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London Interdisciplinary Doctoral Programme (LIDo)

Programme Overview

BBSRC Logo

UCL Careers is facilitating the BBSRC Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) element of LIDo.

The students are from across the consortium colleges UCL, King's, Queen Mary, Birkbeck, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and Royal Veterinary College. The BBSRC and LIDo have stipulated that all their funded PhD research students need to undertake a 3 month placement as part of their PhD but that it cannot relate to their PhD research project.

The aim of the PIPS is to provide an opportunity for the students to learn new skill-sets, gain work experience in a non-academic sector, evaluate a range of career options beyond academia and understand how the skills gained during the PhD can be utilised in other sectors as well as within academia.

About the students:

All the students will have a background in life science with strong quantitative, data analysis, information synthesis and problem solving skills. The students will be in either the second or penultimate year of their PhD programme. The timing will need to be agreed with the student to fit around their research.


Case Studies:

The videos and case studies below will show how having an intern could work for your organisation...

  • Michelle who did her PIPS at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
  • Marta who did her PIPS at the Department for International Development (DfID)
  • Arne who did his PIPS at Oxford PharmaGenesis
  • Alice who did her PIPS at the Science Museum
  • Chris who did his PIPS at Portland Press
  • Sonia who did her PIPS at IHS
  • Jerzy who did his PIPS at National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)
  • Yan-Kay who did her PIPS at Cambridge Consultants 
  • Other case studies from UCL/BBSRC 2012 Pilot Programme

What work could your PIPS student do?

Your intern could take forward an important piece of work which has started but has not yet been fulfilled, or it could be the beginning of a new activity for your organisation.

The type of work undertaken during a 3 month full-time PhD placement could include, but is not limited to:

  • Conducting and analysing market research
  • Developing business strategies and solutions
  • Writing a strategic plan/documents
  • Creating a communications or marketing strategy
  • Researching and developing recommendations for policy or working on an area of R&D or commercialisation/patent work

Logistics and Criteria:

  • The student must be appointed a placement supervisor to guide and provide feedback to the student
  • The student will be given a desk, computer and equipment as necessary to carry out the placement duties
  • The student will be given responsibilities/project tasks that use their transferable skills and are at graduate/postgraduate level
  • The placement must be a full-time placement (approx. 35 hours per week) for a 3 month period or the equivalent of 65 days
  • The organisation MUST have in force a current Health & Safety policy and provide a short health & safety induction for the student.  A Health & Safety checklist will need to be completed before a proposed placement is approved.
  • The organisation must have Employee's and Public liability insurance with a minimum indemnity limit of £2m for which the student will be covered by during the placement
  • The students' PhD stipend is expected to cover them during their placement. However it is expected that travel and/or accommodation expenses will be provided due to the location of the placement as necessary (eg. outside of greater London unless the student is based in the location of the placement
  • The student and host organisation will be responsible for any tax liabilities in connection with other payments made by the host organisation to the student. 
  • The organisation will complete a short feedback form after the placement has ended to let us know how it has impacted upon the organisation.

Contact Us:

If you are an employer thinking of hosting a student please contact Jess Barber, Placement & Vacancies Officer: jess.barber@ucl.ac.uk

What you can expect:

Your PIPS will need to be approved by UCL Careers and you must prove that it is unrelated to your PhD research project.

The PIPS is intended to be a structured period of work experience at a level appropriate for a postgraduate student. You may be given a specific project or range of activities that are relevant to the organisation. The activities are likely to use a range of transferable skills that you should have gained during your research degree, such as critical analysis, creative thinking and problem solving.

You will be asked to keep a diary log of your work-placement activities, learning experiences & achievements which is useful information if you choose to have a post-placement meeting with a Careers Consultant.

You are required to write a report for the BBSRC and UCL, and you may be asked if you would like to give a presentation about your experience and/or participate in a video interview.


Case Studies:

The videos and case studies below will give you an insight into what previous students did and gained from their internship…

  • Michelle who did her PIPS at the Royal Institution of Great Britain.
  • Marta who did her PIPS at the Department for International Development (DfID)
  • Arne who did his PIPS at Oxford PharmaGenesis
  • Alice who did her PIPS at the Science Museum
  • Chris who did his PIPS at Portland Press
  • Sonia who did her PIPS at IHS
  • Jerzy who did his PIS at National Institute for Biological Standards and Control (NIBSC)
  • Yan-Kay who did her PIPS at Cambridge Consultants 
  • Other case studies from UCL/BBSRC 2012 Pilot Programme

Finding your PIPS:

You will be contacted by UCL Careers near the end of your 1st year to book an appointment with a PhD Careers Consultant.  At this appointment you will be given some advice and actions in order to help you find your PIPS.

You will then complete a short form for the Placement team to learn a little more about what you expect from your PIPS. You are expected to engage with the UCL Careers Placement Team to work collaboratively to source your PIPS placement. 

UCL Careers are actively working to build contacts in organisations within the life science arena as well as numerous other sectors to help find opportunities for you. You will need to do some research on the areas / organisations that you might like to work in.

If you need help approaching organisations UCL Careers can support you. You must pro-actively apply for your placement and we encourage you to visit our Researchers Homepage and utilise the following resources to help you think about the different areas you might consider:

We also recommend that BBSRC students attend relevant events listed in the Employer-Led Skills Training Programme. Consortium students who are not doing their PhD at UCL can book onto events via the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network, (Professional and Career Development section), or your own college network. QMUL students can find information on events here.


Essential Criteria for your PIPS:

  • Your host organisation must appoint you a placement supervisor
  • The placement must be a full-time placement (approx. 35 hours per week) for a 3 month period or the equivalent of 65 days
  • Your placement MUST not be related to your PhD research in any way
  • Research Institutions and lab based placements are not suitable

Examples of PIPS placements:

  • A short desk-based research project in industry
  • A review or analysis of manufacturing, processing or production techniques in industry
  • Non-research roles in industry such as marketing, publishing or sales
  • Business development or project management
  • Legal offices
  • Internal audit or consultancy
  • Teaching in schools
  • Policy – developing policy or working in a related setting, such as a government department, local authority, non-departmental public body, professional association, charity, think tanks, research funder or medical organisation (e.g. NHS)
  • Media – a wide variety of roles are possible here that help students understand the wider societal context of their research. Such internships could include working in science communication roles or other roles in a press office, science publishing company
  • Zoos, museums or botanic gardens.

Contact Us:

If you are a LIDo/BBSRC Programme student and need further information, please contact Jess Barber, Placement & Vacancies Officer: jess.barber@ucl.ac.uk