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Placement Year Handbook

This handbook is currently being developed however there are some key features included below, which provide additional information to the Placement Year webpage.

Placement Year Employer Criteria

If you are intending to take up the the Placement Year option as part of your studies it is essential that you consult with Careers and Placements as soon as possible.  As well as providing you with assistance to support your search for a suitable placement, Careers and Placements are also responsible for the process of approving any placement opportunities you find. This is to ensure they are suitable for the purposes of undertaking work experience and can receive the formal recognition of the university through the Placement Year option.

The University of York reserves the right to withhold approval of any placement opportunity for the purposes of the the Placement Year option should it have any concerns about the placement, including the viability of the activities anticipated or the suitability of any organisation or individual involved.

The following are important criteria that the university will consider before confirming an opportunity to be suitable for the Placement Year option.   If you find a placement opportunity that interests you please consider these criteria for yourself before coming to discuss them with Careers and Placements.  Some of the criteria will require you to provide supporting materials which are indicated.

1. The placement opportunity must contain elements of challenge commensurate with the acquisition of experiences that could directly contribute to the attainment of a graduate destination.    

Although many placements will contain relatively unskilled tasks at some point, for the majority of the role, you should be operating at a level that will support, with developing skills and experiences, an application for graduate level work or further study. As part of the approval process, you will need to show Careers and Placements evidence that this will be the case. Evidence could include a written job description, a letter or an agreement document signed by the placement provider.  

2. The placement is with an organisation that is legally constituted and operates in line with UK/EU employment legislation or equivalent

Ensure the organisation complies with legislation around issues such as: paying at least the minimum wage; compliance with health and safety legislation; providing adequate time off for annual leave, and provision for sick leave.   The University of York maintains a Code of Conduct for Employers that raises a number of legal and good practice issues that you may wish to consider in relation to the opportunity you are considering.  The code can be accessed at:

3.  The employer organisation should be willing to provide you with a letter of engagement or a contract of employment prior to you starting work for them

If the organisation has no previous experience with these type of documents then the University of York can provide templates.  A copy of the final letter or contract of engagement must be presented to Careers and Placements before the commencement of any placement activity on behalf of the employer.

4.  The employer must provide evidence to the university that it has full public and employee liability insurance in force, which provides at least an equivalent degree of cover in respect of you as a student which it provides for the placement employer’s full time employees

The University’s template letter of engagement provides details on the evidence required, normally consisting of the relevant insurance policy numbers.  In some cases, notably when the employer is based entirely overseas, the issue of insurance can be subject to local laws and culture.  In these instances you should consult with Careers and Placements for approval before making any placement commitments.

It should be noted that in  limited circumstances it may be possible to extend university insurance cover to a student on placement. However, this can never be assumed; you will require written confirmation and approval of the placement from Careers and Placements that this is the case, before starting a placement.  

The university will not extend professional indemnity insurance to a placement student on this programme.  If a placement provider requires this form of insurance from you then please inform Careers and Placements for approval of the placement before making any placement commitments.

5.The employer should be able to provide a written policy on health, safety and welfare provision.  The employer should be willing and able to confirm in writing that all relevant statutory duties in respect of health and safety and welfare are being complied with

Careers and Placements can support you in obtaining these written assurances if they do not appear in your letter of engagement or employment contract.

6. No placement opportunity can be approved if it involves the student travelling to a country where the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advise against this

This can be checked at

7. If a placement opportunity overseas requires you to obtain a work or study visa then this will need to be achieved in advance of the placement starting

The University of York will require a copy of any visa(s) you obtain.

If you are a student studying at York under a Tier 4 visa then you will need to change the terms of your visa in order to take up the the Placement Year option, regardless of where your eventual placement might be located.  You should consult with the university’s Immigration Advice Service to discuss this issue in detail to ensure you are fully informed as to the implications of this option before making any placement commitments.

8. The costs of any visas or other requirements, such as disclosure and barring checks, health screening, etc cannot be met by the university

You should weigh these and other costs, such as travel to interviews, against alternatives before making any firm placement commitments.

9. The employer should be fully aware of your status as a placement student and be willing to afford you the time and opportunities to acquire experiences that can contribute to the learning outcomes of the module (see Assessment section of the Placement Year ).  They should also be willing to interact with representatives of the University of York in their supervision of your placement  

The employer must be willing to offer you the opportunities to learn and develop, and also be aware of the requirement for you to provide a written submission about your time with them for assessment purposes.  If the work of the employer has confidential elements to it then approaches to handling this process are best agreed with the placement provider before taking up the opportunity. Careers and Placements will support you on these queries should they arise.


  • We recommend you complete monthly learning logs via Yorkshare (the VLE) and complete all entries by 30 April - you will receive feedback on the logs you submit
  • You will be required to submit a 3000 word reflective report via Yorkshare (the VLE) by 30 June - this will be assessed by Careers and Placements

Additional programme learning outcome:

On completion of the Placement Year programme, our graduates will be able to:

Apply employability skills and enhanced self-awareness and understanding through reflection on a minimum of 9 months experience in a work-based context. 

Module learning outcomes:

On completion of the Placement Year module, our students will be able to: 

  • Articulate their competencies in a concise manner through consistent reflection of their skillset development over the duration of their placement  

  • Articulate a sense of career direction based on an exploration of their own values, skills and motivations arising from their placement experience

  • Evaluate the fit of their own personal values to the culture and working environment of their placement employer’s organisation 

  • Identify their impact on the placement organisation through a critical analysis of their individual role and the tangible outcomes of their work

  • Confidently reflect on specific experiences obtained over the course of their placement

  • Articulate the value and utility of any transferable skills they feel their degree studies have provided in a work context.

Outcomes associated with work based learning:

 The type of competencies that will be developed through undertaking a challenging work placement will be related to transferable, work-related skills; not necessarily those of the student’s normal course of study. 

 The competencies a student may develop are likely to be: 

  • An understanding of a working environment(s), its language, culture and how things are achieved

  • Communication skills, report writing and oral communication appropriate to the working environment and also the ability to articulate their experiences in terms of their personal development

  • Time management and the ability to prioritise effectively

  • Self-motivation, independence and autonomy

  • Team working, interpersonal and networking skills

  • Commercial awareness, the ability to relate wider contextual information to the work of an organisation and individual roles

  • Creativity and innovation, the ability to identify opportunities for improving activities and putting them into practice.

Exceptional circumstances 

Students on placement will be expected to comply with the attendance policy of the placement provider, including any illness or compassionate circumstance.   Exceptional circumstance cases that apply to the submission of the reflective work either during or at the end of the placement will be referred to the home Department’s Exceptional Circumstances Affecting Assessment Committee.

Failure to complete assigned placement

There may be instances that arise that mean you cannot complete your placement, which will have implications on you successfully passing the Placement Year module.  Outlined below are possible circumstances that may arise during the year.

If the placement fails through no fault of your own, through the host organisation going into receivership for example, it will not be grounds for appeal through Special Cases.

A placement might fail due to:

Organisation ceases operation

  • If this occurs at the start of your placement, before the commencement of the autumn term you will be able to enrol for your final year
  • If this happens after the start of term and there is time remaining in the academic year to obtain the minimum 9 months work experience, you may decide to look for another placement and we would support you through the selection and the approval process as before
  • The alternative is to apply for a Leave of Absence and return to your final year at the next available opportunity for Undergraduate enrolment.


  • If you are reasonably dismissed from your role it would indicate that you have breached an appropriate code of conduct of the host organisation and will be ineligible for support from Careers and Placements in seeking a further placement through the Placement Year programme. You would be advised to apply for a Leave of Absence and return to your final year at the next available opportunity for undergraduate enrolment.

Ill-health/exceptional circumstances 

  • If you experience circumstances that require you to miss more than 20 days of placement, you would be advised to take a Leave of Absence for the remaining time to recover and then re-enter for your final year
  • The Placement Supervisor or home Department Supervisor, if preferred, would support you through the Leave of Absence process. The Leave of Absence would be signed off by the home Department Board of Studies and  a decision would be made around your ability to rejoin or restart the Placement Year based on individual circumstances.