The Research Council Policy Internships Scheme provides the opportunity for Research Council funded PhD students to work for three months in one of a selected group of highly influential policy organisations.
Please note that this call is now closed. The information and documents provided below are for information purposes only.
Next funding opportunity
Call status: Closed
Call opening date: June 2018
Call closing date: August 2018
The research councils organise internships for current research council-funded PhD students to work in highly impactful host organisations on one or more policy topics relevant to both the student and the host. The student will be expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event, or equivalent piece of work.
Internships are awarded to a number of parliamentary departments, government departments and non-governmental bodies, learned societies and other organisations.
The 23 hosting partners for the 2017-18 competition round are:
- Centre for Science & Policy - external link
- Department for Education - external link
- Department of Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) - external link
- Food Standards Agency - external link
- Government Office for Science - external link
- Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) - external link
- HM Courts & Tribunals Services - external link
- Home Office - external link
- Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) - external link
- National Assembly for Wales Research Service - external link
- Natural England - external link
- Northern Ireland Assembly (RaISe) - external link
- Northern Ireland Housing Executive - external link
- Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST) - external link
- Public Health England - external link
- Scottish Environment Protection Agency - external link
- Scottish Parliament Information Centre (SPICe) - external link
- Scrutiny Unit - external link
- Sentencing Council - external link
- The Royal Society - external link
- The Royal Society of Biology (RSB) - external link
- Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) - external link
- Youth Justice Board for England & Wales - external link
Internships are financially supported by the research councils and hosting partner organisations. For all students, PhD stipend and fees must continue to be paid by your research organisation as normal throughout your three month internship period. Students will also be able to claim for travel and accommodation costs incurred during the internship up to a maximum limit of £2,400 per student. Studentships will be extended for duration of three months to accommodate this internship.
Internships are available to all current research council-funded PhD students. Internships must start before the end of the funded period of the studentship and prior to submitting their thesis.
NERC-eligible students are those funded directly from a NERC doctoral training grant and also students with at least 50% funding from a NERC research centre. Students who are co-funded by NERC but whose funding is administered by another research council (eg NERC/ESRC studentships) are also eligible to apply.
How to apply
Applicants should complete the online application form. Applicants must also upload three documents before submitting their application:
- a CV
- a signed funding and permissions form (see below)
- a policy briefing.
For further information, applicants are advised to read the guidance and host partner information documents provided below.
If you are having trouble accessing the online application form, please contact the NERC Research Careers Team for an alternative version of this form.
Assessment of applications is a two stage process: there will be an assessment of the written application and applicants successful at this stage will be invited to interview. The application process will be completed at both stages by the host organisation.
Please note, only one application can be submitted by each applicant. The applicant must specify within their application which host organisation they wish to undertake an internship with and bear in mind any organisation specific guidance available in the applicant guidance document when preparing their application.
- RCUK Policy Internships funding and permissions form (Word, 49KB)
- RCUK Policy Internships Scheme applicant guidance (PDF, 146KB)
- RCUK Policy Internships Scheme host partner information (PDF, 2.4MB)
- RCUK Policy Internships Scheme next steps for successful applicants (PDF, 510KB)
Examples of previous work
Follow the links below to examples of work that PhD students contributed to during their policy internships:
Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST)
- Urban Green Infrastructure - external link
- Negative Emissions Technologies - external link
- Selection of Marine Conservation Zones - external link
- Biodiversity & Planning Decisions - external link
- Balancing Nature and Agriculture - external link
Centre for Science & Policy
- Project on horizon scanning - external link
- Science & Technology Dimensions of Emerging Public Policy Issues through Horizon Scanning research article - external link
The Research Service (RS, National Assembly for Wales)
The Royal Society
- Constructive debate on the diverse issues of biodiversity offsetting - blog post - external link
- What is 'Sustainable Intensification'? - blog post - external link
Previous Policy Internships competition rounds
All RCUK Policy Interns are required to complete a reporting and feedback form within one month of completing their internship. These forms should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Opportunities for host partners
The research councils work with a group of highly influential policy organisations who act as host partners for the policy internship scheme. In 2017 the research councils held a call for host partners and 23 organisations joined the scheme for two annual competitions in the first instance.
Organisations that are interested in joining the scheme outside of the normal cycle of a call for host partners can complete an online registration form to express an interest. Expressions of interest will be considered by the research councils and if successful, organisations will be invited to join the scheme for the next annual competition. In order to be considered as a new host partner for the 2018 competition, completed forms must be received by 16:00 on 30 April 2018.
Further information about the scheme and the requirements for host partners is available from the guidance document below.
NERC currently coordinates the scheme on behalf of the research councils and any enquiries should be directed to the NERC Research Careers team email@example.com in the first instance.
NERC Research Careers Team
What do past interns say about their experiences?
Below are some quotes from some past interns. For more details of how a policy internship can be beneficial, please read each of the case studies:
The most enjoyable thing was just being there, right in Westminster, and feeling like you were at the centre of power. But also knowing that you're potentially influencing MPs and Lords by presenting the information you think they really need to know about.
- Lyndsey Dodds
Lyndsey's case study (PDF, 288KB)
I always wanted to be a scientific advisor in government, that was my dream.
- Nicola Ranger
Nicola's case study (PDF, 403KB)