Alana Kiss, placement student at Dartmoor Zoo 

Optional placement year

You will have the opportunity to carry out an optional placement year between your second and final year. 

You can undertake either two 3-month work placements or one 6-month placement, though many of our students opt to spent up to 12 months at their placement provider. You will be supported by a Placement Adviser - a member of academic staff - who will act as your point of contact with the University. 

Examples of placement providers that our students have been based at in the past include:

Placements are commonly taken both in the UK and overseas and provide an excellent opportunity to expand your horizons and strengthen your transferable skills, ready for the job market. On successful completion, you will gain the Certificate of Professional or Work Experience. Given the opportunities a placement year gives and the positive impact it brings to employability, we strongly encourage all students to seriously consider undertaking a placement.

Alternatively, you may choose to take a work-based learning module working in a local host organisation alongside your other studies.

What our students say

Lucy Burge

"Having completed an internship with The Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) during an additional industrial placement year, I would highly recommend it to anybody! It was such an amazing experience for me that it changed my entire outlook on life and broadened my knowledge of careers in the animal field. I loved every single moment and can honestly say it was the best thing I have ever done. 

Working with seabirds and especially penguins was extremely rewarding and fulfilling. ANCCOB is a professional business that is recognised worldwide for their methods and works in conserving the African Penguin. 

I really feel as though I have grown and developed as a person during my time at the centre. I had the chance to work up close and personal with penguins, cormorants, gulls, pelicans, petrels, shearwaters, gannets and many more and can honestly say I would not change one minute of my time there."

Student placement - Lucy Burge

Lianne Ottewell 

"Working at the China Bear Rescue Centre in Chengdu was a dream come true. I knew by my third day it would be one of the most incredible and enriching experiences of my life and completely change me. Even now three years later, just thinking about my time there brings me so much joy.

I gained an opportunity to work at the centre through my placement while studying. Plymouth’s optional placement year really won me over when choosing a course – the flexibility they give you compared to other universities is second to none. This led to me being fortunate to spend three months as a behavioural volunteer in China, which ultimately led to where I am now, and I could not be happier."

Read Lianne's full story

Lianne Ottewell visiting the bears

International study 

At Plymouth, we also operate an established Study Abroad Exchange Programme. You have the opportunity to apply to spend the second year of your studies at a partner university in Canada or Australia or take part in the Erasmus exchange programme and study at a European university where we have an agreement. There is also the opportunity to apply for the International Student Exchange Programme (ISEP) and study at a member university in the USA.

Work experience

You are encouraged to do as much as possible to build experience, be it on a voluntary basis or by small pockets of experience through work shadowing and networking. 

There are opportunities to do this through animal charities, zoos, wildlife trusts and many other organisations in the UK or overseas, though some payment may be required for the latter.