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 the 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 six months or complete a study abroad opportunity with one of over 50 international partner institutions worldwide.

You will choose between two PDP study routes:


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. This can include:

  • Skills workshops and simulations
  • Term 3 or cultural summer study abroad opportunities with a partner institution 
  • Work-based experience such as a consultancy project or a short internship. 

As an International Student, the decision that you make will have an impact on your visa and your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee.


If you choose the 12 month route without the six month placement then you would incur a lower IHS fee as the course and visa will be shorter.

A one year masters with no placement will incur an IHS fee of £225.


If while you are studying at Aston you decide that you wish to do a six month placement you will have to make a second visa application.  

Students are not 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 an 18 month course, you will have to return overseas, apply for entry clearance and submit an application for a new Tier 4 General visa.  

This may disrupt your studies part way through your degree. Timing will need to be considered as you will have to return overseas, submit an application, wait for a decision and then return to the UK to complete your placement.  

You will have to pay a second visa application fee when you apply for your visa from overseas, currently £335.

There will be an additional IHS fee, the cost will depend on when the student applies for the visa. There may (not guaranteed) be a refund given for any time unspent on the previous visa. 

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


18 month 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 six months in the UK or overseas
  • Complete a semester abroad with one of our partner institutions throughout the world.* 

*Students on a Tier 4 visa will be sponsored by the University while they undertake either their work or study placement. Places are limited and terms and conditions apply. 

As an International Student, the decision that you make will have an impact on your visa and your Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) fee.


If you opt for the one year masters programme with the six month placement included, you will simply pay one visa application fee; as one application covers you for both the six months of placement plus the one year of your masters degree.


If you opted for the 18 month route and decided not to do the 6 months of placement, then you must inform your school student support team. 

Your course end date will then be changed to the one year master’s programme end date. The Visa Compliance Team will report to the Home Office that your course will complete early and your visa will be cut short.

If you opt for the one year masters programme with the six month placement, your IHS fee will be £300.

If you receive a Tier 4 visa and later decide to drop your placement, no refund will be given for IHS fees for the year that is dropped. 

Please contact the 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 programme will be delivered in the following phases:

PDP phases

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
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