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EPSRC Vacation Bursaries

Each year UCL, in partnership with the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) supports a number of undergraduate summer research placements. The scheme is designed to introduce undergraduate students to research, and give them the opportunity to gain first-hand, practical experience of working on and conducting a research project.

Awards will support students to undertake a research project of up to 10 weeks in duration, providing a weekly bursary. Project proposals should be devised in conjunction with a UCL academic member of staff who will act as the supervisor for the duration of the project. The proposed research area must be within the EPSRC remit.

Applications are invited from UCL students in the middle years of their degree. The vacation bursary scheme is not a bridge between undergraduate degree and PhD or other work, therefore students who are currently in their final year and who will have completed their degree by the summer are not eligible.

  • Students must be registered on a UCL undergraduate degree programme thats falls within the EPSRC remit
  • Students should not be in the first or final year of their degree
  • Students must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria by the end of their degree programme
    • Home and EU students will typically meet these criteria
    • Overseas students studying on a VISA are unlikely to meet the criteria
    • Oversease students in the Engineering Faculty should consider applying for a UROS bursary for which they are eligible
  • Projects must have a clearly defined outcome and not form part of the student's degree programme
  • Projects must be within the EPSRC remit
  • Projects should be between 6 and 10 weeks in duration and should take place between May - August.
  • Students must be supervised by an academic member of UCL staff who is based in the: 

    • Faculty of Engineering;
    • Maths and Physical Sciences (MAPS) Faculty;
    • Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment

If your chosen supervisor is based within another UCL Faculty, please contact the Doctoral Training Manager to discuss eligibility

Applications should consist of:

  • a 1-side A4 project proposal
  • a 2-side CV of the student
  • a copy of the student's transcript, showing all marks to-date (screenshot of marks on Portico is sufficient)

The proposal should be prepared in conjunction with the proposed project supervisor, including a description of the project, it's aims and objectives, a Gantt chart/timeline of the project, learning outcomes/opportunities and supervisory arrangements.

The proposal should also include the name and Department of the supervisor, the name & student number of the student, and the duration of the project. Students are advised to consider the review criteria when preparing their case for support.

Applications will be divided based on whether the student is registered to the Engineering, MAPS or Bartlett faculty, and will then be reviewed by a panel of academics from across that faculty.

The panel will review applications based on:

  • Appropriateness and quality of the proposed project
  • Planning and management of the proposed project
  • Benefit to the student in terms of training, skills development and anticipated learning outcomes (including supervision arrangements)
  • Track record and academic potential of the student

The deadline for applications is 5pm on March 22nd 2019.

Applications need to be submitted by email to the BEAMS Doctoral Training Manager, Dr Helen Jones at helen.jones@ucl.ac.uk. The proposal, CV and portico transcript should be combined as 1 single pdf document. 

Applications that do not meet the Proposal Format will be automatically discounted. 

N.B. Academic supervisors cannot submit the application on behalf of the candidate.

  • Successful candidates will be required to produce a short report following the completion of their project, summarising the methods, results, conclusions etc. in addition to a brief reflection on the experience.
  • Reports should be prepared in conjunction with the supervisor, and be max 2,000 words - reports should be submitted to helen.jones[@]ucl.ac.uk within 3 weeks of the project ending 
  • Changes to proposals should be reported to Dr Helen Jones; supervisors should be mindful that projects must fall within the EPSRC remit should any changes need to be made
  • Students who need to terminate their projects earlier must report this to Dr Helen Jones as soon as possible.
  • Successful applicant's project and personal details will be reported to EPSRC for monitoring purposes
  • Successful candidates may be asked to participate in a best project presentation afternoon, held in the academic year immediately following their project finishing. 

The Vacation Bursaries Scheme has been running since 2011 and over 150 students have benefited from it. The projects undertaken span the breadth of the EPSRC remit, with many choosing to experience research in a different department or subject area than that of their degree programme. The table below showcases a few projects undertaken in the past.

Project TitleHost Department
Computational fluid dynamics study of the aortic valve and rootMechanical Engineering
Coupling circular Rydberg atoms to microwave circuitsPhysics and Astronomy
Development of Copper Precursor InksChemistry
Development of multicolour, high-resolution episcopic microscopy of tumour blood vessel networksMechanical Engineering & Biomaterials and Tissue Engineering
Parallel convolution quadrature methods for time-dependent wave problemsMathematics
The spin-wave field-effect transistor: investigating an entirely new class of CMOS technologiesElectronic and Electrical Engineering
Increasing bioavailability of poorly soluble drugs by incorporating them into UpsaliteChemical Engineering
Needle Recognition For the Purpose of Automated SuturingComputer Science
Democratising planning: the potential of Augmented Reality tools in the built environmentBartlett School of Planning
Matrix stiffness to control function of advanced cellular therapiesBiochemical Engineering
Using in-silico models to simulate and analyse tumour growth on in-vitro settingsMedical Physics and Bioengineering
The use of digital technologies, and their impact on internal stakeholders involved in construction projects in LondonBartlett School of Construction and Project Management
What are the Vacation Bursaries?

The Vacation Bursaries is a scheme funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) designed to give undergraduate students experience of research, and give them the opportunity to gain first-hand, practical experience of working on and conducting a research project.

I'm in my first or last year; am I eligible to apply?

Unfortunately not. EPSRC stipulate that students need to be in the middle years of their degree. Candidates who are in their first or last year would therefore not be eligible to apply.

I'm undertaking a postgraduate degree; am I eligible to apply?

Unfortunately no. The scheme is aimed at undergraduate students.

I'm undertaking an undergraduate programme with a built in masters (i.e. MEng or MSci); am I eligible to apply?

Yes, if you are in years 2 or 3 of a 4 year undergraduate degree, that results in a masters level qualification (i.e MEng or MSci) then you are eligible to apply. 

If you're unsure if your degree qualifies please contact the BEAMS Doctoral Training Manager, Dr Helen Jones (helen.jones[@]ucl.ac.uk) to confirm.

My undergraduate degree is in an area outside of the EPSRC remit; can I apply?

Unfortunately no. EPSRC stipulate that students must be studying on an undergraduate programme that is within the EPSRC remit.

I'm an EU or Overseas student; can I apply?

EPSRC stipulate that candidates must meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria by the end of their undergraduate programme. EU students will typically satisfy this requirement, however if you are currently an overseas student, studying on a visa it is unlikely you will meet this requirement.

Overseas students in the Engineering Faculty should consider applying for a UROS bursary for which they are eligible.

If you're unsure if you are eligible, please contact the BEAMS Doctoral Training Manager, Dr Helen Jones (helen.jones[@]ucl.ac.uk) to confirm.

Do I need to suggest my own research topic for the project?

We encourage students to design a research project in conjunction with an academic supervisor, however if you're unsure of a topic, please approach your supervisor of choice to express your interest in the scheme as they may be able to suggest a project that they have already devised, or are aware would be beneficial to conduct.

How do I contact a project supervisor?

Academics from across the Faculties of Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment will be aware that the Vacation Bursaries Scheme is open and we therefore suggest you contact a supervisor you'd like to work in via email in the first instance to express your interest and/or to suggest a research project.

If you're unsure who you'd like to work with, it would be advisable to discuss options with your personal tutor

How do I prepare the application?

Applications should be prepared in conjunction with your chosen supervisor, ensuring that you cover a description of the project, it's aims and objectives, a Gantt chart/timeline of the project, learning outcomes/opportunities and supervisory arrangements. Proposals should be 1 side of A4.

In addition to the project proposal you'll need to include a maximum 2-side CV and a screenshot of your marks to date, from portico.

I'd like to work on a project outside of my department; is that possible?

Yes, providing the research topic is within the EPSRC remit and you are able to secure a project supervisor then there is no requirement for the research project to be on a topic that aligns with your undergraduate degree.

How much is the weekly Bursary?

As per the EPSRC requirements, the bursary is equivalent to 2 months of the minimum doctoral stipend. For 2019, UCL has chosen to top this up to align with the London Living Wage. In 2019, this £385 per week.

How will I be paid the Bursary?

Bursaries will be paid directly into successful applicant's bank accounts in two instalments; once at the start of the project and again half way through.

What time commitment is involved with the Research Project?

To ensure research projects do not interfere with student's studies, projects must be undertaken during the summer months. Projects should be between 6 and 10 weeks, and you will be expected to work on the project full-time, as agreed with your project supervisor at the point of application. 

At the end of the project, you will also be required to submit a short report summarising the project.

I've been offered a summer job/internship; can I undertake both?

You will not be able to undertake full-time employment/internships during the period you are conducting the research project as you will need to work on the project full-time.

You will be able to work either side of your project if you wish though. 

Is there flexibility as to when I undertake the research project?

Projects must be between 6-10 weeks in duration, and take place between May and August. You can discuss with your project supervisor the best time within this period to undertake the project though.

How will my application be judged?

Applications will be reviewed by a panel of academics from across the appropriate faculty for the department you are registered in for your undergraduate degree. 

Applications will be reviewed considering:

  • Appropriateness and quality of the proposed project
  • Planning and management of the proposed project
  • Benefit to the student in terms of training, skills development and anticipated learning outcomes (including supervision arrangements)
  • Track record and academic potential of the student
Can I see examples of previous reports?

Due to the nature of the research projects, it wouldn't be appropriate to share other student's reports, however the report should cover the aims, objectives, methodologies, results and conclusions of the projects in addition to a short paragraph on your experiences.

Students are encouraged to discuss the most appropriate format of the report with their supervisor.

Reports should be 2,000 words maximum (excluding tables, figures, references, appendices, etc.)

For further information, please contact the BEAMS Doctoral Training Manager, Dr Helen Jones at helen.jones@ucl.ac.uk