Placements at Middlesex University date back to 1968, and since then have played a significant role in providing relevant work experience to complement the academic training gained at university, thus enhancing employment opportunities. Indeed the placement programme has also played an essential role in providing the experience required for those students wishing to continue at postgraduate level in areas such as Educational, Clinical, Forensic and Occupational Psychology.
The Placement is normally for one academic year (33 weeks), and in most cases is based at an established organisation within the UK. In some cases there have been a number of overseas placements in the USA and Canada, and more recently there have been internal placements within the Psychology Department.
At the beginning of each academic year the students enrolled for the Sandwich Degree register with the Placement Officer and are introduced to the Psychology Placement coordinator. This it to ensure that they receive full support in their preparation for, and placement at, their chosen organisation.
The placement year commences after students have successfully completed their second year of BSc studies at University. Each student will then be assigned an academic member of the Psychology Department to act as their visiting tutor. The visiting tutor’s role is to liaise with the organisation regarding the student’s progress and fulfilment of the placement requirements.
A wide range of influential and established organisations are involved with the placement programme, for example Great Ormond Hospital School, St Georges Hospital, Priory Hospital, Institute of Psychiatry, Institute of Education, University College London, Holloway Prison, and the Metropolitan Police. Students’ involvement in such organisations includes engaging in everyday activities, for example classroom education within the hospital school and running of anger management courses for the prison inmates. In addition, placement students have been engaged in a wide range of clinical and educational research, for example eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders, autism and stuttering, and investigating the psychological factors in relation to male and female rape.
During the placement year, students are required to keep a log-book for each week’s activity, to produce a critical review of their placement year and to make a presentation to the university organised Placement Conference. Indeed the Placement Conference has been a great success during the past 19 years of its addition to the placement programme. This is an opportunity for students to get feedback on what placement students have been engaged in and achieved at their placements, to learn about any new departmental and curriculum changes since being away from university and an opportunity for future placement students to learn more about different placements in preparation for their own placement (attached the programme for this year’s Placement Conference).
Furthermore, the placement year is expected to provide an excellent opportunity for the students to develop and complete a scientifically based project in line with their placement experience, and submit as their final year BSc dissertation. Indeed a number of students have managed to have their final year dissertation based on research at their placement published in refereed journals.
In short it has generally been the case that students who successfully completed their placement year benefited greatly in practical experience in relation to the application of theoretical concepts gained at university, showed a greater sense of maturity and self confidence, developed an insight into their strengths and weaknesses, developed an appreciation of the reality of work and organisation and, most importantly, enhanced their career prospects. Indeed a number of our BSc graduates in Psychology have been in positions of full-time employment with their placement organisation, for example the Metropolitan Police, Priory Hospital, Institute of Psychiatry, Institute of Education and St Georges Hospital.