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2017/18 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

COMM5225M Public Relations, Culture and Society

30 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Leslie Meier

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

This module examines key topics and scholarly debates related to the roles that public relations assumes in society. The module situates the study of PR within the context of media and communication studies, and combines social theory, political economy, and a range of contemporary critical and theoretical approaches to PR. In this module students will engage in-depth with understandings of PR as a cultural intermediary occupation, defined by its interactions with and influence on the social and cultural contexts in which it operates. Students will review academic scholarship central to this and other perspectives on PR and other promotional industries (e.g. advertising and branding). They will consider the insights that critical perspectives can offer for understanding different aspects of PR work by deconstructing the strategies and tactics of PR campaigns and their effects. Case studies of PR campaigns will be used to illustrate the ways in which PR operates as part of a set of social systems that construct the environment in which we live. The specific relationships between PR and key institutions including the media, politics, and commerce will be addressed in the context of these debates.


1. To ensure students understand the key theoretical approaches underpinning critical studies of public relations;
2. To enable students to understand PR in its socio-cultural context as a cultural intermediary occupation;
3. To enable students to critique the use and influence of PR in the cultural, creative, and promotional industries;
4. To consider the effects of these dynamics on the public sphere

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. Demonstrate a detailed understanding of PR as a socio-cultural phenomenon

2. Interpret and critique PR work and the role of PR practitioners, drawing on critical and cultural perspectives
3. Explain and analyse PR campaigns and their implications for society, using critical approaches

4. Reflect on the range of cultural intermediation exercised through PR and consider its impact on the public sphere
5. Demonstrate the ability to present work to a high academic standard, and to respond to demanding briefs within strict deadlines

Skills outcomes
Ability to think critically about the cultural intermediation of PR as promotional work;

Ability to write effectively, analyse and develop strategic thinking about PR and its audiences


This module will cover topics such as:
- Public relations practitioners as cultural intermediaries
- Public relations, media, and the promotional industries (including advertising and branding)
- Public relations, identity, and diversity
- Public relations and risk
- Public relations in the context of globalisation and neoliberalism
- Public relations, journalism, and democracy
- Public relations, activism, and grassroots communication
- Cause marketing, corporate responsibility, and public relations

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours276.00
Total Contact hours24.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)300.00

Private study

Independent learning will consist of assigned readings complemented by additional library research. Additionally, students will research and evaluate case studies of PR projects using both print and online resources. They will deliver these analyses in tutorial sessions designed to develop their analytical and critical capabilities through discussion and debate.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Student progress will be monitored by means of mid-term (assessed) essay and additional formative work through the semester including regular reflections on set readings and cases in the tutorials. Students will meet regularly with the instructor in informal tutorials.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Project1 case analysis, 3,500 - 4,000 words70.00
Assignment400-450 words per precis x 8 (3200-3600). Marker selects and grades 430.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Resits: For the case analysis, students will follow the assessment instructions provided in the module handbook but investigate a different case. For the precis assessment, students will submit four different precis than originally marked.

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 26/04/2017


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