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Designing placement programmes

3.1       Programme Design

The process for incorporating periods of placement learning into programmes depends on the length, credit value and an assessment of risk -  but can be very straightforward for many common models of provision (for example, the incorporation of a year-long professional placement into an existing programme). For advice on the approval process, please contact

Periods of placement learning should be fully integrated into the programme of study. The design of the entirety of the programme should provide an appropriate context for the placement, define appropriate learning outcomes and establish the methods of assessment. The learning outcomes for the placement should be designed with the overall aims of the programme in mind and allow for all students, despite variations in their work setting, to achieve these outcomes and progress towards successful completion of the programme. Placement provision is not a standalone or anomalous activity but a structured component of a complete and well-designed programme.

Placements and periods of work-based learning are based on defined learning outcomes in the same manner as classroom-based modules. As such, the essential points about learning outcomes apply: [1]

For placement activity, it is especially important that the learning outcomes are clearly communicated and understood by students, placement providers and academic supervisors.

Programme design and the articulation of learning outcomes should be informed by the relevant professional, statutory and regulatory bodies in the field. Placement activity should be designed in alignment with the requirements set out by these organisations which may include detailed stipulation on learning outcomes, support mechanisms and assessment tasks.[3]

Placement years shall contribute 10% towards the final degree class and should extend for the duration of not less than 30 weeks.[4]

Opportunities for students to transfer either into or out of programmes that offer placement opportunities should be clearly signalled to relevant student groups. Such documentation should highlight the benefits that such placements can provide to students.

If international students are to be recruited, placements must be an integral and assessed part of the programme. The duration of the placement must not be more than 50 per cent of the total length of the programme unless there is a UK statutory requirement for a placement which exceeds this limit.

[1] Cardiff University: “Essential Points about Learning Outcomes”.

[2] Cardiff University: “Academic standards and non-discrimination”

[3] Examples include: Royal Society of Chemistry: Role Specification for Placement Students; Joint Board of Moderators (Engineering): Guidance on Placements in Degree Programmes

[4] Academic Regulations Handbook.