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MA Public Relations

This course equips you with industry-specific skills in public relations (PR) and encourages you to explore the broader context of its practice. You gain an understanding of the rapidly changing business and media environments, as well as knowledge of new media technologies. You benefit from a visiting lecturer programme, where public relations practitioners and academics provide additional industry insight.

Course length 12-14 Month(s)
Location City Campus

Course description

This course is designed for recent graduates with little or no public relations (PR) experience, who want to pursue a career in an exciting and expanding sector. It is also ideal if you are a public relations practitioner with one or two years of experience, looking to develop your strategic and analytical skills whilst gaining a broader understanding of the PR industry.

The course combines academic learning and professional practice with a hands-on approach. Key areas of study include
• the origins and history of PR from a global perspective
• how PR is used to manage and restore organisational reputation
• public affairs and government communication
• how charities and campaigning groups use PR
• the ethical dimensions of PR and how to be an ethical PR practitioner
• the impact of globalisation on PR practice and how to create compelling and relevant international PR campaigns

You learn the latest techniques to succeed in the fast changing world of communications, and gain the analytical, strategic, management and organisational skills to succeed at the highest levels in PR. You develop your ability to
• critically evaluate key concepts, theories and debates
• plan and manage PR campaigns
• write for a wide range of communication media including print, broadcasting, and online
• work effectively across a wide range of media channels
• think and work creatively
• critically reflect on your own professional development
• develop a strong and effective social media profile
• use social scientific research skills across academic and industry work

During the course you put important PR campaigns under the spotlight and work on live briefs to develop your professional skills in real-life situations. You learn how to work with bloggers and journalists, to meet their needs and develop your organsiation's reputation, and bring new ideas into the public sphere. You also develop an understanding of how academic research helps us understand the practice and development of public relations across the world.

You gain practical skills in • content creation and curation • writing news releases • organising events • researching and creating strategic PR campaigns • dealing with the media • blogger relations • crisis management • creative use of online and social media • advocacy approaches to engage with hard-to-reach audiences.

We give you the skills you need to communicate with key audiences across different media channels including print, broadcast, social media and online. It is not about ‘spin’, but great writing and verbal skills, critical and creative thinking, and understanding how the media works. You are encouraged to think about an organisation's aims and objectives and how PR knowledge can be used to achieve or question them.

The course is delivered by a team that includes award winning PR industry specialists with national and international experience across TV, health, charity, public and private sectors.

Public Relations Consultants Association
This course also benefits from Partner University status with the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA). A limited number of Universities are endorsed by the PRCA for offering excellent courses which are intellectually rigorous and esteemed by employers.

Our students gain automatic free student membership of the PRCA and all the benefits that come with it, including • exclusive access to work placements • internships • graduate schemes and entry level jobs • free and unlimited online training • free access to the industry recognised PRCA Online Certificate.

Follow our BA and MA Public Relations Twitter feed @Shefhallam_PR

Professional recognition

This course is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

When you enrol on a course recognised by the CIPR you are eligible for CIPR Student Membership. This gives you access to the members area of the CIPR website, where they have a dedicated student area which offers help and advice on getting into the PR industry.

Entry requirements

2017 entry requirements


• an honours degree (2.2 or above) or equivalent in any subject

• a good standard of written and spoken English.

Overseas applicants from countries whose first language is not English must normally produce evidence of competence in English. An IELTS score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all skills (or equivalent) is the standard for non-native speakers of English. If your English language skill is currently below an IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all skills we recommend you consider a Sheffield Hallam University Pre-sessional English course which will enable you to achieve an equivalent English level.

You may also be considered if you do not hold a degree but can provide evidence of relevant professional experience.

If you do not have such academic qualifications we may consider your application individually, based on your personal, professional and work experience, and other formal qualifications. You may also be able to claim credit points which can reduce the amount of time it takes to complete your qualification at Sheffield Hallam. Find out more

International and European entry qualifications

If you are an International or non-UK European student, you can find out more about the country specific qualifications we accept on our international qualifications page.

Course structure

Full time - September start - typically 12 months

Part time - September start - typically 24 months

Typical modules may include

Postgraduate certificate – core modules

PR – essential theory and history
This module develops your understanding of the origins, history and scope of public relations. You explore and analyse how public relations penetrates the media and helps form our views of social 'reality'. You critically evaluate PR in the context of conflict, politics and the commercial sector, and examine recent developments. You also consider ethical and social issues raised by the practice of PR.

PR for the digital era
This module explores current and emerging techniques, commentary and research around the use of digital public relations. You critically evaluate emerging technologies, identify their relevance, and understand their increasing value to governmental, commercial and voluntary organisations. You also assess the ethical implications of digital communications.

Practical PR and professional experience
This module gives you the opportunity to apply and critically explore public relations concepts and develop the skills and practices of a PR professional. It demonstrates how those skills can be used to develop strategic and ethical PR campaigns and considers the theoretical models and case studies that help us understand best practice.

Postgraduate certificate – optional modules

Writing for PR
In this module you develop a range of professional writing skills, particularly in the fields of journalism and public relations, and develop awareness of context and audience as a focus for writing. You also learn about the processes involved in writing for production and develop a critical appreciation of practical and social issues that professional writers may face.

Media law and regulation
This module examines the essential structures and processes of regional, national and European courts. It includes teaching around essential law for journalists, including court structure and process, court reporting restrictions and contempt of court. You learn about the regulatory frameworks and codes of conduct affecting the practice of print and broadcast journalism. You also study the relationship between journalists and the institutions and organisations which shape our society and affect change within it, as well as how the relationship between these bodies at local, national and international levels reflect and affect the professional practice of journalism.

Postgraduate diploma – core modules

PR issues and crisis management
Public relations is often involved with managing points of actual or potential conflict between an organisation and its publics. Such crises may be the result of internal or external factors linked to organisation, individuals, products, services, external market or other factors. In this module you adopt a theoretical and practical approach to understanding, anticipating and analysing reputation, issues and areas of concern by establishing priorities and strategies and developing contingency plans and action.

Corporate communications
In this module you develop an open-minded, critical and creative approach to corporate communications, and the role and practice of public relations in big business, governments and wider society. You consider where the public relations function is positioned within an organisation, how this impacts upon how it is perceived by key decision makers, the support it receives and its consequent delivery. You examine a range of organisations and look at the external factors affecting PR strategies. At its best, public relations is a dynamic occupation, constantly evolving and adapting to take account of new communications developments and trends. With this in mind you also explore social and online media, including the challenges and opportunities these changes offer for practitioners.

PR, politics and lobbying
This module provides you with an opportunity to develop an understanding of the origins, history and development of lobbying and public affairs within the context of corporate communications, consumerism and activism. You become familiar with different political systems and consider how lobbying takes place within these systems. You evaluate the relevance of public affairs to a democratic society and some of the ethical implications raised in this area.

Postgraduate diploma – optional modules

• international journalism and PR • print and online news reporting

MA modules

You carry out an independent piece of academic research relating to your subject area and produce a dissertation based on this work.

  • essay
  • dissertation
  • portfolio and critical evaluation of professional standard work


Organisations are increasingly recognising the value of PR and the importance of effective communication. As more media platforms are launched, and the communication mix becomes more complex, the demand for honest, ethical and skilled PR practitioners continues to grow.

The course gives you the knowledge and skills to work as a public relations officer or executive in • public and private sector organisations • PR agencies • charities • pressure groups • the voluntary sector.

It also prepares you for work • as a campaigns director • in public affairs or lobbying • as an account manager or director making the headlines for your creative campaigns.

Many of our students also move into marketing and social media roles.

The skills from the course are transferrable to a range of other professions as you gain competencies in writing, communicating, presenting ideas and working in a team.


Home / EU student

Please note tuition fees may increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation. More information can be found in the ‘Tuition Fee Increases’ section of our Fees Regulations (PDF, 2.10 MB)

2016/17 academic year

Typically £6,300 for the course

Part-time study should be calculated pro rata.

Postgraduate loans of up to £10,000 are available across the majority of subject areas. Please note that for 13 month courses your loan will be paid to you over the duration of two years.

2017/18 academic year

Typically £6,400 for the course

Part-time study should be calculated pro rata

International student

2016/17 academic year

Typically £12,500 for the course

2017/18 academic year

Typically £13,250 for the course

Additional course costs

This link allows you to view estimated costs associated with the main activities on specific courses. These are estimates and, as such, are only an indication of additional course costs. Actual costs can vary greatly depending on the choices you make during your course.

Additional costs information

How to apply

Complete the application form available at www.shu.ac.uk/study/form

Any offer of a place to study is subject to your acceptance of the University’s Terms and Conditions and student Regulations.

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