Student FAQs

1. What type of subjects do I need to be studying to apply?

2. What happens if I am awarded a Nuffield Research Placement?

3. What sort of projects could I work on?

4. How long will the project last?

5. Where will the placement be?

6. Will I get paid?

7. How will the placement benefit me?

8. How do I apply?

9. What makes a good project?

10. What might I do to make the most of the placement?

11. What is the deadline for applications?

12. What is a Gold CREST Award?

13. What about health, safety and insurance?

14. Can I apply if I go to an independent school?

15. Can I apply if I go to a boarding school?

1. What type of subjects do I need to be studying to apply?

You need to be in your first year of A-levels, AS-levels, BTEC, Scottish Highers, or the International Baccalaureate.  Placements are available in all areas of science, technology, engineering and maths, so you must be studying at least one related subject.

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2. What happens if I am successful in my application for a Nuffield Research Placement?

You will work with a scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician who will be your supervisor.  Your supervisor will explain what the project involves, what contribution your work will make and what you might aim for. He or she will teach you any new techniques that you might need, but the idea is that you learn by doing things for yourself.

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3. What sort of projects could I work on?

Past projects have involved asteroids, lasers, bottlenose dolphins and everything in between. If you’re interested in it, we’ll do our best to find you a project. And if you’re not sure what you’re interested in, we’ll help you find out. For some examples of previous projects, click here.

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4. How long will the project last?

Projects run for 4-6 weeks and take place during the summer holidays. Before you apply, you should check that you will be available for a minimium of 4 consecutive weeks during the school summer holiday period.

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5. Where will the placement be?

Projects take place in universities, research institutes and companies.  Your local coordinator will do their best to find a placement close to where you live, provided you do not go to a boarding school. For students who board at their school, please seek further information.

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6. Will I get paid?

Your placement won't cost you anything. If you have to pay to travel to your placement then you’ll get that money back up to a maximum of £300. And depending on your family circumstances, you may be eligible to receive a payment of £80 for each week of the placement. Your local coordinator will tell you whether you are eligible.

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7. How will the placement benefit me?

Your placement will teach you a lot about your chosen subject and about the world of work.  Talking about your placement will help with university and job applications, and may help you decide what career you want to go into.

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8. How do I apply?

  • Step 1: Have a look through this section of our website.

Read the leaflet from your Regional Coordinator carefully, think about the possible benefits to you and decide whether or not you would like to apply for a placement.

  • Step 2: Check at home

Make sure that you will be able to set aside 4 – 6 weeks in July and August for a placement without clashing with holidays or other arrangements. You should assume that it will be impossible to fit in a holiday during a project.

  • Step 3: Talk to your teacher 

Tell your teacher you are interested in applying. Think about what subjects you are interested in and the types of research project you might like to do.

  • Step 4: Get in touch with your Regional Coordinator if you have specific questions

The coordinator will be able to talk you through the application process and the sort of project you might do. If you need further information or advice then you can speak with your local Coordinator.

  • Step 5: Prepare and submit your online application

Complete the online application form: describe why you are interested in the programme and how you would benefit from a placement. Don't forget to provide the full name and email address for the teacher who will be writing your reference. Once you have given a valid email address, your teacher should receive an automated message from the system which invites them to login and complete your reference. You will also be asked to download a consent form which needs to be filled in and signed by your parent/guardian. The completed form should be scanned, or photographed on your phone, and the image file uploaded in the 'Step 6 Consent' section of your online application. In order to be considered for a placement, you must ensure that all sections of the online form have been completed, including uploading the consent form, and the teacher reference has been written. Once everything is in place, you should notice that the status of your application changes to 'Complete' when you login to your account.

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9. What makes a good project?

A project should allow you scope to use your initiative. The criteria for selecting projects are that they should:

  • have clear scientific or technological content;

  • contribute to the work of the host organisation;

  • be well defined, having a clear outcome in mind from the beginning; 

  • give students a chance to work alongside practising scientists; 

  • allow scope for initiative on the part of the student.

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10. What might I do to make the most of the placement?

You may be able to exploit the knowledge and skills from your placement when you get back into school. For example you could use your report as evidence to add to a key skills portfolio. You may also have results that could feed into your coursework. You will certainly have something interesting to talk about at a job or University interview.

You can consider:

  • writing an article for the school newsletter or local newspaper;
  • talking to other post-16 students;
  • taking part of a lesson linked to your project; talk to the school science club;
  • giving a presentation to pupils in KS4, KS3 or a local primary school;
  • giving a presentation to parents during a school open evening.

Every year some students exhibit their projects at the BA CREST Science Fair held at the Royal Society in London. In many years some students have won awards which have then taken them to international science fairs.

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11. What is the deadline for applications?

The deadlines vary from region to region. The Regional Coordinators are responsible for setting the deadlines and you will need to contact your nearest one to find out. Click here to see a list of deadlines in different regions.

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12. What is a Gold CREST Award?

You may choose to working towards a Gold CREST (CREativity in Science and Technology) Award while on your placement. This is a nationally recognised scheme to reward Science & Technology project work. To achieve a Gold CREST award you must work on a project for 100 hours at a high level of science. Nuffield Research Placements usually fulfill the criteria and so you are encouraged to submit your work for an award.

See The British Science Association website for further details.

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13. What about health, safety and insurance?

Separate guidance notes on Health and Safety and Insurance are available from Regional Co-ordinators. When you complete the Registration Form you will be asked to indicate that you are fully aware of Insurance and Health and Safety issues including appropriate risk assessments.

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14. Can I apply if I go to an independent school?

Students from all schools and colleges in the UK are eligible to apply to the scheme. However, we are particularly keen to encourage students with no family history of Higher Education, or who have not had the opportunity to participate in an enrichment activity of this nature before to apply. A small number of places on the scheme are awarded to independent students each year.

If you are from an independent school and are accepted onto the scheme you will need to source your own project. This should be within the region where your school is located, as otherwise we are not able to cover travel costs. Please note: you should not start looking for a project until you have been informed that your application is successful.

15. Can I apply if I go to a boarding school?

The Nuffield Research Placements programmes encourages all students to apply including those registered at boarding schools. Our policy on students who board during the school term is as follows:

  • students must apply through the region that their school is registered in
  • students must enter their home address as the address they reside at outside of school time and not their school
  • students must inform the coordinator for their school’s region via email on completion of their application

If the student is successfully shortlisted for a placement our coordinator will then have a discussion with the student about the viability of doing a placement in the region of their school. If this is not possible we look to accommodate the student as best possible but nothing can be guaranteed.

The Nuffield Foundation is unable to organise or cover the costs of accommodation for students during their placements. We would recommend that students approach their school for support.

Our coordinators work closely with all schools and colleges in their region to develop long lasting relationships and work with teachers in these institutions to promote Nuffield Research Placements to their students.

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Also on the web

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