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Policy Placement Scheme

There are no current call opportunities

NERC's Policy Placement Fellowship Scheme allows researchers and other staff involved in environmental science research to work closely with policymakers within government and other public and third sector organisations in the UK. The scheme also allows placements of government and third sector policymakers to work within NERC head office and research centres.

Please note this scheme is not open to research students. NERC has a separate policy internship for students.


  • To promote knowledge exchange between academic organisations, NERC and public sector partner organisations and the staff employed in them.
  • To provide partner organisations with research-informed evidence to develop and review policy.
  • To help increase the uptake of NERC environmental science research in policy-making bodies.
  • To provide researchers with a wider context for their work and to promote it where relevant to a user body.
  • To expand networks for partner organisations into the research base.
  • To enable all parties, including NERC, to develop their understanding of research and policy-making processes and the interactions between them, and help break down barriers in the science-to-policy process.
  • To provide career and skill development opportunities.
  • To encourage bespoke dissemination of activities and materials.


Fellowship policy placements are organised by NERC in collaboration with a policy-making body, for example a government department, devolved administration or agency. The applicant applies for the position, which will be for a fixed term and on a specified topic. The placement is jointly funded by NERC and the partner organisation on a 50:50 basis, with the exception of NGOs, who are asked to provide 25% of the funding. Successful applicants will be awarded a NERC grant. During the placement, the fellow will remain employed by her/his institution.


Applicants must be from a NERC research centre or a HEI in receipt of NERC-funded research. The fellowship can be taken up by post-doctoral researchers at any stage of their career or policy makers with at least two year-experience. Requirement for each fellowship may vary and this will be specified in the announcement of opportunity.

Sabbatical arrangements available to the applicant will not count towards the fellowship period, but could add value to it, before or after.


Minimum duration of six months and maximum of two years. Some flexibility may be negotiated on the proportion of time devoted to the award with shorter awards expected to be full-time.


Placement fellows will normally be expected to spend at least 50 per cent of the placement in the partner organisation's offices, although some work might require time to be spent at other locations in the UK or abroad.

Conditions of work

All placement fellows must adhere to their employer's and the host organisation's requirements of independence from political or commercial interest through the placement. Fellows will need to give undertakings to respect a confidentiality agreement, specifying that data on policy advice and internal debate will not be disclosed without prior written agreement of the partner organisation.

Management and supervision

The partner organisation will nominate a supervisor to whom the fellow will report. NERC will nominate a contact person (within the Knowledge Exchange group at Swindon) who should be actively informed about the progress of the placement.

Current Opportunities

There are no current opportunities

How to apply

Applications should be submitted through the Je-S system - external link. Applicants will be asked to upload a Justification of Resources, CV, list of referees and letter from Head of Department supporting the fellowship application.

Applicants are advised to read the Guidance on submission prior to putting in an application in Je-S.

Guidance on submitting policy placement applications (PDF, 54KB)

Past announcements of opportunities

NERC Welsh Government policy placement - full details and guidance (PDF, 192KB)

NERC Scottish Government policy placement - full details and guidance (PDF, 162KB)

NERC GO-Science policy placement - full details and guidance (PDF, 209KB)

NERC / Environment Agency policy placements - 3 posts (PDF, 157KB)



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Case study - Alexandra Collins

Joint Water Evidence Group (JWEG) Policy Placement fellow

Alexandra Collins

Policy Placement fellow Alexandra Collins

The Joint Water Evidence Group (JWEG) was established to enhance collaborative working on land and water issues across Defra and its network agencies and since November 2013, I have joined the core team on a two year part-time placement. Working with both JWEG and Defra's Strategic Evidence and Analysis team I have been developing the methodological approach around systematic reviews so that they can be used to address policy and practice decision makers' evidence needs.

The core outputs from my placement are now directly playing a key role in improving the use and quality of evidence synthesis within Defra and its agencies. Throughout the placement I have worked closely with decision makers around the practicalities involved with delivering high-quality evidence reviews. This has enhanced my understanding of the end-users' requirements so that the strategies identified both increased rigour in the methodology whilst making them suitable within the decision making context. Based on this I produced a "How-to-Guide" on evidence reviews which has been used in numerous research projects for JWEG and has now been included in guidance for the Defra network.

I am currently working on how to incorporate measures of confidence into evidence reviews and developing guidance that is being used by Ian Boyd, Defra's chief scientific advisor, to promote the production of evidence statements on topics of particular policy relevance. Again this highlights how the work of NERC policy placements can have real impact within decision making departments.

In addition to delivering a range of successful outputs for Defra and its network agencies I have also personally benefited a great deal. The placement has given me the opportunity to widen my research area of interest and to form new contacts and collaborations, leading to a number of publications and high-impact outputs. The experience gained from working closely with decision makers to identify and fulfil their research needs has also provided a unique insight into the science-policy/practice interface. This has enabled me to develop my understanding of how research can have real impact to decision makers; something that will continue to be of benefit as my career progresses.

Fellowship Published Papers

Making literature reviews more reliable through application of lessons from systematic reviews - external link

The role of Google Scholar in evidence reviews and its applicability to grey literature searching - external link