Integrated or Intercalated? – OurWarwick

Integrated or Intercalated?

If you are not currently at University those two words may not mean a lot to you but when you get to your second year of University more opportunities open themselves up. For example, as of now, a current 2nd-year Chemist can choose to do a year in Industry but this can come in several forms and that’s what I want to discuss today.

I myself have chosen to take full grasp of this opportunity and after the painful process of putting together a multitude of applications and experiencing a couple of interviews, I will be starting a 12-month intercalated placement with a green polymer company to start this coming July.

The process of putting together applications, prepping for online assessments and preparing for interviews (telephone, skype or face-face) would all be too much to stuff into this blog but in the next few weeks or closer to the time to when students will start this process for themselves I will tell you of my experience and try to provide you with some tips on how to make this process as stress-free and successful as possible.

This year, one option you have is to do an integrated 12-month placement. What this means is that after your 2 year you will work for a company for a year (typically 9am-5pm Monday to Friday) BUT you will also take some modules alongside the placement. For me, that would have meant taking 3 out of the 4 compulsory modules all 3rd-year Chemists take and I would not take any optional modules. Alongside those 3 modules, I would also complete a 5000-word written report in relation to the science I was conducting on the placement and prepare a 30-minute oral presentation to be delivered within the first two week of returning to University in October which has an additional viva.

PROS – Even though the integrated year would be undoubtedly busy there are some strong pros to choosing that option.

  • You don’t add an additional year to your degree. After you had finished your placement you would re-join your peers who were staying on to finish the last year of the MChem.
  • The assessment methods provide you with great experience in report writing and oral presenting. Two skills you’ll most likely have to use to some degree in whatever job you have after University.
  • You’ll still be learning new Chemistry while you’re on your placement.

Your other option is to take the year out in an intercalated fashion. What this means if that you don’t do any Chemistry modules or have the modes of assessment discussed for the integrated year BUT you return after your year in Industry a year behind your peers so effectively add an extra year to your degree. Additionally, you do have to complete a 3000-word reflective piece on your placement experience which is marked on a pass/ fail basis and does not contribute to your overall degree classification.


  • You don’t miss out on any of the Chemistry that your peers will have studied. If you’re unsure what Chemistry you want to go into post University or if there’s a certain 3rd-year optional module which takes your fancy this may be the better option.
  • You can throw yourself entirely into your year in Industry knowing you won’t have lectures to watch and assignments to do when you get home from work.

I hope this has given any new and upcoming Chemistry some insight into your year in Industry options. As a side note, there is no pressure to take a year in Industry but it is an amazing experience and will give you a head start when searching and applying for jobs. AND as always, the information/ assessment methods I have just discussed are subject to change dependent on the department.

If you have any questions on searching for placements/ interview tips etc feel free to get in touch even though I am planning on doing a blog post soon about interviews.

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