Student opportunities

Placements Adviser Sarah talks you through what you need to know about university work placements.


What is a placement?

A placement is a year of work experience that takes place between the second and third year of your degree course, giving you hands-on experience in the industry you want to work in and an insight into your dream job. At the end of your placement year you’ll return to University to finish your final year of study with the advantage of specialised workplace knowledge and skills to help you.

What are the benefits of a work placement?

A work placement will give you:

  • real experience in you chosen career
  • practical skills and knowledge that will help you in your final year of study
  • the opportunity to go on to achieve higher grades and a better class of degree
  • awareness of current developments in your sector
  • improved job opportunities once you’ve graduated, with the potential for a firm offer of employment
  • the opportunity to earn a salary.

Who can do a placement?

All of our Engineering and Built Environment, and Computing and Information Science undergraduate degree programmes contain an optional placement year. A number of our Life Science degrees do, too.

If you’re not already on a placement degree course, chances are you’ll be able to transfer onto one from your current three-year course. 

Placements are also available to international students who have enrolled directly onto a four-year placement degree.

For more information, contact our Faculty Placement Team:

How do I find a work placement and is it guaranteed?

Placements aren’t guaranteed as they rely heavily on the market availability and on your own enthusiasm and commitment. Like any job application, applying for a placement will require a CV, covering letter, interview(s), and for the more competitive placements, assessment centres to ensure that the placement will provide a good fit for both you and the employer.

We are here to help support you in your search for a placement and are always on the lookout for upcoming opportunities. We have connections with a number of local organisations who are always looking for enthusiastic students to join their team. We'll advertise placement positions through internal adverts on the University Jobs Board website and email opportunities directly to your student email. We will also invite employers to lectures, seminars and Careers Fairs throughout the year so you can find out about upcoming placements directly from the companies themselves.

We also encourage you to search for your own placement opportunities in order to find a company and role that will really appeal to you and your interests. A great starting point is searching through online placement websites such as Gradcracker, PlacementUK, and RateMyPlacement. Please note that the placement must relate to your degree and must be approved by the University before you can enter into a contract with the company. If you’re successful in finding an organisation who can support your placement, please contact the Placement Team straight away in order to complete the correct approval forms.

For more information, please contact the Placements Team at

How can I secure a placement?

The first step is to send your CV and covering letter to either the Placement Team or the organisation you'd like to work for (depending on the terms of the application).

If you’re offered an interview and receive an offer of employment, please tell our Placement Team immediately.

The next stage involves completing a Placement Approval Form and meeting with an Adviser to discuss your key responsibilities and roles for the year ahead.  once everything has been signed, approved, and completed, your placement is secure and you'll start on the agreed date in your contract.

Who could I be working for?

Some of our previous students have held placements at the following companies:

  • The Royal Household
  • Transport for London
  • Cambridge University
  • Sea Life London Aquarium
  • Keepmoat
  • Quantem Consulting
  • Coulson Building
  • NATS Group
  • House of Commons
  • Citrix
  • Shepreth Animal Park
  • Morgan Sindall
  • ARM
  • Worldpay

Will I earn a salary?

You could be earning a salary anywhere from £13,000-£18,000, depending on the company and job role you’ve applied for. If your placement does not have a salary attached, your employer may help cover travel expenses instead.

When do placements start and how long do they last?

Your placement can start within the first two months following the successful completion of your second year of study.

The official start date will be negotiated with your Placement Provider; it must last for a minimum of 38 weeks, or around ten to 12 months. Your placement must finish before Semester 1 of your final year of study.

Will I need to submit course work during my placement, and will I receive credits?

Yes, your placement year will be assessed through a portfolio of reflections on your personal development during the year, and upon successful completion you’ll receive 120 placement credits. Please note that placement credits differ from academic credits and you’ll still need to complete the full 360 academic credits to successfully graduate.

The placement year is a pass/fail module and won’t affect your progression from level 5 to level 6 of your course. More information on the assessment can be found on the Placements Canvas page or MDF.

Who supervises me during the placement?

We’ll assign a Work Placement Tutor to help support your academic learning, and your Employer will assign a Workplace Supervisor to help support your workplace learning. The Placement Team is also available to answer any administrative or technical queries about the placement process at any point during your course.

What are the fees for a placement year and can I still get student funding?

Placement fees for the academic year 2018/19 are £1,000 if the student started with us from the academic year 2017/18 or earlier.

The fee is £1,250 for any student who joins us in 2018/19.

Who can I contact for CV or covering letter advice?

The Employability Service has advisers available every day who can help you with any CV or covering letter advice. No need to book, just turn up. Drop In is perfect for those quick 10 minute queries relating to your key employability questions i.e. finding jobs or placements, preparing for interview etc.

They offer a drop in on our Cambridge and Chelmsford campuses.

Cambridge: 12.00 noon - 2.00pm Monday to Friday - Helmore 073

Chelmsford: 12.00 noon - 2.00pm Monday to Thursday - 2nd Floor Tindal

Peterborough: Please contact the Employability Service

Who can I contact for more information?

If you have any further queries about placements or are interested in taking part, please contact the Placement Team.

Email, or drop in to see us in Helmore073, Cambridge, or at the Employment Bureau, Chelmsford, between 9am-4.30pm weekdays.