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Communication & Public Relations

Overview
The course combines academic grounding with up-to-date professional skills with frequent contributions from established profession leaders.

Summary
This newly developed programme is based on our popular and successful courses in Communication, Advertising and Public Relations, Political Lobbying and Public Affairs, and Health Communication. We have updated and re-structured the course to ensure that it reflects the latest trends in contemporary theory and practice. The innovative new design incorporates a 'Communication and Public Relations' core with opportunities for you to specialise and study streams in advertising, political lobbying or healthcare. This means that all students will study four core modules plus two taught modules in your particular specialism (see Course Structure).

This model:
• provides you with flexibility of choice that allows you to maximise your individual and professional needs
• enables you to develop a critical understanding and expertise in the academic and professional bases of communication and public relations with the facility to develop such understanding in specialist areas of advertising, political lobbying or healthcare
• offers a unique and distinctive design with a broad focus on many of the elements important to a career in the communication industry
• allows your named specialism to appear on your parchment

About
This programme is a linked Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) and Master's (MSc). The PGDip comprises six modules. Full-time students will take three modules per semester begining each september and finishing the PGDip components by May the following year.

For an MSc award you will also undertake an individual dissertation (12,000-15,000 words). Each student is allocated a supervisor who will support thier individual research project.

Each module is weighted with credit points indicating the amount of student effort required. Full-time students are required to complete 60 credits per semester (1 credit point equates to approximately 10 student effort hours).

Teaching and learning assessment
The course will provide you with the opportunity to develop skills, in a flexible, inclusive and accessible environment, empowering you in your progression into employment and/or further study. All modules link learning, teaching and employment, with a broad range of methods being adopted including but not limited to: face to face teaching, reflective practice, integration of theory and practice, strategy and evaluation projects, research projects/reports, etc. Content of modules and their assessment activities focus you on key concepts and ideas central to the area of study. Within the modules, generic skills are taught and assessed, and are transferable across the subject areas and most importantly into the professional context and future employment. Learning across the subject areas focuses on the local, national and international contexts.

You will encounter group work and you will meet practitioners in different areas of professional communication, usually through guest lectures. This variety of working is now regarded as highly desirable in higher education. Our students discover that wholehearted involvement in these various tasks gives them the chance to discover their own abilities and to support the abilities of others. This is important in its own right. It is also effective for you learn not only by yourself, but by exchange with others.

The following highlights learning and teaching methods which are utilised within the programme, and the learning activities which support these:

'Traditional' Lecture: Whilst still with an emphasis on interaction this can depend on the size of the class, and is deemed to be the most effective way of teaching large numbers of students and managing their learning in an inclusive environment. Lecturers support student learning through the use of PowerPoint presentations; videos as a medium to illustrate key concepts and ideas and to stimulate discussion; practical examples; reflective exercises and discussion; small group exercises. Lecture delivery is more broadly supplemented through the use of Blackboard Learn, where applicable.

Seminars: Within modules, seminars utilise a number of different learning activities and strategies. You can be asked to debate contemporary issues applying your own experiences; engage in case study discussions; critical evaluation of research papers; searching for research articles to inform ideas and personal observations.

Practical Classes: Communication Skills Training is taught and practiced in dedicated Skills training labs, where you are able to practice skills learned, observe during play-back and evaluate within the context of relevant theory and research taught in lectures. Within the module CMM737 Strategic Communication, you have the opportunity to build upon your communication skills and to reflect on your skills base. Practical Research Skills such as data input and analysis using SPSS are taught in practical sessions in Computer Labs. These are taught both in specific modules (CMM816 Research Methods), and also as 'drop-in' sessions for the Dissertation.

Group work: Group work is utilised throughout the degree programmes both as a learning activity and as a component of assessment. In order that you learn from your group work experiences you may be required, for example, to keep minutes of meetings including attendance records and these are kept as part of a group work portfolio (eg CMM740 Public Relations Practice). Peer evaluation is also utilised giving group members the opportunity to assess the contribution of other group members, and finally you may be asked as part of your assessment to evaluate their experiences within the context of relevant theory and research.

Oral presentations: Oral presentations are utilised both as a learning activity and as a component of assessment. Presentations may be made either individually as part of seminars for example, or in groups as part of assessed work. A number of modules focus on presentation skills as an aspect of the module e.g. CMM741 Public Health Communication, and CMM737 Strategic Communication.

Fully online module delivery: To meet the needs of students for professional flexible learning and teaching, fully online modules are available supported by online seminars and support from the tutors using Blackboard Learn (e.g. CMM739 Leadership and Management in Healthcare).

Blended learning/web supplemented module delivery: To provide professional flexible learning and teaching, all modules use online resources on Blackboard Learn. Some modules include online activities to supplement the face-to-face teaching, (e.g. CMM816 Research Methods).

Block teaching: The programme predominantly maintains a traditional 12 week semester based approach but incorporates block taught modules where there are appropriate pedagogic or practical reasons for flexible teaching delivery (e.g. CMM816 Research Methods, CMM739 Leadership and Management in Healthcare).

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:
https://www.ulster.ac.uk/apply/entrance-requirements

Entry Requirements
This programme is suitable for graduates in any academic discipline as well as those already in employment who wish to enhance their existing skills. Applicants must have gained a degree in any subject from a recognized institution or an equivalent qualification. In exceptional circumstances, where an individual has experiential learning, a portfolio of written evidence demonstrating the meeting of graduate qualities may be considered as an alternative entrance route. Evidence used to demonstrate graduate qualities may not be used for exemption against modules within the programme.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Duration

Attendance
Full-time students normally attend classes on 2 or 3 days per week. Part-time students normally attend classes on 1 or 2 days per week. The specific timetable will vary depending on your specialism. Classes are usually held during the day and full-time and part-time students share the same classes. Exact times vary, but each module generally involves 2-3 hours per week of class time that may be divided between lectures and seminars/workshops/practicals. Outside of this, you will also be expected to spend considerable time in independent study and you may also be involved in meetings with staff or with your fellow students on group projects.

Careers or further progression

Career options
Due to the breadth of the course, you have a range of options upon graduation across the public, private and non-profit sectors, in communication, public relations, advertising, marketing, political lobbying and internal communication. While some previous graduates choose to specialise in a particular area, our students are equipped to be communication 'all-rounders' able to incorporate an integrated approach to communication management. Further PhD research study is also an option.

Professional recognition
Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) 
Recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

Further enquiries

Course Director: Dr Fred Morrison
T: +44 (0)28 9036 8860
E: f.morrison@ulster.ac.uk

Subjects taught

Modules
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one
Public Relations and Society
Year: 1
Status: C
Employing insights from social, political and cultural theory this module provides students with an opportunity to critically engage with the key debates surrounding public relations and its role in contemporary society and an insight into specialized areas of public relations practice. These areas include media relations, international and intercultural communication, crisis communication, political communication and community relations.

Strategic Communication
Year: 1
Status: C
A leader within a modern complex organisation faces a number of demands on their communication skills. These skills are seldom formally presented and usually a manger is expected to develop communication skills spontaneously. This module addresses these issues by presenting the key areas in management communication competence from both a conceptual and practical perspective. These skills are contextualised within organisational settings and contexts.

Public Relations Practice
Year: 1
Status: C
This module provides students with a professional and theoretical grounding in key debates surrounding public relations and its role in contemporary society and an insight into specialized areas of public relations practice. Emphasis will be placed on the development of critical and strategic thinking. Assessment is by individual assignment and a group PR strategy document.

Dissertation
Year: 1
Status: C
The Communication dissertation aims to enable students to design and carry out an independent piece of research. It is intended that this will strengthen their ability to interpret and apply research data to a work environment. The research will focus in depth on one area of communication.

Required
Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods 4th ed, China: Oxford University Press.
Henn, M., Weinstein, M., Foard, N. (2009). A Critical Introduction to Social Research, Wiltshire: Sage Publications Ltd.
McQueen, R., Knussen, C. (2002). Research Methods for Social Science: An Introduction, Harlow: Pearson Education.

Recommended
Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative & Mixed Methods Approach. (3 ed) (2009). USA: Sage. Davies, M.B. (2007). Doing a Successful Research Project using Quantitative or Quantitative Methods. China: Palgrave Macmillan. Dawson, C. (2009). Introduction to Research Methods: A Practical Guide to Anyone Undertaking a Research Project (4th ed). Trowbridge, Wiltshire: How to Books Ltd. Foster, J.J. (2001). Data Analysis for Windows ? Using SPSS, London: Sage. Greenhalgh, T. How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine (3rd), UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd. Hart, C. (2002). Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage. Matthew, B., Ross L. (2010). Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences. Italy: Pearson Education Ltd. Silverman, D. (2010). Doing Qualitative Research, London: Sage. Wray, A., Trott, K., Bloomer, A. (2003). Projects in Linguistics: A Practical Guide to Researching Language, London: Arnold.
Wrench, J.S., Thomas-Maddox, C., Richmond, V.P., McCroskey, J.C. (2008). Quantitative Research Methods for Communication. USA: Oxford University Press.

Research Methods
Year: 1
Status: C
This module aims to provide information that will enable students to make appropriate and considered research decisions. It is designed to develop students' understanding of the nature of research, key research traditions, the research process and the range of methods available to the researcher, including, qualitative and quantitative approaches. It also aims to help students acquire a critical understanding of the issues and methods in the generation and analysis of data and in the communication and evaluation of research findings.

Advertising
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module explores the role of advertising in marketing, the main creative approaches to advertising and the main media available to advertising, as well as providing a fundamental understanding of the structure and regulatory system of the advertising industry. It further explores the key issues facing advertising practitioners and advertising academics and equips students with knowledge and skills to challenge academic research and to undertake practical advertising activities.

Politics, Policy and Communication
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module explores the interaction between politics, communication and the political process and the implications of this for representation and policy formation and policy change. The module adopts a broad perspective and considers the relationship between public affairs and political decision making structures in majoritarian systems such as the UK and the USA and in consensual systems such as the European Union, and how these play out in political debates, practice and campaigns.

Leadership and Management in Healthcare Communication
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module examines leadership and management within healthcare communications. This module will provide students with the opportunity to explore and critically appraise leadership and management styles and issues to enable them to effectively work with personnel at all levels, within and across organisations. Students will gain an understanding of the leadership and management of communications in healthcare, and the critical awareness of the theories, policies, skills and issues in leadership and Management in Healthcare Communication contexts.

Public Health Communication
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module provides an overview of the current issues within public health communication. Students will have the opportunity to explore the challenges and opportunities of communicating to a range of audiences/stakeholders within healthcare. They will gain a detailed understanding of communication skills, theories and concepts related to the complexities of communicating in healthcare. The module will enable them to evaluate a range of health transactions and contexts including managing stakeholders, partnership working, risk communication and crisis management. Students will be aware of risk communication and acquire knowledge of managing a health crisis. Current communication issues in healthcare will be discussed. Lecture material will be supported by practical work in the Communication labs, applying the theory to practice within interviews and group discussions. Students will have experience working on a work-based project in a communication department within a health setting, which can be either be in public, private or voluntary sectors, thus transferring the theory to application and practice. During the module, students will have developed and presented a communication plan for an issue within healthcare.

Marketing Principles
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
Overall, this communication and marketing module, aims to provide students with a comprehensive overview of the field of Strategic Marketing and Communication in an international business context. It will develop students' knowledge and understanding of the significant role of Communication and Strategic Marketing practice.

Public Affairs and Lobbying
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module offers a theoretical and practical insight into the rapidly developing field of Public Affairs and Lobbying. It provides an opportunity to explore some of the key questions and issues facing academics and practitioners in the field and to examine how pressure/interest groups can strategically develop and manage their relationships with governmental stakeholders in order to successfully influence public policy.

Strategic Marketing
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
Overall, this interdisciplinary and internationally focused module, aims to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the field of Strategic Marketing. It will develop students' knowledge and understanding of the nature and impact of Strategic Marketing practice.

Comment

Academic profile
Staff delivering the course are actively engaged in research supporting the academic content of the course. In addition, as well as maintaining close relationships and active engagement with professional organisations, staff frequently contribute professional expertise to a range of organisations. Staff are engaged on a day to day basis with leaders within the communication industry.

Assessment method

Teaching and learning assessment

The course will provide you with the opportunity to develop skills, in a flexible, inclusive and accessible environment, empowering you in your progression into employment and/or further study. All modules link learning, teaching and employment, with a broad range of methods being adopted including but not limited to: face to face teaching, reflective practice, integration of theory and practice, strategy and evaluation projects, research projects/reports, etc. Content of modules and their assessment activities focus you on key concepts and ideas central to the area of study. Within the modules, generic skills are taught and assessed, and are transferable across the subject areas and most importantly into the professional context and future employment. Learning across the subject areas focuses on the local, national and international contexts.

You will encounter groupwork and you will meet practitioners in different areas of professional communication, usually through guest lectures. This variety of working is now regarded as highly desirable in higher education. Our students discover that wholehearted involvement in these various tasks gives them the chance to discover their own abilities and to support the abilities of others. This is important in its own right. It is also effective for you learn not only by yourself, but by exchange with others.

Application date

Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University's online application system. 
The closing date for applications is the end of August.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2018

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