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Postgraduate Taught

MSc/PgDip/PgCert Political Communications and Public Affairs

This course focuses on the intersection of communication, media, and politics as the area of knowledge fundamental for communicators working across public, private and third-sector organizations as well as a range of economic, social or cultural sectors. Students will develop communication expertise that combines strategic communication with an understanding of policy communication in the contemporary media landscape. The course offers relevant theoretical knowledge and strong vocational skills development for students who wish to enter careers in public affairs, policy communication, campaigning, or advocacy jobs.


Why QMU?

Studying with us allows you to:

  • develop specialist communication skills valued by modern employers in order to manage their political environment and policy issues;
  • earn an internationally postgraduate qualification a university with a track record in delivering specialist communication course recognized by professional bodies (Chartered Institute of Public Relations and Public Relations and Communications Association);
  • tailor your learning to your future career, developing knowledge, skills and learning in a rich and diverse environment from tutors who are internationally published researchers and practitioners with years of professional experience and
  • benefit from the blended learning approach that offers the best of two world: intense classroom interaction and rich online learning environment.

Course overview

Communication, media, and culture not only shape people’s lives but are also pivotal to the way in which politics and policymaking work. Companies and brands have recognised this for some time now in their lobbying, advocacy, and social responsibility work. In this age of activism, so have ordinary people when they mobilize to advocate for ways—laws and policies—to change how governments and companies go about their business. There is politics (and policy) in the food we eat, in the education we get, in how we travel,  how we build homes, in who makes our clothes and what happens to them when we no longer use them. And this is what this course is about.

We recognise the growing importance of specialist skills that combine communication with strategic management, and an understanding of public affairs, that is issues of interest to the public. Many organizations, from huge corporations to grassroots  organizations, rely on public affairs specialists to be able to conduct their activities, to look after their reputation and, most importantly, to have a say in how the world is shaped by what governments and legislators do.

As you will learn, not all people who do these jobs think of themselves as public affairs specialists, some may be called policy officers, or public engagement managers, but whatever the job title, there are core competencies that you need, and that you will start developing with our help. 

The course is suitable if you:

  • are interested in public affairs, media, and communication, irrespective of the subjects in which you already have an academic qualification
  • already work in a communication or PR role and want to specialize in public affairs and/or
  • aim to progress to a research career in communication or strategic communication, members of QMU’s teaching team are influential published authors and regularly present at conferences all over the world.

Exit awards

MSc (180 credits)/ PgDip (120 credits)/ PgCert (60 credits)


To obtain a specific postgraduate award at QMU you must complete a number of credit-bearing modules. You can opt to study for the full MSc or a PgDip. If you can’t manage to spend the time studying for a full MSc or PgDip, you can complete our PgCert.

Whatever award you choose to study for, all student complete three core modules, on which they build further by choosing additional modules to achieve the required credits.

Some modules on this course can be taken on a standalone CPD basis and credits subsequently applied to a higher award.

Teaching, learning and assessment

Students learn from an academic team that includes internationally published researchers and practitioners with years of professional experience. In many modules, students learn alongside and network with practitioners working in communication and public relations roles.

Teaching comprises a combination of lectures, seminars, workshops, and tutorials. Teaching involves face-to-face and directed learning as well as your own self-directed activity. Face-to-face teaching is delivered on campus.

Core module assessments may include case studies, essays, projects, blogs, proposals, campaign materials and briefing documents of between 1,000 and 5,000 words. There is also a Dissertation (12,000 words). Many of these assessments can contribute to a portfolio that will support your search for employment.

Teaching hours and attendance

We timetable most teaching to take place on Fridays and Saturdays to enable people in full-time work or with caring responsibilities to take part. Your specific timetable will depend on the electives you choose and whether you study full-time or part-time.

The two taught semesters run from September to December and mid-January to mid-April. Assessments are mostly due at the end of each semester. Full-time students attend classes for two semesters and then submit their Dissertation/ Project in August (for September full-time starts) or April (for January full-time starts). Part-time students normally attend classes for four semesters and then complete their Dissertation/ Project.

Class sizes

Class sizes will depend on the modules chosen but will normally be between 15 and 30 students.


Links with industry/ professional bodies

QMU is a partner institution of the Public Relations Consultants’ Association (PRCA).


You must gain 60 credits from the following modules:

  • Contemporary Issues in Political Communication (20 credits)
  • Public Affairs (20 credits)
  • Research Methods  (20 credits)

You will also select three further 20 credit options, which may include an Industry-based Learning and Professional Development module (this involves a communication placement or other forms of experiential learning such as a work-based project or freelance working) as well as a choice from a range of other modules in The School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management.  If undertaking the MSc, you will also complete a Dissertation (60 credits).

Specified module exemptions may be awarded to applicants who already hold CIPR Specialist Public Affairs Diploma and those who join the course from an established pathway.

The modules listed are correct at time of posting (December 2020) but are subject to change. In the event that modules change, QMU will seek to use reasonable endeavours to ensure that there is no detrimental impact on students. 



Single modules for CPD


As part of the course, students can choose to do 150-hours on placement or other forms of experiential learning such as a work-based project, freelance working, development of a professional portfolio, or volunteering. Many of our students find that this is a very valuable option that helps expand their learning and build personal connections. If relevant, you can arrange to do this with your current employer. While it is students’ responsibility to secure the placement and arrange their own experiential learning, QMU provides support. We are proud of our strong links with organisations and industry partners, many of which agree to be placement hosts.


This course is aimed specifically to educate public affairs specialists, a strategic communication function used by organizations manage their relationship with the world of politics and policy making. This course is built on our previous experience of educating professional for public relations and communications roles in a range of organizations, both in the UK and internationally. Our graduates have an impressive track record in achieving their career aspirations, going on to take key communication roles in a wide range of organizations across the globe.

Entry requirements

Students will normally possess an honours degree or equivalent from a relevant subject area (e.g. arts, humanities or social sciences). Students without an honours degree may be admitted (subject to interview) to the course if they have other relevant qualifications and appropriate work experience.

International: Where your honours degree has not been studied in English, you will be required to provide evidence of English language competence at no less than IELTS 6.5 and no individual component score below 6.0.

Application deadline


Fees and transitionary scholarships for postgraduate EU students in 21/22 and 22/23

As part of our management of the Brexit transition, for many of our courses, including this one, we have introduced an EU transitional scholarship for EU full-time postgraduate students commencing their studies on campus in academic years 2021/22 and 2022/23. This provides a 40% discount on international tuition fees. The scholarship is available to EU students for whom the international fee rate applies and covers the courses marked with a # in the Postgraduate Fees – Full-Time Study section of our Fees page. This transitional scholarship is not applicable to students from the Republic of Ireland, who will continue to be eligible for the home fee rate.

Please Note:  

The delivery of this course is subject to the terms and conditions set out in our 2021/22 Entry - Terms and Conditions (Postgraduate).





Course Overview

Full-time: 1 year OR Part-time: 2-7 years
Start Date
September 2021
January 2022
Study Abroad
School of Arts, Social Sciences and Management
Fees & Funding

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