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Skills & careers

Policy internships scheme

The Policy Internships Scheme provides the opportunity for doctoral students funded by the research councils of UK Research and Innovation to work for three months in one of a selected group of highly influential policy organisations.

Next funding opportunity:

  • This call opens on 14 July 2020
  • Closing at 16:00 on 10 September 2020


The research councils organise the Policy Internships Scheme for current research council-funded doctoral students to work at host partner organisations on one or more policy topics relevant to both the student and the host. The student will be expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event, or equivalent piece of work.

Internships are available with a number of parliamentary departments, government departments and non-governmental bodies, learned societies and other organisations.

The host partners for the 2020/21 competition round are:


Internships are financially supported by the research councils and host partners. Doctoral stipend and fees should continue to be paid by the research organisation throughout the three month internship period. Where necessary, students can also claim for eligible travel and accommodation costs incurred during the internship up to a maximum limit of £2,400 per student. The funding details will depend on the applicant’s research council and the chosen host partner.


This scheme is open to doctoral students funded by the Research Councils of UK Research and Innovation (AHRC, BBSRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC, NERC, STFC and including UKRI CDTs in Artificial Intelligence). Internships will take place during 2021 and students must be able to start their internship before the end of their funded period of study.

How to apply

Applicants should complete the online application form. Applicants must also upload two documents as part of their application:

  1. a signed funding and permissions form (see below)
  2. a policy briefing.

For further information, applicants are advised to read the guidance and host partner information documents provided below.

Assessment of applications is a two stage process: there will be an assessment of the written application and applicants successful at this stage will be invited to interview. The application process will be completed at both stages by the host partner.

Please note, only one application can be submitted by each applicant. The applicant must specify within their application which host partner they wish to undertake an internship with and bear in mind any organisation specific guidance available in the applicant guidance document when preparing their application.

Further information

Further information regarding this scheme is available in the applicant guidance available below, on the individual research council websites, and from host partners.



Previous Policy Internships competition rounds

All Policy Interns are required to complete a feedback form within one month of their internship end date. Interns will be provided with a link to an online feedback form once their internship has been confirmed.


The Policy Internships Scheme is being coordinated by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) on behalf of all Research Councils. Questions about the scheme should be addressed to the NERC Talent and Skills Team: researchcareers@nerc.ukri.org.