Industrial Placements

Industrial Placements

All medical sciences degree programmes offered by the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition permit students to undertake a year in an industrial placement. The placement can be in a commercial company (industry) or an academic environment. The placement may be paid employment or unpaid (an internship). The placement is an integral part of the degree programme, with the fourth year of the degree spent in the placement. The placement permits the students to graduate after five years with an MSci (an undergraduate Masters degree).

Placements vary considerably but, in general terms, they are in an industrial, commercial or research environment where the student can obtain a breadth of practical experience to complement their degree programme. We have links with a number of different companies and have recently helped students to secure placements in companies such as GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Lilly, as well as a number of smaller companies. Students have also secured placements in research organisations in the UK, Europe and further afield (e.g. Australia and USA).

Why Undertake A Years Industrial Placement?

Employers now expect a  broad list of skills, knowledge and experience in their graduate recruits. They welcome 'transferable skills' acquired during a work placement, such as communication, numeracy, use of IT, working effectively as part of a team and time management. In addition to allowing you to experience workplace culture, completing a work placement makes you a more effective employee following graduation.

Increasingly, placements or periods of work experience are being used as a tool by employers for pre-selecting the best students for graduate roles. An industrial placement year may therefore become a passport to employment where employers consider a work placement as a central part of their graduate recruitment processes.

Who Can Undertake An Industrial Placement?

Almost all students who are studying for a medical sciences degree within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition, and who successfully complete their first three years at a level which will allow them entry into Honours year, and indicates that they are on track for a good upper second or first class degree, are eligible to apply to undertake a year's industrial placement.

Finding A Placement

The application process for placements starts at the beginning of September of the year prior to the placement commencing. Throughout the application process students receive the full support of the Industrial Placement Co-ordinator and the University Careers and Employability Service. Students remain registered with the University during their placement year and continue to receive guidance and advice from a University tutor for the duration of the year in industry. At the end of their placement year students return to the University to complete their final year of study – their 'Honours' year.


If you have a question that is not answered below, please get in touch with Dr Ian Fleming.


I am registered on one of the BSc programmes.  Can I go on a year’s placement?

If your grades are appropriate you can apply to undertake a placement. You must register for,  attend and pass theBT3006 course in the first semester of your third year. This course is designed to help students apply for year-long placements. If you are successful in securing a placement you will be transferred to the MSci programme.

What happens if I am registered on the MSci programme but do not secure a placement?

If you do not secure a year’s placement, or if you decide you would prefer not to take one, you will be transferred to the corresponding BSc programme and will go directly into honours year (if qualified to do so) after your third year of study.

How long do placements last?

Placements last for a full calendar year – not a standard academic year. Start dates are decided between the student and their host organisation and can be any time between the end of the exam period in May and the start of the new academic semester in September. Students must complete their year in placement in time to return to university at the start of the next academic year in September.

Can I go abroad for my placement or do I need to stay in the UK?

Yes you can go abroad. It is common for students to go to mainland Europe for their placement but it is possible to go further afield.

Am I still registered as a student when on placement?

Yes, students remain registered as full-time students of the University of Aberdeen.

How much are my fees while on placement?

SAAS-funded students are generally charged halffees while on placement but this will depend on your fee status. Students who are not funded by SAAS generally do not pay fees for the placement year, but do pay fees for the honours year. If you would like to discuss the fees that you would expect to pay whilst  on placement please contact Dr Ian Fleming.

Do I pay council tax while on placement in the UK?

As you are still registered as a full-time student while on placement the same rules apply regarding council tax as during the rest of your studies if you are living in the UK. If you are undertaking a placement abroad you will be subject to the rules of the country in which you are working.

Will I be paid while on placement?

This will depend on where you go on placement. Most companies pay a salary while you are working with them but the amount will vary between companies and will also depend on the cost of living in the country in which you are working. Some companies and research organisations do not pay students but if you are working in a country covered by the Erasmus programme you may be able to apply for an Erasmus trainee grant.

Will I have a supervisor in my placement organisation?

Yes. You will have a supervisor in your host organisation. He/she will usually be the person you are working with on a day-to-day basis but it may be your group leader or other person in the organisation.

What kind of University support will I have while on placement?

You are assigned a University placement tutor before you go on placement. He/she will be your first point of contact if you need advice relating to any of your university assignments. You will also have the support of the Industrial Placement Coordinator. 

Will I have to complete any University assignments while on Placement?

Yes. The year is credit bearing. At the end of the placement year, you submit a thesis, undertake a short viva voce (oral exam) and present a poster at a student conference for placement and summer research students.

Does the placement year count towards my final degree classification?

No.  Your final degree classification is dependent wholly on the grades from your honours year. A successful year in placement enables you to graduate with an MSci rather than a BSc.

What happens if I fail my placement year?

If you do not attain a pass grade for your year in placement you will not be able to graduate with an MSci. However, you will still be eligible to enter honours year when you return to Aberdeen.  If you successfully pass honours year you will graduate with a BSc.

What happens after my placement year?

When you complete your placement you return to the University to complete your final (honours) year. You will be integrated into the honours year just as if you had moved into honours straight from third year.