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ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences

Four men and two women smiling and lined up in front of a blackboard

The aim of the ESRC Research Experience Placement (REP) is to encourage and facilitate participation in postgraduate studies in the field of humanities and social sciences.

About the scheme

The Cambridge DTP is committed to enabling students from diverse backgrounds to study at Cambridge and move on to a career in the social sciences. We know that some early career social scientists have the ability for postgraduate research but may face challenges in pursuing this. Research Experience Placements can help by offering experience of postgraduate research and the opportunity to understand more about what it takes to succeed.

The ESRC Research Experience Placements Scheme is designed to enable aspiring social scientists to spend time working with researchers at Cambridge and developing their personal and professional skills. At the end of a placement, you will have acquired

  • knowledge about social science research methods;
  • hands-on experience of doing research;
  • a better understanding of how to prepare an application for postgraduate study;
  • skills and confidence that will enhance your CV.

What is offered?

The Cambridge DTP will support four students in summer 2023. Placements can be either full-time or part-time. Each Research Experience Placement student will work on a designated research project alongside established researchers at Cambridge; in addition, you will follow a training programme with sessions on social science research methods, professional skills and personal development, and guidance on postgraduate options within the Cambridge DTP and how to apply.

During the placement, you will live in college accommodation and experience life as a graduate student in Cambridge.  The Research Experience Placements programme will introduce you to the DTP community and the day-to-day experience of Cambridge life.

A range of projects will be offered for Research Experience Placements – full details will be provided when the application call opens, so that you can decide which one is best suited to your interests. While working on your project, you will receive regular supervision from your academic team. At the end of the programme, you will be asked to write a short report on the research you have done and to share this with fellow students.

Each Research Experience Placements student will receive:

  • A stipend equivalent to the Real Living Wage (currently £10.90 per hour), paid monthly, for a 35 hour week, for the six-week programme. This is intended to offset any loss from other paid summer employment opportunities.
  • Free-of-charge accommodation provided by Gonville & Caius College. This programme aims to give you a postgraduate experience and postgraduate students are usually housed in accommodation based outside the College grounds.
  • Reimbursement of your travel expenses to and from Cambridge at the start and end of the programme;
  • Six weeks of research project experience, research training, postgraduate study information, and mentoring;
  • One-to-one consultation with the DTP Training Manager;
  • Supervision and training as part of your research project;
  • Advice and guidance in preparation for the placement.

Who are we looking for?

If you are interested in social science and thinking about a research career, but you have experienced disruption or disadvantage in your academic career so far, we want to hear from you.

We particularly welcome applications from students from groups that are currently under-represented within the Cambridge DTP.  This includes mature students, Black British, British Pakistani, British Bangladeshi, and British Indian students.  We particularly encourage applications from undergraduates currently studying at higher education institutions where research experience may not be as readily available as in more research-intensive institutions.  You can check if your instution appears on the Sutton Trust 30 list of most highly selective universities.

You do not have to come from one of these groups, but we are particularly interested in attracting prospective students from these groups.

We are looking for students who can demonstrate academic potential, a genuine enthusiasm for the social sciences, and commitment to the Research Experience Placements project.

If you would find it difficult to commit to a period of full-time research in Cambridge, please let us know on your application as we are able to offer part-time alternatives.

Applicants will be assessed competitively, on the basis of both academic achievement and academic potential in the context of their education to date. In the circumstances where all other things are equal, priority will then be given to those who are from groups that are currently underrepresented and/or who have experienced some form of educational disadvantage, using positive action under the Equality Act 2010 where appropriate. The University will monitor the impact of any positive action taken and intends to use positive action only where appropriate. 

What is expected of you:

If you apply and are successful, we will expect you to join the University for six weeks on a full-time, or an equivalent commitment on a part-time basis, and to participate fully in the Research Experience Placements programme. This will include:

  • fulfilling the project requirements;
  • attending all training and development sessions offered as part of the programme;
  • engaging with the other Research Experience Placements students and working as a team;
  • providing feedback at the time, and after the scheme;
  • keeping in touch with us to let us know how your postgraduate career progresses;
  • following codes of conduct in both the Department and the College that hosts you.

You will need to be able to regularly access the internet prior to the course at certain stipulated times, in order to access some of the learning materials that will be provided before the programme, and to submit evaluations after the placement ends. Please let us know in your application if this is likely to be difficult for you.

Further information

To find out more information, why not join us at one of our webinars