PR Education in Ireland

Posted on: October 3, 2008

My travels took me to Ireland this week where I am external examiner for the Master of Arts in Public Relations at the Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT). In the Emerald Isle, this is the only public relations programme offered at undergraduate or postgraduate level.


The programme team, led by John Gallagher, has the enviable option of choosing the best candidates from the hundreds of applicants from the Republic of Ireland and overseas. As a result, they have some very good students for the one-year course.


John, Tom Clonan, Kevin Hora and colleagues run a very professionally-focused course which has both theoretical and work-based elements in it. As DummySpit readers know, I am a big supporter of placements and industry experience as an important element in delivering an excellent public relations education.


The MAPR students undertake two units that illustrate this – they prepare a communication strategy for a client, based on research and discussion, and later in the year do a placement with a major organisation. Amongst the examples that I reviewed were projects undertaken with the European Union’s Dublin office and the Football Association of Ireland. Both organisations offered the student teams of two or three hands-on experience to organise strategies using real events and to deliver them. The results have been excellent and the students were able to align their studies with the real world. The clients were very pleased, too.


As Dublin is a relatively small capital city, students often work with senior politicians in the Irish legislature and with MEPs, too. For John, who has also established a MA in Public Affairs and Political Communication, these political and governmental links have given excellent placement opportunities for students. And the placements frequently lead to the students’ first PR employment when they graduate.


When I speak on public relations education at the IPRA Congress in Beijing in mid-November, I’m going to focus on the role of authentic learning and will be certain to cite DIT as an example of best practice.


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Tom Watson

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