University of Surrey School of Management

What are postgraduate placements and how do they benefit businesses?

A postgraduate placement is a learning activity where a Masters student performs a project that is of strategic value to a hosting company, enriching the student’s learning whilst delivering targeted problem-solving.

Ahead of the commencement of the placement, companies are able to discuss and agree on the project with the relevant Programme Director at the University. The company can then begin the selection process with the support of the postgraduate placement team as required.

During the placement, the company and the student are assisted by Business School tutors to ensure that the placement delivers value for both the company and the student.

On completion of the placement, the company is encouraged to participate in a debrief session with the tutor, with the aim to review the value created during the placement and to explore how to better progress future projects.

Is there a cost to companies when offering a postgraduate placement?

The University is grateful to the companies that offer placements and requires no payment whatsoever for the service of advertising the companies’ placements among the students. However, students will expect a fair remuneration for their work with the company and this is subject to discussion between the company and the student.

How are postgraduate placements different to the traditional professional training year?

The two types of placements are similar in many respects. And this is good news, because at the University of Surrey we have a long, solid and successful tradition of professional training years.

The main differences are that the postgraduate placements are shorter and are more focussed on delivering specific projects, which require advanced skills. The postgraduate students are more mature, have been trained for longer and arrive at the placement having completed the taught component of their Masters Degree, and acquired skills and knowledge in their specialism.

What are the specialist areas of business knowledge postgraduate placement students come equipped with?

These span Business Analytics, Operations and Digital Supply Chain, Human Resource Management, Marketing and Retail Marketing.

Is there a particular size or type of business that placements are designed for?

Any company can benefit from a postgraduate placement and a student can learn from working in any type and size of company. What’s essential is the fit between the student, the project and the company. This fit is not dissimilar to that which guides companies during a normal recruitment process; a student on placement, has to be a good fit with the company culture and the other employees, and they have to be up to the required tasks. Postgraduate students also represent a tremendous opportunity for a company’s existing employees to develop their supervisory skills.

What support does the Business School provide to help businesses get the most from a placement?

The Business School provides a designated tutor, who is an expert in the subject relevant to the project and well versed in facilitating the transfer of knowledge from academia to the corporate world. They thrive in making a positive impact to meet real-world business needs. The tutor will be a regular point of contact both for the student on placement and for the company - before, during and after the placement.

How do businesses meet and match up with the right student for their needs?

The more details a company can provide about an intended placement project, the easier it is for the student to find the correct fit. As we expect some competition among companies to secure our postgraduate placements, clear descriptions of the project will stand out and be more appealing to the students than more generic offers. Companies considering providing a placement or that wish to discuss with us how to set tasks or describe a project for a postgraduate placement, should contact Adrian Shanks ( 

The company will be able to select among the students who will have applied. However, the company can ask us to help out on this selection process if it wishes.

How do businesses find out more information and begin the placement process?

The easiest way is to get in touch with us by contacting Adrian Shanks (, Adrian will be able to answer most questions, but also he will put the company in touch with the relevant Programme Director. We like to establish a dialogue with companies and an email to Adrian is the easiest and most effective start.

What other opportunities do businesses have to partner with Surrey Business School?

Surrey Business School has a wide range of activities which accelerate innovative thinking into practice across a growing network of corporates, SMEs, start-ups and third and public sector organisations. Our recently launched Partnership Scheme enables companies to benefit from our distinctive business knowledge, world-class academics, top international students and excellent facilities, conveniently located for connecting across Surrey and London. As a gateway to top talent and as a means of accessing thought leadership, consultancy, training and cutting-edge research Surrey Business School has the tools to help businesses understand and address the challenges they face.

Professor Marco Mongiello is Associate Dean (International), Faculty and Executive Director of Postgraduate Programmes, Surrey Business School. 

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