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Public Relations and Digital Communications

MA

School - School of Arts & Media

Subject area - Journalism

Start Dates(s): September

Duration:

One year full-time

In Brief:

  • Study at our state-of-the-art MediaCityUK campus, adjacent to the BBC and ITV, in the heart of the region’s growing media hub
  • Learn from lecturers with strong, relevant professional backgrounds and undertake placements in the industry
  • Develop the latest digital skills and knowledge that are highly sought-after in today’s global digital workplace
  • Based at MediaCityUK
  • Overseas study available
  • Work/industrial placement opportunity
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

This course offers a hands-on practical approach to this exciting discipline, underpinned by a strong academic foundation.You will gain a solid grounding in the theory and practice of Public Relations and Digital Communications, preparing you for a career in this constantly changing and evolving industry.

A key element of the course will focus on content creation – an emerging area within Public Relations and Digital Communication. You will benefit from a multimedia approach, learning how to use different techniques – including social media, video and content management – to optimise the effectiveness of communicating in a digital age.

As well as exploring the history of PR and how its relationship with journalism has developed and evolved over the years, you will examine the ethical issues surrounding PR and the ways PR can contribute to the management and protection of an organisation or individual’s reputation.

You will learn from lecturers with strong, relevant professional backgrounds and have the chance to undertake placements in the industry.

This programme offers you the opportunity to focus on digital communications strategies as well as more traditional public relations practice.

Course Structure

This 12 month postgraduate course aims to produce highly-skilled graduates who are able to operate professionally in today’s PR and digital communication-related industries.

You will develop cutting-edge knowledge and understanding of the role and influence of PR and digital communication within contemporary society, and the demands on and opportunities for PR and digital communication professionals.

This course will involve developing a professional level of practical skills and understanding in the devising and implementation of PR campaign strategies To develop systematic and advanced research techniques for the evaluation and analysis of critical texts and aspects of current research and scholarship at the forefront of the field of Public Relations and digital communications.

In the first trimester, you will study Public Relations & Journalism and Content Creation modules, which will provide a solid basis on which to develop your skills.

The modules you will study in the second trimester are Understanding PR Campaigns, which looks at case studies and strategies, and Professional PR Practice, which incorporates an industry work placement.

In the third trimester, you will work on a Major Project or a Dissertation.

In the PR and Journalism module, you will look at the origins and history of PR, the legal and ethical implications and popular genres, such as political PR, celebrity PR, crisis PR and reputation management. The relationship between Journalism and Public Relations will also be explored.
Content Creation will provide and develop technical and editorial online skills, preparing you for the demands of the modern multi-skilled digital communications environment. As well as equipping you with a range of storytelling methods and encouraging you to reflect on the impact of new media within the fields of PR and Digital Communication, it will also give you the chance to develop a portfolio to showcase your work and enhance your employability.
The Understanding PR Campaigns module will involve analysing PR campaign case studies, examining examples of good and bad practice. It will also help you to develop a critical appreciation of the roles and responsibilities of a PR officer. The module will look at the principles and practice behind the creation and implementation of PR publicity campaigns.
Professional PR Practice incorporates an industry work placement, which will give you a chance to develop your professional skills.
The Major Project or Dissertation module will give you the chance to focus on an aspect of PR and Digital Communication that you wish to explore further.

Entry Requirements

A good honours degree (2:1 or above) but appropriately experienced applicants will be considered for entry in line with the University’s APL procedure.

Salford Alternative Entry Scheme (SAES)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

English Language Requirements

For admission to programmes of study at the University an applicant whose native tongue is not English must possess a current qualification deemed acceptable by the University as evidence of proficiency in the English Language.

For entry to this programme such a qualification must equate to a minimum average overall  score of 6.5 or above from the Cambridge/British Council English Language Testing Service (IELTS) or alternative examinations as recognised by the University. The score for writing skills must be a minimum of 6.5, while all other components must be 5.5 or above, to give an overall score of 6.5 or above.

Suitable For

This course is suitable for recent graduates who are considering a career in Public Relations and Digital Communication related industries. It might also appeal to those who have already worked in Public Relations, as it offers an opportunity to refine, update and develop existing skills.

Applicant profile

You will be a well-organised, strongly motivated individual with a keen interest in journalism from an international perspective and in the ways mobile communication technology has impacted on journalism, the production and distribution of news, and on the audiences’ ability to access it.  

You will have excellent communication skills, be determined and focused, and be keen to acquire the high level journalistic research skills, organisational expertise and subject knowledge to take your personal and career development forward.  

You will have excellent general knowledge of events happening in the world today, and a keen interest in the differing political, cultural and social perspectives in societies around the globe.  

You will either have a strong academic background in a journalistic field, demonstrated through the attainment of a good undergraduate degree, or you will be experienced at working in a field related to public relations.

Teaching

  • Delivery will include lectures and presentations, seminars and workshops, aimed at development of students’ understanding of the theory and practice of PR and digital communications.
  • Workshops and seminars will explore and develop students’ understanding of PR as an evolving industry. 
  • Visiting speakers from within the industry and related sectors.
  • Student-led independent research, independent study and project work, such as analysing and devising PR campaigns, will support programme aims and learning outcomes.
  • Group work will feature strongly during this programme, with students having the opportunity to work together on real projects as well as evaluating and analysing existing case studies.

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Sara Eyre MCIPR
Programme Leader, MA PR and Digital Communication

Sara Eyre’s background is in print journalism. She joined the Yorkshire Evening Press (now The Press), in York, soon after graduating. While there, she completed her journalism training and went on to become a news reporter, district reporter (from one of the satellite offices), court reporter, feature writer, sub-editor, page designer and, finally, senior reporter.

After moving to Manchester, she joined Granada TV’s Press Office as press officer/publicist for Coronation Street. This involved working closely with cast members, journalists and senior TV personnel. Her portfolio also included regional and factual programmes. Latterly, she became responsible for the Coronation Street and Emmerdale online content of the newly-developed Granada Broadband, conducting interviews and writing storyline news and behind-the-scenes features, as well as managing live online chats between cast members and viewers/fans of the soap.

Sara’s PR experience continued in a freelance capacity, including regular commissions from the University of Salford’s Comms team – producing online content, copywriting, magazine journalism and speech-writing.

She became a lecturer at the University of Salford in 2005, delivering a variety of modules across the Journalism programme

Employability

Career Prospects

Public Relations is one of the fastest growing professions in the UK, employing 62,000 people in 2015.

The importance of the digital economy, and the opportunities and challenges it presents, has been noted by a Lords Select Committee. Its report, entitled Make or Break: The UK’s Digital Future, emphasises the urgent need, at HE level, for industry input, so that graduates are learning job-relevant digital skills. This illustrates the employability value of a postgraduate programme in Public Relations and Digital Communications.

The programme would prepare graduates for work within PR and Digital Communication related industries and feeds into this skills gap in the PR and communications industries. However, it will also provide key transferable skills that are increasingly sought after in today’s job market.

Graduates may go on to secure jobs in the PR and digital communication sectors and also undertake roles in content creation – for example, copywriting, SEO and analytics

Links with Industry

Students will be encouraged to take advantage of work placement opportunities which will also be available as part of the programme and there will also be a focus on working with industry partners. We have links with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) as well as a number of organisations (NHS, BBC, ITV, Salford Red Devils, Sale Sharks Rugby Union Club, Manchester United and Manchester City Football Clubs, plus independent PR and Comms agencies), which could be developed further to incorporate more PR, social media and digital communications roles.

Further Study

Graduates can undertake a postgraduate degree by research at MPhil (two years full-time) or PhD level (three years full-time). This could occur in any field of communications, journalism and media. At Salford the Communication, Cultural & Media Studies Research Centre and the International Media Research Centre contain a range of internationally leading academics able to supervise research degrees in their broad field.

For more details, visit:

http://www.smmp.salford.ac.uk/international-media-centre

http://www.smmp.salford.ac.uk/page/communication-cultural-and-media-studies

Facilities

This course is delivered at the University’s state of the art facility at MediaCityUK, which has specialist journalism suites including newsrooms, TV studios and radio studios.

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