What is a placement year?

A placement year is a year spent in an industry or profession as part of your chosen degree programme. This occurs during your third year, extending your period of study to four years in total. You spend 8-12 months on placement, supported by the University and your employer, before returning to th University of Southampton to complete your studies.

Why should I think about doing a placement year?

The benefits of doing a placement year are numerous. Firstly, you will be able to relate your studies to the work place: theory to practice. Doing so can inject real value into a business and help you approach your studies with vigour and drive. A placement year also gives your first-hand experience that is highly valued by graduate recruiters: the most recent High Fliers report suggests that this year, 37% of graduate vacancies are expected to be filled by students who already have experience within their organisation. A placement year can also help you decide which field(s) you wish to enter when you graduate: you can find out which areas you prefer, and set your targets accordingly.

For more details, please see our page on the value of placements.

Can I afford to do a placement year?

Yes! This year, the average salary of our students on a placement as part of their course is £17,500. Students on a placement year pay 20% of their fees during the year, so if you’re a Home/EU student, you will pay £1800 to remain a student of the University during your placement year (and continue to enjoy the support of the University throughout the year). If you’re eligible for a maintenance loan, you can also choose to receive a reduced loan throughout your placement year.

How do I find a placement?

Our Placements Office help students from day one of your course to help you strengthen your applications and succeed at interview. The Placements Office advertise hundreds of placements directly to students, who then apply through a process of competitive selection. Most applications take place during the second year of your course, and the Placements Office are always on hand to provide advice and support throughout the process.

What if I don't secure a placement?

In the unlikely event that you do not find a placement, you can transfer to the three-year version of your chosen degree programme. The Placements Office and your personal tutor will provide assistance and guidance.

What sort of organisations can I work in?

This year, our students have found placements through the Placements Office with:

• L’Oréal
• Renault UK
• Walt Disney
• Marks & Spencer
• and more!

How do I prepare for my placement?

Your placement preparation will be delivered by a variety of experts from industry and across the University. Throughout your first and second year preparatory lectures and seminars are complimented by online resources to help you prepare an individual employability portfolio. You are also able to meet individually with your Placement Advisor to discuss your applications.

What support will I have during my placement?

Whilst on placement, you remain a student of the University of Southampton and we stay in regular contact with you. You are given a personal Placement Advisor who will visit you during your placement to keep track of your progress and aid your development. Your Placement Advisor will also contact you regularly throughout the year to ensure that all is going well. You will also be assigned a workplace supervisor within your organisation, who will act as a mentor throughout your placement year. As a student, you are entitled to access almost all of the university libraries in the UK whilst on placement, and of course our Student Services and Enabling Services teams remain open to you.

What about working during the Easter or Summer vacations?

Our central Careers and Employability service deliver the UoS Internships programme which provides structured internships of 2-12 weeks for students during term time, the Easter and Summer vacations. These are available to all students, but can be particularly attractive for students who wish to boost their year-long placement applications.

Do I have to stay in the UK for my placement?

No, you can apply for placements anywhere in the world! All placements need to be approved by the Placements Office and so whilst the approval process will be more complex, we will work with you to ensure you have a worthwhile and safe work placement. If this is an option you would like to explore, get in contact with your Placement Advisor or the Placements Office as soon as possible.


If you have a question that hasn’t been answered here, please get in touch.