Placement year degrees
Careers and employment
A placement year degree (also known as a sandwich degree) is a great way to apply skills you learn on your course and increase your employment opportunities for when you graduate.
Most employers prefer to take on graduates with professional work experience and many of our students are hired by their placement employer after graduation. When you finish your placement year degree, you’ll be in a great position for a role in your chosen career.
You don't have to work for an employer on a placement year. You can also become self-employed and start your own business.
What is a placement (sandwich) year degree?
A placement year degree allows you to combine your studies with a year of professional experience. Your placement usually takes place before the final year of your degree, and is also known as a sandwich year placement.
You'll spend your placement year working for an employer or setting up your own business. You'll experience what it's like to work in your potential career and apply the knowledge and skills you've learned during your degree.
A sandwich year placement is optional on most placement year degrees. If you decide not to do a sandwich year, you'll continue on to the next year of study instead.
Overseas placement years
On some of our courses, you can do your placement year abroad. Our students have travelled to countries including Japan, Belgium, Ireland, Switzerland, Malaysia, America and Spain during their sandwich year.
Self-employed placement years
If you choose to start up a business during a self-employed placement year, you'll be doing it in the UK's most entrepreneurial city 2020 (Instant Offices) and we'll give you all the support you need. We run student enterprise programmes and events, and offer student startup advice.
“For students seeking a placement I would say to absolutely do it, there is no wasted experience. Do everything you could possibly do and step out of your comfort zone, you will learn a lot about yourself."
Finding a placement
We have links with many organisations and companies from various industries. Our Placement Officers can help you find a suitable placement or prepare for a self-employed placement year. They'll also support you during your placement.
Our Placement Officers can help with tasks such as:
- Keeping you updated about potential placement year jobs
- Helping you identify suitable roles to apply for
- Putting together your CV, cover letters, application forms and portfolio
- Holding mock interviews and assessment centres, application reviews and interview preparation
- Helping you meet potential employers at employability events
- Carrying out pre-placement checks such as occupational health checks, disclosure and barring service (DBS) checks and the mandatory training framework
You can also get help with applying and interviewing for your placement from our Careers and Employability Service. Their resources help you locate potential placement providers, prepare applications and plan for placement interviews. The team can also support you if you choose a self-employed placement year.
Finding your own placement
If you prefer, you can find your own placement, as long as it meets the requirements of your course and is in a location approved by us.
Students have previously secured roles through personal contacts or professional networking sites such as LinkedIn.
On some courses, such as health and care professions courses, your course placement team chooses your placement for you.
In these cases, we select your placement to make sure you get appropriate experiences to meet your learning and career development needs.
"I would recommend doing a placement as it gives you a good idea of what it is like to work in a professional function and what skills you will need to acquire in order to develop and succeed in the future. There is a good chance that you can get a job after graduation so it can provide security.!
When you choose a placement year degree, you'll be registered on a placement module for the duration of the sandwich year. This is assessed by a portfolio of evidence.
Your portfolio could include some or all of the following items:
- Placement learning agreement between yourself and your employer
- Your placement diary
- Reflective analysis of your employing organisation and your personal development
- An updated version of your CV to showcase your additional experience
- A reference or final report from your placement provider
- A spoken presentation
The majority of placement year degrees also require you to do a minimum number of hours on placement, which is recorded and assessed as part of your overall progress.
This assessment information doesn't apply if you take a language year abroad. You can find out more about spending a year abroad in our study abroad section.
Placement year salaries
The average salary for a 12-month paid placement is £16,500. But your salary can range between the National Minimum Wage and substantially higher.
During your placement year you can do paid work, an internship or an unpaid voluntary role depending on your course and the type of experience you want.
Unpaid placements can include work in:
- a hospital or lab
- a primary care trust in the UK
- a local authority or a voluntary organisation in the UK related to the care of children and young person’s health or welfare
- a prison or aftercare service in the UK
- unpaid research in a university in the UK or overseas
Funding your placement year
The cost of your sandwich year placement depends on the type and location of your placement. You'll need to give careful thought to living costs and how you'll support yourself financially.
The funding available through Student Finance England depends on the type of placement you choose. You may be able to receive living cost grants and loans.
Tuition fees on placement
If you’re a UK or EU student, you only pay 10% of your standard annual tuition fee during your placement year.
We set tuition fees for international students at the start of each academic year.
"Without a doubt, joining the University of Portsmouth was the best decision I’ve ever made. Without the support or encouragement of the University, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to complete my placement year at Intel. I wouldn’t have had the pleasure of presenting the Esports Play of the Year award at the 2017 Golden Joystick Awards in front of a few hundred thousand viewers. These experiences have been fantastic and have influenced my future career path massively."
Benefits of doing a placement year degree
- Increases your employment opportunities
- Improves your knowledge of business practices
- Helps you appreciate the importance of working relationships and their contribution to a company’s activities
- Develops your understanding of the national and international business environment
- Shows you that experience is as important as academic knowledge
- Develops your transferable and interpersonal skills such as team-working, communication, problem-solving and commercial awareness
- Gives you a better understanding of your degree, helping you choose your modules in your final year of study and potentially improving your final degree classification
- Builds your confidence
- Helps you build a valuable professional network and meet new friends
- Exposes you to exciting new experiences – especially if you choose to live in another city or country
- Gives you experience of your chosen industry so you can make informed decisions about your future career path
- Allows you to talk more authoritatively about your experiences during future job interviews
- Consolidates your ideas for a dissertation or major project
- Introduces you to potential role models and mentors for your personal and professional development
It's been a win-win for myself, our company and Owen. All have gained massively from the experience. Based on the positive experience to date, Owen’s placement has led to us taking on another 12 month placement for the following year in the same role.
Discover placement opportunities
Follow the links below to discover placement opportunities depending on which area your degree is in.
Browse our courses
Are you ready to increase your employment opportunities and strengthen your skills by doing a sandwich year degree? Browse our placement degree courses now.