Overseas optional placements

Pre-registration nursing students

Optional placements can only be arranged during the final three weeks of the second year.

you are required to demonstrate that you have been in care settings that enable exposure to patients across all age ranges, in all fields of nursing including Learning Disabilities.  To enhance your knowledge and understanding you may choose to undertake your optional placement in one of these specific areas 

Degree nurse apprentices, and students who commence their programme in year two, must undertake a cross-field placement experience, this may be arranged under the optional placement scheme.

Apprentices must also seek the permission of their employer.

Pre-registration midwifery students

Midwifery Optional Placements can only be arranged during the final four weeks of the third year.

Those who do not wish to undertake an optional placement, will remain in their allocated placement

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, while you are registered with the University you remain as a student for whom we have a legal duty of care. That means that we have liability for our students while on an optional placement and we will require you to discuss 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 /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.

Administrative requirements for your placement

There are processes that programme administration undertake with the prospective placement before approval of the optional placement. Students may be asked to expedite this process.

Activity Rationale
Check risk assessment / application Is conducive to student placements
Arrange for a workplace / contractual agreement of liability / honorary contact to be put in place This is a contract between the University and placement provider and forms part of compliance arrangements. Without this agreement you cannot start placement
That there is Practice Supervisor to support the student To ensure that NMC standards are met
Record placement on POW To ensure funding arrangements are maintained and timesheet hours are recorded.

How to apply

Complete the electronic the application form

The application form must be completed by the deadline detailed on the form.

Students will receive provisional notification via the Programme Administrator, within four weeks of receipt of their application that they may proceed with their optional placement, subject to final confirmation from the respective Award Assessment Board.

If a student is unable, for any reason, to undertake their pre-arranged optional placement they must, at the earliest opportunity, contact their Personal Tutor/ Programme Administrator.

Justice Works

The Erasmus programme 

The European Region Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) is an EU funded programme that organises student exchanges.

Each exchange is designed to enable the student to gain valuable international experience, either by studying part of their degree abroad, or undertaking a work placement (traineeship). The exchanges usually take place in the second or third year of a course. To be eligible, you have to be registered at a higher education provider that is part of the programme, and enrolled on a course leading to a recognised degree or tertiary-level qualification. Your period of study abroad must be relevant for your degree, your personal development needs, and be part of the study programme you’re following. Erasmus exchange students don’t have to pay fees for their overseas studies, and there are some grants available to help with living costs, as well as funding support for students with physical, mental, or health-related conditions. You will need to apply for this programme through your university’s Erasmus or international office.

University of Plymouth exchange partners

UCAS information about ERASMUS