Professional Development Module

School: School of Government and Society
Department: Department of Political Science and International Studies

Final year module

Lecturer: Dr Emma Foster

The aim of this module, which is based on a placement, is to provide you with a learning experience that will help bridge the gap between your current academic life at Birmingham and your future professional life post-graduation.  This module will help you identify your personal and professional skills and strengths, and reflect on the skills you have developed during the placement.

You will need to ensure that you have a placement to be used as the basis of the module, but will get help in this from our dedicated Placements Team.  You might use a placement that you have already arranged, such as work experience with a commercial company or public sector organisation, a summer internship, or volunteering.  Alternatively, the Placements Team are sourcing placements from the public, private and voluntary sectors, and you can apply for a placement from one of these organisations.

If you would like to take the module, then, in addition to choosing the module in the usual way, you need to let the Placements Team know whether you have a placement arranged by completing a short online form by the end of Wednesday 01 June 2016 at the latest.  This is so that we know who should attend the June lectures/workshops and who has a placement arranged (students intending to do a summer placement need to be available to attend pre-placement lectures and workshops Wednesday 08 June – Friday 10 June 2016).  The form is available here:

You do not need to have a placement confirmed by 01 June to choose the module because we understand that some placements will be confirmed after this time, and because you will be able to apply for placements sourced by the Placements Team if you do not have a placement arranged.  It is not, however, possible to transfer into the module after the June pre-placement lectures/workshops have taken place if you are doing a summer placement because you will not have had access to important information about the module’s assessments before your placement starts.

If you have any questions about the module please email the Placements Team at

Contact hours

18 hours face-to-face contact time plus a minimum of 40 hours on the professional placement. The 40 hours spent on the placement can be flexible and worked out by you and your placement provider.  It can take place either in the summer vacation between your penultimate and final year, or in the autumn term in your final year.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Undertake a critical audit of their skills and capabilities for their professional career
  • Identify the key areas requiring improvement.
  • Articulate a coherent strategy for closing this ‘skills/capabilities gap’.
  • Critically evaluate the relative success of this strategy post-placement
  • Demonstrate an ability to relate work practices to a discrete body of academic literature.


  • 2000 word self-reflective journal
  • 2000 word work-based project

Your assessment for the module will not be based on the employer’s assessment of your performance on placement.

Case studies


Lilly Pye, Regional Fundraiser at Birmingham Children's Hospital

"Thanks to the Placements Team. I had looked at charities before and wanted to apply for The Children’s hospital but I was put off as I assumed they would receive lots of applications and I wouldn’t stand a chance. I spoke to the team about my interests and they highlighted the opportunity within the "bank" of placements that they had sourced themselves and encouraged me to go for the role". 

Jane Goodwin, Client Relationship Director, Santander

"I do think that it’s important that professional development is taught at university - to nderstand networking, to understand business development, to meet different people in different environments.  If you can be exposed to that at university, I think that would be a fantastic start before you actually go out to the workplace".

Joshua Williams, BA Political Science/Philosophy, Placement at LUCIA (a charity supporting NGO’s in Africa).

"My experience at LUCIA will enhance my CV and allow me to look at a wider range of career choices. Without the placement I may have not had the chance to develop my skills set until after graduation. By taking the module I feel I am one step ahead".


Chamber of Commerce - International Relations

Birmingham Children's Hospital - Political Science

Houses of Parliament - Political Economy

Related courses:

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.