Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs)

The aim of the CIPR Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) is to enable candidates to develop specialist knowledge and expertise in the contexts, concepts and practical tools of public affairs. This qualification put this experience into the wider context of the role of public affairs in organisations and society, how public affairs contributes to an organisation’s success, and what is expected of an ethical practitioner in the complex political environment.

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

What do I learn and how is it assessed?

Candidates will research and develop ethical public affairs strategies and plans which confront and manage political and societal issues, change attitudes and influence behaviours, and thus achieve strategic objectives.

The Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) covers topics including:

  • public affairs in organisations and society
  • how public affairs can contribute to an organisation’s success
  • the process of policy formation and the wider corporate communications and reputational context
  • ethical issues in complex political environments.

The assessment will involve producing an executive report and analysis of research findings on a topic of your choice that relates to public affairs.

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 Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) if you hold 1 or more of the following:

  • CIPR Legacy Advanced Certificate or Professional PR Certificate
  • CIPR Legacy Diploma or Professional PR Diploma
  • 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*:
    • 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 5 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

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

  • 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* 
  • 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 Professional PR Certificate may be a better starting point for you.

* 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.

How long does it take?

Timetables vary depending on which teaching centre you study with but all centres provide 20 hours of tuition.

There are 4 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 assessments.