Work placements and Work Based Learning

Work placements

A work placement allows you to learn more about a particular sector, company or job role, and apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, giving you ideas of what you want to do as a future career. 

As part of your degree, you work in an organisation for an agreed amount of time to gain experience and develop professional skills to make you stand out from the crowd when you're applying for jobs in the future. During the placement, your experience and study combine into an integrated package where your practical work and academic study enhance each other. You can show employers that you can use your subject understanding to add commercial value, and demonstrate you can deliver on challenging projects that meet client demands. 

If you do not have a placement year as part of your degree then talk to the Placements Team about how to add one.  

Benefits of doing a placement

  • Make your application stand out when applying for jobs in the future (such as Graduate roles)
  • Apply your academic knowledge directly to the workplace
  • Enhance your professional and interpersonal skills
  • Learn more about a particular sector, industry, company or job role
  • Start building your network

Types of placement

Many large companies and organisations offer nationally advertised work placements with excellent development opportunities; and many small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) are increasingly taking on placement students too. 

The different types of placement may include:

  • Placement year (equivalent of a year’s academic study, between 30-52 weeks carried out between the penultimate and final year of your undergraduate course) and counts towards your degree
  • Termly placements (equivalent to an academic term of 12-15 weeks which could be part-time or combined with academic studies); these may be suitable for certain modules within your degree
  • Vacation placements/internships (short term placement taken during vacations) which are extra-curricular, and do not count towards your degree but give you excellent experience nonetheless
  • Projects (negotiated pieces of work, either group based or individual, usually carried out in third year of undergraduate study)

How to get a placement

You are responsible for identifying and securing your own placement positions, but the Placements Team, and your department, will support you and help you with every step of the process.  

You can book appointments on CareerHub to get advice on your CVs and Applications with the Careers Services team here. Alternatively, you can book an appointment the Placements Team on CareerHub to find out more about your application and the placement process.  

If you have any questions you can get in touch with the Placements Team at

When you're looking for a work placement it's useful to research creatively. Identify your key skills and don't restrict yourself to the obvious sectors, as many other industries will offer work placements that match your skills. 

Finding a placement

A number of websites advertise national work placements of varying length. Please contact the Placements Team at for our detailed search guide.  

For extra-curricular activities and other paid experiences, why not visit:

  • Essex Interns - helping students & graduates find paid internships with local or national employers
  • Frontrunners - paid placements around campus

Support you will receive 

The Placements Team and your Department are here to support you with every step of the process; both in terms of securing placement opportunities and whilst you are out on placement. Each year the team holds a Placement Preparation Series to help prepare students on the placement process.  Please find the latest Placement Preparation Series on Moodle.  

The Placements Team can provide more information about placements for the particular course(s) you are interested in, and will also be available to help and offer advice to you and your Placement Provider throughout your placement. To speak to a member of the Placements Team you can book an appointment on CareerHub or email  

Managing a placement

It is important that you keep the Placements Team updated regarding your placement year, as if you secure an opportunity it will need to be approved by both the Placements Team and your Department before it begins, in order for it to count towards your degree. When you secure a placement please email and they will be in touch to let you know the next steps.  

Things to consider

There are a number of things to consider when thinking about a placement year. The placement year will extend your course for an extra year. The placement does also need to meet certain academic requirements. A placement is not guaranteed and you are responsible for finding your own placement.  You are also responsible for finding your own accommodation during your placement and doing your research of the local area. Some placements are unpaid and budgets may be a part of your decision. Please see below for more information on work-based learning costs. 

If WBL is integral to your module you should be able to claim back the costs (up to a certain limit) of any travel required to complete that placement or project. Please check with your module supervisor to ensure that the activity is eligible before making any travel plans. 

Some schools/departments may direct you to utilise the online travel expenses claims system. This system allows you to upload tickets/receipts and claim back any money you’ve spent on travel for integral WBL. The system is accessible via MyEssex and you will only be able to access it if you are studying an eligible module.

Please note: Although they contain integral WBL, paid Placement Years do not qualify for travel expense reimbursement. If you are completing an unpaid placement year you may be eligible for a travel bursary. You will have been emailed by the Placements Team if you are eligible, but if you are unsure whether this is applicable to you please contact the Placements Team on 

WBL travel expenses are not always fully reimbursed for practice placements (placements in Physiotherapy and throughout the School of Health & Social Care) and separate arrangements exist for these courses through NHS bursary schemes. For full details on eligibility for practice placement travel expenses please contact

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