MC432      Half Unit
Strategic Communication in Practice: Professional Perspectives

This information is for the 2019/20 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Claire Forbes, guest teacher


This course is available on the MSc in Media and Communications, MSc in Media and Communications (Research), MSc in Politics and Communication and MSc in Strategic Communications. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

In order to accommodate academic staff research leave and sabbaticals, and in order to maintain smaller seminar group sizes, this course is capped, meaning that there is a limit to the number of students who can be accepted. Whist we do our best to accommodate all requests, we cannot guarantee you a place on this course.

Course content

This course will be delivered as a combination of academic lectures and presentations from leading industry practitioners, in order to facilitate a cross-fertilisation between professional experience, academic perspectives, public debates and research. Students will be expected to critically engage with ideas from practice in the seminars, developing reflexivity and analytical skills through the course.

The professional lecturers will be experts working on various forms of strategic communication in a wide range of sectors, including the corporate sector; the not-for-profit sector such as global NGOs and activist organisations; voluntary sector; government and public sector organisations; and journalists. The course will culminate in a group-based practical presentation from students of their own campaigns, which will form part of the course assessment.

The academic lectures will focus on campaign theory and development. The topics covered in the practitioner lectures will change each year depending on speaker availability, but as an illustration, they  could include: connecting with elusive audiences; global media industries; global NGOs; communications in the retail industry; communicating in complex contexts; communicating change; communicating government policy; crisis communication.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 x 1,500 word essay in the LT.

Indicative reading

Sussman, G. 2011. The propaganda society: Promotional culture and politics in global context. New York: Peter Lang.

Cornelissen, J. 2014. Corporate communication: A guide to theory and practice. London: Sage.

Amiso, G. and Kwansah-Aidoo, K. 2017. Culture and crisis communication: Transboundary cases from non-western perspectives. Piscataway, NJ: IEEE Press.

Christensen, L., Morsing, M. and Cheney, G. 2008. Corporate communications: Convention, complexity, critique. London: Sage.

Coombs, W.T. and Holladay, S. 2014. Ongoing crisis communication. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Demetrious, K. 2013. Public relations, activism and social change: Speaking up. London: Routledge.

Dimitrov, R. 2017. Strategic silence: Public relations and indirect communication. London: Routledge.

Macnamara, J. 2014. Journalism and PR: Unpacking 'spin', stereotypes and media myths. New York: Peter Lang.

Powell, H. 2013. Promotional culture and convergence: Markets, methods, media. London: Routledge.

Seu, I.B. and Orgad, S. 2017. Caring in crisis? Humanitarianism, the public and NGOs. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Tench, R. and Yeomans, E. 2017. Exploring public relations (4th edition). Harlow, Essex: Pearson.


Essay (100%, 3000 words) in the ST.

Teachers' comment

This course explores the practice of strategic communications, drawing on functional and critical theories and using them to analyse current cases. The course includes regular contact with practitioners, including a number of practitioner lectures. Students will not learn how to do straetgic communications work in a formal sense, but they will learn about the tools and techniques that practitioners use and will need to apply them to real-life case studies in both seminars and assessments. Students are put into study groups, which meet throughout the semester and are also their groups for the assessment.

Some student comments are:

'I like having the seminar questions in advance to help guide the reading. Knowing what Lee sees as crucial/critical to identify within the texts helps me drill down on concepts. While the study groups were a slow start, I did find it useful.'

'Lecturer integrated course material with the guest lectures in a very effective way. Seminars were great and very engaging.'

'Group presentations were a really engaging (and different) form of assessment. Professional lecturers were interesting.'


Key facts

Department: Media & Communications

Total students 2018/19: 57

Average class size 2018/19: 14

Controlled access 2018/19: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills