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PDP Masters

More than a masters

The Professional Development Programme (PDP) is an integrated module which runs throughout all MSc programmes at Aston Business School. Focusing on professional development and employability, this module gives you the opportunity to identify, develop and apply the key skills you will gain throughout the year. As you work through this compulsory module you will: 

  • Build a skills portfolio which allows you to showcase the competencies you have acquired during your studies, competencies that are highly desirable to employers worldwide

  • Take part in a range of skills workshops and simulations 

  • Have the opportunity to complete an integrated work internship of up to 12 months or complete a study abroad opportunity with one of over 50 international partner institutions worldwide.

You will automatically be enrolled onto the 12 month programme, with the opportunity to extend your course to up to 24 months to include extended work or study placements.


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12 month route

You can choose to complete the PDP in 12 months alongside your MSc programme. The applied learning takes place mostly during the time you complete your masters dissertation. You can choose from four streams:

  • Business simulations

  • Entrepreneurship and intellectual property project

  • Summer schools or summer term study abroad opportunities with a partner institution 

  • Work-based experience such as a consultancy project or a short internship. 

You will automatically be enrolled onto the 12 month route, with the opportunity to extend your course to up to a year. 

If while you are studying at Aston you decide that you wish to do an extended work placement in the UK, you will have to make a second visa application.  

Students are now permitted to extend their visa while in the UK if the reason for an extension is to add a placement.

As the course will be extended to up to a year, you will have to apply for a Tier 4 visa extension to cover this extra period and you can now do this in the UK meaning that your studies do not need to be disrupted.

There will be an additional fee for a further visa extension application and there may be a cost associated with this process, but our International Student Advisers will be able to offer you personalised advice nearer the time of your visa extension application.

Please contact our International Student Advice Team if you have any questions about how these placement years affect your Tier 4 visa application. 


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Extended MSc Route

This gives you the option to complete the PDP at the end of the academic part of your course. You can either:

  • Undertake an internship of up to 12 months in the UK or overseas*
  • Complete a semester abroad or a double degree with one of our partner institutions throughout the world.**

*Students on a Tier 4 visa will be sponsored by the University while they undertake their work placement in the UK.

**Places are limited and terms and conditions apply. 

You will automatically be enrolled onto the 12 month route, with the opportunity to extend your course to up to 24 months.

If while you are studying at Aston you secure a work placement extending beyond the end of your 12 months visa, you will have to make a second visa application.  

Students are now permitted to extend their visa while in the UK if the reason for an extension is to add a placement.

As the course will be extended to up to 24 months, you will have to apply for a Tier 4 visa extension to cover this extra period and you can now do this in the UK meaning that your studies do not need to be disrupted.

There will be an additional fee for a further visa extension application and there may be a cost associated with this process, but our International Student Advisers will be able to offer you personalised advice nearer the time of your visa extension application.

Please contact our International Student Advice Team if you have any questions about how these placement years affect your Tier 4 visa application. 


Once you have decided on your route, the Professional Development Programme (PDP) will be delivered in the following phases:

Part 1 - September

Part 1 of the PDP takes place during induction with an introduction to some of the skills you will have to use throughout the year and beyond, such as:

  • Presentation skills
  • Effective team working
  • Leadership and lntercultural competencies.

Students in assigned teams work on a group project which culminates in a presentation in front of a panel.

Part 2 - October to April

Part 2 of the PDP is essentially formed by the taught part of your MSc degree course. Many of the skills introduced during induction as forming an essential part of the students' toolkit, are brought to the fore and developed during the academic work which takes place in Terms 1 and 2, including:

  • Critical analysis
  • Report writing
  • Case study analysis
  • Time management

This will be framed by an extensive career management programme, self-leadership and reflective practice workshops integrated throughout all three academic terms.

Part 3 - June to September (and up to the following September if undertaking an extended work or study placement)

Part 3 takes place at the end of the taught part of your MSc and provides the opportunity to tailor your learning experience to fit your needs. You must complete one of the following streams:

STREAM ONE: Integrated Study Abroad

This offers the option to make use of our extensive academic exchange opportunities to study at one of our partner institutions located all over the world and experience a new cultural and educational model as well as enhancing your global professional profile. Opportunities range from a four week summer school to a full semester to a double degree where you spend an additional year with the partner school and obtain a second qualification.

STREAM TWO: Work-based Experience

Undertake a consultancy project or an internship (from four weeks full time and up to a year) in the UK or overseas. Students on a Tier 4 visa will be sponsored by the University while they undertake the work placement in the UK. Internships may be paid or unpaid. If you wish to undertake an internship of up to a year after the end of your academic programme, the University will sponsor the extension of your Tier 4 visa. 

STREAM THREE: Business Simulations

This gives the opportunity to work in a cross-functional team and gain practical experience in business problem solving using fact based analytical decision making processes.  This will help to develop capabilities in identifying and analysing key environmental and organisational variables that may influence business performance. There are currently three simulations available, depending on your degree programme:

  • Global Challenge
  • Accounting and Finance in Action
  • Portfolio Trader

STREAM FOUR: Product Intellectual Property and Entrepreneurship

If you have always wanted to start your own business this is the stream for you. Working in a team of fellow entrepreneurial students you will create a business of your choice. Over a three week period you will explore the principles of entrepreneurship and receive input from a range of academic staff, teaching you the different components of creating a business and putting together a business plan.

We have numerous long-established partnership agreements with business and management schools worldwide. These include:

  • Aalto School of Economics - Finland
  • Antai Shanghai Jiao Tong University - China
  • BI Norwegian Business School - Norway
  • Bocconi University - Italy
  • Pepperdine University - USA
  • EMLYON Business School - France
  • Mannheim Business School - Germany
  • Queensland University of Technology - Australia
  • XLRI Jamshedpur - India.

Our study abroad exchange programme is available on all of our MSc programmes. Places are limited and conditions apply.

Although this addition to your studies is fee exempt, you will be required to cover all additional costs including: travel, visas, accommodation and living expenses.

You can study the Professional Development Programme as part of one of our many programmes covering:

  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • International Business
  • Business and Operations
  • HR and Organisation Studies
Apply now