Smeatons Tower on Plymouth Hoe
The optional placement is organised and wholly funded by the student. When calculating costs students must consider accommodation, travel and all daily living costs.
Understanding the international context of professional practice is part of our philosophy to enable students the scope to explore nursing in a different context, to enhance them personally and professionally. 
Optional placements require careful planning and, while you are registered with the University, you remain a student for whom we have a legal duty of care. That means that we have liability for our students on optional placements and we will require you to discuss your plans with your personal tutor.

What can you do on your optional placement?

To maximise the opportunity of your optional placement, while at the same time keeping the highest standard of ethical practice, it is essential that you are appropriately supervised and guided by an appropriately qualified individual in the host country. Your supervisor is very important and this applies especially where there may be limited back up. 
You may find that overseas, nurses/midwives undertake certain duties that you have not been trained to perform please ensure you work within the NMC Code and Standards at all times, and contact your personal tutor if you are unsure.
Finally, think also of further enjoying your trip by taking leave at the same time. However, your liability insurance relating to your optional placement provides cover only for the official allocation of three weeks. Bear in mind that while on leave as a private individual you will be individually liable for actions and omissions as a private citizen of the UK, as well as having responsibilities as a registered student of the University of Plymouth.


Students will be subject to the governance arrangements pertaining in the host organisation. In some settings, such arrangements may be rudimentary at best. Risk assessing this will be part of the application process.

Where can I go?

There are many potential risks when travelling, your health and safety is important as is the safety of those you may work with. You will need to think about immunisations, blood borne diseases, visa requirements as well as any cultural sensitivity you may encounter.
Some of you will want to arrange a placement abroad close to family or friends so you can stay with them. We recommend that you consider selecting a European country or one that provides similar healthcare training or use a reputable agency that offers preparation, mentoring and access to advice and help such as Work the World, whom we advocate as a reputable agent.
Students may not undertake optional placements in areas of risk.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) provides guidelines on the risks associated with travel to these countries. You should download the information for the country you wish to visit and submit this information with your application.
The Department of Health also has specific advice (search for travel advice).
If the University is not in a position to support your choice, we may advise you to choose to do this once your programme is complete before starting your first job.

How to apply

1. Identify the proposed placement and contact person.

2. Make your Personal Tutor aware of your wish to apply for an optional placement, including your rationale for this.

3. If the student is an apprentice, they must receive written confirmation from their employer (e.g. via email) that they can go on an optional placement.

4. Submit the application form via our optional placement application form before the deadline; late applications will not be considered.

Grants and scholarships for overseas optional placements

Grant and scholarship awards may be available to help towards the costs of you undertaking an overseas optional placement. Their details and how to apply for them can be found on our study and work abroad mobility grants webpage. 
The annual application deadline is 15 February and you will be advised of your outcome no later than the following July. An application does not imply success and you should therefore not make any commitments based on receiving an award until it is confirmed by the Global Opportunities team of Plymouth Global.
Where can I go?
A list of host organisations with whom we already have relationships is available on your DLE. This menu should be your first port of call when considering an optional placement.
The University of Plymouth also has a portfolio of Student Exchange Partners which includes nursing and midwifery partners whose students sometimes undertake electives with us. They may be willing reciprocally to accept a student from us if you have a good enough standard of their language to enable you to operate professionally and competently in their healthcare setting.
The advantage is that these organisations and partners already have experience with us and contacts are already set up to facilitate your initial introductions and enquiries.