Chartered approval as new postgraduate courses seek to plug media skills gap

Chartered approval as new postgraduate courses seek to plug media skills gap

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As Birmingham City University launches a new suite of postgraduate media courses, its Public Relations programme has received national endorsement by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR).

Along with new courses in Data Journalism and Media Production, the University’s School of Media are hoping its refreshed postgraduate offer will help plug the skills gap in the Midlands region.

Birmingham City University’s Public Relations MA course focuses on the skills needed to communicate on behalf of organisations – such as charities, NGOs and activist groups – dedicated to social change, including health, education, environment, and the public sector.

Philip Young, Senior Lecturer, Public Relations MA, Birmingham City University, said:

“Whether it is persuading people to give blood, eat more vegetables, wear a seatbelt, stop smoking or protect an endangered species, social change is driven by persuasion, relationships and trust. That is what public relations is all about.

“Our course concentrates on developing the skills needed to get causes noticed, to change opinions and then bring practical benefits, all using the latest media techniques. This is PR for people who want to change the world.”

The CIPR-recognised MA looks at how and why people make key decisions, and shows how to plan and deliver successful PR campaigns. Social media is at the heart of much of the activity, and the programme recognises that sound and video skills are becoming as important as effective writing in the communications armoury.

CIPR President Jason MacKenzie said:

“The PR industry is booming and talented graduates can expect to forge remarkable careers. The Public Relations MA at Birmingham City University is a powerful springboard for success and the emphasis on social change is particularly welcome.”

A university course recognised by the CIPR is one where the Institute have looked at the content to ensure that it covers essential public relations skills and knowledge, and checked who is teaching on it to ensure a suitable background in PR.

The CIPR also look for evidence that the course tutors are working with PR networks and employers in their region, both to keep content fresh and to offer opportunities for students to meet professionals and work on real projects as they study.

Alongside the Public Relations MA, the Media Production MA mixes theory with practical skills to ensure students can progress within the broadcast industry.

Award-winning producer Caroline Officer is Course Leader on the Media Production MA at Birmingham City University. She said:

“With a new base for BBC Three heading to Birmingham in 2018 enhancing the region’s growing media economy, the graduate prospects for our MA students are very bright indeed.

“I relish the opportunity to offer guidance and advice to my students about their career ambitions and between us, devise successful strategies that have already enabled many MA students to secure their dream graduate media job.

“As the UK’s largest trainer of arts professionals outside the country’s south east, Birmingham City University is well-placed to plug the media skills gap the region faces, ensuring that the best artistic talent is nurtured and retained locally.”

The creative industries are growing faster in Birmingham than anywhere else in the country – there are over 5,800 creative businesses in the city, employing the creative and digital talents of around 34,000 local people.

Birmingham City University is also offering a course in the emerging field of Data Journalism for the first time from September this year.

This practical course is designed to help students respond to work within a range of data journalism roles, from sourcing data, to investigating leads, and communicating their stories in new, engaging ways, in a range of newsroom contexts

The course leader is Paul Bradshaw, a leading innovator in the field of online journalism. An experienced and practising journalist who works with the BBC England Data Unit, he publishes the Online Journalism Blog, has authored a number of books about data journalism, and has a reputation as one of the most influential people in data journalism.

Birmingham City University was one of the first UK universities to offer media degrees and today boasts cutting edge facilities – including Europe’s largest static green screen – in its £62 million Parkside Building.

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