Skip to main content


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 students from the School of Government and International Affairs 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 degree when you have successfully secured a role.   

What Placements are Available?  

One of the most liberating aspects of doing a placement year with SGIA 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 SGIA go to work in a huge rang of sectors and a placement year helps to inform those choices, prior to graduation.   

Previous placement opportunities have been offered in the House of Commons and Welsh Parliament, in political affairs at Airbus, roles in the Office for National Statistics and an increasing amount in Corporate Social Responsibility roles. The wide variety of placements years available in both the public and private sectors offer students from the department a wide variety of roles and professional fields to consider as many organisations open their placement opportunities to students from any discipline.    

What does a SGIA placement look like?  

Thomas, a 2019/2020 Placement Year student here at Durham, undertook two roles as part of his placement year, as a Strategy Intern for AML, and then as a Private Equity Intern at Russell Reynolds. Thomas wanted to gain professional experience prior to graduating, but also wanted to be certain about the career path he was going to pursue, leading him to do two internships in different sectors. Motivated to prove himself as a valuable addition to his new colleagues,  

Thomas worked to ‘step up and be useful to the company’, a successful strategy that has led to him being offered a full-time graduate role with one of his employers.  

Thomas found his placement year to be a lesson in ‘self-improvement’, which was both ‘valuable’ and ‘challenging’ addition to his early career. Reflecting on his experiences on his placement year, he explained that: 

‘I think I have matured in knowing more about my strengths and weaknesses, which has partly been assisted by doing self-reflections as assessments for Durham. When I will be applying for jobs, I will have much more self-confidence about what I can bring to the role and clarity over my strengths and weaknesses.’ 

Laura Bielby also took a placement year. You can hear about her experience here.

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 appointment, 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 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.   

Placement Year Guide

For more information, email your Faculty Manager: