A professional placement is an excellent opportunity to develop your business skills and gain hands-on experience. As well as helping you to secure graduate employment, this can support your academic achievement by providing additional context to your studies. For many students who are not certain about what career path they want to follow, a professional placement or sandwich year can be an excellent way to help you understand your options and make decisions about your future.
As a student on one of the below degree programmes, you will have the option to extend your degree to a four or five-year sandwich programme, including a one-year paid professional placement:
- BSc Mathematics
- BSc Mathematics and Statistics
- BSc Mathematics, Statistics and Financial Economics
- BSc Mathematics with Management
- BSc Mathematics with Actuarial Science
- BSc Mathematics with Finance and Accounting
- BSc Mathematics with Management (from 2018, pending approval)
- MSci Financial Mathematics
You would complete your paid work placement with a relevant employer during your third (‘sandwich’) year, returning to QMUL for the fourth and/or fifth year of study. Upon successful completion of this ‘sandwich year’, you will be eligible to graduate with a BSc or MSci that includes ‘with Professional Placement’ in its title.
What type of work will I do on a placement?
We expect the placement to relate to graduate careers that typically follow from the degree programme you are taking. You will gain valuable experience that can make a difference when it comes to looking for a graduate role, as well as the opportunity to discover what work in your chosen field is really like.
Students across our Mathematics programmes may embark on placements within finance, business, technology or related industries – as a mathematics undergraduate you will have a varied choice of career options open to you. The School of Mathematical Sciences will work with you to assess the suitability of your placement to ensure it meets academic requirements.
Students on our Mathematics with Actuarial Science programme may work more specifically in the insurance, pensions and investment industries.
The nature of the work will depend on the placement you gain. Often the work is of a level similar to that undertaken by a new graduate and will require you to use and develop your analytical, data, IT and communication skills. Examples of roles available to students studying a mathematics or related first degree include business analyst, data analyst, finance assistant, investment analyst, statistical analyst, trainee accountant and trainee actuary.
Which companies offer placements?
A large number of organisations offer relevant placements for mathematicians and statisticians, including firms in the private, public and voluntary sectors across a wide range of industries. These companies vary from small and medium businesses to large, well-established firms. Examples of relevant organisations which regularly offer placements to undergraduate students include banks and insurance companies, accountants, consultancy firms, industrial firms and manufacturers, retailers, technology companies, and governmental and public sector organisations (such as the Civil Service, NHS and GCHQ).
How do I find a professional placement?
The School of Mathematical Sciences Placement Officer can help you identify and apply for a number of placement roles.
You will be responsible for finding a suitable placement if you select this study option. However, we will provide support and guidance throughout the process and you will benefit from our industry links and extensive careers support activities to help identify a suitable placement.
Does my placement have to be a paid role?
Your professional placement will need to be a paid role within a reputable business, offering relevant work experience. This is in line with QMUL’s university-wide policy that exists to protect our students.
Do I have to pay fees during my placement year?
Fees are significantly reduced during the placement year; please see our fees and funding pages (link is external).
Am I still a QMUL student during my placement?
You will continue to be a student at QMUL with access to all university facilities including your advisor and other student support for the duration of your degree programme, including the placement. Your placement year will be assessed through written coursework, a short presentation and employer feedback. The result of your placement year will be shown on your degree transcript.
Can all students complete a professional placement?
We require students applying for placements have an average grade of at least 50% over their first and second academic years at QMUL.
Why do we do have this requirement?
- There is significant competition for good professional placements. Students not making sufficient progress with their academic studies are unlikely to be able to gain a place on a suitable placement.
- Some employers require placement applicants to achieve at least a 2:1 grade in the first year as evidence that you are on track to graduate with a 2:1.
When should I apply for a placement?
It is a good idea to begin your planning for a placement early. Many well-established employers invite applications up to a year in advance, although you may be completing applications throughout Year 2 of your studies. With this in mind we encourage you to start planning for your placement in your first year at QMUL and we will provide support for this from the beginning of your studies.
Can I find my own placement?
Yes. You are free to arrange a placement with any suitable employer. However, the role must provide work experience which is at an appropriate level and will help you to fulfil your career ambitions. All employers must be approved by the School of Mathematical Sciences and must agree to participate in the School of Mathematical Sciences Professional Placement programme.
Can my placement be overseas?
Overseas placements are unusual, but can be appropriate for some students. In most circumstances an overseas placement will need to be arranged directly by the student. Note that the employer must be approved by the School of Mathematical Sciences and agree to participate in the School of Mathematical Sciences Professional Placement programme.