Whether you want to do an online course, a degree or a professional certificate, gaining the right training is vital for success in the marketing, advertising and PR industry
As new technologies are continually being introduced further study can help you to keep on top of these and any other developments in the sector. Even if you already work in the industry, further study can be fitted around your job through distance learning and flexible courses. Many companies also offer support for employees studying professional qualifications.
If you're thinking of studying for a degree in marketing then it's worth checking if a professional body accredits it. Not only will this mean that the course is recognised for its quality across the industry, it also could make you exempt from having to study some further marketing qualifications at entry level.
According to the Guardian's University Guide 2021, there are more than 580 undergraduate courses in the UK with a major marketing component. While some are combined with related fields such as economics, psychology, design or fashion, there are standalone marketing options.
The highest-ranked UK institutions for business, marketing and management are:
- University of Bath (3rd)
- Loughborough University (6th)
- University for the Creative Arts (7th).
Some three or four-year courses - for example, the BSc Business Management with Marketing at the University of Birmingham - are accredited by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) as part of its Graduate Gateway. They are typically delivered with input from industry professionals and often include the option of undertaking work experience in the UK or spending a year abroad.
Marketing graduates go on to secure entry jobs in many different areas. Popular roles include account executive, brand manager, market research assistant, marketing assistant and marketing manager. To explore these roles in greater depth, see jobs in marketing.
Study for a CIM qualification
As the industry's professional body, and accredited by the European Marketing Confederation (EMC), the Ofqual-regulated CIM provides a range of globally-recognised marketing qualifications, plus bite-sized flexible modules. Its main awards are:
- Foundation Certificate in Professional Marketing (Foundation, Level 3) - perfect for entrepreneurs and managers involved in non-marketing functions, new entrants and those on apprenticeships.
- Certificate in Professional Marketing (Intermediate, Level 4) - gives you the knowledge and skills to progress your marketing career if you work in marketing support as a marketing assistant, or if your job involves aspects of marketing.
- Diploma in Professional Marketing (Intermediate, Level 6) - the equivalent of a Bachelors degree, this is suitable for strategic-level marketers, such as marketing managers and marketing executives, plus business development managers and account managers interested in career development.
- Diploma in Professional (Digital) Marketing (Intermediate, Level 6) - also at undergraduate level, this is for marketers in managerial, operational and supervisory roles looking to develop their skills in digital marketing.
- Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Marketing (Advanced, Level 7) - taken in two stages, this Masters degree-standard diploma gives experienced marketers and those working in senior strategic roles the chance to study for a professional qualification. After the first stage, you'll have achieved the CIM Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Marketing. The second stage involves a work-based assignment, to be completed within nine months. Note that this course is only available to those who reside outside of the UK.
- CIM Marketing Leadership Programme (Advanced, Level 7) - you'll take a combination of mandatory and elective modules over a minimum of 18 months, either face-to-face or in blended learning format including online courses. The Leadership Programme is designed for strategic and management-level marketers, owners of small and medium companies looking to grow their businesses or Level 6 Diploma holders looking to achieve the highest CIM qualification. Note that this course is only available within the UK.
In addition to tuition fees payable to your nearest study centre, you'll also need to consider the costs of registration, assessment and membership fees when enrolling onto CIM marketing courses.
The CIM also offers individual and tailored in-company training solutions, with more than 90 one to three-day course options at different levels, covering a variety of marketing techniques and topics. These range from advanced copywriting skills to managing marketing communications and finding out how to plan a business's social media strategy.
To keep up to date with industry developments through its Exchange online content hub and webinars, attend events and benefit from discounted training, you'll need to gain CIM membership.
Digital marketing courses
While traditional marketing degrees may cover online and offline marketing techniques (as well as business), digital marketing and a good awareness of technology is a fundamental part of any marketer's role. There are now university courses dedicated to this growing area. Find out what's available and discover how to get into digital marketing.
The Institute of Data & Marketing (IDM) is an awarding body that runs a number of programmes. Online digital marketing and direct marketing courses, as well as part-time, day release and intensive professional diploma courses are available. The IDM Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing (at Intermediate, Level 6) is aimed at those who manage the implementation of marketing campaigns and digital channels. The course costs £2,410 for non-members and £2,045 for members and is held online. You'll also need to pay a £245 exam fee.
If you're an experienced marketer seeking a postgraduate qualification, there are two (Advanced, Level 7) options to advance your career and boost your business's performance: the IDM Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing (PGDip DigM) and the IDM Postgraduate Diploma in Data-Driven Marketing (PGDip IDM). These programmes cost £2,950 for non-members and £2,505 for members, plus a £275 exam fee. The former is currently open to study as an online, intensive or part-time course, but the latter is only available as intensive study.
In addition to these qualifications, the IDM offers professional certificates (Intermediate, Level 5) in digital copywriting and social media. These intensive online marketing courses are £1,495 for non-members and £1,270 for members. There is no exam fee.
Finally, there's a selection of six Intermediate (Level 4) awards for those with some work experience, but who are hoping to develop their skills in a specific discipline - for example, digital copywriting.
Online marketing courses
The Digital Marketing Institute is a certification-awarding body for the digital industry that allows students the flexibility of studying for their marketing diploma online.
By choosing the Professional Diploma in Digital Marketing, whether you're a complete beginner or a business owner you'll learn about key specialisms, including SEO, PPC, mobile marketing and social media marketing. This 30-hour course, plus a three-hour exam costs £1,060.
The practitioner-led advanced Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Marketing, for traditional and digital marketers wishing to validate their digital skills, is delivered across 44 weeks and costs £3,164.
For senior management professionals, there's the two-year, part-time Masters in Digital Marketing, which costs £9,130 and invites students to successfully implement and manage a digital marketing strategy.
In addition, its range of short online marketing courses includes specialist diplomas in:
- digital and social selling
- social media marketing
- digital strategy and planning
- search marketing.
If you're interested in any aspect of marketing communications, you'll find that there are qualifications in advertising and PR to suit your area of specialisation - whether that's corporate, employee, consumer or investor relations.
The Communications Advertising and Marketing (CAM) Foundation offers a selection of CIM awards designed for those in a range of advertising and PR roles, from assistants and executives through to senior managers and directors.
The foundation's Diploma in Marketing Communications is made up of three units - marketing and consumer behaviour, digital marketing essentials and digital marketing planning. Tuition fees, which form the bulk of the costs, vary according to the mode of study (either face-to-face or via distance/online learning), with assessment fees and a CIM membership fee also charged.
The three most popular qualifications from the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA) are:
- The IPA Foundation Certificate - an internationally-recognised, 30-hour programme for advertising industry newcomers. This overview is free for members and £500 (plus VAT) for non-members, with exams held at various city locations (London, Manchester, Birmingham, etc.)
- IPA Advanced Certificate in Communications Planning - designed by senior agency practitioners, this 45-hour course in communications and channel planning is for those with four to nine years' industry experience. It costs £1,000 (plus VAT) for members and £2,000 (plus VAT) for non-members.
- IPA Excellence Diploma - across a 12-month period (150 hours), delegates are given the opportunity to delve into the nature of brands and have their ideas challenged. Members are charged £5,000 (plus VAT) for this pinnacle award, with non-members paying £7,500 (plus VAT).
The PR industry's professional body, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), provides qualifications for PR practitioners at all levels and in all sectors.
The foundation degree-standard CIPR Professional PR Certificate provides a detailed introduction for those embarking on a PR career. Experienced PR professionals and those with one year's experience and a Bachelors degree can choose the CIPR Professional PR Diploma. This gives you the chance to work on PR strategy at a senior management level. In addition, they offer short specialist courses in internal communications, crisis communications and public affairs.
Representing the UK's PR agencies, in-house communications teams and freelancers, the Public Relations Consultants Association (PRCA) provides a range of flexible and practical training courses that can be studied online or at a designated location.
Its professional qualifications, with varying prices for members and non-members, have been developed for those in an agency or in-house PR role, those who've already got a good grounding in PR and are now looking to progress, and management personnel seeking to improve their own performance and that of their team.
These courses include:
- PRCA Foundation Certificate (FCert PRCA) - a fast-track, entry-level programme that can be studied within one year.
- PRCA Advanced Certificate (AdCert PRCA) - a management-level qualification for those with a minimum of three years' PR experience. The training needs to be completed within two years.
- PRCA Online Certificate (OCert PRCA) - at intermediate-level, you'll need to complete 18 webinars online and in your own time, with no assessment.
See PRCA - Our Qualifications for more information.
As well as offering training for those working in journalism and the media, the Press Association (PA) also runs one and two-day courses in PR and communications based in London, although bespoke training is also offered. Getting a taster for PR or learning how to plan and develop a PR strategy will allow you to benefit from the latest developments in the rapidly changing media industry. Find out more at PA - Training.
Other marketing training
Education and training at the Institute of Promotional Marketing (IPM) includes an industry-recognised certificate and diploma in promotional marketing. The IPM Foundation Certificate can be completed online within four months and is supported by three complementary lectures. The IPM Diploma is also available for study at home and can be achieved within six months. There's also the IPM Incentive & Motivation Diploma - a distance learning programme for those working in the reward and recognition industry, which can be studied within five months.
Market researchers are not neglected either when it comes to professional development as the Market Research Society (MRS), a leading global research association for commercial and public policy research, offers a number of qualifications - an MRS Certificate in Market & Social Research, MRS Advanced Certificate in Market and Social Research Practice, and the MRS Diploma in Market and Social Research Practice. View the complete range of courses on offer at MRS - Learning CPD.
This is in addition to the accreditation of some Masters courses. These are:
- MSc Strategic Marketing Management - Aston Business School
- MSc Strategic Marketing - Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University
- MSc Strategic Marketing - Cranfield University
- MSc International Marketing - Newcastle University Business School.
If copywriting or content marketing is an area that interests you, CIM's Principles of Great Copywriting and IDM's various short courses are designed to help hone the writing skills of marketing communications practitioners for various mediums and audiences. Find out more about becoming an advertising or digital copywriter.
Find out more
- Take a look what's on offer in the marketing, advertising and PR sector.