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 work 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 to reflect on and articulate the skills that you have developed during the placement.  Being able to articulate skills and experiences successfully is essential when applying for jobs.

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, volunteering, or acting as a research assistant to an academic in your department.  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.

The Placements Team will help you to prepare for your placement and provide support throughout the module, during term time and the summer vacation, including when you are out on placement. 

The Placements Team will help you to prepare for your placement and provide support throughout the module, during term time and the summer vacation, including when you are out on placement.  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 Friday 06 June 2015 at the latest.  The form is available at  This information will help us to develop suitable placements for this year’s cohort, and help us to plan the workshops. 

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

"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".

Jane Goodwin, Client Relationship Director, Santander

"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".

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

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.