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Department of Media and Communications
London School of Economics & Political Science
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MSc Strategic Communications


Overview

In a world of expanding media, managing communications becomes a strategic priority. This degree prepares students for precisely this complex media environment. The question of how to manage communications is now a strategic challenge at the heart of the contemporary economy, society and government. Addressing this challenge has become ever more important, creating new risks and opportunities for all organisations and institutions, large and small.

This programme focusses on the study of organisations and their communication challenges across the governmental, non-governmental and corporate sectors, especially in the context of change associated with digitalisation and globalisation. The three core areas that the programme tackles are:

  • The ways organisations communicate strategically, both internally and externally; how communication contributes to shaping discourses and practices associated with leadership within organisations and across them.
  • The role of digital technologies in the process of gathering information, establishing or challenging systems of trust, and communicating internally and externally, especially on social media.
  • The links between discourse and power, especially as seen in governmental and corporate branding campaigns and in humanitarian campaigns.

The programme has a distinctive focus:  it moves beyond purely vocational training and how to craft messages. Instead, it offers students a holistic approach to strategic communications that reflects:

  • the changing means of communication,  image making and storytelling in the organisational environment today
  • the expanding strategic ends of selling not only products and ideas/ideals but also places and experiences in an increasingly mediated and networked world, especially through branding
  • the increasingly complex consequences for all types of organisation of the interaction of these changes

Students on this degree will be trained to think effectively about complex communication challenges in all scales of organisations and to become effective communicators in local and global environments.

For more details and entry requirements, please check on the School's graduate prospectus page.  

Structure

Students take two specially designed core courses dedicated to this degree – Critical Approaches to Strategic Communications; and Strategic Communications in Practice: Professional Perspectives. They also take the core courses: Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications and Methods of Research in Media and Communications. In addition, they can choose two optional courses. All students write a dissertation – an independent project – on a topic of their choice.

In 2013/14, around 93% of leavers from the Department of Media and Communications were in employment or further study six months after graduation. Media and Communications graduates find work in a wide range of creative and commercial sectors, including:

Students from the Department of Media and Communications at LSE progress into a wide range of roles, often reflecting their specialist programme of study. Many past graduates are now employed in marketing, branding advertising , new media, local and central government, strategy consultancy and academia - to name just a few!

The average starting salary of graduates from the department in 2013/14 was £34,100.

For a look at what industries our Media and Communications graduates go on to work in please take a look at our Media and Communications graduate profiles.

For a more specific look at what our graduates do according to what degree programme they studied, see graduate destinations by course.

 

Key questions we ask and indicative literature

1. What is strategic communication and how does it relate to PR, propaganda, persuasion and power?

Arthos, J. (2013). The Just Use of Propaganda: Ethical Criteria for Counter-Hegemonic Communication Strategies. Western Journal of Communication, 77(5), 582-604.

Cunningham, S. B. (2002). The idea of propaganda: a reconstruction. Westport, Conn: Praeger.

Berger, B. K. (2005). Power Over, Power With, and Power to Relations: Critical Reflectionson Public Relations, the Dominant Coalition, and Activism. Journal of Public Relations Research, 17(1), 5-29

Fawkes, J. (2012). Saints and sinners: competing identities in public relations ethics. Public Relations Review, 38, 865-872.

Edwards, L., & Hodges, C. E. M. (2011). Public relations, society and culture: theoretical and empirical explorations. Abingdon: Routledge.

Eyre, D. P., & Littleton, J. R. (2012). Shaping the zeitgeist: Influencing social processes as the center of gravity for strategic communications in the twenty-first century. Public Relations Review, 38(2), 179-187

L'Etang, J., & Pieczka, M. (2006). Public relations: critical debates and contemporary practice. Mahwah, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

McKerrow, R. (2011). Foucault's Relationship to Rhetoric. Review of Communication, 11(4), 253-271

Roper, J. (2005). Symmetrical Communication: Excellent Public Relations or a Strategy for Hegemony? Journal of Public Relations Research, 17(1), 69-87.

Weaver, C., Motion, J., & Roper, J. (2006). From Propaganda to Discourse (And Back Again): truth, power, the public interest and publilc relations. In J. L'Etang & M. Pieczka (Eds.), Public relations: critical debates contemporary practice. New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum.

2. What is the strategic communication/PR industry, how is it defined and how has it evolved?

Bardhan, N., & Weaver, C. K. (2011). Public relations in global cultural contexts : multi-paradigmatic perspectives. New York: New York : Routledge.

Daymon, C., & Demetrious, K. (2014). Gender and public relations : critical perspectives on voice, image and identity: London : Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Grunig, J. E. (2006). Furnishing the Edifice: Ongoing Research on Public Relations As a Strategic Management Function. Journal of Public Relations Research, 18(2), 151-177.

Macnamara, J. (2010). The 21st century media (r)evolution: emergent communication practices. New York: Peter Lang.

Miller, D. (2008). A century of spin : how public relations became the cutting edge of corporate power. London ; Ann Arbor, MI: London ; Ann Arbor, MI : Pluto Press.

Moloney, K. (2006). Rethinking public relations: PR propaganda and democracy. London: Routledge.

Richard, D. W., & Jennifer, L. L. (2011). Revisiting strategic communications past to understand the present; Examining the direction and nature of communication on 400 web sites. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 16(2), 150-169.

Taylor, P. M. (1999). British propaganda in the twentieth century: selling democracy.

3.  What is promotional culture and how does it link to strategic communication, celebrity and image stereotyping?

Bourdieu, P. (1998). On television. New York: The New Press.

Chouliaraki, L. (2012). The ironic spectator : solidarity in the age of post-humanitarianism. Cambridge: Cambridge : Polity.

Corner, J., & Pels, D. (2003). Media and the restyling of politics: consumerism, celebrity and cynicism. London: Sage Publications.

Edwards, L. (2013). Institutional Racism in Cultural Production: The Case of Public Relations. The International Journal of Media and Culture, 11(3), 242-256

Macnamara, J. (2006). Media and male identity : the making and remaking of men. Basingstoke ; New York: Basingstoke ; New York : Palgrave Macmillan.

Redmond, S. The whitness of stars: looking at Kate Winslet’s unruly white body, in Holmes, S., & Redmond, S. (2006). Stardom and celebrity : a reader. London: London : SAGE.

Rosenquist, R. (2013). Modernism, Celebrity and the Public Personality. Literature Compass, 10(5), 437-448.

Sussman, G. (2011). The propaganda society: promotional culture and politics in global context (Vol. 21). New York: Peter Lang.

Wernick, A. (1991). Promotional culture : advertising, ideology and symbolic expression. London: London : Sage Publications.

4.  What is the impact of strategic communications on the public sphere and deliberative democracy?

Bennett, W. L., & Entman, R. M. (2001). Mediated politics : communication in the future of    democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press.

Davis, A. (2002). Public relations democracy: public relations, politics, and the mass media in Britain. New York: Manchester University Press.

Elkins, J. (2012). Concerning practices of truth. In J. Elkins & A. Norris (Eds.), Truth and Democracy (pp. 19-53). Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Erkkilä, T. (2012). Government transparency : impacts and unintended consequences. Basingstoke: Basingstoke : Palgrave Macmillan

Harris, P. (2007). Challenge & response: essays on public affairs & transparency, Edited by Tom Spencer and Conor McGrath. Landmarks, Brussels in association with the European Centre for Public Affairs: 2006; (Vol  7, pp. 127-128). Chichester, UK

Joachim, K., & Tim Oliver, B. (2009). Implications of Habermas’ “theory of communicative action” for corporate brand management. Corporate Communications: An International Journal, 14(4), 389-403.

Langer, A. I. s. (2011). The personalisation of politics in the UK: mediated leadership from Attlee to Cameron. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Macnamara, J., & Zerfass, A. (2012). Social Media Communication in Organizations: The Challenges of Balancing Openness, Strategy, and Management. International Journal of Strategic Communication, 6(4), 287.

5.  Power and discourse – politics and strategic communication.

Coleman, S. (2007). Political Marketing: a Comparative Perspective (Vol. 60, pp. 180-186). Oxford: Oxford Publishing Limited(England).

Herman, E. S., & Chomsky, N. (2008). Manufacturing consent: the political economy of the mass media. London: Bodley Head.

McNair, B. (2007). An introduction to political communication. London: Routledge.

Price, S. (2007). Discourse power address: the politics of public communication. Burlington, VT: Ashgate.

Reyes, A. (2014). Bush, Obama: (in)formality as persuasion in political discourse. Journal of Language & Politics, 13(3), 538-563.

Scammell, M. (2014). Consumer democracy: the marketing of politics: Cambridge University Press

6.  How can strategic communication influence public opinion and behaviour?

Evans, N. (2012). A NUDGE IN THE WRONG DIRECTION. Review - Institute of Public Affairs, 64(4), 16-19.

Farrell, H., & Shalizi, C. (2011). Do the right thing. New Scientist, 212(2837), 28.

Leggett, W. (2014). The politics of behaviour change: nudge, neoliberalism and the state. Policy & Politics, 42(1), 3-19.

Mols, F., Haslam, S. A., Jetten, J., & Steffens, N. K. (2015). Why a nudge is not enough: A   social identity critique of governance by stealth. European Journal of Political Research, 54(1), 81-98.

Raftopoulou, E., & Hogg, M. (2010). The political role of government-sponsored social marketing campaigns. European Journal of Marketing, 44(7/8), 1206-1227.

Thaler, R. H. (2008). Nudge : improving decisions about health, wealth, and happiness. New Haven

Wring, D. (2007). The British Public Relations State. Conference Papers -- International Communication Association, 1-2.

7.  New media and the global reach of strategic communications:  business, activism and NGOs.

Cammaerts, B., Mattoni, A., & McCurdy, P. (2013). Mediation and Protest Movements. Bristol: Bristol Intellect Books.

Hwang, S. (2012). The strategic use of Twitter to manage personal public relations. Public Relations Review, 38(1), 159.

Neill, M. S., & Moody, M. (2014). Who is responsible for what? Examining strategic roles in social media management. Public Relations Review

Papasolomou,I, Melanthiou, Y. (2012). Social media: marketing public relations’ new best friend.  Journal of Promotion Management. 18(3): 319-328.

Wiggill, M. N. (2011). Strategic communication management in the non-profit sector: a   simplified model. Journal of Public Affairs, 11(4), 226-236.

Zerfass, A., & Schramm, D. (2014). Social Media Newsrooms in public relations: A conceptual framework and corporate practices in three countries. Public Relations Review, 40(1), 79.

8.  How do ‘special interests’ use strategic communication to influence policy agendas (lobbying)?

Anderon, Alison. (2006) Spinning the rural agenda: the Countryside Alliance, fox hunting and social policy. Social Policy and Administration. 40(6): 722-738.

Blau, Benjamin. (2013). Corporate lobbying, political connections and the bailout of banks.  Journal of Banking and Finance. 37(8): 3007.

Casswell, Sally. (2009).  Reducing harm from alcohol: call to action. The Lancet. 373(9682): 2247-2257.

Kurzer, Paulette. (2013). Organised interests and the case of EU food information labeling. Journal of European Public Policy. 20(5): 722-740.

Harris, P, McGrath, C. (2012). Political Marketing and Lobbying: A Neglected Perspective and Research Agenda. Journal of Political Marketing, 11 (1/2): 75-95.

Massey, JE. (2005). Public relations in the airline industry: the crisis reponse to the September 11th attacks. Journal of Hospitality & Leisure Marketing.  12 (1-2): 97-114.

Pollay, R.W. (1997). Hacks, flacks and counter-attacks: cigarette advertising, sponsored research and controversy.  Journal of Social Issues. 53(1): 53-74.

Pratt, Cornelius. (1997/1998).  The 40-year tobacco wars: giving public relations a black eye? Public Relations Quarterly. 42(4): 5-10.

Students_Lecture

We are delighted to announce the Rankin Frost Scholarship for the MSc in Strategic Communications. The scholarship will fully cover the tuition fees for a student on the MSc in Strategic Communications.

Eligibility

The recipient of the scholarship will be selected among candidates for the programme. Priority will be given to students from Sub-Saharan Africa, India and the UK.

How to apply

Once you have submitted your application for admission to LSE you will be emailed with a link to the LSE Graduate Financial Support Application form online. The deadline for completing the form is 26 April 2017, although we recommend you apply as soon as possible after receiving the link.

Please visit the Graduate Admissions website for information on how to apply.

 

 

 

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