FAQs (2024 update)

Frequently Asked Questions about the Programme

Why should I do a placement?

A placement 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 the 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.  Recent figures show that 18 months after graduation, 91% of FBS graduates who went on an industrial placement are in graduate-level employment, in comparison to 66% of non-placement FBS alumni.

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, some companies do 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.  Both BSc and MBiol students in the second year of their studies can apply.

Will I definitely get a placement?

No, you are not guaranteed a placement, although we will do our very best to find you one.  While we can advise, help and prepare you, ultimately the decisions rest with the companies concerned. You will be competing nationally with many others.

What is the procedure?

Usually in the last few weeks of teaching (Term 3) and before the examination period, we will provide further information regarding the placement scheme, including the opportunity to meet with the placements team and ask any questions you may have. We will then begin to compile a list of “interested students”. This will put you on our mailing list for placement opportunities. 

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 be very fast “off the mark”. Applications will most frequently be made online.   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.

Is there a final date by which I must find a placement?

Unlike the Study Abroad programme, students have a much longer period in which to find a placement.  A student must have found a placement by induction week of the following academic year.  So currently, you have until late September 2024 to find a placement.

Having said this, all placement opportunities will have a specific cut-off date by which you must submit your application.

How can I help to get a placement?

We will forward information from companies that contact us, which in reality includes the larger companies and organisations.  Having said this, you will also 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. You do not need to wait for us to do this, unless you are concerned about the possible relevance of such a placement. We 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. You must successfully progress from your 2nd year to your 3rd year in order to go on 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.  However, some placements may start later.  You must always ensure that you have returned to the university by induction week of the following academic year.

What if I don’t get a placement?

If you have not gained a placement, then you simply carry on with completing your degree as you originally planned. 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.  We actively promote overseas placements as they give you the opportunity not only to gain invaluable work experience, but also the chance to live overseas.

Can I get a placement near where I live?

Of course, if you can find one.  Most of our placements are found throughout the UK.  London is the most popular area for work placements, although Leeds is now running a close second in terms of the numbers of placements.  If you can find a placement close to where you live, that’s great.

I know someone in Industry, can I get a placement there?

If you have a contact in a relevant company, then investigate this further. So long as you can be offered a placement that satisfies the requirements of the Year in Industry programme, then we will support you. Likewise, a summer vacation job may have opened up the possibility of a work placement year.  Developing such contacts is one of the key benefits of the year in industry.

Do I get paid?

Almost all of our work placements are salaried. The amount will vary from company to company but probably within the range of £15-20K. Of course, that does not preclude you from taking a non-salaried placement.  Whilst we would prefer all placements to be paid, we accept that in certain areas, unpaid placements are the norm.

Do I have to pay tuition fees?

At the moment the answer is yes although the amount due is much reduced.  You will have to pay 15% of the set fee that you would pay for a normal year.  For UK students, the amount due is £1385.  For overseas students, the reduced fee is £3713. You are still entitled to apply for a student loan for that year, if you so wish.  Any questions about your fees should be made to Student Services.

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, complete a 2000-word literature review and a 6000-word report on your placement. Once you do all those things, you will have passed the Year in Industry programme.  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?

This is difficult to specify, but we do expect all placements to be challenging. The placement can be relevant to your degree programme, but it doesn’t have to be.   It is possible to do a placement that is not related to your degree at all.  Some of the placements will be lab-based since the “hands-on” help is what companies often require. 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, the Placement team will need to approve such placements; if you have any doubts as to their relevance, please contact us.

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.  You must not accept an offer of a placement and continue to look for other posts.  You cannot say yes to one employer, and then go on to say yes to another employer.

Can I keep in contact while I am on placement?

We will be keeping in regular contact with you throughout the placement.   You will still be a full-time student at 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 also be assigned an academic supervisor who may visit you on site.  The academic supervisor will also provide you with academic support during the placement.  It is they who will be assessing your work.  We will keep you aware of any developments at the University that may affect you. For example, we will contact you with the project choices for your final year of study. 

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