What is it like to study a one-year Diploma in Communication?
Aastha, a student at Murdoch University Dubai, shares her story.
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Aastha completed a one-year Diploma in Communication before transitioning to the second year of an undergraduate degree. Here, she tells us how a diploma is different to an undergraduate degree, what it’s like to study communication, and her plans for the future.
What are you studying right now?
‘I’m in my second year of an undergraduate degree in Strategic Communication and Web Communication. It’s a double major, meaning I can pursue both subjects and get a degree for each one, and we study things like audience behaviour, how to develop communication strategies, and how to create online content.
I entered the undergraduate programme after completing a one-year Diploma in Communication, which is equivalent to the first year of the undergraduate programme.’
Where are you studying?
‘I’m studying at Murdoch University Dubai, which offers Australian-credited, internationally-recognised degrees, and it’s one of two branch campuses outside Australia.
The Dubai campus is in Dubai Knowledge Park, the educational hub of Dubai, and it’s attended by 700 students across more than 55 nationalities. Many of the students, including myself, live at home, while others live in dorms or rent apartments.
The university is supported by the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) and Middle East Public Relations Association (MEPRA), and it provides students with substantial scholarships.’
Why did you choose to study communication?
‘I didn’t realise I wanted to study communication until fairly recently. I initially pursued a Diploma in Information Technology for a year, but while I was studying for that, I realised that I have a creative side and I really enjoy working on things for social media – it all seemed very exciting! In the end, I went forward with the decision to study communication, as it’s a vital part of any business. After completing the one-year Diploma in Communication, I transitioned into the second year of the undergraduate programme.’
How is a diploma different from an undergraduate programme?
‘A diploma is a pathway programme for students who have completed high school, but don’t fully meet the entry requirements for direct entry into the first year of an undergraduate programme. It gives them a chance to study the same units as they would in the first year of an undergraduate programme, but with additional support like more time with tutors and smaller classes. Based on my experience, the classes for undergraduate programmes have more than 20 students in them, whereas you’ll find around 8-15 students in a diploma class.
The quality of education is the same in both programmes. In my introduction to communication class, for example, our tutor used interactive group discussions to encourage everyone to participate and share their views. This really helped me to understand some of the more complex topics, and it created a supportive learning environment that made the subject feel engaging and accessible.
At Murdoch University Dubai, once students complete the diploma and have a GPA of 2.6 or above, they qualify for a scholarship on the remaining two years of study. The diploma can make that transition to second year easier, and the best thing is you’ll still graduate in three years.’
Are you enjoying the programme?
‘Yes! The tutors work in the industry, so they’re able to share their real-world experiences with us. One of our professors, for example, Ms Soman, works as an associate director at Hills and Knowlton Strategies, so in class she shares the insights she’s gained through working on real-life campaigns. In general, this programme places more emphasis on practical, real-world applications over textbook reading.
My favourite topic so far has been Graphic Design – in the era of social media, it’s been helpful to learn how to use Adobe software.’
What are your plans for the future?
‘After I graduate, I might pursue a master’s degree in Australia, as I’ve really enjoyed Murdoch’s teaching style. After completing the master’s programme, I might look for work in Australia or return to Dubai, where my family lives. I’ll look for jobs in my field as a PR associate, social media manager, or content creator.’
Would you recommend the diploma program to others?
‘If you’re considering applying for a diploma, or if you’ve been offered a place on a diploma programme after applying for direct entry to the bachelor’s degree, my advice would be to go for it! The classes are the same and, in the end, you’ll gain the same bachelor’s degree. You might find that there are financial benefits, too – students placed in the diploma programme at Murdoch receive an automatic 50% scholarship on their first year of studies.
In my experience, the one-year diploma added value to my resume, helped me to discover a subject that I enjoy, and set me up for success in my undergraduate degree.
I’m excited about my future career in communications and I’ve already gained valuable experience through career support. For example, students at Murdoch have a Career Portal where we can apply to relevant internship positions, which has helped me land multiple interviews, as well as a paid internship in the marketing team at Murdoch University.’