Applications open for January intake of the MMU/Prolific North Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management Course

Nick Jaspan's picture
by Nick Jaspan

MMMU Post GradAs the digital industry matures, there is growing demand for effective leaders who understand the role digital has to play in commercial and strategic success.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management has been developed by Manchester Metropolitan University and Prolific North to directly address that need. It fuses a rare blend of best in class contemporary digital communications practice with practical leadership skills to produce management professionals equipped with the knowledge and experience they need to succeed in a digitally-focused world.

Robust skills and unique insight

During the six-month programme, candidates will benefit from weekly taught sessions led by industry-focused tutors combined with the unique opportunity to hear from a number of guest speakers. Drawn from the senior management teams at some of the North’s most successful digital and creative organisations, they will be sharing their experiences of how they helped create, and in some cases sell, successful companies.

Furthermore, the course offers an unparalleled chance for ambitious professionals to learn from one another, sharing their experiences across a range of businesses and building a local peer network that will continue to deliver support and development opportunities well beyond the end of the course.

Value for individuals and business

Designed specifically for professionals in full time roles, the programme directly supports individuals looking to move into a management position, as well as current managers who wish to broaden (or establish) their digital skill set and formalize their management experience.

Not only is it ideal for those wanting to set themselves apart and take on new career challenges, but it represents a great investment for organisations looking to retain and develop their top talent in an increasingly competitive market. With the syllabus delivering practical approaches to real-world problems and work-based assessments which allow candidates to apply their knowledge back in the workplace, businesses can quickly benefit from stronger skill sets and innovative thinking, even before graduation.

Entry requirements and application

Candidates should have a good undergraduate degree (2.2 or above) in any subject or demonstrable industry experience (usually a minimum of two years full time).

The deadline for applications is Monday 13th January 2014. We encourage early application as class sizes are limited to ensure we provide the best possible learning experience for every participant.

Application forms can be requested from or, both of whom can also answer any questions you might have about the programme.

Course fees

The fee is £2500 + VAT, payable before commencement. This includes all course materials, MMU tuition and online support. It does not include overnight accommodation for the weekend school.

There is no student loan available for this programme but candidates who are self-funding can apply for career development loans for up to 80% of the fee.

Further information is available on the UK Government website.

What does the course cover?

The course is split into two units, each taught over three months and assessed through a work-based assignment, allowing candidates to cement their knowledge through application to real-world situations.

The units are:

1. Strategy and Planning for Digital and Social Media Management
Objective: to give candidates the skills to effectively integrate digital and social media into organizational communication plans.

Unit one covers:

  • Digital and social media communications strategy and proposition development
  • The application of best practices in digital and social media communications
  • Exploring the capabilities of digital marketing channels with particular focus on exploiting mobile platforms and emerging technology
  • Evaluating and improving the effectiveness of digital and social media communications components
  • Developing an understanding of customers and stakeholders in the communications process, as well as relationship management

2. Management and Leadership for Communications Professionals
Objective: To provide candidates with the leadership and management skills to elevate them beyond their current specialist ‘craft’, understand the needs of the business and play a positive role in achieving business objectives.

Unit two will cover:

  • Analyse the concepts and models of leadership and develop approaches to solving core business problems.
  • Effectively harnessing innovation to develop intellectual property and realise value in a business
  • Analyse the role of leadership and management in developing high performing teams and understand the impact of different leadership styles
  • Evaluating and resolving the potential conflicts that can arise within projects and client management

How and when is the programme delivered?

This is an intensive course delivered through a combination of:

  • Weekly taught sessions led by MMU tutors (and including contributions from our industry experts)
  • Collaborative tasks and discussions managed through our online learning environment
  • Self-directed study (i.e. exploration of the subject inspired by the work with your tutors and peers)
  • One written assignment per unit – no exams

Taught sessions are delivered weekly as follows:

  • Unit one: 30th January until 20th April, every Thursday afternoon between 1.15pm and 4.30pm
  • Unit two: 30th April until 18th June, every Wednesday afternoon from 1.15pm until 4.30pm
  • Final weekend school – 28th/29th June
  • Final assignment deadline, 14th July 2014

Results will be announced during September 2014.

All sessions take place in central Manchester.

This is a postgraduate certificate, making it equivalent to one term of a standard full time Masters course and participants should expect to devote 10-12 hours per week including attending the weekly lectures.

Who teaches the course?

MMU has a strong reputation for delivering industry focused digital education at both under- and postgraduate level and was the first UK university to offer an MSc in Digital Marketing Communications using a similar combination of industry focus and academic teaching.


David Edmundson-Bird David Edmundson-Bird

David Edmundson-Bird: Programme Director

David had a significant career building and managing new media companies before moving into academia in 2002. Since joining MMU he has been instrumental in building the university’s connections with the digital industry and currently works with a number of organisations to help develop their strategic vision and skills development capabilities.

Brendan Keegan: Tutor, Unit One

Brendan has written and managed a large number of modules in the subject of digital marketing communications during his time at MMU, bringing his commercial experience to bear in the classroom. He is currently the Programme Director for the MSc in Internet Retailing, and is undertaking PhD research in the evaluation of social media campaigns.

Andrew Thomas:  Tutor, Unit Two, and Founding Director at the green field

Andrew brings with him over twenty years’ experience in both client and agency-side roles, with much of his career spent at McCann-Erikson. He now works on a number of training, coaching and consulting projects with a particular focus on developing new talent for the digital industry. He also holds non-executive director positions at a number of digital organisations, is a Fellow of the Institute of Leadership and Management and a member of the European Mentoring  and Coaching Council.

Industry Guest Lecturers

We’ve secured support for the course from a great list of guest lecturers who will be contributing throughout the programme.

  • Tony Foggett, MD and co-Founder at Code ComputerLove
  • Andy Garner, Managing Director at MMS and former Head of Sales at News International
  • Neil Martin, Commercial Director at Havas Lynx
  • Cat Lewis, Owner, CEO and Executive Producer at Nine Lives Media
  • Chris Conlan, MD at Love Creative
  • Nicky Unsworth, CEO and Owner at BJL Group
  • Neil McKay, CEO Lakestar McCann
  • Ian Font, Director, Mustard Research
  • Ben Hatton, MD of Digital Marketing Services at Trinity Mirror Group
  • Peter Craven, Co-founder of Madhouse
  • Liane Grimshaw, former MD at Amaze and Click Consult
  • Rob Morrice, CEO EMEA and Asia at Stein IAS
  • Charles Tattersall, Chief Executive at Citypress
  • PK Vaish, MD at Livelink
  • Martin Regan, Journalist and Founder
  • Andrew Diggle, Head of Content at Manchester United FC
  • Julie Besbrode, Group Chris Executive, Fresh Approach
  • Andy Barke, Agency Head at Google
  • Alex Blaikley, Industry Head Google/YouTube
  • Karen Gee, Managing Director at Journeys of Distinction


Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Communications Management – guest lecturers

The following guest lecturers will be contributing to one unit or two of the Certificate as appropriate to the unit and their experience.

All of these lecturers have confirmed their agreement but neither MMU nor Prolific North may be held responsible if a guest lecturer is unable to contribute should unexpected circumstances arise.

foggettTony Foggett/Code. Tony is the MD of Code Computerlove, one of the UK’s leading independent digital agencies. The company employs 80 plus staff. His management team has evolved over time as it has had to cope with various challenging periods as it experienced rapid growth. Tony co-founded Code in 1999 and the agency has current sales of £4m plus.

Andy GarnerAndy Garner/MMS and formerly News International. Andy ran News International’s integrated sales operation in Manchester spanning the Sun, the Times, News of the World (when it lived!) and the Sunday Times. The team generated regional sales in excess of £20m. His experience of through the line communication will prove invaluable to delegates. He recently left News International to devote more time to running his own apps company which has been running since 2007.

Neil Martin Havas LynxNeil Martin/Creative Lynx. Neil is an accountant by training. He joined Creative Lynx from Baker Tilly in 2004 as finance director and subsequently became MD as he led an MBO from the founders of the agency. In 2012 he sold a minority stake in the agency to the French quoted marketing services group Havas. The company has now rebranded as Havas Lynx and Manchester is now the international HQ of the division. Neil is now commercial director of Havas Lynx which has offices in Manchester, London, Paris and New York and employs over 200 staff.

Cat Lewis WILCat Lewis/Nine Lives Media. Cat Lewis is a TV production exec. She has worked at ITV and the BBC and built up the factuals arm of Unique plc into a £1.7m business in the early 2000s. In 2007 she established Nine Lives Media which now employs approaching 30 staff and enjoys sales of £2.2m generated from sales of TV productions to broadcasters around the globe.

Chris ConlanChris Conlan/Love Creative. Chris is the managing director of  Love Creative and works alongside recently appointed chief executive Trevor Cairns. Love was widely acknowledged as one of the UK’s ‘hottest’ independent creative shops after it opened its doors but the agency has matured with age and also went through a period of turbulence which resulted in the departure of the former MD. Under Chris, Love has demonstrated renewed growth and the agency has established new offices and operations in London and in Shanghai.

BJL staff - happy campers

Nicky Unsworth/BJL. Nicky has worked on the client and agency side. In 1996 she joined the ad agency Barrington Johnson Lorains when there were 19 staff. A few years later she led an MBO and today the agency (BJL) employs around 70 staff. In pre-recession 2008, BJL enjoyed turnover of £9.3m and  profits of circa £850k. Unsworth and her management team restructured the agency when the recession hit and when sales fell sharply but in its latest accounts, BJL had sales of £5.7m with profits up to a record £977k.

NeilMcKayfpNeil McKay/Lakestar McCann.  Neil became a professional footballer at 16 and has continued to set himself different challenges all through his working life. He has helped to build, develop and sell several companies spanning publishing, e-commerce and digital marketing. His latest company, Lakestar, was sold to the NYSE-listed Interpublic subsidiary McCanns in 2012 for an undisclosed eight figure sum.

Ian FontIan Font/Mustard Research. Ian is an alumni of Manchester Business School and has established two leading national and international market research operations in his career – the latter one for himself. He has also sold a business and led an MBO. His current research consultancy, Mustard, went through a rebrand in 2013 from its previous incarnation as CI Research. The consultancy has long-standing clients spanning logistics, financial services, pharma and chemicals and major consumer brands and the team at Mustard has worked across the globe for these clients.

Ripple EffectBen Hatton/Rippleffect. Ben co-founded Rippleffect in 1999 and in 2008 he sold the agency to Trinity Mirror for £5.8m but he has remained with the company and in addition to remaining Rippleffect’s MD, he was also promoted in 2013 to managing director of Trinity’s digital marketing activities across the plc. Rippleffect, with a turnover of £5.5m, is one of the two or three largest purely digital agencies outside London.

Madhouse_MD_Peter_CravensmallPeter Craven/Madhouse Associates. Peter co-founded Madhouse Associates along with his partner Phil Rogerson. in 1999 and the two own the company 50/50. Madhouse works for clients across the UK, Europe and the USA. The agency is one of the very few marketing agencies which has continued to grow through the recession and Madhouse’s staff numbers have also increased over the past four years, rather than shrunk. Craven and Rogerson have adopted a lower profile to publicising their agency than most of their peers.

Liane GrimshawLiane Grimshaw/Click Consult. Grimshaw began her working career as designer with HGA but came to prominence with Moonfish, one of the North’s earliest and best-known digital agencies before she was headhunted to run Pavilion Communication based in Wilmslow. The agency was sold to Hasgrove plc in 2008 and Pavilion was subsequently merged with Hasgrove’s Amaze subsidiary and further acquisitions took place and Grimshaw was appointed managing partner of Amaze. She stepped down in 2011 to pursue her private interests before she reappeared in March 2013 as managing director of Click Consult, a 100 strong employee digital agency based in Ellesmere Port.

rob_morricefpRob Morrice/SteinIAS. Having worked at various design and advertising agencies in Scotland in the 80s and 90s, Morrice established what became one of Scotland’s best-known and controversial ad agencies – Smarts. He sold Smarts for £3.2m to Citigate in 2000 and became a hired hand for Citigate again before taking control of B2B agency IAS in Macclesfield in 2007. In 2013, IAS merged with Stein based in New York and Morrice is CEO of all SteinIAS’s operations outside the US with offices in Europe and China.

Charles TattersallCharles Tattersall/Citypress. Charles joined his father’s PR agency and in due course bought it. The agency has thrived under his ownership as the younger Tattersall has expanded the agency’s operations beyond its original and solitary Manchester base into a national agency with offices in London, Birmingham and Edinburgh. Turnover has grown sharply in recent years to over £3m and the agency now employs over 50 staff across its offices. Citypress is the only PR agency head-quartered outside which is regularly listed among the UK’s top PR agencies for its corporate and financial PR activities.

PK VaishPK Vaish/Livelink. PK established Livelink New Media in 2002 and the company has since grown rapidly and has built a reputation for itself as an e-commerce and multi-channel relationship specialist provider. Delegates on the course will learn how they can most effectively combine their use of the web, mobile, email and social media for their own companies and for their clients.

Martin Regan

Martin Regan/Cheshire Today. Regan is a journalist who has worked for the FT, the Economist and the Investors Chronicle and he also edited NW Business Insider. In 1993 he established Excel Publications with Pat Rafter and the two went on to build Excel into one of the largest regionally-based independent B2B publishing companies. Prior to the recession, Excel was enjoying sales of £8m and making ptp approaching £1m. The recession however and the rapid encroachment of digital into print meant that Excel, in common with the majority of publishers, had to restructure its operations and emerge from the downturn a leaner, smaller operation. Martin sold his 48% stake in Excel in February this year and in May announced plans to launch a raft of new online and print titles across the North.

Andrew Diggle

Andrew Diggle/head of content Man Utd. Andrew Following graduation from the University of Durham, Andrew joined the publishing house Macmillan as a senior commissioning editor where he remained for six years before he moved North to head up the research and information activities of  the information publishing company j4b, latterly Idox where he also was promoted to deputy MD. In February 2012, he joined Manchester United plc as head of content. Andrew’s expertise and knowledge of multilingual and multichannel portal and content development, commercial models and implementation will offer delegates on the course some rare and valuable insights into content management and communication.

Julie Besbrode FreshJulie Besbrode/Fresh. Julie established Fresh group together with Nick Porter. The pair had met while working at another events company and the two decided to try to make a go of it for themselves. Fresh was born in 2004 and the company has grown rapidly and for the current year (ending Sept 2013), sales are forecast at £14m with profits of circa £850k. Fresh has made two acquisitions since it began trading and has opened an office in London. The company’s client roster reads like a list of the UK’s bluest of blue-chip companies.

Andy Barke

Andy Barke/Google. Barke is a well-known industry professional as the face of Google outside London with a focus on the North. He has agreed to deliver one session on search (Google engagement) as part of the first unit and ‘best practice’ aspect of digital communications.


Alex-BlaikleyAlex Blaikley/You Tube. At Google Alex is responsible for working with  key regional media agencies and their clients for YouTube, Display and Google +. Prior to joining Google in November 2012, Alex worked for Sky Media, in London leading a digital team and in Manchester offering ad solutions across all platforms, working with clients, media and creative agencies.

Karen GeeKaren Gee/Journeys of Distinction. One of the North’s most accomplished marketers is today the managing director of the Kuoni-owned tour operator Journeys of Distinction. In her previous guises, she has variously held a variety of senior development, sales and marketing roles at companies including Rail Europe Group, First Choice Holiday and Shearings Holidays.


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