Undergraduate research experience placements

NERC is repurposing the Research Experience Placement (REP) scheme and broadening its scope to enable DTPs/CDTs to address both thematic skills gaps (e.g. quantitative skills) as well as demographic and diversity-related challenges in the environmental sciences.

The REP scheme will focus on these quantitative skills gaps and underrepresentation by offering funding to support paid summer placements for undergraduate students, during which they will carry out research projects within the scope of the environmental sciences. These placements are intended to encourage students to consider a career in this field, and undergraduates from any science discipline will be eligible.

Next funding opportunity

N/A - REPs are now allocated across all NERC DTPs and CDTs annually.


REPs are held to encourage undergraduates undertaking subjects outside of NERC remit to consider careers in environmental science. During a REP, an undergraduate joins the hosting organisation for up to 10 weeks to complete a short-term research project within the environmental sciences.


Funding for a number of REPs is made available to each NERC DTP and CDT annually. Each REP is for up to 10 weeks during the summer vacation. Students must be paid at a minimum level of the national living wage and where necessary receive a contribution towards research and training expenses during the placement. Additional funding beyond this amount must be found from other sources, including the department.

REP students should be made an employee of the hosting organisation and receive a salary for the duration of the placement.

Student eligibility

Students are subject to eligibility criteria to be able to apply for NERC REPs and must:

  • be undertaking their first undergraduate degree studies (or integrated Masters)
  • be applying for a placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree
  • be eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (details of eligibility for PhD studentships).

Research project criteria

Proposed REPs student projects are also subject to suitability criteria. Proposed projects must:

  • have a clearly defined objective
  • be within the science remit of NERC
  • be feasible for a student to complete within the timescale of the award
  • include more than purely a computer/modelling component i.e. some element of fieldwork, data collection, activity to give an understanding of the wider context etc*
  • give scope for thought and initiative on the part of the student and should not use the student as a general assistant
  • be based at an eligible UK research organisation.

*We understand that there will need to be some flexibility due to COVID-19, therefore applications need to show evidence that they have also considered a contingency plan so that the placement can still go ahead. If the placement needs to change, we require evidence that the student will still be integrated into their department. For example, if a placement becomes computer-based, students are still invited to lab meetings and other sessions.

Responsibilities of the DTP/CDT lead organisation

The DTP/CDT lead organisation is responsible for administering REPs hosted within their partnership; specific responsibilities include:

  • coordinating the REPs award process across the DTP/CDT partners and advertising across all relevant partners
  • ensuring that opportunities are published and advertised to all relevant groups and recruitment policies are followed
  • collating all REPs reporting forms from hosting organisations
  • disseminating REPs funds to host organisations as appropriate following payment from NERC.

Responsibilities of the hosting organisation

The host organisation is responsible for:

  • selecting a suitable undergraduate student and ensuring eligibility (see student eligibility requirements above) and confirming their eligibility using the UKRI criteria listed under ‘eligibility’ above
  • ensuring the REPs project falls within the NERC remit and is of suitable quality
  • ensuring that appropriate supervisory arrangements are in place
  • ensure each student has a PhD student mentor from the DTP/CDT
  • DTP/CDT responsibility to report back to NERC with numbers and future plans
  • ensuring that any necessary ethical committee approvals, animal licences and requirements of regulatory authorities are in place before the work begins and are maintained during the duration of the work
  • the identification, protection and exploitation of any intellectual property rights arising from the work
  • ensuring that all facilities, agreements about access and collaborations necessary for the work are obtained before the work commences and can be ensured through the period of the work
  • ensuring that all costs awarded by NERC for the REPs are used and accounted for appropriately
  • ensuring that details and assessment of the project are reported to NERC (via the DTP/CDT lead organisation), as directed in the allocation letter or subsequent correspondence
  • ensuring that a PhD interview (where appropriate) is offered to all students who completed REPs within the DTP/CDT
  • (see below).


The student and project supervisor at the hosting organisation will be required to complete a brief report on the outcome of the placement. Reporting forms for both students and supervisors will be sent, by NERC, later this year. Payment will be released by NERC on receipt of all final reports by adding the funds to the DTP/CDT Doctoral Training Grant. The DTP/CDT grant holding organisation will then be responsible for disseminating funds to hosting partners as appropriate.

Organisations offering REPs for summer 2021

Doctoral training partnerships (DTP) or Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) name DTP / CDT administrative lead organisation* Partner UK HEIs**
SENSE CDT - external link   Edinburgh, Leeds
ACCE DTP - external link Liverpool

Sheffield, York

London NERC DTP - external link UCL Birkbeck, Brunel, King's College, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway
SCENARIO DTP - external link Reading Surrey
ARIES DTP - external link UEA Essex, Kent, Plymouth, Royal Holloway
SUPER DTP - external link St Andrews Aberdeen, Edinburgh Napier, Heriot-Watt, Highlands & Islands, Stirling, Strathclyde, West of Scotland
CENTA2 - external link Birmingham Leicester, Loughborough, Warwick, Cranfield, Open University, BGS and CEH
QUADRAT - external link Aberdeen Queens
E4 - external link Edinburgh  
SSCP DTP - external link Imperial  
ENVISION DTP - external link Lancaster Bangor, Nottingham
IAPETUS2 - external link Durham Glasgow, Heriot-Watt University, Newcastle, St Andrews, Stirling
Oxford DTP2 - external link Oxford  
GW4+ DTP2 - external link Bristol Bath, Cardiff, Exeter
ONE Planet DTP2 - external link Newcastle Northumbria

All queries regarding and applications for REP opportunities as a student must be directed to the hosting organisation(s). The hosting organisations will be overseeing the entire REP process on behalf of NERC.

* This may not be where the places are being offered.

** A number of DTPs/CDTs also have additional non-HEI partners who may host REPs – please see individual DTP/CDT websites for details.