The basics
THE UK: Subject Guides

Public Relations

A guide of studying public relations in the UK, by Tatsuya Ishii - a PR student at Westminster University.


Public Relations is growing in popularity as a course amongst students, and also as an essential corporate tool in the working world. A degree in public relations is one of the most versatile qualifications available – virtually every major multi-national company or NGO will have a department dedicated to marketing, branding and/or the way they are perceived in the public eye.  In this article, Hotcourses’ student editor, Tatsuya Ishii, takes a closer look at this rising force.

Overview of subject

Public Relations is usually referred to as the process of controlling a public image for organisations. This includes not-for-profit companies and consumer businesses, the government and high-profile individuals.

The subject aims to develop practical and vocational skills, as well as preparing students for work in the PR industry. If you are considering studying PR, it is important to understand its role in society and its relationship with the current media - as well as developing critical/analytical thinking of the media industry.

Typical course structure

  • Course content is a mixture of practical and theoretical knowledge. Practical studies include PR skills such as running campaigns or press conferences, along with some academic studies.
  • Students typically have only few teaching days per week and there are usually no exams involved through the degree (other than in some areas/optional modules).
  • The structure is designed to encourage students to work either individually or in a group outside of classes. Therefore, students are expected to demonstrate a good understanding of the core principle in a number of individual and group projects, such as essay-writing and presentations.
  • Most universities concentrate on work experience during the course, therefore they can arrange a certain amount of paid/unpaid work placement as a part of the curriculum.

Typical Entry Requirements

It is entirely dependent on universities you choose, but typically requirement is as follows:

  •  240 (CCC) - 300 (BBB) UCAS Tariff points from 3 A-Levels equivalent.

Experience of PR-related subjects is beneficial:  

Business Studies, Media Studies, Sociology and Communication.

If English is not your first language, IELTS 6.5 or above is typically required – again this depends on the requirements of each university.

Career paths

As you would expect, this discipline has strong connections with the PR industry. Several PR lectures involve guest speakers from the industry and students are often invited to events in order to get practical experience.

PR graduates usually go on to work in the top PR agencies in the UK and internationally, but the skills that they learn whilst studying are also recognised widely as being transferable and relevant to other careers, such as Journalism, Law, Media and Politics. This is displayed by the growing number of MPs and politicians who are from a PR background (Prime Minister David Cameron is a prime example).

Funding options

A typical full-time yearly tuition fee for international students is around £10,000. There are a number of funding options and financial assistance available. Please note that some of these may not be applicable to non-EU students.

  • Scholarship

There are a wide range of scholarships available. There may be some specific restrictions, but usually if your performance is outstanding academically or in other areas, a university or other organisations offer you a financial award. To find out more, read Hotcourses’ Scholarships article.

  • Student Loans

This is one of the funding options you would easily find when you enrol. Criteria for the application would depend on universities. Most likely, non-EU students are not eligible.

Other useful info

  • Some universities require an interview for entry, therefore it is highly recommended for applicants to prepare. You may also be asked to supply a personal statement.
  • If you make a payment for a full year’s tuition fee earlier than a certain time (usually earlier than the end of August), you will most probably receive a 10% discount.
  • As you are aware of the recent technological development, it is definitely essential for you to be a close friend with several SNS sites such as Facebook and Twitter, since the topic would often come up in lectures.
  • Read an interview with a current Public Relations tutor.
  • You can also use Hotcourses to search for Public Relations Courses.

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