Sources of funding
Generally speaking there are 3 types of sources:
- The Host Supervisor (including their research group)
- A Third-Party Source (#)
- Personal Funding from the student
Naturally, it is often the case that a student undertaking a UROP might be covering their living expenses form one or more of the above sources.
This page deal with Third Party Sources of Funding.
A "Third-Party", for the purposes of UROP, is commonly a "scheme" which makes available (by application) one or more bursaries (sometimes referred to as scholarships or awards) for the specific purpose of supporting students with the additional living expenses associated with undertaking a research experience (sometimes referred to as a vacation research internship or something similar) in the vacation/holiday period during an undergraduate degree.
However, some potential third-party sources of funding are not structured as a "scheme", rather they are a "discretionary" source of funding, i.e. an individual is invited to make a case as to why that third-party would be interested in assisting them with their living costs.
Schemes and Discretionary Sources are governed by specific eligibility criteria and normally have their own unique application process (perhaps a paper or online form), deadline and decision making timeframe.
While there are many "schemes" (but fewer "discretionary" sources) you will need to pick out those (including discovering opportunities which are not listed on this website) which are relevant to you.
Check all the information on an individual "scheme" or "discretionary source" thoroughly, especially deadlines!
# The "scheme" managed centrally by Imperial College for Imperial College Undergraduates (to make matters a little bit more complex), also include bursaries which are provided for by two sponsors (e.g. 50%:50% Host Supervisor/Dept:College).
All third-party sources of funding would normally require the student and/or supervisor to submit a report of some description.
Imperial College UROP bursary scheme for Imperial College undergraduates (various)
Imperial College UROP Bursay scheme (for UROPs to be undertaken in summer 2023)
Full details on the 2023 scheme is now available on the Student Financial Support website.
Imperial College undergraduates (full degree programmes ONLY) will normally be considered (subject to eligibility criteria) for one of the following award schemes:
- Presidential UROP Scholarships for students of Black heritage (Home students only)
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Vacation Bursary.
- Faculty of Engineering UROP Awards
- Imperial College UROP Awards
- [other schemes may also be part of this process]
There is a single application procedure for ALL the above awards. The proposed supervisor is normally required to submit a form to support the student's application.
Students will be considered for all the Awards they are eligible for.
Please note that a student is not required to have registered their UROP with the Student Records team before they apply for a bursary by this route. Registering a UROP is a separate process and can be done nearer the summer (see the UROP website).
The College's thanks goes to the various sponsors for continuing to support UROP at Imperial College London.
UK research councils
Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)
The BBSRC research experience placement bursary programme is administered by participating universities by selected BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnerships who are responsible for advertising the opportunities. Imperial College is a participating university where it is administered by the Dept of Life Sciences.
Please contact your chosen supervisor to enquire whether they are willing to nominate you for a BBSRC Research Experience Placement award. Supervisors can contact the relevant DTP administrator in their dept as to the nomination/selection procedure.
Natural Environment Research Council
Funds for undergraduate summer vacation research experiences are now managed by selected NERC Centres for Doctoral Training who are responsible for advertising opportunities. Where Imperial College is involved the relevant CDT will be aware of the availability and criteria.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Please refer to Imperial College UROP Bursary Scheme for Imperial College Undergraduates
There are other sources of funding, and where relevant to your research area your supervisor may have some knowledge of already.
- various national bodies for academic disciplines (i.e The Institute of X, Royal Society of Z, the British Council for Y) may offer limited bursary opportunities.
- Industry contacts associated with the work of the host research group might be a source of financial support.
It is worth investigating these options with a supervisor who offers you a placement.
Here are a few examples of websites which provide listings or provide information about specific funding opportunities. It is not exhaustive so be prepared to explore other avenues:
- The Society of Biology has a VERY useful webpage which identifies various schemes (some of which are also listed below) in the field of life sciences and medicine. However, it is not kept up-to-date so soem of the links do not function. For example, the British Society for Cell Biology link should actulaly go to : https://bscb.org/competitions-awardsgrants/studentships/ and the British Society for Plant Pathology is actually this link: https://www.bspp.org.uk/funds/vacation
- Royal Society of Chemistry: https://www.rsc.org/ScienceAndTechnology/Funding/undergraduate-bursary.asp
- Microbiology Society: Harry Smith Vacation scholarships.
- London Mathematical Society provides summer research bursaries. Please note that these normally require a contribution from the host supervisor/department so be sure to discuss this with any potential supervisor before you apply. Imperial College students have benefitted from these Awards in the past.
- The Mary Lister McCammon Summer Research Fellowship. This is a scheme run by several London universities to support opportunities in the field of mathematics for women students.
- Royal Astronomical Society: https://ras.ac.uk/awards-and-grants/undergraduate-summer-bursaries
- Universities Federation for Animal Welfare has an Animal Welfare Student Scholarship scheme which aims to encourage students to develop their interests in animal welfare and their abilities for animal welfare research.
- UK Pathological Society (Understanding Disease) normally has a number of bursaries available, including for vacation placements at UK universities. There are normally two application deadlines during the year.
- Animal Free Research UK (Non-Animal Medical Research). This organisation funded a UROP in the dept of Bioengineering in summer 2018 (see their website for insight).
- Society for Endocrinology has a summer studentships scheme (normally with a March deadline)
- Royal Microscopical Society normally has a small bursary competition.
- British Society for Neuroendocrinology normally advertises funding for research internships if you are a member (for at least 6 months beforehand)
- The Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine (Summer Studentships): the key here is that an application must be sponsored by a current or past Lister Fellow. See the website for details.
- (we think this is only for students domiciled in Scotland currently studying at a university in Scotland) The Carnegie Trust.
- While not for internal UROPs nor other UK research experiences, any Imperial College female undergraduates in FoNS and Earth Sciences thinking of undertaking an international research placement ought to look at the internal Stevenson Fund.
Wellcome Trust biomedical vacation scholarships
Updated: October 2022
Click here concerning the 2022 competition (external website). The website is normally updated by early December for the following year.
Please note that there will be no Awards available for research experiences at Imperial College London via this bursary scheme in the summer of 2023, and this is not expected to change for 2024. In 2020 the Wellcome Trust made significant changes to the way this scheme works and Imperial College was not included in the list of participating universities.
However, Imperial College undergraduates might find opportunities at participating UK universities. View the Wellcome Trust website for participating universities.
The scheme will cease after 2024.