USQ Logo
The current and official versions of the course specifications are available on the web at
Please consult the web for updates that may occur during the year.

PRL2001 Communicating Through Issues and Crisis

Semester 2, 2021 Online
Short Description: Communicating Through Issues
Units : 1
Faculty or Section : Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts
School or Department : School of Humanities & Communication
Student contribution band : Band 4
ASCED code : 080509 - Public Relations
Grading basis : Graded


Examiner: Alison Feldman

Other Requisites

Students will require access to e-mail and have internet access to UConnect for this course.


Keeping your head when everyone around you is losing theirs is easy when you have a system to plan for the worst, and you also have a template for how to communicate. It's also a sought-after public relations skill that can be learned, and a highly desirable addition to your professional skill set. This course works through the processes and planning for successfully steering your organisation through an issue or crisis that threatens its future. The planning process you will learn in this course builds on the frameworks you covered in first year and carries through to your campaign planning work in third year. The messaging techniques you learned in other second year courses will be reinforced, enhancing your job-readiness.


You will investigate the knowledge and frameworks that will enable you to plan for and communicate through issues and crises that have potential to damage the organisation you work for. It provides you with an ethical foundation to avoid a `spin' approach to communicating out of trouble, and instead employ a genuine stakeholder relationships approach to ensure your organisation's stakeholders can make informed decisions during the issue or crisis. You will learn how to plan the response relevant to the circumstances, develop the organisation's written and spoken response, and to prepare your senior management team for genuine and credible communication with stakeholders. You will also examine scenario planning to ensure your organisation is ready, and crisis recovery communication.


On successful completion of this course students should be able to:

  1. Identify and apply the core elements of crisis sensing and intelligence gathering;
  2. Apply problem-solving skills by using theory to diagnose and deal with a crisis, and suggest ways to prevent an issue from developing into a crisis;
  3. Use academic and professional literacy skills to critically analyse and evaluate existing crisis and issues management approaches;
  4. Identify the type of issue or crisis that is manifesting, and develop the appropriate communication response;
  5. Construct and implement issues management and crisis communication plans;
  6. Apply knowledge of the importance of stakeholder relationships to effectively manage crises and issues;
  7. Apply written communication skills appropriate to the discipline by preparing and submitting a crisis management plan and scenario;
  8. Develop a crises communication plan and issue key messages appropriate to certain target publics


Description Weighting(%)
1. Crises and issues 20.00
2. Effective and ethical crisis communication 25.00
3. Issues analysis and communication planning 25.00
4. Crisis analysis and communication planning 25.00
5. Crisis recovery 5.00

Text and Materials

ALL textbooks and materials available to be purchased can be sourced from USQ's Online Bookshop (unless otherwise stated). (

Please contact us for alternative purchase options from USQ Bookshop. (

Ulmer, Robert R., Sellnow, Timothy L. & Seeger, Matthew W. 2019, Effective Crisis Communication, 4th edn, SAGE Publications.

Reference Materials

Reference materials are materials that, if accessed by students, may improve their knowledge and understanding of the material in the course and enrich their learning experience.
Coombs, W.Timothy 2018, Ongoing Crisis Communication, 5th edn, Sage, Los Angeles, California.
Coombs, W.Timothy 2020, 'Being Tone-Deaf through Silence', Crisis Communication Blog by Timothy Coombs, vol. N/A, June 2020, viewed 06 April 2021,
Jacques, Tony 2014, Issue and Crisis Management: exploring issues, crises, risk and reputation, Oxford University Press, South Melbourne.

Student Workload Expectations

Activity Hours
Directed Study 45.00
Independent Study 120.00

Assessment Details

Description Marks out of Wtg (%) Due Date Notes
CASE STUDY CRITIQUE 30 30 09 Aug 2021
CRISIS MGT PLAN & SCENARIO 60 60 11 Oct 2021

Important assessment information

  1. Attendance requirements:
    Students must attend and complete the requirements of the Workplace Health and Safety training program for this course where required.

    External and Online:
    There are no attendance requirements for this course. However, it is the students’ responsibility to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration.

    It is the students’ responsibility to attend and participate appropriately in all activities (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratories and practical work) scheduled for them, and to study all material provided to them or required to be accessed by them to maximise their chance of meeting the objectives of the course and to be informed of course-related activities and administration

  2. Requirements for students to complete each assessment item satisfactorily:
    To satisfactorily complete an individual assessment item a student must achieve at least 50% of the marks.

  3. Penalties for late submission of required work:
    Students should refer to the Assessment Procedure (point 4.2.4)

  4. Requirements for student to be awarded a passing grade in the course:
    To be assured of receiving a passing grade a student must achieve at least 50% of the total weighted marks available for the course.

  5. Method used to combine assessment results to attain final grade:
    The final grades for students will be assigned on the basis of the aggregate of the weighted marks obtained for each of the summative assessment items in the course.

  6. Examination information:
    There is no examination for this course.

  7. Examination period when Deferred/Supplementary examinations will be held:
    Deferred and Supplementary examinations will be held in accordance with the Assessment Procedure

  8. University Student Policies:
    Students should read the USQ policies: Definitions, Assessment and Student Academic Misconduct to avoid actions which might contravene University policies and practices. These policies can be found at

Other Requirements

  1. Students can expect that questions in assessment items in this course may draw upon knowledge and skills that they can reasonably be expected to have acquired before enrolling in the course. This includes knowledge contained in pre-requisite courses and appropriate communication, writing styles, information literacy, analytical, critical thinking, problem solving or numeracy skills. Students who do not possess such knowledge and skills should not expect to achieve the same grades as those students who do possess them.

Date printed 8 November 2021