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MA Advertising

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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

This dynamic course is for determined and driven people who are ambitious about their career within the advertising industry. Whether you have recently graduated with a good degree in an advertising-related subject or you are a communications professional looking to further your career, this challenging degree provides the knowledge and tools necessary to become an advertising specialist.

The course features an advertising ‘boot camp’ where you will get the chance to be embedded in a live agency environment (either in Bournemouth or elsewhere in the UK) or work as part of an agency team in-house on campus. This brings together all your learning and experience into an intensive work experience that prepares you for your future career in the industry.

MA Advertising has academic, professional and practical relevance and our Faculty of Media and Communication has an excellent reputation within the marketing and corporate communications industries in the UK. It benefits from strong industry connections and is endorsed by the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), Design and Art Direction Awards (D&AD) and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM). 

Upon graduation, you will have a clear appreciation of the strategic dimensions of advertising and the management of creativity. You'll also possess the skills and knowledge to develop valuable insights using a range of advertising research and evaluation techniques. The course covers theory and approaches to equip you with the tools to think creatively, become aware of calculated risk and to challenge assumptions, academically and in practice.

Interested in studying this course part-time? Enquire now.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year


Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), D&AD, EACM and the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM)

Required subjects:

Advertising, marketing, or communications

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject. For more information see our full entry requirements.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 or above. For more information see our full entry requirements

Course details

On this course you will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Year 1

Core units

  • Advertising Strategy & Planning: Gain an appreciation of the strategic dimensions of advertising. This unit is built on a platform of theories and addresses the need for global practitioners to meet intercultural communication principles and practices in contemporary communication platforms. All elements are integrated for developing communications planning and for compiling the creative brief, considered to be the most important document in the advertising industry. You'll develop skills in planning, executing and evaluating communication strategies.
  • Research Imagination: Drawing on your research knowledge and experience from undergraduate level, this unit challenges your understanding of academic and applied research in the communications industries. You'll be exposed to cutting-edge research practices and introduced to the opportunities and challenges of conducting applied research using industry data collection and analysis techniques.
  • Applied Creativity: Transform challenges into opportunities for entrepreneurs and organisations. You'll use an interdisciplinary approach to optimising opportunities and map the process from problem to solution. This is done individually and collaboratively.
  • Consumer Culture Insights: Develop competency in applying consumer culture theory to generate consumer insights. You'll be exposed to a range of cultural frameworks to understand consumer worlds and draw competitive insights through exploring ‘home', international and transnational contexts.
  • Digital Insights: Tactical skills for developing digital advertising and marketing communications strategies. You'll look at a set of specific skills, such as SEO and Google analytics, and understand digital communications and its place in contemporary advertising. By the end of the unit, you'll be able to draw up effective and measurable digital communications plans and evaluate and integrate new digital trends.
  • Advertising Boot Camp: Delivered in London and Bournemouth with advertising agencies and relevant professional associations, this 2-week unit puts advertising in integrated marketing communications. You'll consider a brand’s life cycle for all its stakeholders and work in a group as a service marketing communications agency. Engaging with a live brief, you'll analyse a contemporary brand for either the business-to-business (B2B) or business-to-consumer (B2C) market and develop an integrated advertising campaign to a specific budget. This will typically include strategy, a minimum of 5 executional elements, a media plan, and a clearly defined return on investment (ROI).
  • Professional Project OR Academic Paper: You'll complete an academic paper, professional project or portfolio based on your chosen subject area. This unit will end with a showcase where you'll present your work to peers, academic colleagues and industry contacts. The assessment will be the equivalent of 10,000 words.

Option Units*

  • Creative Direction: Conceptualise a creative strategy through visual, verbal and aural techniques to create memorable communications. You'll work through the practical application of ideas discussed to understand your strengths and limits. Through strategic intuition and applying research, you'll decide the suitability and originality of your ‘creative product’. You'll achieve balance in the attitude and activity of the creative director and between concept and strategy and the verbal and the visual.
  • Advertising Management: Learn skills to manage relationships between agencies and client organisations, between functions in the agency and with other service providers and agencies. This unit also address the role of advertising in the wider marketing and business contexts. You'll explore the complexity in negotiating media investment, identifying dynamics between media buyers and sellers and theories that underpin the development of plans for media channels. You'll also use software programs to support strategic media decisions.

*Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MA Advertising.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon a postgraduate taught degree are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow - some based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry Team for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in each component of speaking, listening and reading or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


This course will give you a clear appreciation of the strategic dimensions of Advertising and the management of creativity. Upon completing this course, you will possess the skills and knowledge to develop valuable insights using a range of advertising research and evaluation techniques.

After completing this course you'll be prepared to work agency and client side. Some of our graduates can be found working in top agencies including Saatchi & Saatchi, Fallon and Ogilvy Mather, and for clients in a wide range of industries from entertainment to automotive*.

As an Advertising graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles in:

  • Market research
  • Public relations
  • Campaign planning
  • Account management
  • Marketing communications.

Industries worked in

  • Media
  • Advertising
  • Marketing
  • PR
  • Communications.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

*All information shown has been taken from Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) or BU institutional data unless otherwise stated.

Your lecturers

Our staff are actively engaged in research and professional practice in the advertising sector which is integrated into the teaching of this course. Find out more about some of the staff and their research activities who will be teaching on this course below.


An editorial/illustrative photographer from Toronto, Canada, from 1982-1993, Rutherford made photographs for advertising & public relations campaigns and wrote and designed communications & public education materials for SMEs, government agencies and environmental & social justice groups. From 1993-1997, Rutherford served as the director of communications for two Canadian non-profit organisations: an environmental energy industry group and a national charity dealing with domestic violence.

Following a move to Nice, France in 1997, Rutherford produced implementation documents for corporate clients and monthly management, marketing & financial reports for a US head office and designed industrial training materials; in a subsequent post with a French High Technology consulting group, prepared proposal documents for the European Commission on behalf of SMEs applying for funding to collaborate on various KT projects.

In 1999, Rutherford was appointed senior lecturer in Communication & Culture at EAI Tech / CERAM in Sophia Antipolis, and, in 2006, programme leader of BA Advertising at the University of Chester.

Rutherford joined Bournemouth University in September 2014.

Rutherford holds a BA in Visual Art, Diplomas in Social Work & Graphic Design, Master’s degrees in Philosophy and Education, and is currently working towards a PhD.; a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

Committed to raising awareness of the capacity of media and communication to shape our personal metaphors, our social narratives and our perception of information, since 1992, Rutherford's essays on photography, visual communication, advertising, ideological propaganda – and their effect on our ‘mental pictures’ of Products, Politics and the Right Priorities – have featured in several academic journals, newspapers and magazines.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Professional Boot Camp 

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork, and non- financial support whilst on placement
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Optional fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Student section of the website.

Repeat units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies,( with or withour attendance) you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.