School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences


Learning on the job

Your university experience is more than lectures on campus.

As a School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences student, you have invaluable opportunities to enhance your CV through work placements and studying abroad.

Opportunities depend on the degree you’re taking. Some of our degrees include compulsory placements, and for others you can choose to add a placement year or year abroad - check the course descriptions to find out more.

Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy placements

BSc Physiotherapy and BSc Sports Therapy include compulsory placements, which are a crucial part of your training and give you first-hand experience with real life patients.

Depending on the degree you are taking, placements can include local NHS trusts, private practices, and sports injury clinics, as well as other health and social care providers. They are your opportunity to experience life as a qualified physiotherapist or sports therapist, working with service users and colleagues from a variety of professions and backgrounds, so you feel confident to begin your career after graduation.

You won't be left to your own devices once you are on placement, you will be supported by a member of staff from within the organisation (known as a "practice educator" in Physiotherapy or "clinical supervisor" in sports therapy) as well as a member of staff from SRES, who will remain in close contact with you and the organisation.

By undertaking these placements you will graduate ready for UK practice with the skills and experience needed to apply for professional registration. Essex Physiotherapy graduates have also successfully applied for professional accreditation in other countries - the opportunities are endless!

Physiotherapy and Sports Therapy placement FAQs

Where am I likely to be placed in my physiotherapy degree?

We ensure you receive a broad range of experiences on placement, so that you are ready to succeed in your chosen career after graduation. As a result your placement experience will be wide-ranging and will not necessarily mirror those of your classmates.

Physiotherapy settings include acute and non-acute settings to reflect the caseload of a qualified physiotherapist. Acute settings are based in hospitals and may involve helping patients who are receiving treatment for a severe injury or medical episode, while non-acute settings may be outpatient clinics, care homes, schools or home visits for the elderly or young children. You can expect to undertake placements anywhere in East Anglia.

Where am I likely to be placed in my sports therapy degree?

Sports Therapy students undertake 250 hours of placement in their final year. 50 hours are undertaken in our Sports Therapy Clinic, which is run by our School at the University of Essex and is open to university staff, students, and members of public.

The rest of the hours are completed as external placements, which could be within clinics or sports clubs and are organised by students with support from our School. These placements can be located within the East Anglia region or other regions in the UK dependent on where students live.

Through these placements you will gain experience working with professional athletes who have been injured in training or competition, as well as people who have been hurt in recreational pursuits such as skiing or gym classes. These experiences mirror the kind of patients you can anticipate working with as a professional Sports Therapist.

Will I need to work evenings and weekends? Are placement hours childcare friendly?

Some placements do require weekend working. We always ask the practice educator to tell us in advance if it will be necessary, so we can ensure students are informed before starting.

We will work with you and your practice educators to make reasonable adjustments to placement hours to accommodate your childcare responsibilities where necessary.

What happens if I am unable to complete my placements?

Placement hours are a compulsory requirement to completing your Physiotherapy or Sports Therapy degree, and it is rare for students not to complete their placement hours.

To support you with this you will have a named member of academic staff to support you, and we would encourage you to contact them to discuss your concerns as early as possible.

I work for a potential placement provider and want to offer therapy placements to SRES students, who do I contact? 

We are always interested to hear from new placement providers in physiotherapy and sports therapy.

Please email the department at with some details about your organisation and your contact details, and a member of our team will get back to you to discuss this further.

Head and shoulders shot of Victoria Gunn standing in front of a door.
Blog: Mental health and physiotherapy

MSc Physiotherapy graduate Victoria Gunn reflects on her placement in a mental health care setting, and the lessons she has now taken forward in her practice as a qualified physiotherapist.

Read Victoria's blog

Placement year

Many of our degrees can be extended to four years by taking a placement year in a relevant industry in your third year.

You will be responsible for finding and securing a placement, but our School and the Student Development Department offer support throughout the process including how to identify opportunities, write CVs and applications, and develop interview techniques. The process of applying for a placement also gives you fantastic experience for applying for jobs in the future!

Students have held placements with a range of sports clubs and schools around England, including local football clubs such as Southend United, Norwich City, and West Ham.

Placement year FAQs

Why do a placement year?

A placement year lets you put your new skills to the test. You may have the opportunity to learn how to use specialist software, build a network of contacts, lead others, improve interpersonal skills such as team work and communication, and put what you’ve been learning in the classroom in to a professional context.

All this can give you a head start when it comes to applying for jobs after graduation, as you can put your experience and knowledge in your application and refer to it in interviews. You may also find that your manager at your placement is happy to be one of your references when it comes to job applications.

Where will my placement be? Can I have one close to home?

The location of the placement is dependent on what is on offer. You will be finding and applying for opportunities yourself, so you can be as selective as you want to be.

Some of our previous students have secured placements close to their family home and have used the opportunity to live at home for a year. Others have moved across the country and found alternative accommodation.

Are placements paid?

One year placements may be paid, but this is dependent on your provider and should be stated during the recruitment process. Alternatively you may find that some organisations offer free accommodation or a small allowance that can help towards travel costs.

If you are successful in securing a paid placement opportunity then you will find that the rate of pay can differ depending on who the placement is with, you may not receive the same amount as your friends who have placements with other organisations.

To support students who find themselves in an unpaid placement, from 2020-21 any student who secures an unpaid placement year position in the UK will be eligible to claim up to £750 from the university towards their travel expenses.

Do I still pay university tuition fees if I’m on a placement year?

You will only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

What happens if I can’t find a placement?

If you are unsuccessful in finding a suitable placement then you can revert to a three year degree.

Year abroad

Some of our degrees come with the opportunity to study abroad for a year with a partner institution.

A year abroad is a great opportunity for you to expand your horizons and benefit from being taught by other leading academics. If you have a year abroad in a non-English speaking country you also have a chance to enhance your linguistic skills.

If you aren’t fluent in a second language, don’t panic! Many of our partner institutions offer modules in English. Our partner institutions can be found worldwide, giving you plenty of choice for where to go. SRES opportunities can be found in countries and regions including Australia, China, USA, and South America - it really is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The Study Abroad team hold events on our campuses throughout the year, so if you’re considering a year abroad we highly recommend attending in your first year so you are fully informed before making a choice.

Year abroad FAQs

Do I still pay university tuition fees if I’m on a year abroad?

You only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

You won’t pay any tuition fee to your host university.

How do I find accommodation in a foreign country?

While it’s not guaranteed, you may be able to apply for accommodation with your host university, such as in halls of residence.

If this isn’t an option then you may find your host university is able to point you in the direction of private accommodation providers.

What happens if I apply for a year abroad degree but then change my mind about going abroad?

We understand that circumstances change during your first or second year, and that an exciting trip abroad can become quite daunting as it gets closer.

You can swap back to a standard three year degree, or if you have been successful in finding a work placement in the UK then you can change to a placement year degree instead.

Footprints in the sand taken during a study abroad
Where will Essex take you?

We help students widen their experience with a period of study or work at one of our 150 partner institutions worldwide.

Start the adventure and find out more about studying abroad
Get in touch
Joanne Etherton Practice Placement Lead
Telephone: 07785 286371
Rachel Rosevear Placement Administrator