Work based learning

For all undergraduate students accredited work based learning is an integral part of your course: this can take the form of a placement (sometimes referred to as an internship) or a work based project. Your course team will be in touch to let you know when you need to start preparing for your work based learning module and they will explain what support they can provide to help you find suitable opportunities. The Careers and Employability team can also help by giving advice on all stages of the selection process including developing your CV, completing application forms, preparing for an interview or online assessments.

For postgraduate students, it may be possible to participate in an accredited placement or project: check with your course team to find out if this option is available for you.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for Work Based Learning

The University has created a robust set of plans to ensure all students get the same high-quality experience while staying safe this autumn term.
Work Based Learning/Placement modules are running as usual for 2021/22. In situ, remote and virtual work based learning/placements will be offered. Any student going on an in-situ placement must complete a self-risk assessment for Covid-19, but is not asked to share the results with the University unless they wish to. Students are guided to follow whatever Covid-19 mitigation measures the placement employer requires.
If a work placement is a compulsory part of your course due to professional body requirements (such as Social Work, Teacher Training and Dietetics), please contact your course team to find out about your placement during the Coronavirus pandemic. The University is liaising with the relevant professional bodies related to your programmes and will continue to act on their advice.
Please contact the Work Based Learning Team at with any questions.

Why Work Based Learning? The Graduate Market in 2019 (High Fliers) report reveals that over a third of recruiters taking part in the research advised that graduates ‘who have had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process for their graduate programmes.’ Before starting your search it may be helpful to consider some of the benefits and to identify what specifically you hope to achieve, for example:

  • Gaining experience which will enhance your CV.
  • Increasing your knowledge of the application and recruitment process.
  • Developing your understanding of a specific area of work. This may help you to confirm your career choice, or possibly introduce you to new ideas that you had not previously considered.
  • Enhancing employability through the development of a wider range of work related skills. Along with this may come an increased sense of self-confidence.
  • Widening your network, i.e. building contacts that may be able to help either directly or indirectly in your graduate job search.

The majority of suitable work based learning opportunities sourced by the University will be advertised by the University Job Shop: this will be one of your main resources in your search for placements, part-time jobs or work related projects for your module.  Log in to MyCareer to browse these opportunities.

Placement schemes

Some large graduate recruiters offer full time placement opportunities over the summer vacation, for example, or for longer periods of up to a year. If this type of opportunity appeals to you, it is important to begin your research well in advance, as vacancies are often advertised up to 9 months in advance of the start date.

Jobs Boards:

There are a number of websites that advertise internship vacancies for students, eg ratemyplacement and Target Jobs; a selection of these sites is listed in the 'recruitment websites and job boards' page.

Employer websites:

You can also make direct contact with individual employers of interest. Full time placement opportunities are offered by many large financial institutions, eg the Bank of England, Barclays or Lloyds of London, major retailers, such as Tesco, or blue chip organisations such as GlaxoSmithKline, BT or Thomson Reuters.  The range of opportunities on offer can be wide: although Tesco for example offer store based opportunities, they also offer internships in finance, marketing, supply chain and software engineering for example.  Good therefore to keep an open mind and research as widely as possible to maximise your chances of success.

Professional bodies

A few professional bodies list employers in their sector who offer placements and/or work experience.  Examples include:

You may also find it useful to refer to the job hunting materials on the Careers Portal and specifically to make use of the job search engine.

Speculative approaches

Smaller organisations who are less likely to advertise vacancies may nonetheless respond to a speculative approach from a student. If you plan to approach organisations who are not actively advertising the first step is to identify potential employers in your sector of choice and to approach them with a targeted CV and cover letter, making sure you state clearly why you are writing and when the proposed placement would take place. Download the Graduate Job Search document to access information on business directories and other company sources.

Networking and social media

Developing your professional network is another strategy which can be useful in identifying potential opportunities.  Whilst some prefer to attend network events where they can meet others face to face, much networking activity now takes place on social media, particularly on LinkedIn.  See the E Hireability resources on the Careers portal for guidance on how to use social media as part of your opportunity search.  The University of Leeds Careers Centre has produced a series of YouTube videos on Linkedin which provide specific advice on creating a presence on the platform and using this as a tool for research, networking and job search.

Any placement, whether paid or unpaid, can add valuable experience to your CV and allow you to develop work-related skills. Unpaid placements have long been the norm within the voluntary sector, and guidance on the range of opportunities on offer can be found on the volunteering web pages.  Also, log into the MyCareer system to access live volunteering vacancies in not-for-profit organisations.

In recent years an increasing number of unpaid internships are being offered within the private sector, and this is a topic on which there has been extensive media coverage.

National minimum wage legislation states that it is illegal not to pay an appropriate wage to a “worker”. There are some exceptions to this general rule and these include work shadowing opportunities, a period of experience regarded as an integral part of a course of study, or as already mentioned, volunteers within not-for-profit organisations.  If therefore you are seeking an opportunity in the context of your work related learning module, the employer may choose to offer this on an unpaid basis.

This programme is available only to American students participating in the Study Abroad Programme.  It provides an opportunity to complete a part-time voluntary internship in addition to your studies.

  • The programme has been developed to help students gain the type of skills and real-life experiences employers say they want from college graduates.
  • Help will be provided to find an internship related to your course.  Bear in mind that whilst we make every effort to find an opportunity in your chosen field, you do have to be realistic and flexible. Although there is a high success rate in placing Study Abroad students, we cannot guarantee to find an internship for every student.
  • We will also support you whilst you're completing the internship and will assist you in fulfilling your home college requirements for internship credit.

Where study abroad students intern  will give you ideas on where past students have been placed whilst the Code of Conduct for US Study Abroad Interns  and the Rights and Responsibilities of US Interns will help you to understand what is expected of you and what you can expect from others. You will also need to view and complete the Study Abroad Internship Agreement and Study Abroad Student Health and Safety Checklist.

To apply please click on the Study Abroad Internship Programme Application Form below.

Study Abroad Internship Application Form

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