Public Relations Major - Bachelor of Communication Studies

Sam Cheow identifies trends for L'Oréal

AUT alumnus Sam Cheow is now the chief product accelerator for L'Oréal USA where his role is to identify and advise product and service trends. He completed his Bachelor of Communication Studies from AUT as an international student from Malaysia, and started his career in advertising in Auckland. Now based in New York City, he credits his time in New Zealand with preparing him for this exciting career.

Public relations is about strategically planning and managing communication activities, building relationships and managing reputations. PR professionals work for a range of organisations, from governments to small businesses, and multinationals to non-profit organisations. An effective public relations practitioner needs a wide knowledge of communication, knows how the media works, understands strategy, is culturally sensitive and has a range of writing, visual and audio skills.

In this major you develop an understanding of reputation management and learn to make ethical judgments about strategic communication and communication planning. You gain an in-depth understanding of public relations writing, communication in a business environment, sponsorship and promotion, internal communication, persuasion, social media and communicating with diverse audiences.

Key features

More information about the Bachelor of Communication Studies

Career opportunities


Public relations graduates typically find work with communication teams within large organisations, or as a Marketing or Human Resources communications representative in smaller organisations, but there are so many other opportunities too. To find out more about industry trends, job descriptions, what employers may be looking for, check out the Public Relations Career guide.

Typical roles for public relations professionals include:

  • Corporate communication executive
  • Public relations consultant
  • Marketing communications executive
  • Government communicator
  • Internal communications advisor
  • Media relations manager
  • Community relations manager
  • Social media manager


Most papers last one semester and are worth 15 points. Students must complete 120 points each year (360 points for the entire degree). In each year students study core (compulsory) papers, and select other papers from a range of options.

Year 1
Level 5:
COMM502 Interpersonal Communication (15 points)
COMM505 Image and Sound (15 points)
COMM506 Media Production Workshop (30 points)
COMM509 Media Communication I (15 points)
PHIL580 Applied Media Ethics (15 points)

SELECT a further 30 points from optional papers listed below or any other paper in the Bachelor of Communication Studies.

Year 2
In the first semester, you will be introduced to current theories, models, and concepts of public relations as well as real-life examples. In the second semester, you will be introduced to a range of PR writing styles.

Level 6:
COMM601 Media Communication II (15 points)
COMM603 Intercultural Communication (15 points)
PUBL600 Public Relations Writing (15 points)
PUBL601 Public Relations Communication (15 points)

SELECT a further 60 points from optional papers listed below or any other paper in the Bachelor of Communication Studies. Students are recommended to take prerequisite papers from another major. If you wish to take a minor, 30 points of these papers at level 6 may be in your minor subject area.

Year 3
All students take the Reputation Management paper. You learn about managing reputations, crises and issues, as well as building and managing relationships between organisations and publics.

You can then choose whether you want to learn more about internal communication, persuasion or creating content for multimedia platforms.

A key component of this major is learning how to plan and execute communication strategies through real-life industry collaboration. Through Outside the Square (OTS), our student-run consultancy, you work in teams to interpret a client brief, develop a communication strategy and implement the plan on time and on budget. Your responsibilities range from managing communication activities, producing appropriate print and web-based publications, carrying out media relations and liaising with the client.

There is input from the industry’s professional body, the Public Relations Institute of New Zealand (PRINZ) and public relations consultancies including Porter Novelli, Acumen Republic, Botica Butler Raudon PR, Mango, Network Communication, Professional Public Relations and Sparkactivate.

Throughout the year you can also apply for internships and gain work experience, although this is not a requirement of the programme.


Level 7:
COMM707 Media Communication III (15 points)
PUBL702 Reputation Management (15 points)
PUBL704 Public Relations Strategy and Practice (30 points)

SELECT 15 points from:
COMM709 Persuasive Communication (15 points)
PUBL701 Digital Public Relations (15 points)
PUBL705 People and Organisations (15 points)

SELECT a further 45 points from optional papers listed below or any other paper in the Bachelor of Communication Studies. If you wish to take a minor, 30 points of these papers at level 7 may be in your minor subject area.

Level 5:
COMM507 Performance Communication (15 points)
COMM511 Introduction to Popular Culture (15 points)
MUSC500 Technology and Composition (15 points)
RADC501 Audio Production Techniques (15 points)
TVSP501 Screen Production Fiction I (15 points)

Level 6:
MARS603 Communications in Marketing, Advertising, Retailing, Sales (15 points)
MUSC600 Technology and Creative Expression (15 points)
TVSP600 Screen Production Fiction II (15 points)

Level 7:
ADVT773 Advanced Copywriting (15 points)
ADVT774 Selected Topics in Advertising Creativity (15 points)
ADVT775 Advanced Advertising Art Direction (15 points)
CIND703 Selected Topics in Creative Industries (15 points)
CIND706 Creative Marketplace (15 points)
CIND707 The Film Industries (15 points)
COMM703 Media and Politics (15 points)
COMM704 Promotional Culture (15 points)
COMM705 The Music Industries (15 points)
COMM710 Performance for Camera (15 points)
DIGM705 Selected Topics in Digital Media (15 points)
HIST770 Popular Monsters (15 points)
JOUR703 Data Journalism (15 points)
JOUR704 News Editing and Design (15 points)
JOUR705 Magazine Journalism (15 points)
JOUR706 Radio Journalism (15 points)
JOUR707 Photo Journalism (15 points)
JOUR708 Television Journalism (15 points)
JOUR709 Selected Topics in Journalism (15 points)
JOUR711 Reporting the Pacific Region (15 points)
JOUR712 Maori and Pasifika Media Industry (15 points)
MARS705 Trends and Innovations (15 points)
PUBL700 Communication in a Business Environment (15 points)
PUBL703 Selected Topics in Public Relations (15 points)
PUBL706 Sponsorship and Promotion (15 points)
RADC704 Radio and Society (15 points)
RADC705 Selected Topics in Radio (15 points)
TVSP702 Screenwriting: Drama (15 points)
TVSP703 Screenwriting: Documentary (15 points)
TVSP704 Advanced Studio Production (15 points)
TVSP705 Screen Interviews and Production (15 points)
TVSP707 Screen Production Management (15 points)
TVSP708 Selected Topics in Television and Screen Production (15 points)

Click here to view programme structure and paper outlines.
Additional course information can also be found here.

Enrolment in papers is subject to meeting all requirements and availability of papers.

Last updated: 26-Jan-2018 7.28am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.