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Assessment and Achievement of Learning Outcomes

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Regardless of the form placement learning takes, departments need to consider the contribution that placement learning makes to the overall aims of the course and course learning outcomes when designing, approving, monitoring and reviewing the course and when designing and implementing the assessment strategy. Any assessment of placement learning should be subject to the usual departmental procedures for internal moderation and external examining, and standards applied to assessment of placement learning must be consistent with Subject Benchmark Statements and other reference points, such as the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. If the placement learning forms a substantial part of the course credit, the learning outcomes should be identified and the assessments test whether these agreed outcomes have been achieved.

Placement Learning and the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications

Placement Learning opportunities may provide students with many of the outcomes identified in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. For example, the descriptor for an Honours (H) level degree includes the following statements:

  • Students should demonstrate the ability to manage their own learning
  • Students should be able to communicate information, ideas, problems and solutions to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Students should have qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility, decision-making in complex and unpredictable contexts and the learning ability needed to undertake appropriate further training

You can view the national Framework for Higher Education Qualificationsshim online:

The variety in teaching and examining practices at overseas universities, as well as the diversity of placement opportunities for students on the same degree, means that many departments have devised various means of monitoring students’ progress and ensuring achievement of learning outcomes. Many departments give students assignments to complete while abroad, with set deadlines throughout the year, which are sent to Warwick for marking.

Students who spend the second year (or third in the case of CAS students) of their degree in North America are required to complete coursework which is marked by the host university, judged in light of the North American grade, converted to a Warwick equivalent against an equivalence grid (which should be published in student handbooks) and is either moderated or re-marked by an internal examiner. In common with all work contributing to final degree credit, this work is made available to External Examiners. Students are advised to keep copies of module descriptions and assessed coursework/test papers, as they may be helpful for Warwick exam boards in translating North American marks. Advice on the translation of marks is available from the International Office.

The Department of Italian Studies strongly recommends that students take exams in Italy. Students in Italy are required to complete a number of assignments and submit them to the Italian department at Warwick to set deadlines. Upon return, students undergo a language examination consisting of a written paper and oral component, which comprises 30% of the language mark for the year.

The Department of German Studies requires outgoing exchange students to provide personal tutors with proof of assessment of modules taken for the Department’s Easter vacation school at Schloss Dhaun and upon return to Warwick.

Placement Portfolios

Assessment of portfolios of work by the department upon a student’s return is a common way of ensuring that students record their experiences, learning and professional development and achieve learning outcomes.

Institute of Education Secondary teacher trainees compile a portfolio comprising 6 professionally-focused tasks and write short summaries of the ways in which school practices are relevant to the work of new teachers.

MA/Diploma in Social Work students compile an Assessed Practice Portfolio throughout their placement to provide evidence of competence.

Students in the Medical School on the MBChB compile a portfolio of 36 word-processed case studies throughout Phase II (January year 2 - Easter year 3), of which 20 must be marked and signed before the student sits the Intermediate Clinical Examination. During each clinical block, clinical tutors will examine portfolio entries and provide feedback on progress.

A year abroad portfolio completed by International Business students in the Warwick Business School requires a substantial element of reflective learning as students are required to consider their expectations before they left the UK, to reflect on achievement of goals they set for themselves and to offer suggestions for ways in which they would act differently.

Politics with French students compile three dossiers on topics of particular interest, collecting as much varied material as possible (extracts from books, newspapers reports, reviews of TV programmes). The aim is for students to gather relevant vocabulary and identify key issues and points of view relating to them which can then be drawn upon when writing essays in their final year. Tutors in the French Department examine the dossiers when the students return to Warwick.

Intercalated Year Reports 

Most Intercalated Year and language placements require some form of report from the student upon return to Warwick to demonstrate that the student has made constructive use of the period abroad and that there are convincing indications of academic progress.

Politics and International Studies students on Intercalated Year degrees and German Studies students on placement submit a report at the start of Term 1 on return to Warwick addressing the question 'What have you gained from the Placement Year in terms of personal development, knowledge, skills and experience?'

The Department of Biological Sciences holds an Intercalated Year presentation evening when students and staff can compare and learn from each other's experiences.

What if the work a student does on a placement is classified as confidential by the placement provider?

It is important that placement providers requesting confidentiality of students' reports are aware that the report must be available to a third party for scrutiny in the event of a dispute or at an External Examiner's request. Conditions of the confidentiality agreement should be set out in the learning agreement between the University, student and placement provider. 

In the Department of Chemistry, staff involved in marking confidential reports sign a confidentiality agreement, which is checked by Research Support Services. The staff members are sometimes required to go to the placement site to mark reports which are not allowed to leave company premises. An oral presentation given by the student may be given only to those academic staff members who have signed the confidentiality agreement. However, preferred practice is for the student to give to a general audience a presentation (which has been censored by the placement provider), thus allowing the presentation to retain its value as a recruitment tool to potential placement students.

The Department of Biological Sciences ensures that a confidential report and poster presentation are only seen by those staff who have signed a confidentiality agreement with the placement provider. Reports are retained securely within the department for the requisite time period before being destroyed as confidential waste.


Taking modules whilst on placement

Some placement learning experiences require students to complete modules delivered by Warwick while on the placement:

The MChem Chemistry with Industrial Training degree requires students to undertake a 12 month work placement and simultaneously complete 4 modules (30 credits) by distance learning of which the first, 'Research Skills for Industrial Placement' takes place in July. The modules are examined at the end of Term 2. The student earns a further 90 credits during the placement by writing a substantial report (15,000 words) on a project or assignment undertaken on placement, making an oral presentation upon return and from an assessment by the student's industrial supervisor.

The Year Abroad for International Business students in Warwick Business School counts for 10% of final degree classification and is worth 60 credits split over two core modules:

1.   'International Business in Context' is a three-day seminar held at Easter, generally in Paris, providing a forum for discussing experiences. Through group work and case studies students demonstrate a critical awareness and understanding of major issues and problems associated with business in a chosen country. The module is assessed 20% by evaluation of class contribution and presentation and 80% by an individual written assignment of 3000-4000 words.

2.    'The Year Abroad Experience' requires students to produce a portfolio, 5000-6000 words in length, documenting and critically evaluating the year abroad experiences, providing a record of how time was spent and conducting a critical evaluation of personal experiences.