module specification

MC6011 - Corporate Communications (2017/18)

Module specification Module approved to run in 2017/18
Module title Corporate Communications
Module level Honours (06)
Credit rating for module 30
School Guildhall School of Business and Law
Total study hours 300
199 hours Guided independent study
101 hours Scheduled learning & teaching activities
Assessment components
Type Weighting Qualifying mark Description
Coursework 30%   Group Corporate Strategy and Communication Implications Presentation and Supporting Material
Coursework 70%   Corporate Communications Strategy and Tactical Recommendations Report
Running in 2017/18
Period Campus Day Time Module Leader
Year City Wednesday Morning

Module summary

This module encourages students to critically analyse the nature, value, and techniques of effective corporate relations, including a perspective on international communications.

The module also covers the analysis and evaluation of theories, models and issues relating to corporate strategy and more specifically the subsequent implications for corporate communications. It applies a national and international perspective to the topic and enables students to critically analyse, evaluate issues and trends in contemporary corporate relations areas. These include corporate relations strategy, international corporate relations, corporate social responsibility, investor relations, internal communications, communications audits, issues and crises management.

The module also examines the nature of corporate strategy and explores the inter-relationships between corporate strategy and corporate communications.

Prior learning requirements

120 Credits at Level 5

Module aims

This module is designed to provide students with the understanding and skills required to plan and deliver corporate communications strategies for public, private and not for profit organisations.

The module also aims to assist students in the acquisition of the following skills (with accompanied skill level):

  • Academic Reading (1)
  • Researching  (2)     
  • Analysing data (3)
  • Application of knowledge and presenting data (4)
  • Academic writing/literacy (5)
  • Communicating/presenting (7)
  • Critical thinking and writing (8)
  • Enterprise skills, including taking initiative, being creative, leadership, completing tasks and projects, taking calculated risks (16)
  • Commercial awareness, including vision corporate social responsibility and governance (17)


• The relationships between public relations, corporate communications and corporate strategy.
• The concept of strategy and strategic planning tools (including Porter’s five forces)
• The role of stakeholders in corporate communications planning
• The role of research and communications audits in planning corporate communications
• Reputation and its relationship with communications strategy
• Implementation challenges for communications strategy
• Ethics and PR strategy
• Internal communications
• International corporate communications
• Communications strategies for crisis and issues management
• Evaluation of corporate communications

Learning and teaching

This module will be delivered by a combination of 1.5 hour lectures, including presentations from outside speakers, and 1.5 hour seminars or 2 hour workshops depending on the learning outcomes of the sessions, weekly lectures and seminars.  The lecture and seminar programme will be enhanced by various workshops.

Additionally, visiting speakers from PR agencies and in-house teams working on corporate communications projects for public, consumer and business-to-business sectors will visit the class to provide case studies of their work for clients. This external input will enhance the module learning through ensuring that the theoretical concepts introduced on the module are seen in action in recent industry examples.
Students will be asked to form virtual in-house PR teams for the group project. This action and experiential learning approach will be used to help students identify the communication roles which best match their interests and skills. 
The module will give students exposure to corporate communications problems and issues in public, consumer and business-to-business sectors, enabling them to reflect on which area they find most compelling from a career engagement perspective.
Weblearn will be used for the distribution of the Module booklet, for setting online workshop exercises and for updates, commentary and pointers to articles on current corporate communications campaigns appearing in the media. It  will also be used to direct students to updated readings, module news and for the distribution of assessment information.


Learning outcomes

On completing the module students will be able to :

  1. Relate corporate strategy to corporate communications, particularly in regard to how a comprehensive grasp of the former analytical subject will influence the application of the latter communication discipline.
  2. Research and analyse varied sources of information in order to understand an organisation’s corporate performance and corporate strategy.
  3. Design a corporate communications strategy and subsequent communications programme for a given organisation.
  4. Explain the concept of stakeholders and publics in corporate communications strategy and the relationship between the two.
  5. Construct a stakeholder map for a given organisation, identifying corporate communications priorities for each group and justifying such conclusions.
  6. Define the concept of corporate social responsibility and its impact on corporate communications strategy.
  7. Define and contrast the techniques involved in managing corporate communications in terms of crisis versus issues management.

Assessment strategy

The module has been designed to fully test the achievement of its learning outcomes.
The assessment strategy consists of two prime components, that aim to assess the module’s learning outcomes in a phased and supportive manner.  These assessments require students to think critically, research the background and context to all tasks and apply the knowledge gained during the module.  The components are:

The factors driving assessment strategy for this module are the need for a valid, transparent and diverse approach. The assessment strategy was also influenced by the need to fulfil the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) requirements relating to the following headings for criteria for full course recognition:

Communications knowledge and theory
Business skills and knowledge
PR Practice
PR specialist practice

Group Presentation and Supporting Material (30%)
The group assessment is demanding and realistic in that it requires evidence of a deep knowledge of corporate communications strategy, issues and techniques.  It calls on students to form a virtual in-house team and analyse a real/live set of strategic issues faced by their selected organisation - from a choice of at least four. These organisations will have been chosen on the basis that each will be facing a challenging corporate strategy decision with subsequent implications for corporate communications. As an example, in the 2013/14 year, organisations included SSE, Ryanair, The FA & Lloyds Banking Group.

These strategies are presented in class, exposing students to different sectors and allowing them to choose an organisation/brief to respond to in their individual corporate communications proposals project.  Due Week 12

Individual Project: Corporate Communications Strategy and Plan (60%) to include Stakeholder Power/Interest Justification (10%) (Total 70%)
The individual project requires high levels of analytical skills, quantitative analysis (of published financial reports), commercial awareness and enterprise skills in bringing together all the elements of the PR toolkit into a coherent and commercially viable and fully justified corporate communications strategy and outline tactical communications programme. Due Week 24

Further details on assessments will be included in the Module handbook and subsequently within a specific assessment brief. Constructive alignment of assessment strategy to learning outcomes and skill development

Assessment strategy Learning Outcomes Skill Development
Group Corporate Communications Strategy Presentation and Supporting Material (20 minutes plus supporting written material) 1,2,3 Researching, communicating/presenting orally and in writing including inter-cultural communication, self/time management, including efficacy (P) (A). Analysing data, numeracy, commercial awareness (I) (P) (A
Corporate Communications Strategy and Planning Report
(3,000 words)
1,2,3,4,5,6 Academic reading, researching and  analysing data, application of knowledge, being creative, critical thinking and writing, commercial awareness (P) (A)



Core Texts:
Cornelissen, J. Corporate Communications, (2011) 3rd Edition, Sage Publications
Tench, R and Yeomans, L (2010) Exploring Public Relations, Pearson (E-text available)

Supporting Reading:
Cees, B, Van Riel, Fombrun, J (2007) Essentials of Corporate Communications, Routledge (E-text available)

Cutlip, S, Center, A, Broom, G, (2012) Effective Public Relations, Pearson (E-text available)

Deegan, D. (2010), Managing Activism. CIPR/Kogan Page.

Grant, R (2010), Contemporary Strategy Analysis, Wiley

Gregory, A., (2009). Planning and Managing Public Relations Campaigns. CIPR/Kogan Page.

Porter, M (2008), Competitive Strategy, Simon & Schuster (E-text available)

Regester, M. & Larkin, J. (2009) Risk Issues & Crisis Management. MacMillan

Smith PR, Taylor J, (2004), Marketing Communications, Kogan Page


Journal of Communication

Journal of Public Relations

Journal of Communication Research

International Journal of Communication