Media and Public Relations MA

  • Overview
  • Course Content
  • Special Features
  • Teaching & Assessment
  • Employability
  • Fees
  • Entry Criteria

About the Course

This course examines the role of public relations in shaping media output both within media organisations themselves and in relation to the external impact of PR on the media. The field of public relations has grown dramatically in the past twenty years and this has had profound implications for the media and other institutions that rely on the media to disseminate knowledge.

This course will investigate the rise of public relations and its links with global media institutions from both historical perspectives and in relation to the contemporary media landscape. It will offer a critical examination of the role of PR in the mediation of power as well as the role of public relations in a range of media arenas.

You will be encouraged to reflect critically and theoretically on the function of PR in relation to; the role of the media in political communication, media policy, celebrity culture, film marketing, alternative media, media campaigning, and new media technologies. You will be offered the opportunity to plan PR campaigns and reflect on their role in the knowledge economy.  This combination will provide you with the opportunity to examine the context in which PR practice takes place as well as developing the knowledge and skills to work ethically in PR at an international level.

Aims

  • To provide students with an advanced knowledge of the relevant theories of public relations which explain and debate its significance.
  • To provide students with an advanced knowledge of the history of the role of public relations in the media.
  • To provide students with an advanced understanding of the functioning of public relations in the contemporary media. 
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary to undertake advanced scholarly research in the field of media and public relations.
  • To enable students to reflect critically on public relations practices within media organisations and to reflect intellectually on their PR practice.
  • To enable students to develop the knowledge and skills necessary for the ethical development of their careers in Media PR.

Enquiries

Course Director: Dr Milly Williamson

Related Courses

Course Content

Typical Modules

Key Issues in Media Public Relations (30 credits). Module Leader: Dr Milly Williamson
This module will provide students with the essential theoretical background necessary to understand the role of the media in society and the relationship between the media and the growing field of public relations. You will be offered an advanced understanding of the functioning of public relations in the media including its historical development and its shape in the contemporary media landscape.  You will study different media models and theories which explain and debate the significance of public relations practices on media content. You will examine the globalisation of the media and public relations and you will consider the wider political, social and economic contexts in which these changes are occurring. You will study the role of PR in relation to: media policy, the news, celebrity culture, new media and social media.

Media Marketing and Public Relations (30 credits). Module Leader: Professor Julian Petley
This module examines the role of PR within media organisations, particularly in relation to their promotional cultures. Students will be encouraged to reflect critically and theoretically on the function of PR in relation to the promotional and marketing strategies of a variety of media organisations. The focus on PR within the media will range from that of large corporations to smaller-scale, alternative forms including ‘DIY’ practices employed directly by lower-budget producers via social media and other online channels, key areas of contemporary development in PR and marketing more generally. This module also introduces the role of the press conference in media marketing and the processes of developing a film festival. Students will benefit from a programme of visiting PR professionals from media organisations.

Public Relations, Propaganda and Spin (30 credits) Module Leader: Professor Julian Petley
This module will examine critically what is meant by the term propaganda, particularly in contemporary uses of the term, and will seek to explain why it is necessary to have an understanding of this subject in order to analyse the rise of Public Relations in the fields of politics and the media. It will analyse how and why Public Relations techniques entered these fields, the interrelationship of these two fields, and the consequences for both of the mediatisation of politics. Particular attention will be paid to the rise of the political spin doctor, and also to topics such as ‘churnalism’, the ‘information subsidy’ and the ‘manufacture of consent’.  The module will also introduce students to the appropriate conceptual and theoretical frameworks for the analysis of Public Relations, propaganda and spin.   
 
Building a PR Campaign (30 credits) Module Leader: PR Practitioner
This module will provide students with the advanced knowledge, skills and understanding necessary to build a PR campaign and to critically reflect on the role of the PR campaign in the knowledge economy and their own practice. Students will develop the practical skills in lobbying, press releases, campaign building and related practices. The module will provide students with an understanding of the changing nature of public relations today and the impact of the processes of globalisation and the rise of social media on the practices of public relations. The module will also provide students with a critical understanding of the expansion of PR across a range of social and media institutions and the effect that this has had on the practices of public relations.

Media and Public Relations Dissertation (60 credits). Module Leader: Dr Leon Hunt
The dissertation module enables students produce a substantial piece of research on a topic agreed with a supervisor in the area of Media and Public Relations. You will be able to develop your research from the knowledge and skills you were introduced to at an advanced level on the taught modules and you can choose to develop an area of specific interest.  Students can chose between a long theoretical dissertation or a project which combines a practical portfolio with a shorter dissertation. You will develop your independent research and study skills under the guidance of an academic expert.

Typical Dissertations

  • The rise of the political spin doctor.
  • An examination of the role of spin in the contemporary relationship between politicians and the media.
  • The role of public relations in the media management of a specific political campaign.
  • The televised leadership debates in the 2010 General Election
  • Public relations and public diplomacy in times of war: selling ‘humanitarian intervention’.
  • Selling an unpopular war: the ‘dodgy dossier’.
  • Famous for fifteen minutes:  PR agents, pseudo-events  and the making of celebrities.
  • The greatest PR disaster in corporate history: McLibel.
  • Coming attractions: trailers, posters and the shaping of expectations in Hollywood marketing.
  • Niche-marketing and reputation in independent, art or cult cinema.
  • Marketing 2.0: the use of social media in the selling of contemporary low-budget films.

Special Features

The academic study of public relations and the media is very new and this new MA puts us at the forefront of this development. Most of the MAs in Britain either focus on corporate public relations and are predominantly practical or are theoretical courses that sit within more traditional mass communications curriculum and focus on the important area of political communications and the news media. Our MA is innovative because it combines theory and practice, which is a distinctive feature of MAs in Screen Media. Also innovative is our combined examination of the impact of public relations on the media and the use of public relations practices within media organisations, with particular reference to their promotional cultures. This provides students with a broad and advanced understanding of the relationship between public relations and the media.

We have expertise in both areas. Our expertise on the impact of public relations on media content comes from Professor Julian Petley, the chair of the Campaign for Press and Broadcasting Freedom, who is an internationally recognised expert on media regulation and freedom, propaganda, political communications and spin. This expertise will feed directly into the programme. Professor Geoff King is an internationally renowned expert on Hollywood and independent American cinema and has expertise in the marketing and promotion of mainstream and alternative film, including the important synergies and differences between film marketing and the role of PR in the promotional cultures of film organisations more generally. Prof. King’s most recent work includes a focus on the use of new media marketing and promotions that will feed directly into this MA.  Dr Milly Williamson has an extensive background in media theory, which will provide an important backbone of student’s early engagement with the subject. Her research expertise on the growth of celebrity includes the role of PR in celebrity culture and the role of celebrity in media marketing and this expertise will directly feed into the MA. Dr Leon Hunt is an internationally renowned expert on cult media and his recent research on the promotional strategies of cult media, including orchestrated DVD commentaries, will also contribute to this programme.

This programme has grown out of the research interests and expertise of the team, giving it a distinctive character. The focus on PR within the media will range from that of large corporations to smaller-scale, alternative forms including ‘DIY’ practices employed directly by lower-budget producers via social media and other online channels, key areas of contemporary development in PR and marketing more generally.

Teaching and Learning

The MA is taught through Lectures, seminars, workshops, screenings and industry speakers.

Assessment

The MA will be assessed through a combination of essays, reports, case studies, campaign design and a dissertation.

Careers

Graduates can go on to become PR practitioners in private and voluntary organisations such as: press and broadcasting organisations, advertising, NGOs, independent media organisations, campaigning organisations and political organisations.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Fees for 2014/15 entry

UK/EU students: £6,250 full-time; £3,125 part-time

International students: £14,250 full-time; £7,125 part-time

Read about funding opportunities available to postgraduate students

Fees quoted are per annum and are subject to an annual increase.

Entry Requirements

A UK first or second class (2:1) Honours degree or equivalent internationally recognised qualification in a relevant area such as Film and Television Studies, Media Studies, Sociology, Communications, Public Relations.

Other subjects and qualifications will be considered with
relevant work experience.

Applicants may be required to attend an interview



Entry criteria is subject to change.

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 6 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 60% in all areas)

Brunel also offers our own BrunELT English Test and accept a range of other language courses. We also have a range of Pre-sessional English language courses, for students who do not meet these requirements, or who wish to improve their English.

Our International Pathways and Language Centre offers a range of foundation and pre-masters courses to provide you with the academic skills required for your chosen course.

Page last updated: Thursday 23 October 2014