London is a science powerhouse, boasting three universities ranked in the World Top 25*, more than any other city. It is also home to important organisations such as the Royal Institution, the Institute of Physics, the Royal Society of Chemistry and the Science Museum. See how our students have benefited from UCL’s central London location and the city’s rich resources and networks.
Solving real world problems as part of a research thesis
London First, Max Kaiser
For my MSc research thesis, I am working with a non-profit organisation (London First) and the London Fire Brigade on a real project, which is the topic of my MSc thesis at the same time. It is a typical win-win as I get work experience, networking opportunities and support from them and on the other hand I support their project with scientific evidence.
My department and lecturers helped me make connections with people from the above mentioned organisations. I also attended UCL Careers events that were helpful in terms of giving advice and guidance as well as establishing new contacts.
My current independent research project is a comparative study of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) National Accreditation process in the Americas Region. USAR teams are disaster response specialists that, in the immediate aftermath of a sudden-onset disaster, like the recent earthquake in Italy, get deployed into the disaster zone to rescue victims from collapsed buildings. The project is especially relevant because improving organisation and preparedness has an ultimate effect on the capacity of USAR teams to rescue more people.
My current internship in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has been crucial for the fulfillment of such an ambitious task, giving my project a higher relevance than I could have initially expected. London is a city full of experts on the subject; academics and practitioners participate on the multiple events organised by UCL. For example, Paul Gill (UCL Dept of Security and Crime Science) gave us an interdisciplinary approach to the very interesting and relevant subject of lone wolf terrorism. Jessica Field (Save the Children/University of Manchester) gave us a critical approach to effectiveness measuring in humanitarian action.
In this sense London itself is an unparalleled breeding ground of ideas for anyone interested in research.
Former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) , Oliver Southwick
I took advantage of a UCL Public Policy Secondment, a scheme which places UCL researchers on secondments to the government. I spent 6 months working on UK Science and Research policy in the former Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which has a very strong relationship with UCL Public Policy. This was a great opportunity to see first hand how policy is developed in the civil service. I worked on the allocation of the five billion pound UK Science Budget, seeing how the process of allocating such a large budget is performed and meeting many of the key stakeholders in UK Science. I learnt a great deal from working in such a different environment to academic research and enjoyed meeting a range of people from across the civil service.
A particular highlight was spending a week covering as Private Secretary for the Minister for Science and Universities. Here I worked personally with a Cabinet Minister, gaining insight into his approach and thinking, and even getting to discuss issues on the walk back from meetings! UCL Public Policy set up this and other secondments. Their close ties to BIS enabled them to set up this scheme and place UCL researchers in government positions where they can use their expertise. I now work at Oliver Wyman, a management consultancy.
I have been volunteering with FoodCycle as a hub leader. This position was advertised through the Voluntary Services newsletter. FoodCycle is a charity which takes surplus food from supermarkets, that would otherwise go to waste and cooks three-course meals for people in food poverty.
As a hub leader, I regularly lead cooking sessions, where I'm responsible for managing volunteers, finalising menus, leading the cooking in a timely fashion and making sure what we serve is healthy and nutritious. This volunteering opportunity has strengthened my confidence, organisational, team working and time management skills. And being part of a community in London, who feels that food waste and poverty should not co-exist, has been a great experience.
I have also had the opportunity to volunteer with READ international and go to Tanzania. I might be slightly partial but I feel volunteering in London has allowed me to experience the true London.
These case studies reflect the experience and opinion of the individual concerned and are provided to give a general illustration of some benefits that may be available to UCL graduate students. The actual opportunities available will depend on what is available at any given time and will vary between students, faculties and departments. These experiences should not necessarily be considered as representative of opportunities for all UCL students and not all activity mentioned forms a part of any taught syllabus or was organised through UCL.