Choose a different career stage

Careers advice for placement and study abroad students in sport

Let us help guide you as you continue on your employability journey during your placement year!

Being on placement is an exciting time and it is an important step towards your career. Below is some information to consider when you are completing your placement or studying abroad.

Explore what the School of Sport expect of you during your placement

Explore the rationale for the placement qualification

In the placement module, structured work experience in the field of sport helps students to appreciate the discipline and demands of the workplace and consolidate knowledge and skills acquired during the first two years of the course. The placement also provides the opportunity for the development of individual maturity, self-awareness and confidence as well as assisting students to assess their career direction.

Explore the aims of the placement qualification

  • To develop student enterprise and personal skills such as communication, teamwork, problem solving, decision making, initiative and creativity.
  • To consolidate, complement and extend the academic study carried out at the University.
  • To promote student awareness of the work environment in both a professional and social context.
  • To assist students to assess and develop their career focus.
  • To develop and maintain links between the academic staff, employing organisations and the community. To enable employers to identify students for future employment.

Explore the Learning Outcomes of a placement

Having successfully completed the module a student will be able to:


  • Consolidate and extend knowledge of their core academic discipline and its application
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the work environment in both a professional and social context
  • Understand the changing employment market and opportunities available for graduates in their profession
  • Understand the technical principles of the tasks being carried out


  • Critically reflect upon their experience within the world of work and evaluate their own performance and learning within this environment
  • Apply objective judgement and decision making skills to ensure accuracy in the tasks being performed
  • Develop and enhance information-gathering and research skills.
  • Identify an appropriate area for a research project, execute the work efficiently, and present a written piece of work for assessment.


  • Demonstrate initiative, independence and self-reliance in the context of career decision making, demonstration of self-criticism and, where appropriate, appropriate support sought
  • Demonstrate flexibility, creativity and an entrepreneurial approach to problem solving
  • Plan and organise work tasks effectively and meet deadlines and where appropriate demonstrate competency in IT skills and appropriate interpersonal skills via a range of communication methods
  • Demonstrate awareness of the needs, roles, rights and responsibilities of others in the workplace whilst working effectively as a member of a team, and where appropriate exercise effective leadership skills.


  • Demonstrate an ability to relate theory to practice through solving work-based problems and contributing meaningfully to the employer organisation
  • Demonstrate a range of work related skills demanded by graduate employers
  • Critically reflect on national and international career opportunities and pathways
  • Develop an awareness of the needs for professional standards in the workplace.

Explore the expectations & roles of everyone linked to your placement

1) As a student on placement you should:

  • Behave in a professional manner and comply with all regulations and conditions of employment.
  • Carry out your placement activities diligently and behave in a manner appropriate to the work environment at all times.
  • Seek opportunities to use your initiative when you appropriately qualified to add value to the placement organisation.
  • Keep in contact with your academic supervisor and keep them fully informed of any difficulties or problems you have.
  • Complete your placement assessments as required.
  • Be aware, both during and after the placement of the confidential nature of any work you have undertaken.
  • Do not refuse a placement or withdraw from a placement without the permission of the relevant placement coordinator.
  • Complete the mandatory placement profile document and the health and safety statement as directed by the University’s health and safety policy, this should be give to the appropriate person as directed by the placement coordinator within two weeks of starting your placement
  • Honour all contractual obligations in relation to the overall placement experience.

2) Your placement coordinator is Rachael Telford, she will:

  • Liaise with the placement provider to agree the placement arrangements (job specification, insurance arrangements, supervisory arrangements, salary and duration of the placement).
  • Assist in the advertising of the placement opportunity to all second year students within the School of Sport.
  • Appoint an academic supervisor at the start of the academic year who will be the student’s and employer/industrial supervisor’s direct point of contact.

3) Your academic supervisor is responsible for:

  • Arranging and making contact with the you and for ensuring that the aims and objectives of your placement are monitored throughout the time on placement.
  • Normally, two formal contacts are made throughout the year. The first point of contact will occur over the telephone or via Skype within six weeks of your placement commencing. The second point of contact will involve a formal visit to your workplace (or Skype call if outside of NI) to meet with you and your employer/industrial supervisor. This level of contact is recommended for placements within and outside the UK and Ireland.

During the visit (normally December/January time), the academic supervisor will be required to:

  • Be familiar with the course regulations and the assessment requirements for students.
  • Discuss progress and development and complete relevant assessment proformas.
  • Meet the employer/industrial supervisor and discuss your progress, assessment and written work.
  • Report on any matters relating to health and safety to the School of Sport placement coordinator.
  • Monitor the quality of the placement to ensure the learning opportunities are appropriate.

4) The placement provider will be required to:

  • Prepare a suitable programme of work in consultation with you which is agreed with the School of Sport placement coordinator
  • Provide a suitable working environment with appropriate remuneration
  • Arrange a programme of induction to the workplace and provide continuing support
  • Arrange regular meetings with the student to discuss progress
  • Monitor your progress and complete relevant assessment proformas
  • Notify the Academic Supervisor of any problems, when necessary.

Explore the Indemnity & Insurance Arrangements for your time on placement so that you are fully aware of the implications

The University offers an indemnity which provides a commitment that the University’s insurance will cover damages arising from any injury to the student or other persons or damage to property caused by the student provided this is not due to the negligence of the placement organisation.

Please note that as part of this indemnity Ulster University will ask the placement provider to confirm the insurance which they hold.

The placement organisation must confirm that they:

  • have appropriate health and safety policies and procedures in place and will provide all appropriate and necessary training for the student
  • will report any accidents or ill-health, arising from work to the University
  • will hold appropriate insurance cover
  • have policies and procedures in relation to equality, harassment and bullying and will provide all appropriate training for all placements outside of the UK and NI:

For all placements outside of the UK and NI:

The University cannot offer indemnity whilst a student is on a placement outside of the UK, so the placement provider must confirm the insurance held by them will cover the student sufficiently while on placement, and that it will be the student’s responsibility to purchase insurance to cover themselves in all other circumstances.

Explore Coaching Opportunities with Galaxy Coaching during your placement year

Galaxy Coaching is a sport and activity coaching company that run after school course in Primary schools across Northern Ireland.

We are looking for Level 1 or equivalent coaches to deliver our coaching programmes mainly in the Belfast/Lisburn and Newry & Mourne areas.

Coaches should have relevant qualifications and also experience in coaching children aged4-11 years.

The programmes include: football, Tag Rugby, Unihoc, Tennis, Basketball, Athletics, Netball, Dodgeball, Gymnastics, Dance and Drama.

Please contact Galaxy Coaching Head Office at or

02890 605605 to request a Coach Application Form.

Explore Coaching in America with UK International Soccer in the summer months before you return to final year

UK International Soccer were established in 1990 and are one of the largest providers of professional soccer coaching in the USA. The opportunities we offer and the logistics of working for us are all detailed for you.

Please also see our latest recruitment flyer and Job Spec to give you some information on working for us. If you would like to go ahead and apply for a position immediately with UK International Soccer please click here or visit our website.

To discuss this please contact

Gary Fowler

NI & RoI Recruitment Manager
077 5172 7483

Explore your student finance options while on placement

Please contact Student Finance NI for any financial help you may need while on your placement year. Please see their Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), guides and complete any necessary forms to receive student financial assistance.

Explore how you can use your time on placement to develop your skills, experience and networks.

Ways to get the most from your work placement

Work experience is the ideal learning opportunity, and it can often kick-start a career. With so many employers looking for experience as well as academic achievement for their positions, work placements have an increasing importance in gaining a good job.

At Ulster, we are absolutely committed to providing students with work based placements to apply their skills and knowledge and improve their overall employability. The type of course you choose to study at Ulster will determine your type of placement. The important thing to remember that, wherever you are working, placements give you critical work related skills. Here’s why:

Practical experience in your chosen sector

Regardless of how much you have learned about your field of study, you will learn so much more from a work placement and learn what the job entails in a real practical sense.

Improved job opportunities

Work placements offer the best kind of networking opportunities. This is your chance to make yourself valuable and cultivate future career prospects. Plus the real world experience on your CV will give you a reason to stand out.

Working in a team

Your ability to add value to a team or company is essential in every type of job and will make you a more rounded and attractive candidate to any employer.

Awareness of current developments in the sector

A work placement will allow you to question and work with people who work in your chosen career, giving you a firsthand insight into new developments within the industry.

Placement students achieve better degrees

The additional skills and knowledge gained during a work placement can be directly applied to your studies and lead to better grades.

So, it makes sense to maximise as many opportunities as you can by:

  • Using your initiative to bring new ideas to the table. Organisations like to hear fresh perspectives and will appreciate your input, so don’t be nervous about making suggestions or asking questions.
  • Taking responsibility for your learning. Be proactive by asking to be part of  activities that relate to your field of study.
  • Performing well to secure a firm job offer at the end of your degree, or at the very least put yourself in contact with people who could help you with endorsements, referrals and references.

Start putting your plans into action!


Plan when you will complete your assessments

1. Problem Based Learning Assignment: Theory & Practice Literature Review plus 5 Action Points (3,000 words) (30%):

Each student is to choose a topic related to their placement experience which they consider to be a problem/issue for their placement organisation and conduct an academic literature review on this issue.  In addition they must list 5 action points that could be applied in the placement setting to help address this issue/problem.

2. Reflective Skills Audits (20%):

During your placement it is essential to plan how you will develop your skills, you also need to make sure you complete your skills audits (20% of your assessment).

To do this you will need to schedule when your next skills audit (three, five, or seven months) is due.

Please see template on the SLS307 Diploma in Professional Practice Blackboard area for you to complete at each of these 3 stages. Please email each skills audit as a Word document to your placement supervisor at the appropriate stages within your placement. Feedback will be emailed back to you. Keep all 3  audits in the one Word document for ease of access and to see all 3 in one place.

This reflective practice will really help you to develop both personally and professionally so make the most of this opportunity to learn about yourself and develop your employability.

3. Reflective Presentation (10%):

Placement students will be asked to give a 10 minute presentation at the placement call back day (April 2016).  Students doing an international placement will do their presentations online

Submission deadlines

Academic supervisor’s assessment

Dec 2016/Jan 2017 based on placement visit  (Date TBC)

Reflective Presentation

Mon 8th May 2017

Problem Based Learning Assignment

Mon 8th May 2017

Industrial supervisor’s report

Fri 12th May 2017

Reflective Skills Audits (x3)

Approx.. 3, 5 & 7 months into placement with submission dates to be agreed with your academic supervisor based on your starting date (this varies from student to student)

4. Employer’s Assessment: Industrial supervisor’s report (20%):

  • Industrial supervisor’s report (supervisors to complete online via Survey Monkey and sent directly to the placement coordinator)

5. Academic Supervisor Assessment: (20%)*:

The Academic Supervisor Evaluation Form to be completed on the placement visit by academic supervisor in consultation with industrial supervisor and sent directly to the placement coordinator by the academic supervisor.

*for Sports Outreach students only: half of these marks will be allocated based on the student’s completion of 10 Ulster Sports Outreach tasks throughout the year

Plan if there are any Active IQ fitness qualifications you would like to complete during your placement year

While you are on placement now is a great time to increase your sports coaching awards.

The School of Sport offers a range of Active IQ courses for you to gain fitness qualifications during your time as an Ulster student.

These qualifications are a great opportunity to gain the qualifications necessary to gain employment in the fitness industry.

Contact Rachael Telford for further details.

Study Abroad Students

If you have chosen to study abroad it is important that you:

  • Plan your year out by using your learning agreement to show what modules you have selected to study in each semester.
  • Plan to make and maintain regular contact with your placement coordinator at Ulster University (Rachael Telford) as well as your study abroad point of contact at your university abroad.
  • Please familiarise yourself with the student study abroad guide


Work placement students: Actions you need to take while on placement

  1. For all placements which are not in schools through the Sports outreach Unit, you MUST have your 3 way Placement Partnership Agreement completed and signed BEFORE you commence a placement. A copy of this form is available in your Programme Support Area on Blackboard.
  2. Add Sports outreach call back days into your diary if you are on a schools’ placement. Details will have been given to you at the training week in August.
  3. Remember that you have a Placement Call back day (April 2017 TBC) and pencil this into your diary and inform your line manager that this will be happening. The final date will be forwarded in plenty of time by the placement coordinator (Rachael Telford)
  4. Complete the placement profile form (google form) and return online within two weeks of starting your placement when you have been fully inducted into your placement organisation so that the appropriate indemnity arrangements can be made between the Faculty Office and your placement provider.
  5. From 2nd September make sure that you log into your Student Portal, pay and register for the appropriate placement diploma module (SLS307 for work placements anywhere in the world or SLS308 for any study abroad placements).
  6. Log onto the Blackboard area for your module and review the module handbook.
  7. Contact your academic supervisor which Rachael Telford (placement co-ordinator) will allocated when all students have registered for placement (approximately third week of September).
  8. Plan when you will complete your assessments and make sure that the deadlines for these are in your diary.
  9. You must also complete ten tasks to go towards your placement assessment if you are on a schools placement via Sports Outreach so make sure that you plan for and complete these by the deadlines.
  10. Meet regularly with your line manager in your placement organisation to gain feedback on your performance and how to develop your skill set.
  11. Create a LinkedIn profile so you a professional profile online which you can develop your professional networks.
  12. Make sure that your social media accounts don’t portray you in a negative manner to your current placement provider. Remember that you are a School of Sport student and are representing us while on placement. Therefore consider the privacy settings on your social media accounts.

Make sure to do your skills audit & keep up to date with this

Now is the time to start a process of exploring and completing a detailed self-reflection of your current skill set to maximise your placement experience.

As part of your placement assessment the following skills audit will be completed at three, five and seven months into your work placement. The skills audit template is available if the SLS307 Diploma in Professional Practice Blackboard area.

Six career development areas are addressed in this skills audit with the opportunity for you to select a minimum of one per category to discuss with your line manager ahead of the next skills audit.

You will also receive feedback from your academic supervisor along the way to help you maximise the development of the skills you are currently excellent at demonstrating and those that need support and development.

Represent your placement organisaiton at the School of Sport Employability Fair

Plan to attend the Employers Fair on Wednesday 16th November so that students from other years can ask you questions about your experience in placement.

Get involved with the placement talks with the 2nd years

Rachael Telford will be in touch for you to come and speak to the preparation for placement class.

Please make arrangements with your placement provider to facilitate this request.

Study abroad placement students

Make sure that you have the correct insurance and VISA arrangements in placement before you go abroad.

Plan how to make the most of your placement to develop your career

Choose the best path to employability

Before you start looking for a work experience opportunity, give some thought to the different types of work experience available and think about which is most appropriate for you. Decide what you want to achieve from your work experience/placement and discuss your expectations with your university mentor and employer before you start. This way your employer will be able to plan appropriate activities, and you will understand why you are being asked to do tasks that at times might seem trivial.

If you make a conscious effort to plan, record and reflect on the learning you have gained while on placement it will be an asset to any employer.

To work out what work experience is for you, you should consider a number of different factors including:

  1. How much time can you commit and when? Think about your study commitments and how much time you have to spare.
  2. Where can you travel to for your work experience? What  areas can you travel to from your current residence?
  3. What skills do you want to develop? What are your existing skills and what are you skills gaps? Undertake a quick skills assessment to prioritise some key development areas.
  4. What are your future career aspirations? How can a work experience placement inform your future career decisions?
  5. How much do I need to earn? Consider how much money you will need to earn to make the opportunity feasible.

Maximise every opportunity to enhance your experience

Undertaking a work placement can offer you plenty of real benefits for progressing into your chosen career, as long as you are prepared to get stuck in.

Make a good first impression

First impressions do count. Make sure you arrive on time, are dressed smartly and are raring to go. If you show you’re friendly, reliable and competent from the get-go, more opportunities are more likely to come your way.

Make yourself known

Greet everyone with a smile and try to introduce yourself to everybody you'll be working with. Don't be afraid to ask people about how they got to where they are now: they’ll be delighted to share their stories.

Be organised

While you’ll have guidance during your placement, it’s unrealistic to expect to be told what to do every second of the day. Listen carefully to instructions and note down important meetings, dates and deadlines to help manage your time effectively.

Get involved

The more you jump right in, the richer the experience you'll have. Be eager to take on tasks and use every opportunity to go beyond what's expected of you.

Ask questions

There’s no shame in asking for clarification if you're not sure what you're doing – in fact, other people in the room will likely be thankful that you had the guts to ask.

Make suggestions

Don’t be afraid to speak up. Employers love people with ideas, and your contribution – whether your idea is taken up or not - will be appreciated.

Make notes

It is a smart call to record your experiences – the work you have done and the challenges you encountered. Reflecting on what you have done, and the skills and attributes you have developed, will be extremely useful for future job applications.

Ask for feedback

Take opportunities to meet regularly with a line manager or mentor to discuss workload, challenges, ideas and ask for feedback. This gives you a chance to improve while you are there. It’s a good idea to have regular discussions with your university mentor about your placement, so you can deal with any issues or problems promptly and professionally.

Reflect on your work experience

It’s important to be honest with yourself when reflecting on your internship. If you didn't particularly enjoy it, it doesn’t mean it’s been a waste of your time. Even if the only thing you take away from the experience is knowing you don’t want to work in that industry, it’s been useful.


Develop your LinkedIn profile to expand your network.


Accommodation at Ulster University

Watch now

Checklist the School of Sports recommends you have accomplished by the end of your placement year

What a successful placement should enable you to accomplish

  • An effective contribution to the work-based environment
  • First-hand knowledge of the work/study abroad environment in both a professional and social context; and an ability to evaluate your own performance and learning experiences within this environment
  • A focused career aspiration and informed career choices based on professional requirements of those careers
  • An improvement in own learning and performance

Key skills & attributes that you should have developed during placement

  • People skills - team working, leadership, interpersonal skills and communication skills
  • Self-reliance - initiative, networking skills, willingness to learn, self-awareness and confidence
  • General skills - problem solving, flexibility, literacy, IT skills and commitment
  • Specialist skills - technical skills, commercial understanding and organisation

Checklist of actions you should have accomplished by the end of your placement year

  1. Completed all documentation and assessment required for the DPP/DPPi or DIAS placement qualifications.
  2. Created a network of contacts and references as these will be essential for pursuing future employment. Consider creating a LinkedIn profile.
  3. Engaged in reflective practice in your skills audits to develop yourself as much as you could both personally and professionally.
  4. Contributed to the preparation or placement module to provide 2nd years with the opportunity to hear about and talk to you about your placement experiences.
  5. Provided students with insights of your placement experiences at the School of Sport Employability Fair.
  6. Been proactive with developing your CV to be both appealing to future employers and something you can be proud of.
  7. Completed a module evaluation in your Portal for your placement module SLS307 or SLS308.

Checklist the Career Development Centre recommends you have accomplished throughout your placement

Check your progress so far

By this stage in your studies, according to the Career Development Centre, you should be able to say yes to the following activities:

  1. I behave in a professional and respectful manner remembering at all times I am representing Ulster University
  2. I am always look for opportunities to enhance my reputation and that of my course and Ulster University
  3. I take responsibility for my learning, am proactive by engaging in activities necessary to meet and exceed the learning outcomes of my placement diploma
  4. I can confirm that any necessary responsible adjustments are communicated to the placement provider in a timely manner
  5. I have completed assessment tasks in order to meet the academic requirements.
  6. I have participated in all opportunities for feedback, both with the placement provider and with the University.
  7. I have supported the evaluation and feedback of my placement experience.