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The Constitution Unit

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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.

Working as a Research Volunteer with the Constitution Unit is a very special experience. You are here to contribute — in my experience, directly — to cutting-edge thinking and research on the key constitutional and public policy issues of the day, all the while engaging and building professional relationships with leading academics, practitioners and policymakers. A volunteer's workload is consequently varied and stimulating; and from the outset, you are treated as an equal part of the small and close-knit Unit team. To top it off, there is no wiser or more experienced counsel on career-related matters than Robert Hazell." Zach, 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. We do not work weekends or evenings, so we can only accept volunteers who are available within standard office hours, Monday to Friday.

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 if necessary.* 

Areas of Research

Research volunteer positions are currently available in the following areas:

  • To work with Professor Meg Russell on our project on Constitutional Principles and the Health of Democracy, e.g. on the relationship between government, parliament and courts and international trends towards populism and democratic backsliding (likely to include academic literature reviews, summarising UK parliamentary debates, reviewing overseas case studies). 
  • To work with Professor Alan Renwick as part of the project on Democracy in the UK after Brexit (likely to focus on literature reviews, summarising debates, and processing materials from meetings of our citizens’ assembly); some work may also be available relating to our research on elections and referendums.
  • To work with Professor Robert Hazell on research on Constitutional Watchdogs, and to help finalise his work on the Royal Prerogative.
  • To work with our Impact Team on the Unit's impact strategies and outputs, targeted both at policy-makers and the public; particularly web content creation, contributing to our social media presence, and working on our event programme.  
  • To work across the team gathering material to inform policy-focused briefings on a range of topics, based on the contemporary constitutional developments in government and parliament and around the UK.

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

April-June 2022
Application deadline: 06 February 2022

July-September 2022 
Application deadline: 08 May 2022

October-December 2022
Application deadline: 14 August 2022

January-March 2023
Application deadline: 07 November 2022

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

APPLY NOW

*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 

Volunteers:

  • 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.
" Being a Research Volunteer at the Constitution Unit has been fascinating, working alongside incredibly interesting people on a range of projects. I have honed my research skills, and gleaned many insights into how a think-tank functions. I would wholeheartedly recommend for anyone with a deep interest in politics or constitutional law." Dominic, former volunteer