Reviewed by Sarah Dolly
CIPR Approved: Yes
Offers placement: 5 – A work placement is a compulsory part of the MSc Public Relations at Queen Margaret University. It is part of the Professional Development through Work Based Learning module which runs over both semesters. The first semester of this module holds compulsory workshops for students going on placement. The workshops include sessions on PR Skills (writing press releases, media relations, etc.), Digital PR, and Corporate Social Responsibility amongst others. Students are also required to submit a lengthy report on their work placement including an analysis of the skills they have acquired from the workshops and placement. Queen Margaret University do their upmost to support students in their search for placements through facilitating networking events and CV workshops.
Overall: 4.5- In my opinion, the MSc Public Relations programme offers an excellent balance between theory and practice through anecdotal lecturing styles and professional development modules. The programme is provided in a teaching-block style which means that we have four teaching blocks of four to five days this semester. Although this teaching format is convenient for those with personal and working commitments, it can be quite intense in terms of trying to prepare for hours of lectures at one time as well as trying to retain information from the classes. In saying that, having several weeks off in between the teaching blocks allows you to catch up on your reading and focus on your assignments. We also get to meet the CIPR Diploma students through some of our modules which is a great learning experience in terms of getting advice about the work place and seeing things from their experienced perspective.
Teaching/Lecturers: 4.5 – The lecturers are extremely helpful, approachable and personable. Our course director regularly takes the time to meet us for a casual chat to see how we are getting on. The fact that we have a class of four students is advantageous in terms of getting to know our lecturers. In terms of teaching, we have a good balance between the practical and academic aspects of PR. For instance, we have availed of the opportunity to hold a mock press conference after studying Communications Theory and PR Practice. Although we have other modules that are theoretically loaded, the lecturers always manage to contextualise the theory with professional and work-based anecdotes.
As mentioned, the block-teaching format of the course can be a hindrance in terms of retaining information and maintaining contact with lecturers and classmates. Other than that, the teaching aspect of the MSc Public Relations is exactly, if not better than what I would expect of a PR based course.
Support available: 5 – The support offered from the lecturers of the MSc Public Relations programme is excellent due to the small class size. As well as receiving good support from the lecturers, each student has a Personal Academic Tutor who helps them to develop a Personal Development Plan and/ or a Portfolio. In the orientation period of the course we were allocated time to meet with the people in the Learning Resource Area, the JobShop, and the library.
Extra Opportunities available: 4.5 – The University regularly hosts guest speakers. The undergraduate classes recently organised a PR party for all PR students and lecturers so that everyone could meet and chat. We are also always made aware of relevant work placements available in the area.
Accommodation: 3 – Although the on-campus accommodation looks nice, it is in the middle of nowhere! Great for easy access to the University as it is right beside it but terrible for anything else. Most students live in the city centre of Edinburgh and commute to the University. Bus services are excellent and the journey takes about 45 minutes.
Facilities (including library): 3.5 – The University is quite small so the facilities aren’t extravagant. There are only two restaurants (the food-hall on campus and the Student’s Union) at the University and the gym is quite small but is definitely suitable in the context of QMU being a small University. There is only one shop on campus which is fairly basic. On the bright side, it is a new campus with excellent computing and studying facilities within the library. The library has excellent resources and online databases. The new campus means that the academic building is bright and spacious with modern classrooms.
Nightlife: 4 – The campus is situated in Musselburgh which is really quiet with no significant nightlife. Most students live in Edinburgh city centre where the nightlife is absolutely brilliant.
Socials/Societies: 4.5- The Student’s Union are always organising events and socials in the Student’s Union such as pub quizzes, comedy nights, pool competitions, etc. There are also several sports clubs and societies.
Students Union: 4 – The student’s union is small but useful; they communicate very well to the student body as well as constantly organising various events and campaigns.