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Durham University

Learning and Teaching Handbook

3.7.1 Placement Learning - definitions and responsibilities


1. The University defines placement learning as 'the learning achieved during an agreed and negotiated period of learning that takes place outside the institution at which the full or part-time student is enrolled or engaged in learning' and where 'the learning outcomes are intended as integral parts of a programme [or module]' (UK Quality Code Chapter B3, p.15).

2. The following guidelines apply to placements, whether compulsory or optional, which form a formal part of a programme or module. They do not apply to intercalated years undertaken by concession at the student's initiative which are entirely the responsibility of the student and have no status within the University's regulations.

3. These guidelines do not apply to fieldwork. Section 3.8 of the Learning and Teaching Handbook, and Section F1 of the University's Health and Safety Manual, should be consulted in relation to fieldwork.


4. The University is responsible for:

a. establishing procedures, guidelines and regulations for the approval and management of placements;

b. monitoring the management of placements by departments;

c. offering advice and guidance to departments on the application of the University's placement learning policies and regulations. The main sources of support are:

i. The Academic Support Office in relation to the interpretation and implementation of the University's policies and regulations.

ii. The Health and Safety Service for health and safety issues.

iii. The International Office in relation to overseas placements.

iv. The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre in relation to work-based placements.

v. The Procurement Service for insurance issues.

5. The department* is responsible for:

a. defining the learning outcomes of a placement and its relationship with the rest of the degree programme including progression and assessment;

b. negotiating with placement provider(s) where appropriate to offer placement learning opportunities to a defined number of students over a defined period of time;

c. approving placement arrangements negotiated by individual students where appropriate;

d. formalising arrangements with placement providers where this is appropriate. Advice and examples of agreements are available from the International Office;

e. providing placement providers with clear information about the intended learning outcomes and assessment of the placement;

f. ensuring placement providers and placements are approved through the agreed process;

g. managing the placement including monitoring the student experience and providing appropriate support for students;

h. ensuring that for all placements a Student Placement Agreement (Appendix (A3.09)) is agreed by the department and the student.

*Where a placement opportunity is provided at the initiative of a central University office such as the International Office then it is the responsibility of that office to provide information in respect of Appendix (A3.07.1) to departments establishing placements and to supply any other information to which it has access.

6. A student undertaking a placement is responsible for (see also Appendix (A3.09)):

a. committing him/herself fully to the work involved in the placement;

b. maintaining contact with their department during the placement and informing the department of any problems as soon as they arise;

c. conducting him/herself responsibly as a representative of the University;

d. fulfilling the academic commitments of the placement and submitting work for assessment as required by the placement provider and/or the 'home' department;

e. taking reasonable measures to ensure their health and safety and that of others during the placement activity; in respect of selecting accommodation (where relevant); in day-to-day living (including travel) and in any recreational activities which he/she chooses to pursue;

f. taking particular measures to ensure his/her health and safety in the case of a placement which the student has arranged for him/herself.

7. Placement providers are responsible for:

a. making available to the University and/or the relevant academic department (as appropriate) adequate information to assess the suitability of a placement learning opportunity;

b. providing students with relevant information about the policies and practices of the placement learning provider that will apply to the student while on placement, including those for health and safety;

c. meeting the expectations set out in any formal formal agreement between the University and the placement provider (see paragraph 5d. above).