The Constitution Unit


Research Volunteers

Apply to be a research volunteer at the Constitution Unit

Working as a research volunteer at the Constitution Unit is an ideal way for recent graduates to gain experience of work in an academic research centre that is also a think tank, and to do research linked to policy. Past research volunteers have included students in their holidays, graduates thinking about continuing their studies to Masters or PhD level, and civil and public servants with us part-time.

" Our volunteers have gone on to work in think tanks, Whitehall, Westminster, the law, consultancy and academia. I am still writing references for them five years afterwards, and am very happy to do so. I feel very proud of our volunteers and what they have gone on to do. Professor Robert Hazell 


Eligibility Requirements

Applicants will have or be near to completing a degree or equivalent in Politics, Law or a related subject. We welcome students and graduates from a range of universities and eligibility is not restricted to UCL students/graduates. The candidates should be highly motivated, have excellent interpersonal skills, be able to work independently and have good analytical and writing skills. We regret that full-time students cannot apply, except that we do accept undergraduates who are on their summer break. Part-time students are welcome.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time as a research volunteer at The Constitution Unit, working in a friendly and relaxed, yet intellectually stimulating environment. In addition to engaging and varied work, through which I am developing my research and editorial skills, I have also received valuable career advice and had the opportunity to attend seminars." Nabila, former volunteer


Value & Benefits

Each research volunteer is typically assigned to one of our researchers to assist them with a single project throughout their three months here at the Unit. This gives research volunteers the opportunity to build a close working relationship with their supervisor and gain a real feel for the day-to-day process of academic research. It gives your research skills a more practical edge and affords you real responsibility over and independence in your task. 

The work is varied and will be assigned to reflect volunteers' skills and areas of interest. We very much value the work done by our volunteers, who are treated as full members of our small and friendly team. We invite volunteers to come to our team meetings and contribute to our publications, newsletter and blog, and the whole team work together to organise our regular events and seminars. Volunteers gain a real taste of what academic and policy research is like, and make an important contribution to our research projects. In return we will provide volunteers with extra skills and careers advice, and a reference for when they leave.

" Volunteering at the Constitution Unit has been an enriching experience. I have enjoyed returning to an academic environment and the intellectual curiosity it sparks. The team made me feel immediately welcome and working with Alan has given me a clearer vision of what I would like to do in the future and the steps towards it. Cleo, former volunteer


Duration & Expenses

We advertise for research volunteer opportunities quarterly. Positions last for three months, full or part time. We are flexible as to working hours but we hope volunteers can work for a minimum of three days per week. The positions are voluntary, but the Unit will cover up to a maximum of £250 a month for travel expenses. If you are in the office for fewer than 5 days a week but prefer to buy a travel card, we can cover the relevant proportion of the cost of the travel card up to the £250 per month limit.

*Please note that although the department building is open, volunteers may be required to work remotely for all or part of their time in the current climate.*

Areas of Research

Research volunteer positions are currently available in the following areas:

  • To work with Professor Meg Russell on research on the British parliament and parliaments comparatively (e.g. conducting literature searches, summarising recent debates, coding parliamentary speeches)
  • To work with Dr Alan Renwick as part of the project on Democracy in the UK after Brexit (likely to focus on assisting with preparations for citizens’ assembly meetings, helping at meetings, and processing materials from meetings); some work may also be available relating to our research on elections and referendums.
  • To work with Professor Robert Hazell on research on the Royal Prerogative; Robert's volunteers in the October to December 2021 round will most likely assist with finalising a book on that subject.
  • To work with our Impact Team on the Unit's impact strategies and outputs, including engagement with policy makers, assisting with policy briefings, web content creation and editing, and contributing to our social media presence.  

Those wishing to join our team should refer to the research currently undertaken at the Unit and specify which area or areas they might like to contribute to.

" My time as a Research Volunteer at the Constitution Unit has been both intellectually stimulating and very enjoyable. It has given me the opportunity to develop my research skills, taking them in a more practical direction, as well as providing a valuable insight into the day-to-day operation of a leading think tank. Not only this, but the team are incredibly friendly and welcoming and were a pleasure to work with. I’d highly recommend it to anyone looking to gain hands-on experience of working at an academic research centre.”  Alex, former volunteer


Application Process

We advertise for volunteers four times a year

October-December 2021
Application deadline: 15 August 2021

January-March 2022
Application deadline: 07 November 2021

April-June 2022
Application deadline: 06 February 2022

July-September 2022 
Application deadline: 08 May 2021

How to apply

To make an application please click on the Apply Now button below, which will take you to our online application form. As part of the form, you will be asked to upload

  • An up-to-date CV
  • A covering letter stating why you are a suitable candidate
  • A piece of work, for example a recent short essay, no longer than 3000 words


*Note to students: Full-time students (except undergraduates in the summer before their final year) are not eligible to volunteer at the Constitution Unit during their period of study. Part-time students are eligible at any point.

If you have further questions, please check our FAQS or email constitution@ucl.ac.uk


How long will it take before I hear that I have been selected?

Once we have received all our applications, it may take up to three weeks after the closing date to hear whether you have been selected for an interview.

We strive to contact all applicants to let them know whether they have been successful or not. 

UCL's Volunteer Policy 


  • will have an arrangement with UCL which does not entitle them to a financial reward or benefit in kind for work they perform under the arrangement 
  • do not have to turn up for work if they don't want to (even if you or their colleagues expect them to or they generally work to a regular pattern) 
  • cannot be dismissed, sued for breach of contract or have payment or reward withheld if they fail to do the work or perform the services they were providing.
" My time at the Unit was wonderful - a flexible, friendly and informal atmosphere with some challenging work which required self-motivation" Chris, former volunteer