KMS Undergraduate Placements

For students enrolling on Keele Management School undergraduate programmes there is the opportunity to boost your employability by applying for a four year degree with a work Placement.

What is a Placement Year?

A placement, or “sandwich year” as it is sometimes called, enables you to spend a paid year in industry between year two and three of your degree course. Here, you gain valuable work experience before returning to your final year to complete your studies. It gives you the opportunity to link theory and practice together for a greater understanding of the business environment, and develop a whole host of key, transferable skills employers are actively recruiting for.

A placement year must:

  • Have a duration of at least 30 weeks on a full time basis
  • Be paid at least the National Minimum Wage
  • Be located with an employer (Placement Provider) who complies with all current Health & Safety legislation

What are the benefits?

Finishing your studies with a good academic result is important, but a great way to stand out from the crowd is work experience. Extensive research highlights the vast majority of employers prefer to recruit graduates who have undertaken a placement as part of their studies, with many employers using placement students as a talent pipeline for their graduate roles.

Other benefits include:

  • Practical experience in the industry you wish to work in
  • Improved job opportunities, and professional networks
  • Increased confidence when searching, and applying for graduate level roles
  • Experience of teamwork and the development of interpersonal skills
  • Awareness of current developments in your chosen sector
  • Potential to achieve higher grades and a better degree classification
  • Opportunity to earn a salary

How to find a Placement and who can help?

Students are supported throughout the entire process by Keele Management School, the School's Student Placement Officer, Keele Careers and Employability Team, and various other departments across the institution.

Students are responsible for securing their own placement to enable complete flexibility when and where the placement is conducted, taking into consideration potential living and travel expenses which may be incurred, for which the student is responsible.

Students will receive continuous support throughout their search for a placement, including;

  • Hints and tips on where to search and apply for placement opportunities
  • Job application and interview preparation support
  • Important announcements about workshops; employer events/visits and placement fairs

The Student Placement Officer will network with a range of employers in order to source eligible placement opportunities that will be available to apply for, which can be found here.

There are specific modules in Year 1 and Year 2 designed to prepare students for a placement, including support in preparing CVs, covering letters and guidance on how to find a placement.

The Careers and Employability Team have a range of support available including:

  • One to one appointments to help students identify the type of placement they are looking for
  • Suite of online support around searching and applying for placement opportunities
  • CV and application reviews

What support is available during the placement?

During the Placement, the student will have a designated supervisor/line manager, and will also be in regular communication with the Student Placement Officer via email, telephone and also where possible a placement visit to the workplace.

Placement students are still registered students at Keele University, and so have access to a whole host of student support services, including access to the Student Placement Officer, Student Services Centre, Careers and Employability Team, and Keele University Students’ Union.

Placement activities will be work based and agreed between the employer, the student and an academic tutor. During the Placement the student will carry out work-based learning and reflection and will be expected to complete two portfolio assessments to successfully complete the Placement.

Tuition Fees

Students will pay a reduced fee whilst undertaking a work placement year as part of their course. For information about tuition fees please contact the Student Placement Officer, Sharon Farrow

Students can also apply for financial help, whether they’re studying in the UK or abroad. However the funding may be reduced due to placement earnings. Please visit the Student Services Centre, or Student Finance England for more information.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible for the placement year, students must have a good academic standing, and attendance record.

What next?

If you are interested in undertaking a placement year, or have any specific questions about undergraduate placements please contact Sharon Farrow, Student Placement Officer on email at, or telephone on 01782 733089.

Placement Case Studies

Matthew Cupic, Government Economic Service

Matthew Cupic, Economics and Politics
How did you find your placement?

The placement was found within the Placement Officer's weekly bulletin notices which are used to advertise placements which could be of interest to Keele Management School students.


Could you describe the recruitement process for this placement?

The recruitment process initially involved filling in an application form provided by the placement provider. This has to be filled in and submitted within a 48 hour period and consisted of providing qualification and employment history and how past experiences and personal attributes related to the placement opportunity and help develop me as a person.

Once I had been successful with my initial application, I was invited for an interview at the providers main office. The interview was split into two parts, where we initially were expected to complete a numerical assessment. This was followed by an oral interview; which was also split into two parts. The first part consisted of being interviewed by a member of the organisations HR team regarding me as a candidate, which was followed by an interview by an economist regarding specific economics and economics theories.


How did you prepare?

To prepare I continued my reading regarding current economic debates and past economic theories but refined it to be particularly relevant to the company I was applying into.


What tips would you give to fellow students applying for a placement?

Identify areas in which you want to secure a placement in, monitor the companies and businesses in that area and what opportunities there are. Also, it is beneficial to acquire knowledge into specific companies and how they operate, with emphasis on any specific candidate traits they are looking for.


How do you think this experience will benefit you when you return to your studies, and upon completion of your course?

I hope that the placement will confirm that this is an area that I wish to have a career in and will provide a great motivation once I return to full time study. It will also provide me with the opportunity to enhance my knowledge and witness how the theories that I have learnt in class are reflected in the real world.

Ali Hussain, Sainsbury's Head Office

Ali Hussain, Accounting and Finance
How did you find your Placement?

I found out about the placement through Target Jobs, which was a recommended website the university gave me. I also discovered more about the internship through work, as I work for Argos, who are owned by Sainsbury’s. They were able to give me more of an insight about the placement which would be on offer.

Please could you describe the recruitment process?

After sending in my CV, I received a phone call from Sainsbury’s recruitment team in Manchester, where a telephone interview was arranged. The telephone interview consisted of general questions, such as why I was interested in a placement, why Sainsbury’s and trends which I had noticed in the supermarket sector which I felt were notable. About a month later I received an email saying I had been selected for an assessment centre day, which would be eight days from when the email was sent. I was required to prepare a presentation regarding changes Sainsbury’s could make to their stores to ensure they stay ahead in market, which had to be submitted within five days. The day consisted of myself and six others. We had to firstly present the presentations we had made to two management members, then partake in a timed group activity and lastly an interview with a proportion of the management team. At the end of the day, they informed us that two candidates would be offered the role within three weeks. Sure enough, I received a phone call around two weeks after the day to inform me they were willing to offer me a role.

How did you prepare yourself?

The best preparation I received was from the Professional Development course module, as we did a mock group assessment in one of the workshops was practically identical to the one we had to do for Sainsbury’s, which gave me a significant advantage in comparison to my peers, as I knew key things which we had been told recruiters looked out for, so applying them resulted in me standing out in the group.

We also knew the presentations would have to be ten minutes long, so I timed myself going through the presentation helped a great deal. In my hotel room the night before I went through various ways which I could present, and writing a script which was the most time efficient to take with me on the day to ensure I displayed my time management skills.

The most helpful thing was having my friends read my presentation then ask questions which I could potentially be asked. Based on my responses, I scripted answers to recurring questions I had been given, and sure enough the majority of things I had prepared answers for were asked by Sainsbury’s.

What tips would you give to fellow students applying for a placement?

The main tip I would give is to not let previous setbacks prevent you from trying to find a placement and believing that it’s attainable. I personally underperformed at A level in terms of grades and was very lucky to be offered a place to study from a university such as Keele based on the grades I had. I thought that this would hinder my chances of a placement year as they are very competitive, with people who had a more impressive track record than me applying for the same roles. There were a few internships which I didn’t feel I would have a chance getting, and Sainsbury’s was one of them purely based on their stature. I assumed that they would only be interested in people who would have aced their A levels.

As well as this every other candidate at the assessment centre attended a Russell Group university, which was quite intimidating. However, I managed to beat five of these individuals to the placement with a company of an incredibly huge stature. It’s important that you are able to present yourself in a positive manner based on what you’re currently doing and your current successes and not dwell on previous mistakes or failures, as these big companies are far more interested in what you can do for them rather than mistakes which you have previously made.

I think it’s also vital to not become too disheartened when applying, as many other places which I had applied to have turned me down, I think the amount of times I have been rejected is definitely in double figures at this point. Before receiving my Sainsburys offer it did worry me, as I was very keen to earn a placement, but it was important to remain patient and keep trying, which has really paid off as I’m now going to be working for the company which was one of my top choices.

How do you think this experience will benefit you when you return to your studies, and upon completion of your course?

I think that the prospect of being hired by the company after I have completed my degree would be something to look forward to, as being offered an exciting role to work for Sainsburys as a graduate would unquestionably spur me on to make the most out of my time at university. Having a further understanding of the finance industry would be very beneficial, as I would be aware of the levels and standards which are set at very high level, which would be very good motivation in regard to achieving the maximum grade possible to ensure that I can enter the industry at the highest level conceivable.

George Llewellyn, Barclays

George Llewellyn, Management

George Llewellyn

George, a Management BA student, completed a short work placement during the summer at Barclays Investment Bank at Canary Wharf, London.

How did you secure your Placement? 

I've known that investment banking was something that I wanted to persue a career in from a young age, whether that was having the chance to watch my dad work as a financial trader as a child or just my interest in financial investments from learning about them in school. As I was entering the summer of my penultimate year of study, I thought that it would be a great chance to bolster my CV and help me stand out from other competition for graduate jobs by looking for any experience I could within investment banking. I used sites such as LinkedIn to help network with different professionals to hopefully obtain some experience, and am fortunate to have a close relationship with one of the business managers at Barclays Investment Bank, meaning that he could help me in obtain work experience within the Prime Brokerage department of Barclays Investment Bank.

Canary Wharf, London

Describe a typical day?

A typical day would include a rotation on many different departments of the investment banks prime brokerage section, whether that is looking at strategic planning in regards to new FCA regulations and MIFID II, Trade Capture Unit and the process of executing large trades from hedge funds or Equity Trading and the day to day liaising between hedge funds and traders. I really enjoyed the experience of being able to be surrounded by so many different specialised professionals, as there was always something to learn.

What did you learn/gain during the Placement (new skills, communication, leadership)

During my experience I learned the importance of time management, in an investment bank being able to perform tasks at a high level consistently is an extremely important skill to have, as well as have the work ethic to handle and meet targets. It was an incredible experience to gain an insight into what its like to work within one of the UK largest banks, from the companies structure, customer handling to the sheer amount of the business that a FTSE 100 company generates.

Would you recommend a Placement to your friends? Why?

I would highly recommend that other students should do placements through their summer vacations, the experience its self has provided me with a clear insight of what I want to do when I graduate which is amazing. Just having the opportunity to meet and network with professionals is great, as you can keep in contact with them after if you want to pick their brains on application process', possible job opportunities etc.

How will/has this experience benefit you when you return to your studies?

This experience has really given me the motivation to give my final year 100% of my effort to obtain the highest grade possible, which I'm sure will help me reach my personal targets throughout the year, as well as give me first hand examples that I can relate directly back to my course modules. Please confirm whether you are happy for us to celebrate your success by using this information in a case study that will be utilised in marketing and promotional material Yes Are you happy for us to use your name in the promotion of this case study.

Graduate Job Schemes

Leigh-Ann Hawkins, JCB

Leigh-Anne Hawkins, Accounting and Finance
JCB Finance Graduate Programme

When I started my degree at Keele I never thought I’d end up with a graduate job in a highly successful business within months of graduating. During my third year I applied for many different graduate schemes from October through to February and was offered an assessment day for JCB. This was for its Finance Graduate scheme which I was really interested in. What attracted me to JCB was the career progression potentials and its desire for innovation as a company, along with the attractive benefits of the scheme. The assessment day consisted of interviews, team problem solving activities, presentations and assessments. Within a couple of weeks I found out that I had been successful in progressing to the next stage, which was a one to one interview with the Group Financial Controller. I was one of four candidates that made it through to this stage and then one of two to be offered the job!

Leigh-Anne Hawkins

I started in September along with 26 other graduates who were on a range of programmes, where we had a two week induction course. I am currently on my first of four placements at JCB in its Heavy Products Business Unit. Each placement is due to last six months with the intention of trying a range of areas out within Finance in the Group. At the moment, I am working as a Management Accountant for the division. I am responsible for completing month end journals, inputting invoices and creating accruals, helping complete the budgets, completing various reconciliations and formulating the financial statements and analysis. Much of this work has been helped along by the knowledge I attained whilst at Keele through my degree. I can see the information I learnt during my three years being put into practise whilst on this placement.

My degree in accounting and finance has also helped me by giving me exemptions for my professional academic exams. JCB fund their graduates to complete academic qualifications related to the subject field they are in. For finance this includes CIMA, ACCA or ACA. I have chosen to start CIMA as it fits in best with my career aspirations. For this qualification I have been given five exemptions due to the modules that I completed whilst completing my degree. This is a great starting point to help me work my way through the four levels that the qualification involves. By completing CIMA I will gain the critical knowledge and skills that employers are looking for and be ready to work in any business.

My advice to students would be to have an in depth look around at all of the graduate schemes that are around if this is the direction you are interested in taking. Start early as it is a long process and spend time applying for the positions as the application stage is critical to progress. Assessment days are nerve racking however staying calm and being professional will help you succeed. Make sure you are prepared for any interviews and use Keele’s Careers and Employability expertise to help you with your progression, from how to apply for jobs and write a strong CV, to having practise interviews and knowing what information to be prepared with. Keele Management school were always there to help with any questions or issues too!