Academic Placements by Dr Cindy Becker

In the Department of English Literature we have been working hard, as have so many of our colleagues across the university, to make the most of the intellectual, personal and career advantages that placement learning can offer our students. We have devised a system of academic placements which is open to all undergraduates studying in the department.

In recent years we have seen a continuing appetite in our students for ‘real world experience’ and we believe that our academic placements offer this in the best sense possible by giving placement providers a tangible benefit from the activities of our students and by offer our undergraduate the chance of high quality, prestigious placements.

To support our work in this area, and to ensure that present and potential undergraduates are up to date with developments, we have created a dedicated webspace to cover this aspect of our work with students. It can be found through our department homepage by clicking on ‘See how our academic placement system works’ or by going to

The department’s placement tutor, Dr Cindy Becker, would be happy to talk to any colleagues with an interest in academic placements. She can be contacted on

Anna Walter talks about her academic placement (English Dept)


Way back in October 2011, at the beginning of the Autumn Term, Parts 2 and 3 English students were told about a fantastic opportunity. We were now able to go and seek experience beyond the university and go on a placement as part of any module in our year. This would be an integral part of our degree and the placement report would substitute the end of term assessed essay. I eagerly took up this opportunity. I felt I wanted some experience outside of the university environment, something extra to add onto my CV and a chance not to have to write yet another assessed essay.

I am one of very few students who took up the opportunity; I sent off emails to possible opportunities and, eventually, I was accepted to go onto an academic placement at ‘Shandy Hall’ in Yorkshire. It was the home of the author Laurence Sterne and linked with my Eighteenth Century module perfectly as we were studying Sterne’s A Sentimental Journey. ‘Shandy Hall’ is in the very tiny village of Coxwold: there is one pub, one tea room and one church. I organised a placement at the beginning of my Easter holidays. I arranged accommodation in the only B&B in the village and ran the pub asking if I could have dinner with them every evening.

This was a nerve-wracking time. I did not know what to expect, I had launched myself into the unknown but it was also very exciting. The placement could not have been more successful. Everyone looked after me and I have had the most valuable and varied experience. I spent a day restoring the first editions of Laurence Sterne’s books, another day I identified moths and another I discovered the experience of a digital Opera.

I will look back on my placement as an extremely positive experience as I have made friends and contacts now for the future that may help after my graduation in July. I have discovered another beautiful part of the country and I am currently writing up a report that includes all my combined experiences and reflects my enthusiasm for the academic placement I went on. I would recommend this opportunity to any student: it is not often you get this chance.

The Laurence Sterne Trust

Shandy Hall Coxwold York YO61 4AD: Registered Charity 529593