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The Business Clinic

11th December 2017

 The Business Clinic: at the heart of the curriculum, replacing the dissertation with a collaboration between students, organisations and academics to produce real solutions and new perspectives that are underpinned by rigorous theory and research

The Business Clinic, , part of Northumbria University’s, was ‘Highly Commended’ by the British Academy of Management Education Practice Awards Panel 2017 for its role in bringing students and businesses together to identify and deliver genuine solutions for real businesses.

Since 2013, Northumbria University’s Business Clinic has been supporting final-year Undergraduate and Masters’ students to provide clients with a full consultancy service free of charge. The students’ work with the client organisation, conduct in-depth research and make their recommendations in a full report and presentation.

The total value of the students’ consultancy advice and business reports as estimated by their clients exceeds £700,000 (in the first four years). In the 2017/18 academic year, around 280 students will be working on live client projects. The scheme is accessible to students across all of Northumbria’s third and fourth year undergraduate and masters’ students on business programmes.

Available to all types of businesses, the Business Clinic works with charities, social enterprises, SMEs through to multinationals. Areas of focus include strategic operations, expansion, human resources, finance, brand development, strategic marketing, planning, logistics and IT.

The Business Clinic scheme is ‘at the heart of the curriculum, by replacing the traditional dissertation with a collaboration between students and business to produce real solutions and new perspectives that are underpinned by rigorous theory and research’.

Nigel Coates, Director of the Business Clinic, commented: “In the first four years of operation the Business Clinic has seen over 600 students work with and advise more than 145 organisations. We are extremely proud to have provided consultancy advice to a great variety of organisations in a diverse range of areas.

“Through the scheme we aim to give our students a valuable opportunity to develop advantageous skills informed by cutting-edge business research and improve their chances of securing highly-desirable jobs when they graduate.”

The University invested over £800,000 to move the Business Clinic into its own vibrant, 500 square metre premises next to the University campus but on a main shopping street; which is far more accessible to external clients. The building includes client briefing rooms, boardroom and a reception area with conferencing and event space.

The Business Clinic modules (UG 40/120; Masters 60/180 credits) are based on research-rich learning, enhancing individual effectiveness and employability skills by locating the learning in an organisational context. They promote personal and group development, commercial awareness, and a range of inter-personal, intellectual and practical skills and knowledge centred on – and demonstrated through – a real-time work-based project.
Students work in groups of four as partners in a ‘consultancy firm’. They complete a real consultancy brief that requires them to produce a client report and make a formal presentation.

The firm works on the brief to produce/submit a high quality and professional looking written consultancy report to the client; they then make a formal presentation to the client followed by Q&A.

The module also requires students to undertake individual tasks. A literature review is produced by each student (on a different aspect of theory related to the project), which includes evaluation of how this theory underpinned the project. Each student maintains an electronic learning journal. In the journal they include their reflections on key employability skills. A peer-evaluation form is also completed. This material forms the basis of the individual reflective learning statement.

For further information please contact: Nigel Coates:


Posted by Nigel Coates
Northumbria University

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