I mocked up the two scenarios, and determined that with the plate inside the stretcher the vise would have a reach of 8 inches, and with it outside the stretcher it would have a reach of 9 inches. I decided that 8 inches was enough, and that the extra inch wasn't worth the extra effort. With the end vise mounted like this, the right edge of the top would have no overhang.
For most of the course, we'll be heavily focused on developing your skills using hand tools. As a developing woodworker, there is no substitute for putting in the hours of direct hands on practice it takes to gain an intuitive understanding of wood. The early part of this course focuses on working with hand tools as we believe they bring you closer to wood as a material. You can rip a board on a table saw with out much thought to the wood itself, but you will understand much more about grain if you rip a board with a hand saw. As the course progresses, machine processes are introduced as a pragmatic aid in expediting projects.
Workbenches have flat tops, though sometimes at the rear there is a cavity called a tool well that contains tools and components (and prevents them from falling off). One advantage of having the well set into the top of the bench is that, even with a variety of objects in the well, a large sheet of material can still be laid flat over the entire surface of the bench; the contents of the tool well offer no interference.