MSc Strategic Communications

  • Graduate taught
  • Department of Media and Communications
  • Application code P3U5
  • Starting 2020
  • UK/EU full-time: Closed
  • Overseas full-time: Closed
  • Location: Houghton Street, London

The MSc Strategic Communications moves beyond a purely vocational approach to the making of messages to offer you an approach to strategic communication 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; and the increasingly complex consequences for all types of organisation of the interaction of these changes.

The programme will focus on the study of organisations as communicators across the governmental, non-governmental and corporate sectors, especially in the context of change associated with digitalisation and globalisation. In particular, it will examine the ways organisations communicate strategically, both internally and externally; and how communication contributes to shaping discourses and practices associated with leadership within organisations and across them.

It will also consider the role of digital technologies, the links between discourse and power, and how these relate to the way public discourse and symbolic resources are unevenly distributed and controlled, privileging certain institutions and ideologies.

Teaching and learning in Michaelmas Term 2020 
Information on how LSE will deliver teaching and learning in Michaelmas term can be found here.

Programme details

Key facts

MSc Strategic Communications
Start date 28 September 2020
Application deadline None – rolling admissions. However please note the funding deadlines
Duration 12 months full-time only
Applications 2018 347
Intake 2018 23
Tuition fee UK/EU: £22,608
Overseas £22,608
Financial support Graduate support scheme (deadline 27 April 2020)
Minimum entry requirement Either (a) Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in social science, or (b) Upper second class (2:1) degree or equivalent in another field with professional experience in the media and communications field.
GRE/GMAT requirement None
English language requirements Higher (see 'Assessing your application')
Location  Houghton Street, London

For more information about tuition fees and entry requirements, see the fees and funding and assessing your application sections.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for MSc Strategic Communications

Either (a) Upper second class honours (2:1) degree or equivalent in social science, or (b) Upper second class (2:1) degree or equivalent in another field with professional experience in the media and communications field.

Competition for places at the School is high. This means that even if you meet the minimum entry requirement, this does not guarantee you an offer of admission.

If you have studied or are studying outside of the UK then have a look at our Information for International Students to find out the entry requirements that apply to you.

Assessing your application

We welcome applications from all suitably qualified prospective students and want to recruit students with the very best academic merit, potential and motivation, irrespective of their background.

We carefully consider each application on an individual basis, taking into account all the information presented on your application form, including your:

- academic achievement (including predicted and achieved grades)
- statement of academic purpose
- two academic references
- CV

See further information on supporting documents

You may also have to provide evidence of your English proficiency, although you do not need to provide this at the time of your application to LSE. See our English language requirements.

When to apply

Applications for this programme are considered on a rolling basis, meaning the programme will close once it becomes full. There is no fixed deadline by which you need to apply, however to be considered for any LSE funding opportunity, you must have submitted your application and all supporting documents by the funding deadline. See the fees and funding section for more details. 

Programme structure and courses

You take one course on media and communications theories and concepts, a course in research methods, and a specialist strategic communications course. You will also select further courses from a range within the Department and across other relevant departments, such as management and social psychology. In addition, you will submit a dissertation of 12,000 words.

(* denotes half unit) 

Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications I (Key concepts and interdisciplinary approaches)*
Addresses key theoretical and conceptual issues in the study of media and communications, within a broadly interdisciplinary social science perspective.

Methods of Research in Media and Communications (including Qualitative and Quantitative Analysis)*
Provides a general training in research methods and techniques.
Methods of Research in Media and Communications (including Qualitative Analysis & Applied Regression Analysis)*
Provides students with a general training in research methods and techniques, including research design, the collection, analysis and interpretation of data, and enables students to evaluate critically their own research and that of professional researchers.

Critical Approaches to Strategic Communications* 
Provides an advanced understanding of theoretical knowledge in the field of media and communication as this relates to strategic communications.

Dissertation: Media and Communications
An independent research project of 12,000 words on an approved topic of your choice.

Courses to the value of one and a half units from a range of options 

For the most up-to-date list of optional courses please visit the relevant School Calendar page

You must note however that while care has been taken to ensure that this information is up to date and correct, a change of circumstances since publication may cause the School to change, suspend or withdraw a course or programme of study, or change the fees that apply to it. The School will always notify the affected parties as early as practicably possible and propose any viable and relevant alternative options. Note that that the School will neither be liable for information that after publication becomes inaccurate or irrelevant, nor for changing, suspending or withdrawing a course or programme of study due to events outside of its control, which includes but is not limited to a lack of demand for a course or programme of study, industrial action, fire, flood or other environmental or physical damage to premises.

You must also note that places are limited on some courses and/or subject to specific entry requirements. The School cannot therefore guarantee you a place. Please note that changes to programmes and courses can sometimes occur after you have accepted your offer of a place. These changes are normally made in light of developments in the discipline or path-breaking research, or on the basis of student feedback. Changes can take the form of altered course content, teaching formats or assessment modes. Any such changes are intended to enhance the student learning experience. You should visit the School’s Calendar, or contact the relevant academic department, for information on the availability and/or content of courses and programmes of study. Certain substantive changes will be listed on the updated graduate course and programme information page.

Teaching and assessment

Contact hours and independent study

Within your programme you will take a number of courses, often including half unit courses and full unit courses. In half unit courses, on average, you can expect 20-30 contact hours in total and for full unit courses, on average, you can expect 40-60 contact hours in total. This includes sessions such as lectures, classes, seminars or workshops. Hours vary according to courses and you can view indicative details in the Calendar within the Teaching section of each course guide.

You are also expected to complete independent study outside of class time. This varies depending on the programme, but requires you to manage the majority of your study time yourself, by engaging in activities such as reading, note-taking, thinking and research.

Part-time students

Part-time students will normally take and be examined in courses to the value of two units in each year of study. In the first year, these two units, selected in discussion with your academic mentor, will usually include the compulsory theoretical course(s) and one or more option course(s). The methods course(s) and the dissertation are then usually taken in the second year, together with the remaining option course(s). You may be permitted to vary the courses to be taken in each year with the approval of your academic mentor.

Teaching methods

LSE is internationally recognised for its teaching and research and therefore employs a rich variety of teaching staff with a range of experience and status. Courses may be taught by individual members of faculty, such as lecturers, senior lecturers, readers, associate professors and professors. Many departments now also employ guest teachers and visiting members of staff, LSE teaching fellows and graduate teaching assistants who are usually doctoral research students and in the majority of cases, teach on undergraduate courses only. You can view indicative details for the teacher responsible for each course in the relevant course guide.


All taught courses are required to include formative coursework which is unassessed. It is designed to help prepare you for summative assessment which counts towards the course mark and to the degree award. LSE uses a range of formative assessment, such as essays, problem sets, case studies, reports, quizzes, mock exams and many others. 

You will be assessed by written examinations, research assignments, essays and the dissertation, which must be submitted in August. Formal classroom teaching is usually completed by the end of the Lent term. Coursework is usually submitted in January and May, and examinations are generally held in May and June. The remaining months are set aside for you to complete the dissertation, supported by staff supervision. 

An indication of the formative coursework and summative assessment for each course can be found in the relevant course guide

Academic support

You will be assigned an academic mentor within the Department who will be available to discuss your personal and academic concerns. 

There are many opportunities to extend your learning outside the classroom and complement your academic studies at LSE. LSE LIFE is the School’s centre for academic, personal and professional development. Some of the services on offer include: guidance and hands-on practice of the key skills you will need to do well at LSE: effective reading, academic writing and critical thinking; workshops related to how to adapt to new or difficult situations, including development of skills for leadership, study/work/life balance and preparing for the world of work; and advice and practice on working in study groups and on cross-cultural communication and teamwork.

LSE is committed to enabling all students to achieve their full potential and the School’s Disability and Wellbeing Service provides a free, confidential service to all LSE students and is a first point of contact for all disabled students.


On graduating, our students enter a variety of careers in the UK and abroad, including broadcasting, journalism, advertising, new media industries, political marketing, market research, regulation and policy, media management and research in both the public and private sectors.

Further information on graduate destinations for this programme

Support for your career

Many leading organisations give careers presentations at the School during the year, and LSE Careers has a wide range of resources available to assist students in their job search. Find out more about the support available to students through LSE Careers.

Preliminary reading

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.

Fees and funding

Every graduate student is charged a fee for their programme.

The fee covers registration and examination fees payable to the School, lectures, classes and individual supervision, lectures given at other colleges under intercollegiate arrangements and, under current arrangements, membership of the Students' Union. It does not cover living costs or travel or fieldwork.

Tuition fees 2020/21 for MSc Strategic Communications

UK/EU students: £22,608
Overseas students £22,608

Fee status

For this programme, the tuition fee is the same for all students regardless of their fee status. However any financial support you are eligible for will depend on whether you are classified as a Home (UK/EU) or Overseas student, otherwise known as your fee status. LSE assesses your fee status based on guidelines provided by the Department of Education.

Fee reduction

Students who completed undergraduate study at LSE and are beginning taught graduate study at the School are eligible for a fee reduction of around 10 per cent of the fee.

Scholarships and other funding

The School recognises that the cost of living in London may be higher than in your home town or country, and we provide over £13 million in scholarships each year to graduate students from the UK, EU and overseas.

This programme is eligible for needs-based awards from LSE, including the Graduate Support SchemeMaster's Awards, and Anniversary Scholarships

Selection for any funding opportunity is based on receipt of an application for a place – including all ancillary documents, before the funding deadline. 
Funding deadline for needs-based awards from LSE: 27 April 2020.

In addition to our needs-based awards, LSE also makes available scholarships for students from specific regions of the world and awards for students studying specific subject areas. 

Government tuition fee loans and external funding

A postgraduate loan is available from the UK government for eligible students studying for a first master’s programme, to help with fees and living costs. Some other governments and organisations also offer tuition fee loan schemes.

Find out more about tuition fee loans

Further information

Fees and funding opportunities

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