Study a Bachelor of Communication

UC has a new undergraduate degree, the Bachelor of Communication

Intended to prepare graduates for work as journalists, public relations practitioners and communication advisors, the three-year Bachelor of Communication degree is a response to increased demand for communication graduates on the job market. In particular, the degree addresses employer demands for students who have both critical thinking and writing skills and applied media production and digital communication skills.

Connect with the digital world

Modern communication is unthinkable without digital media. We’ll teach you all you need to know about communicating in the digital world, how to harness social media and how to use and analyse data from digital channels. You’ll take a range of practical courses on media production, managing communication and using data to inform planning. You learn to recognise new communication opportunities as they emerge, manage projects, and produce channel specific content. 

Make a difference in your community and beyond

Communication students act as advocates within communities to meet their goals and advance social change. You’ll take courses where you practise communication skills in real life situations, including internships and industry or community projects. You will be able to lead your own projects, develop creative campaigns and engage with communities. Academic enquiry and reflection will be woven through your study, deepening your research and analysis skills and your knowledge of the role of communication in society. That study will enable you to become more confident in bicultural contexts. It will also enable you to be a critical thinker, able to solve problems and think in new ways. 

The degree has a strong focus on digital communication, analysing and working with data and using social media as a communication channel.

It also has a strong bicultural component. It is the only university degree with a specialisation in Māori Communication through the major, Tauwhitinga Māori: Māori Communication Strategy and Practice. Students in all four majors will develop their confidence in working in bicultural settings.

'This is a forward-looking degree, designed to equip students with the skills and adaptability that will make them effective in our rapidly changing social and employment environment. I am especially impressed by the unique way in which this degree recognizes that knowledge and awareness of Maori culture and heritage is essential for a career in Communication in New Zealand.'

Professor Jonathan le Cocq
Pro-Vice-Chancellor, College of Arts, University of Canterbury

Head of Department for Media and Communication Donald Matheson said the degree would also have a strong focus on community.

‘Communication is about people and has the power to build community,’ he said. ‘That’s reflected in the practical coursework, which will include student projects that help community groups and work for social change.’

Current training with our journalism students involves field work with the Civil Defence Emergency Management team to help with the communication response in a disaster scenario.

Being in the communication industry means using your voice not only for yourself but on behalf of others. The degree’s ethos involves teaching students to think critically, to understand the power and responsibilities of public communicators, be able to make smart data-driven decisions and to be ready to adopt in an industry that is changing rapidly.

‘The new Bachelor of Communication at the University of Canterbury takes into account the skills required in a rapidly changing and evolving communications workplace. The work programme focuses on core communications skills including writing and digital strategy, with the opportunity to take journalism papers. This new degree will enable students to immediately add value to any communications position they are in or seek to obtain.’

Erin Jamieson 
Partner, Convergence Communications & Marketing, Christchurch

The Bachelor of Communication requires a minimum total of 360 points. At least 225 points must be from courses above 100 level, with at least 90 points at 300-level.
All students study 165 points of compulsory core courses, including introductory communication courses and practical courses on media production and communicating with data, followed by applied courses in one of four majors and up to 105 points of elective courses from other undergraduate degrees in the university.

Mid-year (July) starts for the Bachelor of Communication are possible but are discouraged for students wanting to apply to the Journalism major. A July start may make it harder to get into the major (which has limited entry) because you will have only 6 months of coursework to prepare. Also, unlike other Journalism students, you will complete your Journalism courses before you finish your degree, so will need to find ways to keep up your professional skills and contacts during the final semester of your degree. Mid-year starts in the other majors are possible. Please contact a student advisor to discuss your plans.

The degree draws from social science, humanities and business courses, around a core of both analytical and applied communication study, giving students a broad-based preparation. Students will take a range of compulsory core courses in Communication, Management, Marketing, Digital Humanities, Political Science and Māori for the first three semesters, plus electives in languages, social science, psychology, mathematics and many more. In their fourth semester they will specialise in one of four majors:

From the second year, entry to the Journalism major is limited to 25 places in total, and requires a special application by October 31 of the preceding year. Contact the Department of Media and Communication | Te Tari Mātai Pāpāho for more information.

The course structure of a Bachelor of Communication looks like: 

The job market in this field is strong. The Public Relations Institute of NZ reports 57 percent of its members are looking to recruit and the government’s job website describes the field’s prospects as ‘good’, with strength in marketing, employee communication, community relations and digital.
Career paths include the media industries, business, the government sector and iwi organisations. Job titles are likely to include: public relations, journalism, social media management, marketing, internal communication, corporate communication, government communication, stakeholder engagement, event management, crisis communication and content writing.

Meet some of our graduates who studied journalism and communication at UC and now work in the industry:

© Restricted/University of Canterbury

Tahlia Vogel - UC Graduate
BA in Media and Communication
Freelance Writer
As everything moves online, and we start to lose face-to-face contact, it’s important that businesses and clients can still feel connected to each other. To be a skilled communicator you have to ensure that what you’re putting online is sending the right messages to the right people, and it’s so easy to get that wrong.'

© Restricted/University of Canterbury

Emily Cooper - UC Graduate
Diploma in Journalism
News Reporter, 1News, TVNZ
I get to do something different every day, meet new and interesting people and tell their stories,’ she says. ‘I love taking an issue that’s important and telling it in a way that makes it easy for people sitting at home to understand.

The degree requires no background in any specific subject at school and is open to all students with entry to university.

For more information see the Bachelor of Communication qualification page.