University of Portsmouth students working at computer

Professional experience

Increase your employability skills and get work experience while studying

As a University of Portsmouth student, you'll receive lots of opportunities throughout your degree to get work experience and improve your employability skills. You'll also have a better chance of earning more after you graduate as we're number 1 in the UK for boosting graduate salaries (The Economist, 2017).

Many of our courses include long or short-term work experience placements for students, client projects and work-based modules to enhance your employability. Or, if you want to be your own boss, we'll support you to set up your own business.

Employers look for transferable skills such as problem-solving, analytical ability, team work and commercial awareness, not just academic knowledge. We'll help you develop these skills and become a sought after employee.

How to apply

Speak to your personal tutor to find out how to apply to any of the following work experience opportunities.

Accounting and Finance courses

If you're studying an Accounting or Finance course, you'll get to work in our Accounting Clinic in your second year and final year. You'll give accounting advice to charities, social enterprises and community interest groups in Hampshire. You'll be supervised by a qualified accountant who specialises in charity audits.

By working in the Accounting Clinic, you'll get accounting work experience in areas such as independent examinations and annual reviews of internal controls. You'll also visit organisations in their workplace and can give them finance training.

Business courses

The Business Consultancy Project is an optional module on our Business courses. If you're studying a business course, you'll work as a consultant on client projects in teams of 3-4 students. Your business clients could be small-to-medium sized organisations or departments in large private, public or third sector organisations. You'll liaise with your client, meet stakeholders and conduct surveys and interviews.

This is a great way to develop skills such as teamwork, project management and consultancy, and to implement the knowledge you gain on your business degree.

Maths courses

In your final year of a Maths course, you can do a 5-day (or 10 half-day) placement in a local school or college, acting as a role-model for school students interested in pursuing Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects. This placement develops your confidence in communicating your knowledge of maths, as well as your understanding of teaching methods and adapting to individual student needs. You'll work alongside experienced teachers in an educational environment from your choice of Primary to A Level.

You'll do an initial interview and, if selected, attend a series of face to face sessions. You'll undertake research based on a critical question, and you decide the nature of this question, negotiated with your module coordinator. This research and the associated responsibilities on placement will develop your organisational, interpersonal and employability skills for your future career.

Architecture courses

If you're studying an Architecture degree, you can get experience of client consultancy and design projects by joining a team of architects and designers in our Architecture Project Office.

You'll work on real client projects and implement the skills and knowledge gained on your degree. Your involvement with the Architecture Project Office will prepare you for professional practice.

Marketing courses

You can do a Marketing Consultancy Project as an optional module if you're on the BA (Hons) Marketing course. You'll work with an employer to design and create a practical marketing development plan.

You'll use skills gained on your degree such as working independently, identifying key deliverables, project planning and critical thinking. This is a great module to take if you don't do a placement year.

Dental courses

If you're a student on our Dental courses, you'll train in practical teams in modern clinical facilities that replicate those in NHS dental practices. You'll apply this training in our Dental Academy and Dental Clinic where you'll provide dental care and oral health promotions to patients from the University and the local community.

Engineering courses

If you're on one of our Engineering courses, you'll get to sign up for different work experience opportunities. Some of these opportunities are competitive while others are informal, but all let you develop and practice the skills you learn on your course.

Adele working in a lab

The Formula Student Car also really attracted me so it's no shock that I've ended up on the team! I've loved being on the team and the contacts that you make through the team are priceless.

Adele Gibb, Mechanical Engineering (MEng)

Formula Student

Taking part in Formula Student challenges you to design, build and cost a small, single-seat racing car as part of a student team. After the creation process, you'll take part in a national competition at Silverstone Race Circuit and a European competition at Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

As well as using skills gained on your engineering course, you'll get enterprising skills needed in industry such as planning, project management, financial management and teamwork. Current sponsors include local and national companies who supply parts, or manufacturing and machining services.

More information about the Formula Student initiative can be found on the Institute of Mechanical Engineers' (IMechE) website

Drone competition

The drone competition is led by our engineering students. You'll apply classroom and lab-based learning to live drone projects. You'll use your engineering knowledge to design, manufacture and test your own Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) or Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS) as part of a student-team.

Our drone team competed in the Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Challenge.

Manufacturing club

The Manufacturing club is a community where you can explore ideas, share interests, experiment with materials and further explore processes and facilities covered in your course. When you join this community, you'll be able to collaborate on extracurricular projects or work independently on a project to increase your employability after you graduate.

You'll use advanced manufacturing facilities including:

  • Layer Additive (LA) machines (3D printers)
  • Laser sintering machine
  • CNC milling machines
  • Mitutoyo CMM
  • Materials testing machines
  • Zeiss 3D micro CT imaging

Law courses

When you study one of our Law courses, you can take part in modules to gain practical experience of applying law to community problems. The modules are supported by experienced lecturers and practitioners. Taking these modules will help you grow your confidence and develop your employability skills.

Law Photoshoot;19th November 2018

I am able to put what I learn in theory into practice with the Legal Clinic. Also, I love interacting with clients.

Amikah Stewart, LLB (Hons) Law

Law in Practice module

You can take the optional module 'Law in Practice and apply to work as a legal adviser in our Legal Clinic as part of your Law degree. The module will help you develop your legal knowledge and practical skills. You'll discuss issues with clients, identify relevant elements of the law, and draft legal documents and letters to support your clients.

By working in the Legal Clinic, you'll practice your new-found knowledge of consumer legal issues, landlord and tenant problems, employment and welfare issues, and family law. You won't be able to advise on immigration and nationality, criminal law or criminal proceedings.

Community Lawyer module

You can also apply to do the optional 'Community Lawyer' module, where you'll work with one of our partners in the third sector or private sector.

Partners you could work with on the Community Lawyer module:

You could work with the British Red Cross Refugee Support Project to support asylum seekers and refugees living in Portsmouth. The majority of their clients make claims for asylum, so you’ll support them through the asylum process while they wait for a decision from the Home Office. You’ll help clients make asylum support applications, submit appeals and apply for benefits. You'll also signpost them to legal aid solicitors.

Your work will include assessments of client needs and providing advice to asylum seekers, refugees and irregular migrants. You'll provide advice on immigration, accommodation, financial support, and other rights and entitlements. You’ll provide information, signpost to other organisations and make referrals to local services. You’ll liaise with the Home Office, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), and other statutory, non-statutory and legal services.

You'll work as an assistant caseworker to support the provision of immigration advice and casework. You'll conduct client interviews, gather facts and information, identify the best course of action for clients and support clients with their next steps.

You'll work alongside practising solicitors at Churchers Solicitors providing various legal services to their clients.

You'll support witnesses in local courts with the Citizens Advice Witness Service. This could involve putting witnesses at ease, explaining court procedures and supporting them through the court process.

You'll work with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Services to assess the recommendations of compliance inspectors dealing with business premises being investigated for possible breaches of, or failure to comply with, regulations in the Fire Safety Order 2005.

You'll look into offences, issues letters and the use of enforcement powers.

Mercatis Law is a specialist commodities law firm. You'll work with experienced commodities legal practitioners to give legal advice in areas such as trading, shipping and storage, commodity finance, trade finance and commodities regulation.

If you work with Portsmouth Mediation Service, you'll train as a mediator. You'll work with clients to resolve disputes by finding common ground, helping parties come to a resolution.

Students have helped with neighbour disputes, workplace problems, commercial activity and family matters. Portsmouth Mediation Service also offers assessment services and is involved in restorative justice.

Youngs Law is a leading provider of legal aid services and currently holds specialist contracts in clinical negligence, family, mental health, crime, prison law, housing and community care.

You'll develop skills and experience with a local law firm such as drafting letters and taking part in client interviews.

The thing that attracted me to Portsmouth initially was the Law course’s balance between academic study and practical application. You wouldn't just learn all the technical things you needed from a book and be done with them, you’d also be taught how to apply them to real life cases that you might encounter down the road.

Tom Storey, LLB Law with Business

Creative courses

On many of our creative courses, you'll work on real client projects. These projects are opportunities to apply the skills and knowledge learned on your degree, and to practice skills such as team working, client liaison and working to a brief.

The experience of working with clients looks great on your CV. And you might develop business contacts to help you find employment when you graduate.

You'll be matched with an organisation and will normally work in small teams. Your team will work to the organisation's brief to develop practical solutions to their business needs.

  • If you're on our Computer Games courses such as BSc (Hons) Computer Games Enterprise or MSc Computer Games Technology, you'll design, build and deliver gaming solutions for clients such as the BBC, the Royal Navy, Portsmouth City Council, Locomatrix, Fort Nelson Museum and the Wildlife Aid Foundation. Many of the solutions our students have developed during their final year projects have been implemented by the organisations.
  • If you're on our BSc (Hons) Television and Broadcasting course, you can take a module called 'External Live Brief' in your second year. You'll work in a team to produce videos for real clients. This experience will help you gain the skills and knowledge wanted by employers in the creative industries.

Teaching experience

If you're studying one of our creative courses, you can do our volunteer teaching scheme in local secondary schools. You'll teach first year GCSE students on topics based on your degree speciality. You'll work in a group and receive support materials and transport to your work location.

You'll benefit from creating and delivering a live brief, group-working and increased confidence. And you'll receive a certificate when you finish. If you're thinking of teaching as a career, you must have classroom experience – this is an excellent opportunity to start the process. Many previous students have volunteered more than once because they enjoy the experience so much.

If you're not studying a creative course but still want to volunteer while at university, we can help you find volunteering opportunities.


Professional Experience module

The 'Professional Experience' module is available on our creative courses. This module will help you develop a career road map to identify the skills, knowledge and work experience you need to get the creative job of your dreams.

On this module, you'll get credits from taking part in paid and unpaid work, volunteering, research placements, internships and other work-related learning.

You'll be supported through workshops and tutorials to develop a high-quality CV, create an online portfolio of your work, and to practice your interview skills.

Previous students on this module have done creative work experience including:

  • TV audience management on Britain’s Got Talent and The Million Pound Drop
  • Warner Brothers Film Studios operations assistant
  • Freelance sports photographer
  • On set personal assistant with Afroasian Film Production Company in Jamaica
  • Art teacher at Havant Sixth Form College
  • Radio DJ

Set up your own business

You can take the 'Student Enterprise' module on any of our creative courses and learn how to set up and run your own business. You'll launch your own business by the end of the module.

Students who previously took this module set up businesses including:

  • Independent games companies
  • Online shops
  • T-shirt design companies
  • Production companies
  • Book publishing
  • Web design agencies
  • Mobile app development
  • Clothes design businesses

If you're not studying a creative course, but want to launch a business, you can still get startup advice or sign up for one of our startup programmes.

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