benefits including access to professional conferences and training.
  • You will be taught in the internationally recognised multi-award-winning Business School on All Saints Campus. Watch the video to find out more.
  • This programme will position you as a 'plus-two' candidate capable of rapid promotion through a strong portfolio of professional skills as well as academic theory.
  • Read our teaching team's PR blog to keep up to date with industry comment and observations.
  • Access to a strong network of professional mentors who also contribute to the programme as guest speakers.
  • Access to our PR network of practitioners and alumni on LinkedIn offering contacts, work experience and employment opportunities.
  • Access to our international alumni network of graduates working in public relations.
  • Please follow us on twitter: @MMUPR
  • Please visit our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/492870144136195/
  • Watch a student story video: Diana Boch, MSc Public Relations
  • Read a student story: Rebecca Ireland, MSc Public Relations

Adding value to your employability skills

Throughout your studies there is strong provision for employability and gaining graduate employment through our Careers and Employability Hub and a range of additional activites that include:

Live business project 

Many employers require graduates who possess a range of skills and knowledge, including experience in the workplace. You will work as part of an account team on a live project under the guidance of an academic tutor who is also an experienced PR manager. You will work with an external client organisation to prepare a press pack containing original material for the media, including a press release, social media press release, Q&A, social media content and photography for distribution to target media. This enables you to develop your client management skills and you are supported by an academic tutor who is also an experienced PR consultancy manager.

Behind-the-scenes business visits

As a Masters student of the Business School, you have the opportunity to participate in a number of free business visits that allow you to see behind the scenes of real companies and learn about how these businesses are structured and operate. The business visit programme varies each year, the following are indicative of the type of business visits that are available:

  • Manchester United Football Club – museum and stadium tour plus guest speaker on business operations
  • Robinson’s Brewery – tour of 175 year old family run brewery and guest speaker
  • BBC at MediaCityUK - tour of BBC studios at MediaCityUK with an insight into how TV broadcasting works.
  • Jaguar LandRover - tour of the LandRover factory including every stage of the assembly process to the finished product.

Professional development weeks

The Faculty of Business and Law hosts two Professional Development Weeks annually. Free and open to all students, this includes a festival of skills-development activities, practical support in developing your CV and employability skills, and the opportunity to network with actively recruiting graduate employers. 

Consultancy dissertation 

The dissertation unit is your chance to undertake a consultancy dissertation, which could be based on a current or potential employer and aligned to your career goals in a specific sector, organisation or industry. This would involve identifying and structuring an investigative managerial or business issue, producing a substantial written document of your conclusions and recommendations. 

Expert guest lectures

A number of guest lectures take place each year with leading speakers from industry. The Business School shares extensive links with over 25 professional bodies including the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. We invite speakers from various industries onto campus as guest lecturers to share their knowledge with current Masters students. 

Accreditations, Awards and Endorsements

Placement options

Postgraduate internship programme

Employers look favourably on candidates who can demonstrate relevant and practical work experience. All Masters students at the Business School are encouraged to undertake an optional, short-term internship with a real business in order to develop relevant experience relating to their studies. 

The Postgraduate Internship Programme is an optional unit which allows you to gain up to fourteen weeks of work experience in a business environment; putting your studies into practical application, at the same time as gaining practice credits, which are recorded on your degree qualification transcript. 

A dedicated Placement and Project Coordinator will guide you through this process, by sourcing and advertising suitable roles throughout the year, offering 1-2-1 application advice, and supporting you to make speculative applications to source your own Internships. 

Internships can be part-time or full-time but must fit around your scheduled classes.

About the course

Our postgraduate programmes aim to combine academic knowledge from leading research in the area with the professional skills that employers are seeking.

The Faculty is home to the Centre for Business and Society, which brings together a number of synergistic research centres and knowledge clusters and our doctoral school of PhD researchers who work with teaching staff on the design of the programme. This includes the Creative Industries and Digital Economies Knowledge Clusters, which bring together the latest thinking and research in the communications, creative and digital media industries. 

During your studies, you will have the opportunity to participate in:

Teaching staff on this programme are from the Department of Marketing, Operations and Digital Business and combine a rich mix of industry experienced and research active academic staff. 

Meet the lecturers*: 

Dr Jane Tonge | Programme Leader and Senior Lecturer, Public Relations

*If you have questions about the course, please contact Course Enquiries at courses@mmu.ac.uk instead of contacting the programme leader.

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

Units on the programme are designed to develop your critical thinking on key areas whilst allowing you to apply your learning into practice by undertaking a live business client project, before embarking on a consultancy based dissertation.

You will study four taught units of 30 credits each, plus the Research Project or Dissertation (60 credits) to achieve the Masters qualification with 180 credits. You can study the course full time over one year or part time over two years.

The number of units you study will depend on if you choose the PgCert (60 credits), PgDip (120 credits) or MSc (120 credits of units + 60 credit dissertation).

The units are as follows:

  • Public Relations Theory, Strategy and Planning
  • Strategy and Planning for Digital and Social Media Communications 
  • Public Relations Skills & Specialisms
  • Investigating Business Practice and Research Methods
  • Research Project or Dissertation

Public Relations Theory, Strategy and Planning

This unit aims to provide you with an understanding of the basic PR and communications concepts and theories underlying modern public relations practice, as well as some of the broader key theories of strategy and planning which underpin PR as an academic subject and practical career path.  It examines the way organisations use communication and PR in building relationships with their various stakeholder groups and examines the development and management of effective PR campaigns.  It also examines the range of techniques available to practitioners, and the ways in which these techniques can be employed to address a variety of different issues /problems.

The unit covers three key areas:

  • Communications Theory: Models of linear communication; persuasive communications; identifying stakeholder groups and defining publics; network theory.
  • Public Relations Strategy: PR audit and determination of issues; defining objectives, defining audience and message themes.
  • Campaign Planning: Planning structure and format; integrating communications planning; campaign scheduling and budgeting; researching and evaluating campaign effectiveness.

Strategy and Planning for Digital and Social Media Communications

The digital skills gap is widely recognised as a major barrier to organisations maximising the benefits of successful digital marketing and communications.  This unit integrates digital and social media into organisational communication campaigns. It reviews emerging techniques and assesses their impact within integrated media communication. Learn from digital marketing specialists – each with active practitioner experience in their fields, such as email marketing, search, social media, mobile. This unit is taught by MMU on professional marketing courses, including the MSc Digital Marketing. On completion you should be able to spot challenges, opportunities and key factors in the successful planning of a successful digital marketing and social media communications strategy.  

This unit covers three key areas:

  • Digital & Social Media Communications Strategy: Customer acquisition strategy; Developing the digital and social media proposition; user experience, customer effectiveness, experience design and usability.
  • The Digital and Social Media Channel: Search Engine Marketing and PPC; Affiliates; e-mail marketing, mobile applications and mobile futures; approaches to social media marketing. Contemporary and best practice tool use and management
  • Digital & Social Media Communications Campaign Planning: Acquisition and retention planning; Developing digital and social relationships, customer retention and value analysis; managing digital and social media customer value; digital and social analytics, engagement, ROI, ROE, campaign evaluation.

Public Relations Skills and Specialisms

This unit covers a number of the most important skills needed by the public relations practitioner, including writing and media relations. Effective writing skills are a prerequisite for a career in public relations, and the unit will explore how to create effective messages and write well and clearly for a variety of target audiences. Media relations are central to PR activity and the media has a powerful impact on public opinion and decision making. You will gain a clear understanding of the range of media available to PR practitioners and how to work effectively with them. As public relations is a diverse and exciting career, offering graduates a plethora of specialist areas, industries, sectors and organisations to work in, you will also explore a variety of contexts which a career in public relations can involve and develop a clearer idea of which areas you may wish to work in and how to access them. 

This unit covers three areas:

  • Writing Skills for Public Relations: Writing press releases;  planning and writing feature articles;  writing for social media content; developing online content and SEO; developing press packs; legal considerations
  • The PR Media Landscape: Media forms; UK media and news management; developing media relations and working with the media;  role and techniques for media training; working with online media; influencing bloggers
  • Developing Approaches in Specialist Sectors:  Understanding stakeholder perspectives in sectors; effective PR in government and public affairs, the arts, fashion, sports, charities and the public sector; key skills and employability in specialist sectors.

Research Methods and Investigating Business Practice

Most employers want students who have a range of business, research and professional skills and knowledge, including experience in the workplace and of working with clients.  This unit covers two key areas:

Research Methods

This unit will develop your critical thinking, reflective writing and other study skills, including analysis and referencing, in order to successfully study at Masters level. In particular, it will introduce you to general research methods needed to successfully develop a dissertation proposal or research brief.

Investigating Business Practice

This unit will enable you to work with a client on a live brief with other students.  The brief normally requires you to work as a PR Account Team to produce a public relations campaign in response to key issues an organisation may face. This is a challenging project which brings you into contact with real life clients, learning client relationship management skills and with emphasis on team work. It supports the development of professional and employability skills, and involves applying a problem-based learning approach to develop your project management and project design skills. Students have worked on a range of PR briefs with external clients including The Vegetarian Society, Cheshire Dogs Home, Bolton Council, The Church of England, The ME Association, Mancunian Way (youth charity) and The Co-operative. Experience gained here will be invaluable in the workplace and a number of students have continued to work with clients they have been involved with in this project.

This unit covers two key areas:

  • Research Methods: Developing a research strategy; qualitative research methods; quantitative research methods; planning a research project
  • Investigative Business Practice: A public relations research & consultancy project.

Research Project or Dissertation

To successfully complete the Masters award, you are required to undertake a 15,000 word dissertation, supported by an individual tutor. This piece of individual work can be used to inform research in industry or sector that is aligned to your management career aspirations.

This unit is your chance to undertake a consultancy dissertation, which could be based on a current or potential employer. This would involve identifying and structuring an investigative managerial or business issue, producing a substantial written document of your conclusions and recommendations. Conducting primary research in the client organisation would be required in order to offer short to medium term solutions to the business, identifying implications of these actions for the wider managerial profession.

You may also wish to do one of four other types of dissertation including:

  • Enterprise Based Business Plan: Developing a Business Plan for a start-up business, underpinned by secondary data and fieldwork on the proposed business area, with the objective of a possible launch of a small enterprise.
  • Empirically based: Answering distinct research questions, triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by conducting fieldwork (collecting primary data), with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Action Learning: This involves examining, in a reflective way, a problem-solving ‘action intervention’ made by the author in his/her organisation through the lens of relevant literature, with the objective of demonstrating insights and enhanced managerial competence, and drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.
  • Library based: This would involve answering distinct research questions, which are triggered by an issue of strategic or operational importance, mainly by gathering secondary data and doing a meta-analysis of published interpretations of existing data sets, with the objective of drawing out the implications for the wider managerial professional practice.

It is also worth noting that we advise students to think carefully before selecting a research topic. As well as researching an area you are very interested in, the research project or dissertation also provides an opportunity to position yourself as an ‘expert’ in a particular field which you will have researched in-depth and where you have (usually) collected primary data. It is an excellent way of demonstrating to employers not only your research and analysis skills and ability to work independently on a major piece of work at an advanced academic level, but that you hold valuable and original knowledge about a key area of public relations practice. We know that previous students have found their dissertation to be a deciding factor in the interview process for a public relations position. Therefore, students may want to think strategically about the topic they choose in order to maximise their appeal to prospective employers.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Assessment details

All the units on this programme are assessed by group or individual coursework, either long-term or time-constrained.

Wherever possible, the assessments have been designed to demonstrate practical skills as well as academic ability and to result in work which builds a portfolio which can be used for job interviews.

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at: http://www2.mmu.ac.uk/business-school/about-us/our-staff/

Typical entry requirements

Normally a good UK honours degree (minimum 2:2), or international equivalent, in any subject. We will consider your application if you have significant, relevant experience or degree equivalent professional qualifications.

International students please see mmu.ac.uk/international

Professionals in the field are invited to apply. A combination of qualifications and relevant management experience will be considered towards entry requirements.

Applicants whose first language is not English (and whose first degree was not taught in English) are required to produce evidence of English Language proficiency to TEFL minimum score 600 (minimum 4.0 in written test) or IELTS normal score 7.0 [ must achieve 6.5 minimum in written English ].

Applicants who have an IELTS score of 6.5 may be considered for enrolment provided they successfully complete an approved MMU English Language course.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How do I apply for this course?

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Please note it is not possible to apply online if you want to apply for the advanced standing route for this programme.

Apply online now

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for full- and part-time taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

Career options after the course

Public relations is a rapidly growing industry, with a need for professionals who possess the latest skills. 83% of MSc Public Relations students found full-time employment in public relations at account executive level or equivalent by the time they graduated. (Source: CIPR data return).

Our strong links with PR consultancies and in-house departments regionally, nationally and internationally enable the majority of graduates to secure employment quickly. 

The types of role we expect graduates to progress to or enhance are: PR account executive/manager; digital PR executive/manager; communications officer or self-employment in public relations.

Recent graduates from this course have gone on to take up positions such as: 

  • Director of Public relations at Cheadle Hulme School
  • Political Affairs Officer at The Federal Chancellery, Germany
  • Global Programme Manager at Astra Zeneca

Graduate profiles 

You can find out more about the type of careers our graduates embark on by reading profiles of our alumni:

Rebecca Ireland -  completed an international internship during her studies and is now Account Executive at Brazen PR.

Diana Boch - studied British and American Studies for her undergraduate degree in Germany before coming to Manchester Met to complete her Masters. She is now a PR/Press Specialist for Daimler AG. 

Dedicated career and employability support

The Faculty of Business and Law’s dedicated Careers and Employability Serviceis at your disposal during, and up to three years after you graduate.  With a focus on developing and enhancing your employability skills, there is a range of careers support services on offer during your time here including Professional Development Weeks twice a year, where a festival of skill building activities, training and employer networking takes place.

You are encouraged to explore your employment options during studying for your postgraduate qualification and you will have the opportunity to engage with employers through careers fairs, guest speakers and internships. 

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.