Work experience

This page focuses on the element ‘work experience’. It provides a description of the element, highlights its relevance, and provides examples of work experience in the curriculum.


Opportunities for, and active encouragement of, work experience – developing students’ expertise and attributes, and where possible building links with the rest of the curriculum.  This could be in many different forms, for example: blocks of work-related experience; a short two-week work-based experience; a year-long industry placement; a volunteering experience; individual or group project work for an employer.


Work experience allows students to gain insights into the world of work, provides a chance to hone a range of skills, can be an opportunity to apply disciplinary methods to live problems, and allows students to create or expand their professional network.

Tips and things to consider

Below you will find some key tips and guidance to consider when incorporating work experience into curricular provision.


Examples of practice in the University of Edinburgh

There is diverse practice across the University that can be used to stimulate thinking about what is possible in your setting. 

Below is a link to a range of relevant practice from the Teaching Matters blog.  The examples come from multiple parts of the student experience and relate either partially or substantially to this element.  New articles are automatically added so check back in the future to discover some of the latest practice.

Teaching Matters: relevant articles

The blogpost below looks at one specific way of embedding work experience: placements.  It outlines some of the author’s tops tips for organising them.

Six practical tips for organising work placements


Further reading and external perspectives

The references below provide some background on this element as well as some of the external drivers and motivations for including it.  


These references highlight the benefits of work experience for students’ employability such as helping them develop skills and creating a network, but also more widely by providing students insights into the working world and the types of work that exist.  The references also indicate that recruiters generally prefer graduates who have some work experience; this is not always easy for all students to achieve so by incorporating relevant work experience into the curriculum, students from all backgrounds and contexts benefit.  Lastly, some of the references provide practical guidance on how to incorporate work-based learning into your curriculum.