MA International Public & Political Communication. Image of President Obama at a press conference

Interested in a career in public campaigning, political communication, government or media? Or looking towards researching these topics at PhD level? International Public and Political Communication is a fascinating degree combining rigorous academic content with vital practical skills.

As places on this course are in high demand, we will give preference to applicants with grades above our minimum entry requirements.



International Public and Political Communication MA

Messages and viewpoints are all around us, in public spaces, at all times. Political parties, public and governmental institutions, pressure groups, charities and NGOs shape messages in particular ways, advocating viewpoints and constructing campaigns to influence public opinion, specific audiences and policymakers. Our MA in International Public and Political Communication (IPPC) teaches you to be an expert in both the analysis and development of such messages.

Join us on the degree and you'll learn about media relations, political marketing and the scope and significance of political communication. You'll develop skills in communicating with the media (including media training) and using different media outlets to promote ideas through advocacy and lobbying. Our teaching offers a deep and critical understanding of key debates around intersection of the media and public and political communication internationally.

The IPPC course combines a rigorous academic foundation with strong practical content. Taught by both research-active staff and practitioners who are proven experts in their field, our students analyse public and political communication activities both internationally and historically – and then put their findings to practical use, developing their own political and public communication campaigns or marketing tools.

After completing the course you'll be a media and communication expert who can analyse, manage and design campaigns, market and communicate ideas, and undertake effective media relations and lobbying. If you're looking for a career in national or local government, international agencies, NGOs, trade unions, political parties, charities, media organisations and lobbying, it's ideal preparation. The degree also offers a route into further academic study.


Umanga Perera portrait"In today's politically charged climate it is helpful to know what is going on and this course helps you do that. Aside from helping us make sense of the world, this degree also makes you aware of different political systems from around the world. It is not just focused on western democratic countries but regimes from all over the world. Debate is encouraged, especially in the seminars – we are asked to always question what is being said."

Umanga Perera
International Public & Political Communication MA

Read more from Umanga

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We teach through lectures, seminars, workshops and research exercises.


You’re assessed by essays, examinations and a dissertation.


1 year full-time

Our campus and how we use it

We timetable teaching across the whole of our campus, the details of which can be found on our campus map. Teaching may take place in a student’s home department, but may also be timetabled to take place within other departments or central teaching space.


The course comprises eight core modules, including a dissertation.

Semester 1

Media, Society and International Crises

This module examines the relationship between media, political bodies, NGOs, and wider societal actors at the outbreak of international crises. It looks into particular cases of recent international crises and early reportage, questions the emerging media and political representations, and evaluates them in light of theories of perception, identity, and reactions to uncertainty.

In studying for this module you'll conduct a research project into the early media coverage of a crisis, interview journalists, participate in a modelling exercise of political, public and media reactions to an international crisis and relate early coverage to later narratives found in media and film.

Research Methods

This module aims to introduce students to a range of social scientific research methods as they are applied for the academic study of communications, media and journalism. It provides an overview of key research methods and the different ways in which research can be conducted. Topics covered in detail include qualitative and quantitative research methods, such as content, framing and discourse analysis. We'll also introduce you briefly to other methods such as interviews and the ethics of the research process.

Research Methods also covers different aspects of information gathering, research design, project management and research presentation. The overarching aim of the module is to equip students with a basic understanding of core social science research methods, so that you have the confidence to conduct small-scale research projects such as dissertations and group work.

Comparative Perspectives of Public and Political Communication

This module offers a general introduction and overview of public and political communications campaigns from an historic and international perspective. You'll examine examples of public and political campaigns from around the world and analyse the campaign messages and the strategies used to get those messages across to specific target audiences.

Introduction to Political Communication

In this module you'll explore a range of ideas and issues within the very broad area of political communication. It starts with a basic introduction to the field and then moves on to look at key issues that feature in the discussion of politics, journalism and communication, and the intersection of these three fields of study.

You'll also consider how we should look at the field of political communication at a time when traditional media (newspapers) are in relative decline and different forms of communication (Twitter, Facebook, WeChat) exist in abundance. The discussion will take in comparative, global and historical contexts.

Semester 2

International Visual Public and Political Communication

The use of images and visual material in contemporary forms of public and political communication has various roles, functions and impacts. In this module we'll introduce you to the key debates surrounding these.

We'll focus on a variety of communication, media and journalism-based media and contexts (photojournalistic coverage of war/conflict/terrorism, the role of images within political campaigns, public communication, political cartoons, visual representations of minority groups, etc) and actors (politicians, NGOs, marketing and PR professionals, terrorist organisations, protest movements, etc). In this way the module will equip you with the critical and analytical skills for interrogating dominant modes and methods of visual public and political communication.

Communicating with the Media

This module builds the knowledge and skills you need to communicate messages through the media. Case studies and practical workshops illustrate the practice of media communication. You'll learn how the media operates and how to communicate messages through interviews, press conferences and news releases. Topics covered in the module will include the development of communication strategies, the understanding of news values and news cycles and strategies for successful and ethical communication.

Soft Power and Public Diplomacy

Soft power is the ability to achieve political or diplomatic objectives through persuasion rather than coercion. This module offers a comprehensive review of public diplomacy and its broader field of soft power. Focusing on the meta-theoretical, philosophical, and applied aspects of public diplomacy, the module will cover: conceptual foundations of public diplomacy; institutional and organisational dimensions of public diplomacy; implementation of public diplomacy; domains of practice in public diplomacy.

Dissertation (International Public and Political Communication)

Using the techniques you learned in the Research Methods module, you'll conduct your own research project and write up the results in your dissertation. You'll choose a public or political communication campaign to analyse, and examine all its elements, including the political marketing material. The dissertation is 12,000 to 15,000 words in length.

Course leaders

Jared Ahmad Bill Carmichael

The course leaders on International Public and Political Communication MA are Dr Jared Ahmad and Bill Carmichael (pictured).

Jared joined the department in September 2017 as a Lecturer in Journalism, Politics and Communication, after teaching politics, international relations, media studies and political communication at the University of Manchester and the University of Liverpool.

Jared's primary research interests are situated at the intersection between cultural studies, poststructuralist theory and political communication, and focus on the changing nature of contemporary media discourses and representations of terrorism. See his full profile for more details.

Bill Carmichael has been with the Department of Journalism Studies since 2005, joining us to lead on the teaching of web journalism to postgraduate students. In an 11-year stint as news editor of the Yorkshire Post, he played a key role in the switch to digital. He worked as a reporter and editor with various newspapers and continues to write for the Yorkshire Post. Read Bill's profile in full for more information.

All staff in the Department of Journalism Studies

Career opportunities

The International Public and Political Communication masters provides a solid grounding for those wishing to pursue research at PhD level and careers in political or public communications, marketing, lobbying, public relations, political campaigning, NGO work with development and advocacy – and, of course, journalism.

Recent graduates are working in media and public organisations across Europe and Asia in particular. Roles include media relations analyst, lecturer, journalist, website and media manager, and political reporter. Employers include the European Commission and European Parliament, South China Morning Post, the Pakistan government, the Tokyo Foundation and University of Sulaimani.

Our most recent survey data from International Public and Political Communication MA graduates shows:

  • 100% positive outcomes (the proportion of graduates who were available for employment and had secured employment or further study)
  • 100% graduate prospects (the proportion of graduates who were available for employment and had secured graduate-level employment or graduate-level further study)

See what Sheffield's postgraduate journalism alumni say in our career case studies section.

Applying and
entry requirements

To apply for International Public and Political Communication MA you'll need one of the following:

  • a 2:1 honours degree (we will consider a 2:2 if we are sufficiently impressed by your potential); OR
  • an alternative qualification approved by the University as degree equivalent; OR
  • substantial previous work experience in a media-related role

Entry requirements for international students

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If English is not your first language, or your first degree was not taught in English, you'll need to demonstrate your aptitude in the language. Our requirement is for an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component, or the equivalent scores in another qualification.

If you have not yet obtained an English language qualification, you can still apply. We may give you a conditional offer based on you obtaining the English qualification later. You can do this by taking a course at the University's English Language Teaching Centre.

Pathway programmes

Our International College provides international students with pathway programmes for progression to degree study at the University.



Ready to apply?

Use the University's online application form to apply for your place.

Apply now

There are no specific deadlines for receipt of applications, but we recommend you apply early as courses fill up quickly.

The online application form allows you to upload files. Please use this to send us information such as course transcripts, language certificates (if your first language is not English) or references. If you do not include these initially, we will ask you to do so later, which may delay the processing of your application.


Staged admissions

Starting with applications for the 2020-21 academic year, applications for this degree will be assessed using the University's staged admissions process. This involves a series of application and decision deadlines through the year.

Stage For applications received by: We aim to return decisions by:
A 14 October 2019 28 October 2019
B 30 November 2019 14 December 2019
C 14 January 2020 28 January 2020
D 29 February 2020 14 March 2020
E 14 April 2020 28 April 2020
F 31 May 2020 14 June 2020
G 14 July 2020 28 July 2020

In some cases, because of the high volume of applications we receive, we may need more time to assess your application. If this is the case, we will assess your application in the next stage. We will let you know if we intend to do this.

Study places are offered subject to availability. Given the popularity of these courses, places may not be available if you apply later in the cycle.

If we offer you a place, we will ask you to accept the offer and pay a tuition fee deposit (relevant International students only). If you do not accept the offer and pay the deposit within four weeks of the date of the offer letter, we may withdraw our offer.

More about staged admissions

Fees and funding

Use the University's postgraduate fees calculator to find the current tuition fee for this course.

Postgraduate student loans are available for UK and EU students to a current value of £10,280.

Several scholarship funding awards are also available to MA International Public and Political Communication students. These include the following.

  • The Sheffield Postgraduate Scholarship (for UK and EU students) is worth £10,000 and open to high-achieving students and those from groups that are underrepresented in higher education. More info
  • Sheffield scholarships for international students are designed to support talented applicants from all over the world. More info

Please see the Department of Journalism Studies' taught postgraduate funding page for more general details on the above, including an overview of deadlines.

Other sources of funding may be available – please see the University's postgraduate funding pages to investigate.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it’s up-to-date and relevant. This is in response to discoveries made through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers. We update these web pages to reflect any changes to course content as soon as we can. If any information conflicts between these web pages and a printed brochure or prospectus, please take the information here as correct. Sometimes changes may need to be made to modules, courses, entry requirements and fees between your application and the start of your course. When these are significant in nature, we'll let you know as quickly as we can. All modules other than core modules are subject to limits on their availability, which include (but may not be limited to) class sizes and timetabling constraints.

Contact us

Postgraduate Admissions
Department of Journalism Studies
University of Sheffield
9 Mappin Street
Sheffield S1 4DT

Tel: +44 114 222 2500