Working Abroad

This guide has been produced to advise you on the options available to you under the work abroad year programme in the College of Social Sciences and International Studies. The programme involves adding the module SSI3018 to your degree programme which will add “with employment experience abroad” to your degree title, on successful completion of the module. The module is open to student on single or combined honours programmes in Politics, Sociology, Philosophy, Anthropology, International Relations, Criminology and PPE, where the home College is Social Sciences and International Studies.

There are a wide variety of benefits that come from doing an international work placement, both professionally and personally.  


In today’s competitive jobs market, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with a global perspective. Having work experience abroad is an excellent way of demonstrating your global acumen to a potential employer. You will strengthen your communication skills by working with a wider variety of people and overcoming language barriers. Multinational companies are looking for graduates who have ‘a global mindset, global knowledge, cultural agility, adaptability, flexibility and resilience’ and above all ‘an ability to work collaboratively with teams of people from a range of backgrounds and countries[1]’.

Even if your work placement is not related to your field of study (which it does not have to be), the graduate level attributes you gain will demonstrate your initiative, adaptability and resilience when faced with new challenges.

Discovering a different culture - Undertaking a work placement abroad gives you the opportunity to develop friendships with people who may have a very difference background to you. As you begin to understand your working environment, you will develop global acumen and see how cultural awareness and commercial awareness are closely linked.

Seeing your own country and culture from a new perspective - comparing your own society with others abroad helps you to question and examine assumptions, and to take an original approach to situations.

Developing self-reliance - it can be tough setting up a new life far away from friends and family. However, learning the skills to do this can be very rewarding and give you a greater sense of independence.

Taking time out – going abroad to work can give you the opportunity to take a break from your studies while picking up valuable skills and experience.

[1] Global Graduates in to Global Leaders (2011)

What factors to consider

When considering undertaking a Work Abroad Year, you may want to think about your objectives for doing it:

  • Why do you want to work abroad?
  • What do you hope to gain from the experience?
  • Where do you want to go?
  • What do you want to do – something related to your field of study or completely different?
  • How would you like to benefit both personally and in terms of your career?

There are also practical issues to consider:

  • The level of language required – this might be lower in a large multinational organisation, but you will need to ensure you have an appropriate knowledge of the local language
  • What are the costs for your trip? You need to ensure that your salary covers all your expected costs and if not, plan for how you are going to meet the shortfall


Is my degree programme eligible?

If you are studying Politics, International Relations, PPE, Sociology, Philosophy, Criminology or Anthropology then you are able to take the Employment Experience Abroad module option. This module is not open to Law students.

When do I apply?

The current process is that you can apply for the Employment Experience Abroad option in your second year with a view to going abroad in your third year. Briefings start in October and you will be asked to register your interest in taking the module by late December. Full details and a timeline will be provided at the briefings.

How do I find a work placement?

You are responsible for finding your own work placement, but we are here to guide and support you. There is lots of information available about how to source a placement, and there are also placements advertised on My Career Zone.

What help is available?

The contact for the "with Employment Experience Abroad" module in the College is Issie Hatfield and you can contact her with any questions that you have about the Work Abroad Year. You can also find lots of information on working abroad through the Global Employability website.

Where can I go?

In theory you can go anywhere – however you will find restrictions in some countries. EU nationals have the right to work in any other EU member state. If you are undertaking your Work Abroad Year in an EU country, then you may be eligible for the ERASMUS+ scheme. If you are going to a country for which you need a working visa, you will need to check the conditions and apply in plenty of time. Please also note that the University does not permit travel to countries or regions that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommend not travelling to.


Read the slides from the Employment Experience Abroad Information Briefings (18-19):

SSI3018 Information Briefing slides


How to apply for Work Abroad

Students should register their interest for the module via the My Career Zone form (link in slides above) in their 2nd year. Once students have confirmed a placement, they can change their programme to add 'with Employment Experience Abroad'. For any work abroad queries, please contact Issie Hatfield:

Tel: +44 (0)1392 723336


Student Profiles

Peter Beevski - IBM (Germany)

Marina Kosowski - International Alliance of Women (Athens), National Institute for Security Studies (Tel Aviv), Israel Public Policy Institute (Tel Aviv)

‘The survey shows that international experience makes students more employable after they graduate. Almost two-thirds of respondents believe that their international experience has given them an edge in finding a good job in their chosen career. The survey also shows that respondents with international experience are more likely to be employed within six months of graduation than those without, and are much more likely to have international elements to their work.’

Kaplan survey: Going Global: Are graduates prepared for a global workforce?