Frequently Asked Questions about the Programme

Why should I do a placement?
It gives you a unique opportunity to experience first hand the industrial/work environment, to extend your knowledge and understanding of the subject and related areas, and to develop your knowledge, skills and attitudes required for a successful career. It allows you time for reflection and consideration of a likely career route. But above all it gives you the competitive “edge”! It sets you apart from your peers; whether you intend to further your education (PhD, MSc, etc) or move directly into employment, you will have a head start.

Do I qualify for a work placement?
Competition nationally for work placements is strong. There is no minimum academic requirement imposed by Leeds University or FBS (other than progression) so any student can search for a placement.  However, companies often require a 2.1 and you will of course be in a better position to get a placement if your academic performance is strong.

Who can apply?
The scheme is open to all level 2 undergraduate students in the Faculty of Biological Sciences.

Will I definitely get a placement?
You are not guaranteed a placement! While we can advise, help and prepare you, ultimately the decisions rest with the companies concerned. You will be in national competition with many others.

What is the procedure?
Usually in the last week of teaching (Term 3) and before the examination period, we will provide further information regarding the placement scheme, together with an opportunity to meet and ask any questions you may have. We will compile a list of “interested students”. Following reflection on your Year 1 examinations, and immediately (if not before) upon start of Year 2, you must confirm, by submission of your C.V, your intention to continue with the scheme. This will allow us to draw up a “definitive” list of names. We will need to obtain references from your personal tutor, and so it is important that we know your intentions as early as possible.

Making applications
Applications for placements can begin as soon as you wish but certainly in earnest by early October of your second year. In particular, the larger companies tend to very fast “off the mark”. Nowadays many of these applications are made on-line. We will keep in contact with you by email to alert you to applications pending as we receive information from the companies. It is imperative that you check your email regularly and make applications promptly.

How can I help to get a placement?
We will forward on information from those companies that contact us, which in reality includes the larger companies and organisations. But you need to be proactive! Any companies or organisations that you may have come across in your searches, or know of through contacts, will be worth applying to. Use your C.V. and a cover letter to make your applications. You do not need to wait for me to do this, unless you are concerned about the possible relevance of such a placement. I will however need information about the placement in order to approve it.

If I get a placement what happens next?
You will enter into negotiations with the company concerned (start dates, contract, accommodation, etc). We will review your performance through the year. Poor performance and/or failed modules may preclude you from starting your placement. Final year project choices will not need to be made at the end of year 2; this information will be forwarded to you for the following year while you are on placement.

When do I start the placement?
That is decided through negotiation with the company, but usually it will be from August to July, and normally of 12 months duration.

What if I don’t get a placement?
If you have not gained a placement, then the normal practice is for you to revert back to a 3-year degree scheme. Most students need to commit to final year accommodation by Easter so balancing your priorities becomes an issue. Also around this time your LEA will be asking for information regarding loans and progression to the next year. You can opt-out of the work placement procedure at any time. However, very often opportunities do arise well after Easter, and we will continue to forward information that becomes available.

Can I get a placement abroad?
Most placements are in the U.K. however there are placements available for example in Belgium, USA, Singapore, Australia, France and Canada.  Also if you have contacts with companies or individuals outside the U.K. then, so long as any potential placement is of a graduate level employment, and has been approved by the placement tutor Dr Pickles, we would be happy to support your application.

Can I get a placement near where I live?
Unlikely, unless you live near a large relevant company and/or have contacts within it. For example, many of the larger Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology companies are grouped around the Home Counties.

I know someone in Industry, can I get a placement there?
If you have a contact in a relevant company then by all means investigate this further. So long as you can be offered a placement (9-12months) that is relevant and challenging, then we would certainly support you. Likewise, a summer vacation job may have opened up the possibility of a work placement year.

Do I get paid?
Almost all work placements are salaried. The amount will vary from company to company but probably within the range £15-20K. Of course that does not preclude you from taking a non-salaried placement.

Do I have to pay tuition fees?
At the moment the answer is yes, £1350, for Home/EU students. International students should get in touch with Student Services in the Ziff Building for fee advice. You are still entitled to apply for a student loan for that year, if you so wish.

How is the placement assessed?
Your work placement year is assessed, but does not contribute to your final degree mark. Acknowledgement of your placement year is made in the title of your degree. Assessment is made on a Pass/Fail basis. You will need to have satisfactorily completed your employers work contract, fully completed your Work Profile document, completed a 2000 word literature review and a 6000-word report on your placement. During your placement you will be registered on BIOL8001: Training in the Workplace; this is a 120 credit module.

What sort of work will I do on placement?
Difficult to specify, but we do expect all placements to be challenging and relevant to your degree programme. Many of the placements will be lab-based since the “hands-on” help is what is often required by companies. These may involve individual or group work, individual research projects and/or more routine exercises (assays, screening, etc). However, the Bioscience sphere is large and diverse, and we would encourage you to consider a variety of placement types, such as clinical trials, regulatory affairs, I.T., healthcare, education, management/business, etc. Ultimately I will need to approve such placements; if you have any doubts as to their relevance, please contact me.

Having accepted an offer of work placement with a company, can I then change my mind?
NO, unless there are genuine reasons. The company would be very unhappy about this, as would we. Once you have confirmed your acceptance of an offer you should be prepared to carry it through, even if you subsequently get an offer from elsewhere.

Can I keep in contact while I am on placement?
Of course! You will still be a full-time student of this University and will continue to have access to resources, including email, internet, Student Portal, etc. We will maintain contact with you and your supervisor by regular email. You will be assigned an academic supervisor who may visit you on site. We will keep you aware of any developments at the University that may affect you. We will even provide you with a list of the other placement students work emails so you can keep in contact with friends!

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