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Work placements: Diploma in Professional Studies

Two students sit at a table with a mentor looking through sketchbooks
Two students sit at a table with a mentor looking through sketchbooks
Miguel Desport and Marion Bisserier during their Internship at Pentagram

Explore the benefits of adding a work placement year to your studies

Lots of undergraduate courses at UAL offer the chance to take a work placement year, internship or a year in industry during your studies. Find out more about the optional ‘Diploma in Professional Studies’ (DPS) which you take between your second and third year.

This additional diploma offers the chance to build work experience for your CV, try out a career that interests you and gain confidence for your third year.

Find out about:

  • How the Diploma in Professional Studies works.
  • Benefits of a work placement year.
  • Types of placement you can do.
  • Colleges and courses which offer the Diploma.
  • How to apply and the support you'll get.
  • Fees and payment during your placement year.
  • Student case studies.

Alternatively, you might want to explore other sandwich year opportunities. Any UAL student on an eligible course can apply to the:

The Diploma in Professional Studies

The Diploma in Professional Studies (sometimes called the DPS, DiPS, E-DiPS or Industry DIPS) is optional and independent to your degree.

It doesn’t count towards your final degree award, but you'll develop valuable careers skills and gain an extra qualification when you complete it.

With support from your tutors and academics, you’ll undertake an industry placement for at least 100 days/20 weeks. After your DPS year, you’ll return to complete the final year of your undergraduate degree.

The benefits of a work placement year

  • Work with experienced professionals in the industries you aspire to have a career in.
  • Prepare for professional life after graduation.
  • Develop valuable skills, experience and contacts.
  • Become part of a global network of talent across the creative industries.
  • Gain confidence and focus, ready for your third year at UAL and life after graduation.

Different types of work placements

You’re expected to find your own placement, with support from your tutor or College Placements Team.

The diploma takes the form of work-based learning through an industry placement. You might work in a studio in the UK or abroad.

Some Colleges allow you to take on freelance briefs or personal projects, but students on a Tier 4/Student Route visa will not be able to take on freelance work.

Courses which offer the Diploma in Professional Studies

Explore which Colleges and courses offer the DPS.

Some courses don’t offer an optional diploma year, but they might offer shorter work placements or live industry briefs instead. Check the course page to find out what each course offers.

Camberwell College of Arts courses
Central Saint Martins courses
Chelsea College of Arts courses
London College of Communication courses

How do I apply for the Diploma in Professional Studies ?

The application process varies across our Colleges and Institute. Some ask you to ‘opt in’ to the DPS process when you apply for your course. Others encourage you to apply during your second year.

Some Colleges have limited places available on the DPS, so it’s important to check with your College what their application process involves. Colleges with a selection process will consider a range of things including student achievement.

Some DPS opportunities are advertised on Creative Opportunites, UAL's industry jobs board.

What support will I get during the placement year?

Each work placement year is bespoke. You’ll work with UAL and your Diploma Tutors to get the most out of your placement year. You will still have access to our full range of student services during this time.

Fees and payment during your placement year

You'll still have to pay a tuition fee during your work placement year, but it will usually be less than a normal academic year. Find out how your tuition fees will change.

It’s likely that your funding will also change during a work placement year. Any changes will depend on your funding provider, your placement location and placement length. If you undertake an international placement, you may be eligible for funding through the Turing Scheme - find out more about the Turing Scheme.

Current students can use their UAL login to access the Placement Toolkit for further advice on funding. Please note, we're expecting changes to the funding system in 2025/26.

Depending on your placement provider, you might be paid for work you undertake during your placement year. UAL doesn't condone unpaid placements. It's up to you to confirm whether you will be paid with your placement provider.

Find out more about your employment rights during a placement or internship. There's further information for student interns on GOV.UK.

Case studies

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