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Increase your employment opportunities

Discover the benefits and opportunities of a placement year degree

A placement year degree (also known as a sandwich degree) is a chance to apply the skills you learn on your course in the workplace, and to increase your employability when you graduate.

Most employers prefer to hire graduates who have professional work experience alongside their studies, so choosing a placement year helps to put you ahead in the job market. Many of our students are hired by their placement employer after graduation.

You don't have to work for a company during your placement year — if you have a business idea, you can choose a self-employed placement year to start your own business.

What is a placement (or sandwich) year degree?

Placement year degrees are an opportunity to apply your degree learning by working for a year in industry before you graduate. 

Your placement usually takes place before the final year of your degree, so this is also known as a sandwich year placement. At Portsmouth, you can complete your placement before or after your final study year.  

You'll spend your placement year working for an employer or setting up your own business, and experience what it's like to work in your potential career.

Benefits of doing a placement year degree

  • Increases your employment opportunities and confidence
  • Develops your understanding of the national and international business environment
  • Develops your transferable and interpersonal skills like team-working, communication, problem-solving and commercial awareness
  • Gives you a better understanding of your degree, helping you choose your modules and dissertation project in your final year of study
  • Helps you build a valuable professional network and meet new friends, including potential career mentors
  • 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
Ainhoa Robeck smiling in blue 'Welcome Ambassador' shirt

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.

Ainhoa Rohrbeck, Pompey in the Community and Advice Portsmouth placement student, BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies

What can I do on my placement year?

Your placement year needs to relate to your degree — but what you do is up to you.

Connected degrees: 3 year course with 4th year placement

From September 2024, you can choose to carry out your placement after your final year. You'd then graduate at the end of your placement year.  

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

Humanities; Graduation; July 2019

Undertaking a placement year enabled me to gain work experience and increase my employability whilst still a student.

Heading abroad not only gave me the opportunity to travel halfway around the world to learn a second language but also to engage and immerse myself in the local culture and communities, an experience I could only dream about from Portsmouth.

Samuel Bladen-Hovell, Otra Cosa Network, Peru and British Council (Spain) placement student, BA (Hons) International Development

The placement process

Finding a placement

Our Placement Officers can help you find a suitable placement, or help you prepare for a self-employed placement year. We have links with many organisations and companies from various industries. 

On some courses, like health and care professions courses, your course team chooses your placement for you to ensure you get appropriate experiences to meet your degree needs.

Funding your placement year

You'll pay a discounted tuition fee to the University while you're on placement, and need to consider your living costs and how you'll support yourself financially.

The cost of your sandwich year placement, and any Student Finance England funding you're eligible for, depends on the type and location of your placement. 

Placement assessments

Your placement year will be assessed by a portfolio of evidence.

Your portfolio could include a placement diary, a reflective analysis of your your personal development, a reference from your placement provider, among other items. 

This assessment doesn't apply if you take a language year abroad

We'll help you find the best placement for your studies, and connect you with businesses who partner with us like multinational pharmaceutical companies, national health trusts, national sports clubs and schools across the UK.

Placements from previous students

You can work in many different placement roles across a wide range of sectors, whatever your subject.

If you already know what you want to study, you can find specific placement information on your course page

Previous placement students have completed placement years in areas like project management, engineering, photography, audiobook publishing, forensic accounting, and more. 

Our students have an impact too. One fashion intern at FatFace had her design sold on the high street, while another one of our students was a runner on a film starring Michael Caine, and one students worked at Paris Fashion Week while on placement with Paul Smith. 

Students smiling on the stairs outside Portsmouth Guildhall

Placement degrees

Find out about some specific placements you could choose for your subject on your course page. 

Explore your course

Placement roles

Our students have completed placements as roles including:

  • Environmental management assistant 
  • Graphic designer
  • HR assistant
  • Interior design intern
  • Junior aerospace engineer
  • Junior developer
  • Performance analyst assistant
  • Photographer
  • Quality inspector
  • Restorative justice administrator
  • Systems engineer
  • Victim support caseworker

Placement companies

Our previous students have done placements at companies including:

Placement stories

Emily Haysom, placement student at The Walt Disney Company

I was lucky enough to be accepted for a year’s internship at The Walt Disney Company, which will really help me when it comes to getting a job. That year taught me so much and helped me make a lot of contacts within the industry; it was a dream come true. 

After I graduate, I’m hoping to end up back at Disney working for the Production Management team for Disney Channel.

Emily Haysom, BA (Hons) Media and Digital Practice

Read Emily's story

What's it like to take a placement year?

Hear from some of our placement year students - Finlay, who took a placement at NBC Universal, Anastasia, who found a place at St Vincent College, and Charley, who took a role at Castle View Academy.

Find out about their experiences and hear what advice they have to give other students.

Finlay: I've loved every moment of my placement. It's probably one of the most fantastic years I've ever done in my life, probably one of the best things I've ever done.

Emily Parry: The school covers area studies, sociology, history, politics and literature. There are a number of different placement opportunities that are based locally or nationally around the UK, covering lots of different sectors and areas. So there's something there for everybody.

Finlay: Before university, I was always somebody that really didn't want to rush university. I wanted to try a placement year out, which was something that I'd love to do, and here we are today at NBC Universal. I got very, very lucky with it, but it's great.

Emily Parry: One of the misconceptions about placements and work experience for humanities students is that it would be very restricted on the kind of things that they can do.

Finlay: As a politics student, obviously I do love politics, but it's the other interests you have outside of politics. I love my films, I love my TV series, so I work in an environment selling content that I love.

Anastasia: Since about year ten, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. The work placement has definitely put it in perspective that it’s still what I want to do and it means that I don't have to go into a PGCE placement completely unaware of what I have to do. It gives me the experience of what a teacher actually needs to do and what their role is in a college.

Charley: Teaching is something I find quite natural to do. It wasn't really to do with my degree, but I found it was quite easy to interlink the two. So I was able to run a politics club here and it was really quite inspiring to see how enlightened the students were and how knowledgeable they were about current day events, and went from there, really.

Emily Parry: What I love about placements is seeing the students when they come back and you can see the development in them of the confidence that they've built and their ability to communicate and work as part of a team.

Charley: Before, I really struggled with public speaking. So standing in front of an audience is not something I would initially choose to do, and for some people, standing in front of 30 children is even more scary than standing in front of adults.

Finlay: University of Portsmouth really helped me with confidence and the ability to speak, which I've then brought into NBCU where I present in front of my managers once a month.

Charley: Having that sort of exposure was really, really important to me. For students who want to do a placement, I would just say go for it.

Anastasia: It’s a brilliant opportunity to put yourself in a workplace environment with loads and loads of support.

Finlay: Just put everything into it because it really is a year that's really helped me feel a lot more confident going into my final year of university.

Emily Parry: It's the best feeling when a student gets that placement because you know the opportunities that's going to open up for them with their future career.

Marisa Burke: Completing my placement year was the best decision I made

Placements, personalised modules and passionate lecturers - see why Marisa loved her life-changing course.
Marisa Burke

Only to be used with Marisa Burke case study and quotes.
Marisa's story
Graduation July 2019

I completed a year-long placement year with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Arson Task Force. This allowed me to put into practise the knowledge I had acquired during my studies, at multiple fire scenes. I also developed personal and practical skills such as public speaking skills when I assisted in providing training for military personnel and firefighters.

Rebecca Slattery, Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service Arson Task Force placement student, BSc (Hons) Criminology and Forensic Studies

Jack Kelly at Foot Anstey

My placement has left a huge impression on me, for the best and for that, I am truly grateful for the opportunity, exposure and chance to undertake my internship at such a great firm.

Jack Kelly, Placement student at Foot Anstey, LLB (Hons) Law

Read blog
Jamie Legg

I completed an industrial placement as a software developer at IT consultancy CGI. Not only did this push forward my technical ability, but it helped to broaden my professional network, expand my professional skills, and allowed me to work independently and collaboratively on software projects from the ground up.

Jamie Legg, BSc (Hons) Computer Science

Read Jamie's story

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.

Browse our degree courses with work placement

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