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Policy internships

RCUK Policy Internships Scheme provides an opportunity for NERC funded PhD students to work for three months in one of a selected group of highly influential policy organisations.

Next funding opportunity

Call status: Closed
Next call open: 4 July 2016
Next application deadline: 16:00 on 1 September 2016

Please check back for an updated guidance and application form, which will be published below on the call opening date.


The research councils organise internships for current research council-funded PhD students to work in one highly influential host organisations on a policy topic relevant to both the student and the host. The student will be expected to produce a briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event.

Internships are awarded to both parliamentary and non-parliamentary organisations. Information on current host organisations can be found below.


The funding mechanism used to support policy internships is dictated by the applicant's research council. For NERC students:

NERC will expect the award holder to continue paying the student their stipend during the internship as well as any travel and/or subsistence costs incurred and that NERC will agree reimbursement terms with the award holder for these costs associated with the internship. The studentship 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 per cent 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. Before completing this form, applicants are advised to read both the guidance notes and the host partner information documents.

These documents will be made available on the call opening date.

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.

Current host organisations

The current eight host organisations include three parliamentary organisations and five non-parliamentary organisations. NERC students can apply for internships at any of these organisations.

Parliamentary internships:

The UK parliament, SPICe and the National Assembly for Wales pass laws, scrutinise government and act as a forum for debate on issues of concern. As part of their internship with the above organisations, interns will gain experience of working in a political environment and are likely to produce a formal briefing note for parliamentarians in addition to being involved in other parliamentary activities.

Non-parliamentary internships - these will be based at one of the following hosts:

During their internship at these organisations, interns will work on an area of policy by contributing to one or more of the following activities:

  • producing a policy briefing or contributing to a longer report
  • participating in a policy inquiry
  • researching, developing and organising a policy event or workshop
  • any other related activities.

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)

Centre for Science & Policy

The Research Service (RS, National Assembly for Wales)

Biodiversity Offsetting research paper (PDF, 662KB) - external link

Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): The authorisation process for cultivation (PDF, 201KB) - external link

The Royal Society

2015-16 Policy Internships

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

Policy internships student feedback form (Word, 67KB)


NERC Studentships & Training Awards Group

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)