Studying Effectively

Placements and work-based learning

Many subjects involve some work-based learning, or planned placement, as an integral part of your course. It might include time spent working in industry or in professional practice, or studying at a partner university. This may take place either in your home country or abroad. The aim is to complement your academic development with the application of new knowledge in the "real-world" setting. It's usually a chance to develop problem-solving and practical skills that can only be learned by practising, enabling you to develop the ability to reflect on your experience and relate it to your academic work.

Your School will have guidance on what placements are available, how they are arranged and how it fits with your academic study. Make sure you're clear about what you are supposed to achieve whilst on placement and who is there to support you.

Some common stages in learning successfully include:

  • being clear about your role in the workplace and the role of your academic contact and your placement contacts
  • making sure you're clear on what constitutes appropriate professional behaviour for the role you are in
  • setting out and agreeing learning outcomes - things that you should be able to show that you can do by the end of the placement, or at set points during your time in work
  • identifying what you have learned and how that might be transferable to similar work contexts - it's easy for the time to fly by in a whirl of experiences, so it's important to make time to reflect on what you're getting out of each one
  • asking for feedback on your contribution and progress, and listening carefully to what your mentors say
  • getting confirmation that you have demonstrated your achievement of the intended learning outcomes.

Online learning resources

Materials from the School of Health Sciences addressing these issues are also relevant to other disciplines:



Further reading

Studying at university


Reading and interpreting sources and data

Strategies for managing placements

The following University of Southampton guides, written for dyslexic students, are generally useful for all students.

more resources recommended by Academic Support

University regulations

People who can help

Talk to someone in your school or a specialist support service


Studying Effectively

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