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Below are full details of our Advanced Certificate syllabus.

1.1 Public relations fundamentals

Suggested teaching time: approximately 45%.

Learning outcome

At the end of unit 1.1 learners will be able to:

  • Use understanding of public relations to evaluate career opportunities
  • Appreciate how public relations can enable organisations to achieve marketing and corporate objectives
  • Use knowledge of relevant theories to enhance professional practice
  • Appreciate the ethical and societal context in which public relations operates

Indicative content

Definitions of public relations models of PR practice:

  • Public relations defined
  • The historical development of public relations and contemporary practice
  • Grunig & Hunt's four models of public relations practice

How public relations differs from other areas of communication and specialist areas of PR practice:

  • Public relations differentiated from/related to marketing communications, advertising and journalism
  • An introduction to areas of practice (e.g. publicity, internal comms, CSR, public affairs, financial PR, etc.)
  • Consultancy v in-house practice in public relations

The business, social, political and international contexts in which PR operates:

  • The role of PR in society, relationships with government, business, communities and the media
  • International and global public relations, including cultural and environmental factors
  • The role of PR in organisations: differences between the public, voluntary, commercial and regulated sectors; public relations and corporate communications

Introduction to basic communications theories and systems theory:

  • Linear, non-linear and mediated models
  • Public relations and persuasion
  • Systems theory: open and closed systems, subsystems, boundary spanning and environmental spanning

The role of professionalism and related concepts in public relations practice:

  • Outline of ethics and its application to public relations practice
  • Codes of conduct in public relations (e.g. CIPR code of conduct)
  • The concept of professionalism in a public relations context


Critical reasoning test (two 1500-word essays).

1.2 Public relations in practice

Suggested teaching time: approximately 45%.

Learning outcome

At the end of unit 1.2 learners will be able to:

  • Understand the basic principles that underpin public relations planning
  • Deploy effectively a range of traditional media relations techniques
  • Use a knowledge of digital media to enhance professional practice
  • Display expertise in a range of writing tasks associated with both digital and traditional media

Indicative content

Introduction to PR planning:

  • Planning, theory and models
  • Objectives, messages, publics and channels
  • Measurement and output evaluation (e.g. media evaluation)

Develop the ability to deploy a range of PR techniques:

  • Working with the media: targeting, timing and relationships
  • Selling in to the media and media interviews
  • Media and other types of event

Implications of social media for public relations in practice:

  • Particular challenges associated with digital/social media
  • Outline of main digital media and their implications/use for public relations
  • Social media do's and don'ts

Writing for traditional media:

  • Writing features (including comment pieces) and press releases
  • Writing blogs, tweets, FAQs and web content
  • Podcasts, multi-media releases, viral videos and photography


Campaign plan (2,000 words) plus supporting writing tasks (800 words).

1.3 Personal Skills and Development

Suggested teaching time: approximately 10%.

Learning outcome

At the end of unit 1.3 learners will be able to:

  • Conduct a self-directed secondary research investigation
  • Develop an understanding of effectively managing time
  • Put public relations into context as a developing discipline
  • Understand basic concepts associated with case study research

Indicative content

  • Analysing and criticising theory and secondary data
  • Understanding case studies as a research method, advantages and disadvantages
  • Writing up research reports


Critique (3,000 words) on a topic agreed with tutor/teaching centre.

Assessment details

Assessments are directly related to each study unit – i.e. 1 assignment per unit. These assess professional knowledge, vocational skills and personal development. Progression and links between the CIPR Advanced Certificate and Diploma qualifications is also evident.

Unit 1.1 – Public Relations Fundamentals

The Critical Reasoning Test (CRT) examines your knowledge, understanding and cognitive skills. It is completed during a fixed time period and structured to allow you to take responsibility for preparing and submitting well-developed answers to a series of questions that present varied, specific or complex scenarios relevant to the appropriate level.

You are assessed on your comprehension and ability to critique and apply theoretical principles demonstrating that you have developed an expert framework for making judgements about the practice of public relations.

Unit 1.2 – Public Relations in Practice

Subject specific vocational skills for the Advanced Certificate are assessed through a planning assignment. The plan and supporting materials are based on a given case scenario necessitating all work to be produced specifically for the course. You are required to submit a campaign plan (which may encompass media relations and internal communications) and develop three writing tasks to illustrate your ability to apply public relations techniques in particular contexts.

You must apply diagnostic skills and originality in producing a high standard of written work. This is against a background of a campaign plan that demonstrates your analytical ability, and confirms your understanding of public relations and planning processes.

Unit 1.3 – Personal Skills and Development

You need to be competent in considering and evaluating your own work and that of others in a reflective manner with reference to academic and professional issues, debates and conventions. This personal development as reflective practitioners is assessed through the requirement to respond to abstract problems that expand and/or redefine the existing body of knowledge.

You are required to undertake specialist enquiry into a topic to be agreed with your teaching centre. You will construct and submit a critique that explores and examines PR as a developing discipline and confirms your own understanding through a review of a specific aspect of the existing body of knowledge and/or practice.