Public Affairs Diploma

Our Public Affairs Diploma focuses on the process of policy formation and the wider corporate communications and reputational context in which public affairs operates. This qualification is firmly rooted in practice – with senior PA practitioners involved in its development – and is also grounded in the latest academic thinking.

The syllabus is taught and assessed at the same level as a postgraduate degree.

What do I learn and how is it assessed?

The Public Affairs Diploma covers topics including:

  • impact of political environment on an organisation
  • importance of engaging with political audiences to enhance reputation
  • emerging issues and trends that affect contemporary public affairs practice; the strategy and tactics of lobbying and campaigning and the theories underpinning the process
  • knowing when and how to engage in the political process and policy formation
  • how to leverage media and public affairs activities to shape the agenda; the importance of reputation management and its components.

This qualification comprises 1 written assessment: a research project based on an investigation into how public affairs, campaigning or communication with the electorate has been used by an organisation or political party (6,000 words).

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Who's it for and what are the enrolment criteria?

This course is aimed at experienced practitioners who want to develop their strategic public affairs and management skills with the aim of taking on more senior roles.

You qualify for the CIPR Public Affairs Diploma if you hold 1 or more of the following:

  • CIPR Advanced Certificate
  • 1 of the following plus 1 year's relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors, e.g. marketing, journalism) and 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, 1 of which must be in the English language:
    • CIPR Internal Communications Certificate
    • postgraduate professional qualification in a related discipline (e.g. CIM diploma)
    • UK Bachelor's degree or equivalent in a PR-related discipline: business, marketing, management, communication, media or journalism.
  • 1 of the following plus 2 years' relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors) and 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, 1 of which must be in the English language:
    • CAM Advanced Diploma in Marketing Communication
    • NCTJ Diploma
    • UK Bachelor's degree or equivalent in any other subject
    • LCCIEB qualification which must comprise 5 level-3 subjects in PR, marketing, advertising, and principles and practice of management
  • 4 years' relevant full-time employment in public relations (or related sectors) and 5 GCSEs at grade C or above, 1 of which must be in the English language.

In addition, those whose first language is not English must be able to demonstrate proficiency in the language – spoken and written – to an International Language Testing System (IELTS) band score of 6.5 or equivalent.

Relevant experience should include at least 50% of the following:

  • PR planning and crisis management / managing the PR aspect of a potential crisis situation
  • planning, developing and implementing PR strategies
  • organising events including press conferences, exhibitions, open days and press tours
  • researching, writing and distributing press releases to targeted media
  • coaching client representatives in effective communication with the public and with employees
  • preparing and delivering speeches to further public relations objectives
  • establishing and maintaining co-operative relationships with representatives of community, consumer, employee, and public interest groups
  • preparing or editing organisational publications for internal and external audiences, including employee newsletters and stockholder reports.

If you don't have sufficient experience in these areas, the Advanced Certificate or Internal Communication Certificate may be a better starting point for you.

How long does it take?

There are four assessment sessions per year. Depending on when you enrol on to the qualification you could qualify in as little as 6 to 8 months. As well as the tuition time, you'll need to set aside approximately 10 to 12 hours per week for self-study. This might increase as you work towards submitting your assessment.