Access our student talent with live briefs

Do you have a business issue or challenge that you think our students could help you work towards solving?

A man and woman work on an interative whiteboard in front of an audience

What is a live brief?

A live brief is an opportunity for you to present our students with a real-world problem and challenge them to come up with a fresh and creative solution or ideas that could benefit your organisation.

How will my organisation benefit?

Live briefs can help:

  • Inject innovative ideas from our student community into your organisation
  • Raise awareness of your brand or company profile
  • Develop a closer partnership between you, our community and our network of stakeholders
  • Connect you to future graduate talent

How do students benefit?

Our students will benefit from this valuable experience by gaining an insight into the challenges faced by your industry whilst improving their employability and future career prospects.

How do live briefs work?

We will work in partnership with you to develop a live brief project outline that our undergraduate students can work on during their first (October – December) or second (January – April) term. This will be an activity, task or perhaps set as a competition based on your business needs but will form part of their course learning. It may be an actual recent business briefing worked on by your staff.

The scope of the live brief challenge increases in complexity and personalisation as our students’ progress through their studies so our academics will work with you to ensure that they are matched accordingly.

Live briefs can take many forms:

  • a market research project
  • user experience research
  • designing, conducting or analysing surveys
  • a plan to raise the profile of your organisation using social media
  • generation of design options
  • developing a fundraising event or campaign
  • event management
  • editing or creating a company newsletter
  • usability testing

We can incorporate live briefs from a broad range of topics from technical to business related and we encourage our external partners to be as creative as possible as long as the challenge represents a real life business issue.

What is the commitment?

We will work with you determine the best way for students to receive your vital professional feedback on your particular brief which may take the form of a poster presentation, a report, a slide pack or a presentation of their ideas. Examples of how this might work in practice include:

  • 1-3 hours of your time (Year 1 students). You submit a brief at the start of the module. At the end of the module, you will review and provide feedback from a report of the students work, slide pack or attend a student poster presentation.
  • 3-5 hours of your time (Year 2 students). You submit a brief at the start of the module. At the end of the module, you will be invited to campus to hear the students present their report findings in person or via a live link.
  • 5-6 hours of your time (Year 3 students). You submit a brief at the start of the module. At some point during the module at an agreed time/date, you’ll be on hand to answer student questions relating to the brief. You will then be invited to attend an end of module presentation day.

Is there a cost?

No. We value your contribution and your commitment of time and offer this service free of charge to organisations keen to support and help develop our students.

What does the live brief need to be about?

There are no hard and fast rules about the topic of the live brief as long as it is a real business or organisational issue. It may be an ongoing issue within your organisation that has not been a particularly high priority, one that has newly emerged or something that your staff have not yet had time to work on. It may even be an issue that has recently been resolved by your own staff but could benefit from a fresh approach or different thinking.

How will I know that my live brief idea is suitable for ARU students?

Our staff will discuss your live brief idea to ensure that it aligns with the curriculum of one of our courses and also to which level of students it should be posed. It may prove to be unsuitable or may perhaps need to be adjusted slightly to do so. It may be too big a challenge to address in one module or during one term and so it could be split into different components and given to different groups of students. Our experienced academics know the capabilities of their students and so can advise on setting the challenge at the right level sufficiently to engage them and to be able to produce work/ideas that will benefit your organisation. If the idea is not suitable as a live brief there are alternative options such as a student consultancy.

How many hours do I have to commit to a live brief?

We envisage the bare minimum to engage in a live brief would be 3 hours which might include introducing the live brief to the students, being available for a scheduled Q & A session or providing feedback on student work progress and finally providing professional feedback on their completed work. The more input you give (such as being available to the student’s mid-term to answer questions) or reviewing their reports to provide individual professional feedback, the more likely you are to receive work of a useful calibre. The joint commitment statement asks you to specify how much time you have available to partner with ARU so expectations are set and agreed at the very start.

What type of work/output can the students be expected to complete as part of a live brief?

This will be discussed and agreed with you prior to delivery of the live brief. It may take the form of a business report, infographic, presentation or an elevator pitch of the students’ ideas. It will depend greatly on your live brief idea, the challenge posed as well as the time you have available to review their work. It is essential however that the work the students are asked to produce takes the form of something that you would normally expect within your organisation.

Will I be expected to mark the students work?

No, the marking of the student coursework will be conducted by the academics. Your feedback however is invaluable as it is from a professional perspective rather than academic which will be of great value to the students.

What type of professional feedback is expected from me?

There are various ways your professional feedback can be given to the students and what form it will take will be agreed and discussed with you prior to delivery of the live brief. Much will depend on how much time you can commit to reviewing the students work and how many students are taking part but ideally this would be a face to face session. This could be a poster presentation where you could review their work and give immediate feedback or may take the form of a student presentation event. Alternatively their work may be provided to you in a report style or powerpoint slide pack for you to provide feedback on its value as well as areas for improvement. Whichever method is selected we ask that you take into account that although honesty is essential, the feedback is provided in such a constructive way that it builds rather than diminishes student confidence and points to areas where they met the live brief as well as areas for further development.

Do I always have to come to the campus?

Whilst we always welcome external partners to our premises and to meet our students personally, we appreciate that you are busy and so we can make alternative arrangements. We have excellent technology in our classrooms that allow live links and these interactions can also be recorded and shown to other groups of students later through our managed learning environment.

If I commit to a live brief this year will I be expected to keep coming back?

Of course we would be delighted if you were able to come back the following year to deliver a similar or different live brief to another group of students but appreciate that this may not be possible. If delivering to 1st year students, you may choose to use a different idea the following year or to set another, more challenging live brief to 2nd year students as an alternative. Either way, we only tie you in for one delivery and there is no obligation to commit the following year.

What if my live brief involves revealing sensitive or confidential information about my organisation?

It is possible for students who will be undertaking your live brief (and the staff involved in working with you to develop it) to sign a non-disclosure document. Whether or not this should be an integral part of the process will be discussed with you prior to delivery.

Who should I contact if I run into unexpected difficulties?

We do not anticipate any issues as the students will have been prepared for the live brief session and the joint commitment statement clarifies both your responsibilities and that of the academic. However, if your experience is not as expected, the dedicated Academic Employability Consultant for the faculty will assist you. Should there be any issues or concerns about any of our students, we would appreciate your feedback so that we can ensure it is properly addressed.

What happens if my circumstances change and I am no longer able to deliver the live brief?

We understand that circumstances occasionally change and whilst we hope we would be given sufficient notice to make alternative arrangements, our academics are always able to cope in such circumstances and arrange an alternative student activity. It is suggested that our employer partners also have some contingency plans in place, possibly for another member of your staff to deliver the live brief in your place in the event of an emergency. We may not be able to re-arrange your live brief session to a later date due to timetabling/curriculum issues.

Get in touch to find out more.

If you have a challenge for our students or an idea that you would like to discuss further, please fill in our Live Briefs Expression of Interest form (PDF) and send it to