A Flexible Methodology for Live Project Practitioners


Since 2008 Jane Anderson and Colin Priest have been running a programme of live projects (OB1 LIVE) designed by their students for local community clients. The majority of the live projects involved year one students, often in the very first weeks of their education. Well known examples of live projects often tend to be large scale “live build” projects by more experienced students. This contrasted with our year one students’ projects and led us to question whether our projects were in fact live. To do this we analysed past projects, looking for factors common to all live projects (client, educational organisation, brief, timescale, budget and product) and including them in our definition of a live project.


“A live project comprises the negotiation of a brief, timescale, budget and product between an educational organisation and an external collaborator for their mutual benefit. The project must be structured to ensure that students gain learning that is relevant to their educational development.”

Using this definition, we saw that even very diverse project types, ranging from pre-occupancy to construction and beyond, shared characteristics and constraints. We recognized that what differentiated them was not their essential nature but simply where on the spectrum of each characteristic / constraint they sat.

Live project activity is often inhibited by availability of resources such as time, funds or skill as well as a lack of access to information on good practice. In order to realise recognise the broadest potential of live projects and their relevance to many contexts, we decided to use our factors and definition of a live project to design a Flexible Methodology that live project practitioners could use to analyse their own project in order to plan it with their client and students.

The Flexible Methodology takes the factors identified as common to all live projects and breaks each one into a spectrum of the opportunities or constraints that each element creates. The live project practitioner can use these to identify the nature of their own project.


Client Organisation Budget Timescale Product
Initiated by institution Curricular Self-funded Days Analytical
Collaboration Extra-curricular Sponsorship Months Propositional
Commissioned Student-initiated Client funded Years Temporary
Students only Semi-permanent
Students with tutor Permanent
Group size


The Live Projects Network is an online resource that uses the factors and spectrum of opportunities / constraints of a live project as filters to search for similar case studies in order to provide a point of reference and stimulate best practice for live projects in education. It is also a resource to connect live project practitioners, clients and students by sharing information. Case studies demonstrate different strategies employed to work with the opportunities and constraints present in each project. The distribution of the identified live project factors across the case studies will enable us to test and develop our Flexible Methodology.

More detail on the research behind the factors and definition of a live project and the Flexible Methodology described above can be found in this paper:

Anderson, J. & Priest, C., (2012). Developing a Live Projects Network and Flexible Methodology for live projects. Paper presented at the Live Projects Pedagogy International Symposium 2012, Oxford Brookes University, May 2012.