Future talent: On course - Where to prepare for a life in events

Students taking part in a lesson at Ashdown Academy
Students taking part in a lesson at Ashdown Academy

Event looks at five institutions that offer education and training across experiential events and activations.

Sheffield Hallam University

Agency TRO has teamed up with Sheffield Hallam University to create an experiential-focused course that is set to launch in September 2016.

The three-year degree in international events management with experiential marketing will see students work across real-life events, including some devised by TRO. The agency will provide some course content and present guest lectures.

"Sheffield Hallam University was chosen as a partner for TRO as it is one of the UK's leading universities in the delivery of events management courses. A number of TRO account executives and managers have either studied at Sheffield Hallam or joined us on work placements from there, so it feels entirely natural to formalise our association with the institution," says Nicky Morgan, group talent director at TRO.

"In year one, students will learn about the international events marketing sector. Subsequent years' module content will include social media and PR, managing the experiential campaign, events as marketing strategy and live experiential events."

The university also offers degrees in events management, events management with arts and entertainment, and events management with tourism.

Bournemouth University

Agencies including Itch and Seed Marketing praise Bournemouth University's degrees.

Many of the interns at Itch are currently studying the university's events management course, and four members of Seed's team studied at the university. "Bournemouth University has a specific series of event courses that seem to get more and more progressive each year," says Mike White, partner at Itch.

"We have had an intern programme with the university for five years and it has always delivered a large number of candidates."

White explains that Itch visits the university each year to host a talk with students and uncover the next batch of talent. "We receive a huge number of applications and then we host a series of interviews and workshops to find the right candidates. We seem to have a great success rate with students getting high grades, and Itch plays a key part in their final papers," he adds.

The university also offers an events and leisure marketing degree. Both courses see students take part in a 40-week work placement and plan and execute their own live event.

Ashdown Academy

Ashdown Academy offers three event management training course options through its Eventcourse brand: individuals can choose from a postgraduate course, diploma or foundation.

Students can expect to take part in group projects and site visits, attend meetings with industry experts and volunteer at live events.

"We believe that a student can't learn to organise events simply by sitting in a classroom and listening to a lecturer," says Claire Derrick, director of education at Ashdown Academy.

"Events are all about 'doing' and that's exactly how we teach; from their first day in class, students are expected to participate in live experiences such as presenting, debating and communicating."

Ashdown works with agencies including M&C Saatchi, WRG and Jack Morton, as well as venues such as the Brewery and Somerset House.

Gemma McCartney, global head of talent at M&C Saatchi PR, says: "It (the partnership with Ashdown) works so well for us. The postgraduate diploma is basically a six-month course : three months are in the classroom, although with a focus around real historical events, and the last three months of the course is a placement."

Leeds Beckett

Leeds Beckett offers an events management degree where students are taught how to plan and execute events of varying sizes, and learn about the licensing requirements and legalities surrounding events.

Practical elements are key to the course, with all modules featuring real-life scenarios. Students are encouraged to take the 'sandwich option' approach to their degree by taking a year off in between their studies to gain industry experience.

It seems that this approach is effective in helping students gain industry employment, with the university's website stating: "Many of our students are hired by their placement companies after graduation."

Members of the UK Centre for Events Management, based at the university, teach all course modules. The centre includes almost 30 full-time academic staff members, who focus on research and education around events and festivals.

Students can also opt for the sports events management degree, which covers the design, planning and delivery of sporting events.

Eden Project

Although perhaps best known as a tourist attraction, Cornwall's Eden Project has launched an event management course, ideal for those with a green thumb, in partnership with the Cornwall College Group. The degree is to be awarded by Plymouth University.

A total of 15 students were granted a place on the inaugural horticulture and event management degree course this year, and additional numbers are expected in 2016.

"The Eden Project offers students a chance to work at the leisure attraction on unique activities, from a bespoke wedding in a tropical rainforest to a sell-out Eden Sessions concert," says Charlotte Russell, head of learning partnerships at the Eden Project.

The event management degree offers experiential training with its practical focus, providing a strong element of "learning by doing", according to Russell.

Agency apprenticeships and placements

GMR Marketing

The agency launched its 'ultimate' sports and entertainment apprenticeship programme in August, with one individual awarded the chance to work on key events over a 12-month period, such as the Super Bowl in California and the Olympic Games in Rio.


Crown employs two undergraduates a year in its Green Shoots programme. The students take part in a 12-month placement, and one intern from each cycle is offered a full-time role at Crown upon finishing their studies.

Think you have a good idea? Entries are now open for the second MyEvent.Vision, a UK-wide initiative to uncover creative talent. Individuals with a unique, commercially viable idea for an event are invited to apply before 8 February 2016. Last year's winner won a cash prize and contract of employment from sponsor the Events International Group.

For more on how to get into the events industry check out our recently launched Student Hub.

Comment below to let us know what you think.

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