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A unique option for our students is a placement year in which you gain professional experience in an area that aligns to your career aspirations. During a placement year, you usually spend at least 40 weeks working at anywhere from one to three different placements, either in the UK or internationally. The area that you work can be directly or indirectly related to Geography - as you will learn at Durham, geographers work across almost every sector, from energy and economics to health and development.

A placement year can help you to enhance your CV, trial a career, improve your network, discover a new city or country, and earn money. If you’d like to pursue a placement year we connect you with the Careers and Enterprise Centre at Durham, which provides support to help you to secure a placement. During your placement, you retain your student status for the year and continue to receive academic guidance. When you return to Durham your placement year is usually assessed through two reflective assignments and a poster conference where you can share with students and staff the insights you’ve gained from your experience.

What is a Placement Year? 

For a placement year, students spend a minimum of 40 weeks working for an organisation either in the UK or internationally. For Geography students at Durham, you have the opportunity to either do one placement for the entirety of the year or up to three smaller placements.   

Your Placement Year is between your 2nd and 3rd year and you only need to make a decision to do a placement when you are at University. We move you across to the “with Placement Year” variant of your Geography degree when you have successfully secured a role. 

What Placements are Available? 

One of the most liberating aspects of doing a placement year with the Geography department at Durham is that it doesn’t have to be related to your degree, leaving you free to pursue a placement in any sector that you are interested in. Whether you have a passion for marketing, conservation, finance or sustainability, a placement year allows you to pursue your academic or long-term career goals. Graduates from Geography go to work in a huge rang of sectors and a placement year helps to inform those choices, prior to graduation. 

Previous placement students from the department have worked at the Field Studies Council, Rate My Placement, Office for National Statistics and L’Oreal.   

What does a Geography placement look like? 

Shoaib, a BA Geography student here at Durham, began his placement year in 2019 at RateMyPlacement as a Digital Marketing Assistant. Shoaib decided to do a placement year to further build his CV, and challenge himself to develop a wider professional skillset. His placement has allowed him to undertake huge amounts of responsibility, and has been ‘fantastic in helping me gain industry-relevant experience and skills that I am sure will strengthen any future job applications’. Although Shoaib ‘never planned to do a placement year upon entering university’, he believes that the confidence he gained through his extra-curricular activities ‘helped me secure a placement, which has proved invaluable in developing my career prospects’

Speaking on his experiences at RateMyPlacement, Shoaib explained that: 

‘The best thing about my placement has been the opportunity to delve into an industry that is very different from my degree subject. The amount of responsibility I am given in my role is fantastic and working for an SME has helped me make a real difference to the business. With the opportunity for lots of training in different marketing sectors and the ability to absorb great knowledge from industry experts, I can honestly say that I've learned more than I ever thought I would.’


What Support is Available? 

The Careers and Enterprise Centre can provide you with support that will help you to secure a placement. From bi-weekly CV Seminars to a range of sector specific resources and employer presentations, workshops and fairs to give you exposure to a range of organisations on campus and virtually. You can book appointments with specialist careers staff and search for thousands of vacancies via the Student Services Portal. 

You have a dedicated Faculty Placement Manager who will support you in your placement search offering 1:1 appointments, application checks, mock interviews and a weekly newsletter which has placement vacancies and resources to help you with your search. Alongside this, the Faculty Placement Team hosts regular events with students and employers. These have included Geography specific employer panels with key employers across multiple sectors, LinkedIn and networking workshops, panels with current or returned placement year students, and a Placement showcase, featuring providers such as Apple, Warner Bros, and British Airways. 

Download the full Durham University Placement Brochure