CIPR Specialist Diploma – Public Affairs

Course Overview

The aim of the CIPR Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) is to enable candidates to develop specialist knowledge and expertise in the contexts, concepts and practical tools of public affairs. This qualification will tackle the wider context of the role of public affairs in organisations and society, by exploring how public affairs contributes to an organisation’s success, and what is expected of an ethical practitioner in the complex political environment.

This course is aimed at experienced practitioners who want to develop their strategic public affairs and management skills with the aim of taking on more senior roles.  Please check with your chosen teaching centre for more details about enrolment criteria.

The syllabus is taught and assessed at the same level as a postgraduate degree.

Candidates will research and develop ethical public affairs strategies and plans which confront and manage political and societal issues, change attitudes and influence behaviours, and thus achieve strategic objectives.

The Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) covers topics including:

  • public affairs in organisations and society
  • how public affairs can contribute to an organisation’s success
  • the process of policy formation and the wider corporate communications and reputational context
  • ethical issues in complex political environments.

The assessment will involve producing an executive report and analysis of research findings on a topic of your choice that relates to public affairs.

CIPR Specialist Diploma Public Affairs

Aims of the module

Successful candidates will be able to:

Module structure

1 Apply key concepts in public affairs including:

  • Typologies of political and democratic systems and government structures;
  •  Approaches to policy formation and decision making within these systems;
  • Researching key political institutions and actors;
  • Analysis and mapping of linkages between political stakeholders and their influences;
  • Policymaking processes;
  • Interactions between political stakeholders;
  • Recent developments in public affairs including the rise of populism and the increasing
    influence of social media;
  • The employment of, and differences between, methods of political science research (including content analysis, policy analysis, (quasi) experimental methods, polling and surveys, interviews and focus groups).

2 Discuss the contribution of the professional practitioner in strategic planning including:

  • Policy development and strategic planning processes within organisations, including the role of the public affairs/political communications function;
  • Linking organisational strategy to public affairs work through reputation and issues
  • How to conduct a situational and risk analysis to inform policy development and strategic planning (incorporating issues management, political influence, stakeholder engagement, crisis scenarios, and social responsibility).

3 Critically evaluate public affairs issues and campaign management including:

  • How to deploy direct and indirect approaches in relationship building and political
    communications, including online options;
  • Campaigning; issues; tactics; mediated communicative activities (traditional and digital) and agenda-setting; campaigning as public affairs work (aims, tactics, channels, research and evaluation);
  • The importance of psychology, including credibility and personality, in political communications, and contrasting rhetorical approaches;
  • How to identify and evaluate appropriate channels for communicating policies and positions, including traditional media and social media;
  • How to operate ethically in the political environment to enhance organisational reputation,
    minimise risk and secure or maintain policy change or resourcing

Assessment Method

There are 4 assessment sessions per year. Depending on when you enrol on to the qualification you could qualify in as little as 6 to 8 months.

Executive report and summary situation analysis

To enable candidates to demonstrate competence in undertaking an analysis of a case study situation/issue to inform specific public affairs objectives and strategy.

Students should expect to set aside a certain amount of time for self-study and this will vary depending on the time taken to complete the qualification.

Entry Requirements

The CIPR Specialist Diploma (Public Affairs) focuses on the process of policy formation and the wider corporate communications and the reputational context in which public affairs operates. It is focussed on professional practice and explores the concepts, theories and knowledge required to develop capabilities in research, planning, execution and evaluation of public affairs activities. An analytical perspective is applied to encourage candidates to take a reflective approach in examining their own experience alongside case studies of organisations and scenarios. This is the right qualification for you if you are an experienced practitioner who wants to develop your strategic public affairs and management skills with the aim of taking on more senior roles.

Course Dates

Our next cohort is due to start on w/c 8 July , for more information please contact


Tuition fee: £1495+VAT | CIPR Assessment fee: £355 | CIPR Registration fee: £81


Level 7 | Postgraduate Degree | 10/11 SQA


6 -8 months


  • Virtual

Next Start Date

w/c 8 July
Contact Client Support for more details.

Learning Options

Virtual Learning Offering:

The Diploma is taught over 21 hours with a total of 10 x 2-hour daytime or evening teaching sessions, via Teams, with 2 x 30 minute 1:1 assignment feedback tutorials.

Our teaching is live and interactive reflecting our face to face teaching but online, for more information please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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