2012/2013 Programme Specification Data. Public Relations

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1 2012/2013 Programme Specification Data Programme Name Public Relations Programme Number Programme Award QAA Subject Benchmark Statements n/a Masters The QAA benchmarking statements for Masters of Business and Management (2007) provide the benchmarking statements which underpin this Masters as the PR academic community has not produced its own version of the QAA as some disciplines such as tourism. Public Relations is seen by many academics and practitioners as a strategic management function and the Public Relations Masters programme at the University of Greenwich is part of the Business School so the benchmarks for Masters in Business and Management seem relevant. The benchmarking standards fit in with the programme aims and outcomes as follows: Knowledge and understanding of the functions of PR and holistically appreciate the practice of public relations practice across a range of organisations and the need for a systematic and integrated approach. This links in with QAA benchmarking around systematic understanding of organisations and external context. Public relations theory, concepts and practical applications to deal with the broad issues involved in public relations strategy, and underline the specific functional aspects of public relations such as PR planning, effective and efficient communications and media relations. This links with QAA benchmarking around relevant knowledge in a range of complex situations and also links critical awareness to theory and practice. Cognition of the external environment in which organisations operate together with understanding of the environment s effect upon the management of organisations and the significance to organisations of the changing nature of the technological, cultural, international and related environments. This links with QAA benchmarking around critical awareness of current

2 issues linking research and practice. To equip students with the ability to assess the contribution of public relations to corporate strategy, competitiveness and transparency. Links to QAA benchmarking around systematic understanding. To develop students capability to deconstruct arguments by looking at assumptions and implicit values and to evaluate them in terms of evidence. This links to QAA benchmarking around conceptual understanding and links to research and applications of research. To foster students competence to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of the cross-functional and multidisciplinary nature of public relations practice. This links to QAA standards around dealing with complex issues systematically and creatively. To develop students competence in the use of models of theories of analysis and critique, in considering PR in a systematic and integrated manner and being able to assess the impact of the broader environment on the direction of the industry, and in exercising initiative and personal responsibility in PR professional practice. To develop students leadership and group working skills and use of personal communications. Links to QAA standards around personal performance, team working and communications. To develop students comprehension of the strategic dimension of communications activity and to place a priority on integrated communications skills. This links to QAA standards around personal communication skills. To develop personal expertise and application of proper research methodologies for research projects, and develop new approaches or adapt alternative approaches when encountering problems. This links to QAA benchmarking around research into business and management and role of research informing learning and practice. To be able to prepare communication plans, demonstrate autonomy in skill use; and exercise initiative and personal responsibility in professional practice. This links to QAA standards around students being self-directed and able to act autonomously in practice. Programme Aims The MA PR, which is in its first year of a student cohort, is a full time 12 month course aimed at international and UK students with a good first degree seeking to develop more sector-specific, specialist and reflective skills via postgraduate study prior to entering the public relations industry. The programme is also relevant for PR practitioners who have just entered the profession with a degree but seeking deeper theoretical foundations for their chosen profession. The programme is not intended for experienced PR practitioners (over 3-5 years

3 experience) seeking an Executive programme and future programme development is being considered by the PR team in this respect. The MA PR has been developed in close conjunction with the PR industry to provide a platform of key courses relevant to all aspects of PR practice alongside a range of optional courses which provide specific sector focus such as in consumer PR; financial PR; and now in government relations and lobbying. This enhances the employability of the programme. The programme, like the undergraduate programme, is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) which is the main industry body for UK PR practitioners. Building on the employability agenda for the programme, it aims to prepare individuals for employability through widening their perspective of the PR industry and enabling them to develop and adapt their professional PR skills. In this it draws on one of the key agendas for the Greenwich Graduate. Research has shown that employers require PR graduates to have a high degree of literacy, excellent standard of communications, writing skills, media relations and a realistic understanding of the field of public relations 1 2. The top three topics from Fawkes and Tench s employer research 3 in order most importance were: writing skills, media relations and PR practice, followed by work placements and media relations. Other important skills were team working, problem solving, analytical thinking research IT and numeracy skills. The department has done additional recent research (see Appendix H1) which has highlighted additional specific skill requirements such as in social media; the importance of group working skills and an understanding of the business environment. These are all aspects which the programme addresses across a number of courses and in its approach to teaching and learning. The programme has also been developed, conscious that public relations has become a strategic management function, with experienced practitioners advising organisations at senior levels and requiring strong analytical skills combined with independence of thought. PR practice requires excellent knowledge and understanding of the external environment and the ability to help organisations develop communications 1 Behind The Spin, February, 2005, reporting on research of 100 Employers of PR graduates by Jo Fawkes and Ralph Tench, Leeds Metropolitan University 2 Tench, R. (2003)) Stakeholder influences on the writing skills debate: a reflective evaluation in the context of vocational business education, Education and Training, 43 (2), pp Behind The Spin, February, 2005, reporting on research of 100 Employers of PR graduates by Jo Fawkes and Ralph Tench, Leeds Metropolitan University

4 programmes across multiple stakeholders using multiple channels of communications. The ability of the PR practitioner is to have strong analytical skills, good communications allied with the ability to synthesise information, frequently only partial and not complete, and develop strategic PR programmes. There is a high demand for effective and efficient public relations professionals, however standards and expectations and competition are high. The MA PR programme at the University of Greenwich seeks to build the range of technical communication skills required by a PR practitioner, allied to strong analytical skills along with a curiosity and level of critical faculty which is necessary for postgraduate studies. The programme now incorporates a fully developed part time option over 24 months. This is to take account of demand from existing PR practitioners based in the UK in their first one or two years of practice seeking to develop additional professional and academic skills while holding down a position within PR practice either in-house or in a consultancy. Outcomes: Knowledge and Understanding Outcomes: Intellectual Skills A. Knowledge and understanding of: The functions and practice of public relations across a range of organisations and the need for a systematic and integrated approach. Public relations theory, concepts and practical application to deal with the broad issues involved in public relations strategy, and underline the specific functional aspects of public relations such as PR planning, effective and efficient communications and media relations. Cognition of the external environment in which organisations operate together with understanding of the environment s effect upon the management of organisations and the significance to organisations of the changing nature of the technological, cultural, international and related environments A systemic understanding of the role and relationship of the disciplines that form part of public relations An appreciation of the developing agendas around organisations and society and the role of public relations in these processes The role of measurement and evaluation in PR practice and developing agendas around outputs and outcomes Development of effective leadership and group skills through group working and group presentations around range of corporate communications scenarios. B. Intellectual skills Analysis To equip students with the ability to assess the

5 contribution of public relations to corporate strategy, competitiveness and transparency. To develop curiosity and critical faculties based on limited information Analyse situations from contrasting theoretical perspectives. Synthesis To develop students capability to deconstruct arguments by looking at assumptions and implicit values and to evaluate them in terms of evidence. To foster students competence to synthesise information from a number of sources in order to gain a coherent understanding of the cross-functional and multidisciplinary nature of public relations practice. Utilise a methodical and systematic approach to planning, identifying when PR can best be used to achieve corporate objectives. Analyse situations based on partial information Evaluation To encourage students to develop higher order academic capabilities. To promote (in students) self awareness, openness and sensitivity to diversity in terms of people, cultures, business and communication issues. To develop decision making based on partial information Application Cognition of the external environment in which organisations operate together with understanding of the environment s effect upon the management of organisations and the significance to organisations of the changing nature of the technological, cultural, international and related environments. Develop creative and innovative strategies Outcomes: Subject Practical Skills C. Subject practical skills Group working Development of effective leadership and group skills through group working and group presentations round range of PR scenarios. Learning Resources

6 Able to access and participate in full range of learning resources with students active participants in workshops, seminars, lectures, social media, guest lecturers. Self-evaluation To cultivate students abilities to analyse problems using a range of criteria and techniques, leading to recommendations on options implementation and choice of actions Management of information To enable students to create, evaluate and assess a range of options together with the capacity to apply ideas and knowledge to a range of situations. To competently undertake research tasks with minimum guidance. Autonomy To encourage students to develop problem solving and decision making capacities including identifying, formulating and solving business problems. Communication To develop students communication including building their confidence in using a wide range of traditional and modern communication tools and media as used in the PR industry. Problem solving To develop students capacities in effective listening, negotiating, persuasion, influence and presentation and their associated skill in group working, leadership and project management. Outcomes: Transferable/Key Skills D. Transferable/ key skills Application of skills To develop skills in social media engagement and communications To develop students competence in considering PR in a systematic and integrated manner and being able to assess the impact of the broader environment on the direction of the industry Autonomy in skill use

7 To develop students competence in the use of models of theories of analysis and critique To develop students ability in exercising initiative and personal responsibility in PR professional practice To develop students comprehension of the strategic dimension of communications activity essential in undertaking a management role in any organisation, and to place a priority on integrated communications skills as a prerequisite to strategic public relations. To develop personal expertise and application of proper research methodologies for research projects, and develop new approaches or adapt alternative approaches when encountering problems. Technical expertise Outcomes: Graduate Attributes Teaching and Learning Methods To be able to prepare communication plans, demonstrate autonomy in skill use; and exercise initiative and personal responsibility in professional practice To be able to research and plan PR programmes with clear objectives based on coherent measurement and evaluation strategies with clear understanding of outputs and outcomes n/a Learning and teaching methods could include one or more of the following: lectures, tutor-led tutorials; student and tutor-led seminars events; self directed learning, on-line delivery, case analysis, discussions and debates, business simulations or student selfdirected enquiry. Assessment Methods A. Variety of assessments including; oral presentations, coursewor (including group work and individual components), portfolios, projec and case study analysis, social media engagement and exams B. Variety of assessments including; oral presentation, coursework (including group work and individual components), portfolios, projects and case study analysis Same for C and D

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