UCL Human Resources


The BioNews Writing Scheme

The BioNews Writing Internship offers a unique opportunity for you to gain practical news writing experience under expert supervision.

UCL Researcher Development Programmes, working with the Progress Educational Trust (PET) is pleased to provide an opportunity for UCL postgraduate researchers interested in science communication, as well as the legal and ethical issues arising from scientific developments to enrich their academic experience and professional development.  You will gain practical news writing experience under expert supervision. You will work with three BioNews Editors and the Director of the Course, Sarah Norcross.

Scheme extended to researchers from all disciplines

In recognition of the importance of science communication skills, we extended the writing scheme to research staff and students from all disciplines (see eligibility section below).

How long is the internship?

The course lasts for a total of five days, spread over a nine-week period and will include:

  • One full day induction carried out by three BioNews Editors and the course Director
  • Approx. half a day’s writing per week, spread over eight weeks
  • Optional additional writing tasks

What are the benefits to participants?

Successful applicants will gain experience in writing for lay audiences and develop transferable skills in communication with non-expert audiences. They will also have a body of articles published under their name in BioNews, together with a short biography on their own profile page on the PET website. 

By the end of the course, participants will have acquired the following experience/skills:

  • critical reading and evaluation of media coverage of genetics, assisted conception and embryo/stem cell research, and related ethical, legal and policy issues;
  • an understanding of the contrasting values of scientists and journalists, and the pressures faced by both in relation to science news coverage;
  • researching stories and checking accuracy by referring to press releases, original research papers, policy documents and reports;
  • summarising this information and prioritising key points;
  • how to write an effective news story;
  • writing for a non-specialist audience, avoiding specialist jargon;
  • proofreading and editing skills;
  • writing copy to a weekly deadline;

Who is eligible to apply?

All researchers are welcome to apply, including all currently enrolled PGR students and research staff.

How to apply?

Deadline for applications in Term 3: Thursday 27 April 2023, 5pm.

To apply, please complete the following:

  • A 250-word summary of your research written in a lay-friendly way
  • Explaining why you would like to do the course (up to 500 words) 
  • Completed application needs to be sent before the deadline 5pm on Thursday 27 April to PET directly at: director@progress.org.uk

How have participants rated the course since it began in 2008?

99% scored as excellent or good: Writing for a non-specialist audience, avoiding scientific jargon.   
96% scored as excellent or good: Researching stories and checking accuracy by referring to press releases, original research papers, policy documents and reports.  
99% scored as excellent or good: How to write an effective news story 

Taking part in the BioNews writing scheme has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my PhD so far. After taking part, I felt better equipped to both approach and present new ideas and research, improving the science which I have conducted. Additionally, the level of attention and mentoring provided, and the opportunity to continue contributing to an established and recognised newsletter, made the scheme undoubtedly worthwhile. Daniel, UCL
English being my second language, the BioNews Scheme has been an excellent opportunity to challenge my writing skills as well as to obtain feedback from professional editors. As I have continued to write as a volunteer during my PhD, I have improved my scientific communication skills, learning how to explain complex scientific ideas in a more accessible way. The scheme was a great experience and I would recommend fellow PhD students to apply for it. Javier, UCL
The BioNews writing scheme was an exceptional opportunity that allowed me to develop my ability to write succinct, accurate and balanced articles within the field of biomedicine. The feedback I was given by the editors throughout the scheme was outstanding, and completing the writing scheme undoubtedly helped me to secure my current role as a medical writer at a scientific consultancy. Furthermore, I thoroughly enjoy my ongoing role as a volunteer writer for BioNews, which continues to allow me to develop my writing skills and remain at the forefront of biomedical developments. Laura, UCL