UpNorthodox Thinking

Gone are the days when ad training only existed in London. This past decade has seen a shit ton of creative aid pop up outside of the capital, or at least on the internet. Yes, it’s hard to believe when many seniors simply suggest schemes that exist down south, which are of course fabulous, but not something everyone can afford or travel to when just starting out (me).

Most training isn’t just for students, and can be attended any time. So, don’t get into a strop about how you’ll never get into the industry because you’re oh so deprived whilst ‘stuck’ up North (again, me). I’ve found lots of similar stuff going on up these ends to tide you over in the meanwhile.

So let’s start with those integrated creative courses (think D&AD New Blood Shift kinda thing). What’s so good about these is that you get to work on a range of briefs, brands, mediums and meet industry people from many different agencies. They’re great for those just starting out and/or finding their own style of work.

School Of Thought

School Of Thought is a Manchester based, ad ideas competition, and was my first taste of proper agencies/the standard of work expected. Lasting 10 weeks, and inspired by the Award School in Australia, each Monday 12 students visit a top ad agency. The Creative Director gives a lecture, before setting a creative brief. 3 days later you return to the agency to share your ideas to the class, and receive feedback from the CD. Slightly brutal, but so worth it! The stuff you learn is priceless. You’ll come out with a whole new book (and contacts). Plus, craft is outlawed, School of Thought is all about ideas, so any type of creative can apply! Agencies include McCann, JWT, Love and Havas to name a few. Oh and did I mention the winner gets a full trip to Cannes Lions? Yep, no joke, (unfortunately I didn’t win).


Catalyst is a brand new course designed by Innovators Hub in Liverpool. One day a week (for 10 weeks) you visit the city to receive inspiring talks, workshops and networking from several creative companies ranging from ad agencies to game developing to events curating, you name it. Check out their twitter feed – The group have already worked with creatives from bmicro, Liverpool Vision and Studio Mashbo. Great for those still working out which area is best for them.

Agent Academy

Agent Academy is another Liverpool based course, and similar to School Of Thought but with a slightly more marketing and leadership flare. It’s 12 weeks long and again perfect for those who still aren’t sure what role they want to aim for in the creative industries. You’ll learn creative, strategy and communication skills all in one.

Day courses

There’s also lots of day courses and workshops out there if they’re more your thing:

The Thinking Digital Conference travels the country all year round and often host great workshops with the likes of Apple, the BBC and more.

Keep an eye out for D&AD on tour, they tend to host workshops when they visit.

Liverpool agencies have teamed up to host a social media workshop every month.

The Creative Kitchen Liverpool host a range of stuff to get savvy with.

Keep up to date with Go Think Big, they’re always hosting skill set days all over the UK in both the media and digital industries!

Check out this Creative Writing workshop in Leeds.

If there are any other schemes available across the UK, please get in touch! We’d love to hear about what you offer too.