Graduate Diploma in Communication (Local Government) - SIT2LRN Distance Learning

Qualification: Graduate Diploma
Level: 7

Intake 1: 11/02/2019 to 07/06/2019 - Applications close 21/01/2019

Intake 2: 01/04/2019 to 26/07/2019 - Applications close 11/03/2019

Intake 3: 17/06/2019 to 11/10/2019 - Applications close 27/05/2019

Intake 4: 05/08/2019 to 29/11/2019 - Applications close 15/07/2019


One year full-time

Up to five years part-time

Intakes are 17 weeks long

Location: SIT2LRN Distance Learning
Credits: 120

Graduates of the Graduate Diploma in Communication (LG) will be media-savvy communication practitioners who know the local government environment and understand how it works. They will be able to plan for internal and external change or crises utilising new media as well as traditional means. They will also be able to take a lead role in engaging with communities, managing events and protecting their organisation through adverse situations. 

Graduates will be able to:

  • Develop and maintain good relationships with local and national media
  • Plan for events, positive or adverse, which may impact on the local authority and its community
  • Advise senior management and Council when required
  • Utilise a variety of communication methods including new media
  • Be able to communicate effectively - internally and externally
  • Be able to keep pace with, and communicate changes in local government

Compulsory papers – students are to complete all of the following:

BPC210 Media Relations (Level 6) 15 credits

Students will analyse the role of the media in the overall picture of public relations theory and practice. They will develop an understanding of the critical relationship between the public relations practitioner and the media, while providing insights into the different needs of the various media. They will develop the skills and knowledge to work with the media in various situations.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Analyse the role and impact of the news media on public relations; explain the critical relationship between the public relations practitioner and the news media and why this exists; discuss the differing requirements of various media; explain the need to establish media contacts; learn techniques to manage media interviews; evaluate techniques to get one specific message picked up over others; understand how to deal with hostile media; write a media release; establish and maintain a contact list; develop a media kit; manage a media conference.

BPC230 Working in a Political Environment (Level 6) 15 credits

Students will understand the political framework of local and central government in New Zealand, including election processes, roles and responsibilities. Students will also be able to explain the difference between representative, deliberative and participative democracy and the concept of management versus governance.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Explain the New Zealand political framework and election processes especially MMP; explain the obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi as they relate to both local and central government; characterise the roles and responsibilities of elected and list representatives; discuss the relationship between local and central government; differentiate between representative, deliberative and participative democracy; compare and contrast management and governance.

BPC240 Media Law and Ethics (Level 6) 15 credits

Students will investigate the aspects of New Zealand law which relate to journalism in all its forms. In particular, it will highlight defamation, privacy, and trespass. Students will also understand the role of ethics in the media and be able to critically analyse ethical decisions such as the use of deception and invasion of privacy.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Understand defamation, its defences and remedies; explain the trespass law and how it affects journalists; explain what effect the Broadcasting Act and the NZ Press Council have; investigate the Human Rights Act and its meaning for the media industry; explain contempt of court v protection of sources; investigate the Privacy Act and analyse its effect on the media; understand obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi; understand New Zealand court structure and procedures; understand parliamentary privilege and how it applies; understand how embargoes work; describe the purpose and function of the New Zealand Copyright Act 1994; describe issues raised by the Internet relating to copyright; demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals of contract law; explain the difference between ethics and morals both personally and professionally; understand principles, values and virtues as they relate to ethics; analyse various ethical issues; analyse freedom of the press in NZ; debate the public’s right to know i.e. the public interest; understand which Codes of Ethics apply in New Zealand today; apply ethical decision-making strategies in various scenarios to reach a decision; debate ethical decisions made by the media; investigate sensationalism and media manipulation in the New Zealand media; examine how embargoes apply and whether these work.

Elective papers – students are required to complete five of the following:

BPC300 Change Communication (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will be able to analyse and explain the components and risks of organisational change. They will understand the importance of understanding the culture of an organisation and how to identify and collaborate with partners and establish relationships with stakeholders to effect successful internal change.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Discuss organisational culture and its components; assess organisational vision and values and their relationship to its culture; discuss risks and risk management in organisational change; evaluate the impact of internal and external change factors to an organisation; formulate collaboration strategies for relationship establishment; assess the success of the decision making process.

BPC310 Crisis and Emergency Communication
(Level 7) 15 credits

Students will be able to identify potential crises for organisations, and transfer the threat into an opportunity with pro-active crisis planning and the use of PR practices. They will be able to manage crises for various organisations and develop the necessary knowledge to evaluate the results, assessing ethical issues and social responsibilities.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Identify potential organisational crises; evaluate the threat to good reputation in a crisis; manage issues before they become crises; explain how to transfer a potential threat into an opportunity; carry out pro-active crisis planning; establish critical rules in a crisis; practise communication skills to manage crises; access and work with the media to manage a crisis; critically evaluate the result and assess for improvement; identify the essential tasks of the Public Information Manager; apply crisis and emergency communication management techniques to an emergency event; utilise any accessible media to aid communications; evaluate and critique the results.

BPC311 Event management (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will analyse recent publicity for major events and develop an event from concept to fruition, including the marketing and management of it. They will critically evaluate the success or otherwise of their event and reflect on various elements of event management.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Analyse various publicity events nationally and globally; understand the event planning process; analyse and evaluate the different components involved in organising an event; understand consumer behaviour principles and apply them to planning an event; analyse and evaluate the different components involved in running an event; identify possible problems/risks within an event; propose strategies to minimise associated risks; develop a media plan using all appropriate media to publicise the event; write media releases; run an actual event; evaluate and critique that event including the media plan; reflect on event management practices and components in relation to event.

BPC330 Relationships, Influence and Leadership
(Level 7) 15 credits

Students will be able to recognise and maximise their role in influencing decision makers and understand how to use influential tactics. They will understand some of the theories attached to influencing decision-making and know when to apply these to situations. Leadership and its qualities as opposed to management, will be examined as will the relationship between leaders and those who seek to influence them.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Understand the theory/ies behind influence in the corporate and governmental sense; examine their professional role in a sphere of influence; identify and critique tactics for effective influence in their workplace; understand the key theories relating to leadership; understand the difference between management and leadership; research and apply appropriate influential arguments in a given situation; analyse own leadership style for further development; evaluate interactions between different agencies and sectors including boundaries; understand the hierarchies in relationships in corporate and government settings and how much impact certain relationships can have on decision making.

BPC350 – Advanced Internet Utilisation in the Media (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will understand the impact of the Internet on journalism, including citizen journalism and blogs. Students will critically analyse news sites on the world-wide web; evaluate website credibility; and investigate newsgroups. Students will also demonstrate an understanding of internet processes and tools, and explore writing for the internet in practical contexts using multi-media applications.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Explain the development of journalism on the web over the past 20 years; discuss critically the advent of citizen journalists, bloggers, and opinion piece writers; examine journalism’s role represented in a variety of ‘new’ media; demonstrate knowledge of communication law and copyright as these apply to the Internet; present critical analysis of several news sites, both nationally and internationally, compared to ‘first world’ news values; argue for and against changes in traditional journalism brought by the Internet; investigate newsgroups; demonstrate understanding of internet processes and tools; discuss the impact of the wide variety of images now used on the Internet; demonstrate knowledge of effective searching techniques; write a blog; write an opinion piece; write a story for a news website; reflect on the differences in writing styles brought by the Internet.

BPC351 e-Government (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will be able to critically analyse the role of social/digital media in government communication and its influences/impacts. Students will also be able to assess concepts such as e-engagement, e-consultation, etc. in the development of e-Government in NZ.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Summarise legislation surrounding e-Government (e.g. Electronic Transaction Act, Privacy Act, Copyright Act, etc.); assess the legislative implications on the development of e-Government sites; evaluate the difference between guidelines and requirements; consider the role of guidelines in web development for government agencies; evaluate different social media sites for effectiveness; analyse the role of social media in the communication process.

BPC370 – Reputation and Brand Management (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will understand the components of reputation and brand and how these are protected in a political setting. Students will also be able to identify risks and develop strategies for brand protection.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Identify a brand its components and what makes it strong; debate the meaning and value of reputation in a political context; identify the risks to both; develop strategies for brand protection; evaluate various tactics and when these tactics should be employed; generate solutions to mitigate possible risks to brand or reputation.

BPC371 – Community Engagement (Level 7) 15 credits

Students will understand and be able to strategise for the differences between community engagement, consultation and communication. Students will also be able to understand the decision making process and how they can contribute to this.

On successful completion of this paper students will be able to: Differentiate between community engagement, consultation and communication; propose and enact relevant models for engagement, consultation and communication; incorporate Matauranga Māori into engagement, consultation and communication as appropriate; evaluate facilitation techniques for different occasions; critique differing processes and models; examine and generate solutions from current examples.

The Zero Fees Scheme applies to this course, so there are no tuition fees as long as you are a New Zealand citizen, resident/permanent resident (residing in NZ), BUT there is a student direct material cost per credit of study undertaken, plus a non-refundable administration cost of $50.00 for each application processed, and the required textbook/s listed below. You must maintain satisfactory academic progress to retain your Zero Fees Scheme entitlement.

Zero Fees Scheme – applies to NZ citizens and residents/permanent residents (residing in NZ). 2019 Cost (NZ$) $7.50 per credit + admin cost $50.00 per application (e.g. $750.00 for 100 credit course) - includes GST

International Students $100.00 per credit

Payments must be paid by the due date shown on the invoice.

Withdrawals & Transfers

  • Early withdrawals within the first week of the intake starting are entitled to a full refund of the Student Direct Material Costs but not the non-refundable administration cost of $50.
  • Withdrawals have to be requested within 75% of the intake, withdrawals after the early withdrawal date are not eligible for a refund.
  • Transfer requests have to be within the first two weeks of the intake starting and will incur a $50 transfer cost. Transfers can only occur to a subsequence intake within the same calendar year.

All SIT2LRN courses are approved by Studylink. Any queries regarding Studylink allowances, loans, and terms and conditions should be made directly to Studylink on 0800 88 99 00 or

The Graduate Diploma in Communication (Local Government) gives more experienced communications practitioners the opportunity to develop the skills necessary to manage specific issues, events and tasks, which may occur within that environment and draw on the theory which underpins these.

The Graduate Diploma in Communication (LG) also provides a professional development opportunity for a communications practitioner with a generic or similar undergraduate degree, who wishes to specialise in local government working at a higher level.

Entry is open to degree graduates, however those who have been able to demonstrate equivalent practical, professional or educational experience of an appropriate kind, may be granted admission.

English Language Requirements

Applicants, whose first language is not English, or who come from a country where the language of instruction in schools is not English, are required to provide evidence of having achieved one of the following

NCEA Level 3 with University Entrance, or

an International Baccalaureate Diploma or Cambridge A- level qualification for which the teaching and assessment was conducted in English; or

Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA),or Trinity College London Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CertTESOL);or

Successful completion of all primary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand primary school years 1 to 8) and at least three years of secondary education (being the equivalent of three years from New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in either New Zealand,,Australia,Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States one of the countries listed in Rule 18.5 where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of at least five years of secondary education (being the equivalent of New Zealand secondary school years 9 to 13) at schools in either New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States where the student was taught using English as the language of instruction; or

Successful completion of a Bachelor's Degree, Graduate Certificate, Graduate Diploma, Bachelor Honours degree, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma, Masters' Degree or Doctoral Degree, the language of instruction of which must be in English and which must be from a tertiary education provider from New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the Republic of Ireland, South Africa, the United Kingdom or the United States or

Successful completion of one of the following internationally recognised proficiency tests listed below to the level required of the programme of study and with all scores achieved in a single test during the two years preceding the proposed date of enrolment

IELTS test - Academic score of 6 with no band score lower than 5.5
TOEFL Paper based test (pBT) - Score of 550 (with an essay score 5 TWE)
TOEFL Internet based test (iBT) - Score of 60 (with a writing score of 18)
Cambridge English Examination - B2 First or B2 First for schools or C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency with a score of 169. No less than 162 in each skill.
OET - Minimum of Grade C or 200 in all sub-tests
NZCEL - a) Expiring Level b) Current: a) Level 4 (Academic) b) Level 4 (Academic)
Pearson Test of English (Academic) - PTE (Academic) score of 50 with no band score lower than 42
Language Cert - C1 Expert IESOL (LRWS) with PASS and no less than Pass in each skill
Trinity ISE - ISE II with no less than distinction in any band

* New versions of some NZCEL qualifications, and in some cases new qualifications, were published on 13 June 2017. These are intended to replace pre-existing versions and qualifications, which have been given expiring status until discontinued on 31 December 2019. (a) denotes expiring (b) denotes current

Suggested study path / combinations

Full time study

Full time study is completing 60 credits (four papers) per intake. Full time acceptance into the programme is at the Programme Manager’s discretion.

Part time study

The number of credits selected per intake should depend on work, family, and other commitments. The recommended maximum number of credits per intake compared to working hours are:

  • 37+ hours per week = maximum of 30 credits per intake
  • 20 – 37 hours per week = maximum of 45 credits per intake
  • Fewer than 20 hours per week = maximum of 60 credits per intake (full time study)

Additional information

  • As a guideline, one credit equates to approximately 10 hours study within an intake period.  Click HERE to download a Study Load Calculator (spreadsheet).
  • All papers selected within a particular intake must be completed within that intake unless a transfer is requested (conditions apply; see FAQs).
  • Online enrolments are on a year by year basis and students are welcome to apply for multiple intakes in one enrolment.  Further enrolment is the responsibility of individual students.  There is no automatic enrolment rollover. 

All SIT2LRN courses require you to have a computer and Internet access. Students are required to use their SIT webmail only for all SIT2LRN communications. All course materials and information, including assessments and due dates, are located on the online Blackboard system. Once you have been accepted into a programme you will receive an Important Information Booklet that includes information that you can use to familiarise yourself with our online Blackboard learning environment. From the intake start date you will have access to the online course materials to work through.

Facilitator Assistance: During the enrolled intake period, students have email access to Facilitators, who endeavour to respond to emails within 48 hours (week days only). All students are required, within the first two weeks of an intake, to send an email to their Facilitator confirming their start on the programme of study. Students who have not emailed their facilitator or embarked upon their course of study by the end of the 2nd week of an intake, will be Faculty Withdrawn from the programme. Such withdrawals may impact on future access to SIT Zero Fees Scheme and Student Direct Material Costs are still liable for payment.

Progress reports are sent out 6-8 weeks after the end of each intake.

We recommend students new to SIT2LRN read through the Frequently Asked Questions section of our website for further study and enrolment information.

Please use the following checklist to ensure that all relevant information and documentation has been included. Remember, your application will be assessed based on the information that you provide us with.  Processing of your application will be delayed if we need to come back to you for missing information.

  • I have read all sections of the Programme Information on this page
  • I have read the SIT2LRN Frequently Asked Questions section
  • I have met all admission criteria for the programme (found under Application Criteria)
  • I have met all the criteria for individual papers (found under Course Content).
  • I have selected the paper(s) I wish to study
  • I have selected intake(s) (I have selected alternate intakes rather than overlapping intakes)
  • I know my intended payment method
  • If my organisation/company is paying for my studies, I have a completed and approved purchase order to attach to my online application.  I am aware that should my organisation or company not pay my fees, these will become my responsibility.
  • New students – I have provided an active NSN in the name I am enrolling in or I have verified ID and will attach it to my online application.
  • New students – I will attach academic documentation (NZQA record of achievement/academic transcripts/certificates).  These do not need to be verified. (If you do not have any academic documentation to support your application, please attach a comprehensive CV outlining your education and work experience).
  • I have computer access,  an Internet connection and access to software to create electronic documents e.g. Microsoft Word or Open Office

What is the Zero Fees Scheme?

The Zero Fees Scheme means we do not charge tuition fees. However, there is a Student Direct Material Cost that you need to pay and a non-refundable administration fee. The administration fee is for processing your application and the Student Direct Material Cost gives you secure access to Blackboard® our online learning environment and to student support services throughout your study with us.

Who qualifies for the Zero Fees Scheme?

  • A New Zealand citizen completing the full qualification or 
  • An Australian citizen/New Zealand Resident or Permanent Resident who will be residing in New Zealand for the duration of your enrolment.

Instructions to help you with your application:

  1. Read the Programme Information on this page and the SIT2LRN Frequently Asked Questions and find out if you meet the application criteria for both the programme and the unit/s you wish to study.
  2. Check your eligibility for Zero Fees. If you are not eligible to study under this scheme, please call
    0800 748 257 for further options.
  3. Complete your online enrolment checking that:

If you are a new student …

  • Provide an active NSN number in the name you are enrolling in (contact NZQA on 0800 697 296 to get your NSN number if you do not know it);
  • If you do not have an active NSN, then attach a copy of your verified ID in the name you are enrolling in.
  • If you are a Resident or Permanent resident of NZ, please provide a copy of proof of residency;
  • Attach all academic documentation to support your application including copies of any certificates of courses you have undertaken / NZQA record of achievement / transcripts / CV;

Attach supporting documents as required and outlined on the previous page.

  1. Please check that you have included all the required information and supporting documents.  Your application will be assessed based on the information that you provide.  Missing information will delay the processing of your application.
  2. Please scan and email all additional documentation to

What happens next?

  • You will receive an automatic email confirmation when we receive your online application. Processing may take up to three weeks. However, we will get in touch with you sooner if we require further documentation.
  • Once your application has been accepted you will be sent a conditional offer of acceptance with an invoice and instructions on how to make payment.
  • Once we have received your payment (or if you have opted to pay by Credit Card, Student Loan or Purchase Order) you will be sent an Enrolment Confirmation Letter and Important Information Booklet. Closer to the start of the intake you will receive a Time To Get Started Letter which will give you all the necessary information, tools and guidance to start your study with us.

For students to be considered to have satisfactorily completed this programme and be eligible for the awarding of the qualification Graduate Diploma in Communication (Local Government), they must have completed all scheduled course work requirements and assessments, successfully completed assessment requirements for all papers, and achieved a total of 120 credits as specified in the programme schedule. The timeframe for completion of this programme is five years.

Assessments for this programme may include written assessments, presentations, reports and online examinations.

For more information on required and recommended textbooks for this course please refer to the textbook list here

Please note that textbooks need to be ordered at least 3-4 weeks prior to the commencement of your study