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Course Design Blueprint

Placement and work-based learning providers


Course teams are expected to work closely with work-based learning and placement providers in order to secure the quality of students' learning experiences and the safety of both the students and those with whom they will work with and provide services to. Involving current or potential placement providers in the course development process is essential for many courses, particularly vocational courses involving prolonged placement for all students with established providers such as health services and local councils.  Where placements are optional, or may involve a wide variety of settings or types of organisation, in-course preparation for placement learning opportunities may need to be more generic.

Mandatory placement learning

For health related courses, and for many other vocationally focussed courses, placement learning is a substantial and fundamental part of the provision and should be integral to, and clearly articulated to, the non-placement learning.  In such cases, the anticipated role of activity that students will be expected to engage with in placement, and how this develops through their study, is a key determining factor in the design and ordering of the curriculum.  The following points are set out to prompt course team's conversations with placement providers, but each course and subject area will have it own specialist considerations to take into account.

  • Recruitment.  For health courses there is usually an expectation that initial student recruitment activities involve service users and placement providers to help make judgements on the suitablility of applicants for their intended role.  It can be helpful to applicants to invole placement providers in other recruitment activities, particularly to enable applicants understand the nature of the course, the asociated emploment role, and the placement activity they would be expected to engage with.
  • Essential skills and attributes.  For most placement opportunities, there will be a baseline expectation for students' skill sets and attitudes or behaviours that will need to be included in the curriculum and possibly achieved in advance of the students' engagement in the placement environmenmts.
  • Role or engagement development.  Often at the early stages of prolonged placement students are expected to take a mainly observation approach to their learning, whilst by the end of the course it is usual for students to be fulfilling their intended role fully, albeit with supervision and support.  Working with placement providers will help determine the stages that are realistic and match to the opportunities that students would be able to access through their studies.

Optional and short-term work experiences or placements

The university encourages all course teams to include some type of work experience or work based learning within their courses, and the inclusion of placement opportunities is one means by which many courses achieve this in a meaningful manner.  However, including a placement in a course needs careful consideration and the following questions are worth considering as teams work with current and potential placement providers to explore the inclusion of placement opportunities in their curricula:

  • What might students be able to get out of a placement experience?  The intention for some work experience opportuinities is to enable students to see and reflect on the work of professionals and practitioners, providing context to their learning and allowing them to draw on their experience to inform learning and assesment activities.  Other opportuinities allow students to take a meaningful part in the employer's or providing organisation's activities, and thus provide an opportunity for students to develop and demonstrate their competencies in support of their course achivement and future career progression.
  • What type of scheduling of placement would be practical?  Placements could be for a short focussed period of time (full time for a few weeks), on a weekly basis throughout a semester or year, through the summer, or offered through some other timescale.  Different employment sectors will be able to support particular approaches.
  • How will placement oppotunities be arranged?  Some palcement providers may be happy for students to approach them to seek opportunities for placements, whilst others may wish to work with the course team to ensure a good match between students and placements, possibly through an application and interview process.