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Public Relations (Accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations) - MA

University of Sunderland Faculty of Arts and Creative Industries

Full time & Part time September MA 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

About the course

Study a course professionally accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Prepare yourself to move seamlessly into a job with a PR agency or in-house communications department.


This course is a Masters with a focus on practical skills in Public Relations. It involves a mix of journalism, business and marketing, social networking and communication theory, giving you a competitive edge in this fast-moving industry. As part of the course, you will develop a major PR project and undertake related research and contextual studies.

Why us?

Sunderland hosts the Centre for Research in Media and Cultural Studies (CRMCS).

Read more about this course

Entry Requirements

We usually require applicants to hold a good honours degree (2:1 or above) in a related discipline.

We will consider applicants with professional and vocational experience.

If you are suitably qualified, we will invite you to an interview to assess whether this is the right course for you.

We may ask you to undertake a short course that covers essential skills and knowledge, before you join the main Masters course.

If English is not your first language, you should have an IELTS (or equivalent) score of at least 7.0.

 Course Content

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Student Profile(s)

Bridget McClean

After graduating from MA Public Relations, Bridget McClean started working at W Communications in Newcastle and hopes to progress in the company. She attributes her success to the supportive tutors and opportunities to meet employers on the course.

"I chose to study PR at Sunderland because of the course’s reputation; I knew that Sunderland was well-known for its PR and Journalism courses. I also found that the PR MA was a lot more practical and geared towards getting a job than other courses I had looked at.

I did an undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds and following that, worked as a journalist. It was while working at a local newspaper that I decided I wanted to make a career change and move into PR. I thought it was better to get a qualification in PR first before applying for jobs.

For me, the best part of the course was links to employers. There were a number of opportunities to attend talks and networking events where you were able to meet people already working in the industry. I also liked the variety of content on the course.

I'd definitely recommend the University of Sunderland to other students – I had really good support from tutors and I thought the course content was interesting. I'd say take every opportunity that comes your way, attend as many extracurricular events as you can and get stuck in. Supportive tutors, varied course content and the opportunity to meet employers helped me achieve my goals.

Since finishing my MA I have started working at a global PR agency. W Communications opened its Newcastle office in April and I started in June. I hope to progress in the company and continue developing my skills in PR and communications.

Alice Midgley

The more Alice Midgley looked into PR, the more interested she was in a career in it. An MA in Public Relations at Sunderland proved to be the way into the industry she needed – straight after she graduated she secured an account executive position at a local PR agency.

"Sunderland was well known for its media department, making it a perfect choice for a PR degree. The city itself was also very affordable, in terms of living costs, and the course fees were some of the best I’d seen.

I was previously working in a digital marketing position. I worked closely with customers to improve the performance of their online presence, yet the aspect that interested me the most was the ways in which they could build up their reputation. The more I looked into PR the more interested I was in a career within it, yet with minimal experience of knowledge of the industry, the course was my way of building a strong foundation.

Stand out modules within the course were those that involved activities that would be required of me in a real working environment, such as press release writing, media briefing, campaign planning and presenting and blogging/social media. The skills I learned within these modules I now use on a daily basis in the office, and are skills that helped me secure a job after university.

I'd definitely recommend the University of Sunderland to other students. The tutors are professional and have backgrounds in the industry. They, therefore, are able to draw upon and relate topics back to real life scenarios, which always makes it easier to understand and absorb.

You should go for it with full force. Make the most of the opportunities available to you, of which there are many in the North East.

Straight out of university I secured an account executive position in a local PR agency. As my knowledge and skills grow I hope to move up through the ranks within the company to eventually become an account manager. Long term I can see myself moving from agency to in-house PR.

Without the student loan offering for masters students, I wouldn’t have been able to study, so my advice would be to apply for an MA now and make the most of it.

My experience was eye-opening, insightful, and a perfect foundation for a successful career in PR."

Anne-Marie Lacey

Anne-Marie Lacey has used the skills she learnt at Sunderland to quickly climb the ladder in the PR industry. In just six years since graduating, she has gone from an account executive to PR manager, headed up the Communications and Content division of an integrated agency, before launching her own PR consultancy in 2016. She's now Managing Director of Filament PR.

"I chose to study at Sunderland because, at the time, it was the only university which offered an MA degree in Public Relations that was accredited by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations. Plus, one of the course leaders had written many of the textbooks on the reading list and was a thought-leader in social media (Twitter was still new and a novelty when I did my post-graduate degree). I knew that these things all mixed together would offer me a great education and help to give me the edge in a competitive graduate job market.

I had graduated from the University of Leeds in 2009 with an undergraduate degree in Linguistics and Phonetics. I really enjoyed the communication theory aspect of the course and so after graduation, I stayed in Leeds and took a job working in sales and marketing. That’s how I was introduced to the idea of PR and so decided I wanted to support my on-the-ground knowledge with academic theory to help broaden my job prospects. At the time, a postgraduate study was self-funded only, and so I moved back home to live with my parents so I could attend the University of Sunderland.

The lecturers really do know their stuff and because the course is accredited by the CIPR, you know you’re being exposed to the very latest thinking to help keep ahead of the curve. Plus, many of the academic tutors are practicing PR professionals, so you get to see how the theory actually works in the real world from drawing on their experiences.

Last year I was named the CIPR’s national Outstanding Young Communicator at the Excellence Awards and I’m also Acting Chair of the regional group. I’m now a Chartered PR practitioner and when I’m not working for clients, I teach the social media module on the MA PR degree at the University of Sunderland (back where it all started), as well as being a dissertation supervisor for another North East university."


We are offering 20% off (for Overseas students) OR a 20% bursary payment (for Home and EU students) of the full course fee for University of Sunderland alumni (graduates) who return to study with the University of Sunderland and enrol on a postgraduate Masters or Doctoral programme. Please note for doctoral students the discount is not applicable to additional fees (bench fees).

When applying for an MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, MPhil or PhD, Professional Doctorate, DBA, EdD the application form will ask you for your previous student number if known. Alternatively, applicants can produce evidence of their University of Sunderland graduate status at enrolment.

Value of Scholarship(s)

20% off the course fee


Alumni who enrol on a postgraduate Masters/Doctoral course; MA, MSc, LLM, MBA, MPhil and PhD or Professional Doctorate, DBA, EdD starting in July and September, October November 2018 and 2019 and Jan/Feb/May 2019 and 2020. PGCE students are not eligible for this Scheme.

The scheme is open to ALL Level 5 -8 graduates (Alumni) of the University of Sunderland, including students who studied at a Partner College (Bishop Auckland College, East Durham College, Gateshead College, Tyne Coast College-South Tyneside College site, Sunderland College & Tyne Coast College -Tyne Metropolitan College site)

Application Procedure

You don’t need to apply for this Scheme; if you are eligible then you will automatically receive it.

Further Information

£1,000 tuition fee reduction for international postgraduate students.

Value of Scholarship(s)

£1,000 tuition fee reduction


All international students studying on-campus undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Application Procedure

Contact: / 0191 515 3000

Further Information


1. Care Leaver status - (on 1 September of your year of entry)
You must be aged under 25, a home student studying full time, undergraduate course or full-time taught Post Graduate programme and at least one of the following: spent 13 weeks or more in the Care of the Local Authority between your 14th and 16th birthday, were privately fostered until the age of 16, were 'looked after' until you were subject to a Special Guardianship Order.

2. You must be a (i) full-time undergraduate student or full-time postgraduate student on a taught programme.
You must be anyone who is aged 25 or over by 1 September 2019 and applying for, or currently studying, full-time at the University of Sunderland. You must be either studying for an undergraduate degree (includes Foundation degrees, Extended degree programmes and Top-Up degrees) which will start in 2019, applying for, or currently studying, a full-time University of Sunderland postgraduate degree.


1. Estranged students - (on 1 September on your year of entry)
Studying a full-time, undergraduate or taught postgraduate course, UK (Home) student, you are irreconcilably estranged from both parents/carers.

This means that either: You have had no contact at all with your parents/carers for at least 12 months and this is unlikely to change OR
You can demonstrate on other grounds that you are irreconcilably estranged from your parents (e.g. in exceptional circumstances, or assessed as independent by Student Finance England or by a local authority because you are estranged from both parents/carers).

2. You must be a full-time undergraduate or full-time postgraduate taught programme student.
You must be aged 25 or under by 1 September 2019. And either:
a) Applying for, or currently studying, a full-time University of Sunderland undergraduate degree (includes Foundation degrees, Extended degree programmes and Top-Up degrees) which will start in 2019.
b)Applying for, or currently studying, a full-time University of Sunderland postgraduate degree.

*You must be a 'Home' student
If you are classed as an ‘EU’ or ‘International’ student, you are not eligible for this scholarship.

*If you are applying for or studying one of the following courses then you are not eligible for this scholarship:
• Continuous Professional Development (CPD) course.
• English for Academic Purposes (EAP) language course.
• PHD students

Value of Scholarship(s)

£2,000 cash scholarship for each year of study (including placement year) for care experienced or family estranged students.


For full-time home undergraduate and postgraduate students under the age of 25 on 1 September 2019 for care experienced or family estranged students.

Application Procedure

If you indicate that you are a Care Leaver on your UCAS application form you will automatically be sent a letter and an application form, once you have an unconditional offer with us. This is usually at the end of August. Alternatively, if you inform us that you are an Estranged Student via online enrolment you will also automatically be sent a letter and an application form.

For students who apply directly/via clearing, if they inform us during online enrolment that they are care experienced or estranged we will send them an email outlining how to apply.

We will request confirmation from local authorities or Student Finance England of your eligibility for this Scholarship. If you choose not to disclose your care experienced or estranged status at enrolment stage you can inform the Access to Higher Education team directly by emailing

You may apply for this Scholarship at any point throughout your course; however, payments will not be backdated for previous years’ study. If you are eligible for the We Care Scholarship you may also qualify for an additional support package.

Further Information