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Scientific research opportunities

Work experience in a research environment during your undergraduate degree will be highly valued by employers and universities, whether you are considering a Masters, a PhD, or job in research. It can also help you decide which path you want to take after your degree.  

There are many summer placements available. Each have different requirements and application processes, so look at the details of each scheme when choosing.

What to look out for:

  • The deadlines. Most of the schemes open to applicants in the new year and have closing dates in Spring. Make sure you check individual websites for this year’s deadlines.
  • Eligibility. Most of the schemes are for students in the middle year(s) of their degree. First and final year students can’t always apply. Make sure you meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Prior experience. Some schemes specify that applicants should have no previous research experience, whereas others only accept applicants who have already worked on research projects. Check to see which schemes suit your experience level.
  • The type of work you’ll be doing. Some schemes require you to have planned your own research project, while others require you to develop one with a supervisor or to join an established project. Consider what kind of research you’d like to do.
  • Who needs to apply. Be aware that some of the schemes require you to have a supervisor who has been a member of the organisation for at least 12 months, and they apply on your behalf.
  • The funding and practical details. Most of the schemes are funded but they don’t all organise accommodation for you. Make sure you know what you need to organise well before the start date.

Research Opportunities in the UK (alphabetically listed)

Action on Hearing Loss Up to eight weeks of funding for undergraduates interested in gaining experience in hearing research. Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

Alzheimer's Society Up to eight weeks of funding for research within the field of dementia. Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Up to ten weeks of funding to enable undergraduates to undertake supervised research projects which fall within the field of animal behaviour.

Biomedical Society Students are invited to develop a research project with a supervisor who then applies on their behalf for six to eight weeks of funding.

Botanical Society of Scotland Grants of up to £400 for fieldwork research in the British Isles, preferably in Scotland, that does not form part of a university course.

British Dragonfly Society Two grants for young people (anyone up to the age of 25) who are engaged in, or wish to establish, a small odonatological research project.

The British Lichen Society offers up to ten weeks funding to gain supervised research experience at a British academic (or other research) institution in any branch of lichenology.

The British Mycological Society offers a number of Undergraduate Student Bursaries to give experience of research in any branch of mycology. Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

British Pharmacological Society Designed to encourage consideration of a pharmacology specialism, each studentship will provide up to ten weeks of funding for a project developed with a supervisor.

British Phycological Society Funds six to eight week, hypothesis-driven projects that promote and further phycology, its applications and dissemination. Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

British Society for Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Develop a project with a supervisor and apply for up to ten weeks of funding.

British Society for Cell Biology Summer Studentships Students develop a research project with a supervisor who will apply on their behalf for up to eight weeks of funding.

British Society for Neuroendocrinology Each studentship offers a maximum of eight weeks of funding for students to undertake a summer vacation research project in the host laboratory.

British Society for Plant Pathology Between eight and ten weeks of funding to gain practical experience in a plant pathology laboratory and to assist supervisors to meet some specific research objectives.

British Society of Animal Science These six-week awards enable companies and institutes to have access to students to help complete specific projects and tasks. Depending upon the individual companies and institutes involved the work available ranges from practical fieldwork or lab studies to computerised data handling of literature reviews and report writing.

Cancer Research UK Cambridge Institute Join a research group for ten weeks and work on areas as varied as basic cancer biology and computational biology through to translational research and clinical application.

Child Health Research Studentship Scheme Up to eight weeks long, those studying undergraduate science or medicine can select from one of the academic programmes on offer.

Diamond University Summer Placements These eight to twelve week placements provide the opportunity to gain experience in Scientific Computing, Physical Sciences or the Life Sciences at Diamond, the UK’s national synchrotron.

EPSRC Centre for Doctoral Training in Power Networks Six to eight week internships offering the opportunity to work alongside one of the research teams in the EPSRC Centre.

Experimental Psychology Society Up to ten weeks funding to allow students to learn at first hand about experimental procedures and analyses employed in the host laboratory. Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

The Gatsby Charitable Foundation Sainsbury Undergraduate Studentships are awarded to support undergraduate summer projects in plant science. Those who receive studentships are also fast-tracked into consideration for a Sainsbury PhD Studentship.

The Genetics Society Summer Studentships Gain research experience in any area of genetics by carrying out a research project over eight weeks during the summer. Students must develop a project with a supervisor who will then apply on their behalf.

Institute for Fiscal Studies offers several 6-week placements each summer to economics students who are interested in how microeconomics can be applied to public policy issues and who are considering a career in economic research.

Institute of Cancer Research A six to eight week research project under the supervision of a team based at either the Chelsea or Sutton sites of the Institute of Cancer Research.

John Innes Centre, Norwich An eight-week programme researching plant, microbial and computational biology. Follow an interdisciplinary research programme of training, research, talks, seminars and weekly social events.

Manchester & Liverpool Doctoral Training Programme: Research Experience Placements An eight-week placement offering experience of environmental research to those studying quantitative disciplines.

Marine Biological Association of the UK Up to ten weeks of funding. Interested students should contact an MBA Research Fellow working in an area of interest to find out about projects they could potentially undertake in support of the research programme.

Medical Research Council Clinical Science Centre, Imperial College, London An eight-week programme offering intensive laboratory research experience.

Microbiology Society Funding for six to eight weeks to work with a supervisor on a microbiological research project during the summer vacation.

MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge Gain hands-on experience of research by joining one of the research groups at LMB and doing original research for eight to thirteen weeks over the summer.

The Nutrition Society Funding for up to eight weeks for students registered on Nutrition or related degree programmes to undertake a period of research in a university, research institute or industrial setting.

Oxford University Summer Research Programme, Department of Physics For eight weeks, work with a supervisor on a self-contained research project, attend lectures, and take part in department life.

The Particle Physics Experiment (PPE) group, in conjunction with the School of Physics & Astronomy at Glasgow University Work for 6 weeks on a project chosen from a list of options.

The Physiological Society, Undergraduate Vacation Studentship Scheme Work on your own research project under a supervisor for eight weeks over the summer.

Royal Microscopical Society Applications for Summer Studentships must include a significant microscopy component and should come from a suitable host academic on behalf of a student.

Royal Society of Biology offered four 8-10 week placements to research plant health in 2017 and plan to offer more placements in future years.

Society for Applied Microbiology Up to eight weeks of funding for research work experience in the field.  Applications should be made by the prospective supervisor.

Society for Endocrinology Up to ten weeks of funding to assist undergraduate students in gaining research experience by working in a research environment.

Society for Reproduction and Fertility Up to eight weeks of funding for research projects related to reproduction, fertility and lactation in humans and other animals.

South East Physics Network These 8-week placements are for Physics undergraduate students to gain work experience in either a commercial company or a research institution.

Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP), Imperial College, London Join a research group at Imperial for the summer and gain an insight into research.

Wellcome Trust Funding for six to eight weeks to allow the opportunity to develop a research project with a supervisor over the summer. 

International Research Opportunities (alphabetically listed)

Amgen studentships (U.S./Europe/Japan) Gain hands-on research experience at some of the world's leading educational institutions.

Biocentre Vienna Summer School (Austria) A nine week programme offering the opportunity to work with a faculty member on a research project in Molecular biology, neuroscience, immunology, bioinformatics, RNA biology, stem cells, and biochemistry.

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (New York, U.S.) A ten-week programme that offers the chance to learn scientific processes, technical methods and theoretical principles, and communicate discoveries to other scientists.

EPFL School of Life Sciences International Summer Research Program (Lausanne, Switzerland) An eight-week programme providing the opportunity to work on a specific project related to the laboratory’s current research. Attend weekly workshops and present the results of your research as part of the programme.

Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Janelia Research Campus (Virginia, U.S.) A ten-week programme aimed at those who already have significant research experience.

International Biology Undergraduate Summer School Zurich (University of Zurich/ETH Zurich, Switzerland) Join the research programme for nine weeks over the summer and follow an intense curriculum that covers laboratory methods and theoretical principles, as well as scientific reasoning and scientific communication.

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