By David Benady

The world of marketing is changing rapidly, but a postgrad degree offers a route to more senior roles.

From commissioning TV ads to analysing sales data, marketing is a discipline that combines science with creative magic. Perfecting skills such as branding, digital promotion, creative engagement and consumer psychology requires both in-depth study and on-the-job experience. A master’s degree in marketing offers a chance to learn these skills and helps students plan their career path.

“The opportunities are limitless,” says Beverly Wagner, department head of marketing at the University of Strathclyde. Graduates from Strathclyde’s marketing MSc degree can go into classic marketing roles, such as becoming brand managers or they can use the course to broaden their business skills base.

“As well as the typical marketing jobs, our marketing MSc graduates are employed in businesses to support innovation, undertake market research, analyse industry trends, carry out strategic planning and create social media strategies,” she says.

Students learn about areas such as consumer behaviour, customer service and digitalisation. “Every class includes guest speakers from industry and students are appraised of industry trends and how their degrees can support a variety of career choices. Assignments are often based around real-life business problems,” she says.

One of the big attractions of a master’s in marketing is that it offers a wide-ranging perspective of the field. This was part of the appeal for Lily Garefalaki, who has just completed a one-year MSc in strategic marketing at Cranfield School of Management. The course was interrupted by the pandemic lockdown, though teaching shifted seamlessly online. She says the MSc has provided her with a comprehensive understanding of marketing strategy from concept to implementation. She was also glad to receive training in two distinct areas, marketing to consumers (B2C) and marketing to businesses (B2B).

“We were taught a range of modules covering both B2B and B2C, from key account management and digital marketing to branding. We were able to create strategic plans because the curriculum was structured as a journey, it connected everything together at the end. I liked this course because we were able to get a holistic view of marketing,” she says. In the first term, students worked on key account management – managing a company’s most important clients – with a real business. “Each team had a real live client for whom they did a key account management plan and we had meetings with the actual executives. So it was really hands-on from day one,” she says.

Her ambition is to work in film and TV distribution, so she focused on areas such as subscription TV services and online video during the course. For her 16,000-word dissertation, making up 35% of the assessment, she conducted a literature review on the use of video games to conduct market research.

Meanwhile, Maggie Jones, director of qualifications at the Chartered Institute of Marketing, advises candidates to check whether their chosen master’s offers a high level of digital training, as there is a shortage of digital skills in the industry. Another consideration is whether fellow students are pursuing careers in marketing or more general areas of business. “You pay a lot of money for a master’s, but many of the people who join it may not be marketing related. That can affect the whole experience, so it’s worth knowing what you are going into,” she says.

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Marketing innovations have continued throughout the pandemic, such as Sony’s PS5 Underground campaign. Photograph: Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Media and marketing: what you need to know
Media and marketing remain popular choices for postgraduate study, offering either a route to academic study or a practical career boost. Those looking to work in news and reporting can take an MA in journalism at a number of universities – and there are a variety of media studies courses combined with subjects such as sociology, film studies and cultural studies.

Most UK universities offer marketing master’s courses. These can either be MA degrees that focus on advertising, retail and public relations or MSc degrees that lean towards data and market research.

The skilled marketer needs the ability to blend the two areas together. A master’s typically requires a bachelor’s degree, which can be in any subject. A master’s is especially useful for those with a number of years’ experience working in the field as a potential foot in the door for more senior roles.

The qualification can aid promotion to a senior marketing role such as board-level marketing director. While many students self-fund their degrees, there are employers who are prepared to help with tuition fees. More than 10,000 students took postgraduate studies in marketing in 2018/19, according to HESA.

Meanwhile, more than 5,000 students took media studies postgraduate courses and 2,000 studied journalism at postgraduate level. Some universities also offer marketing as part of an MBA course.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing offers a variety of auxiliary training options that can prepare students for a master’s. Students can take a diploma in professional marketing or a diploma in digital marketing ahead of a master’s.

A master’s can also be helpful when applying for chartered marketer status, recognised as the highest level of marketing in the profession.

Feature Image Credit: A master’s in marketing offers a wide-ranging perspective on the field. Photograph: Victor Torres/Stocksy United

By David Benady

Sourced from The Guardian

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