University of Birmingham Undergraduate Research Experience scheme

The University of Birmingham Undergraduate Research Experience scheme offers financial support for undergraduates to undertake work experience or a research placement in the summer vacation.


Applications for the 2013-14 academic year are now closed. 

You are encouraged to read all the guidance and information available before submitting your application. If you have any questions or require further information, you can contact the Careers Network Internship Officer responsible for managing the bursary for which you are applying. Their contact details are provided in the application guidance.

Once the application deadline has passed, all applications received on-line will be assessed by Careers Network staff. Applicants who are successful in passing this first assessment stage will then be invited to attend a short panel interview and to deliver a five minute presentation, training for which will be provided. If you pass both of these stages, you may then be granted a bursary.


Short listed candidates will be invited to an interview, where they will give a short presentation on their proposed research experience, and will be asked some interview-style competency-based questions.

This is a chance to practice your interview skills and competency-based questions are common in graduate recruitment (especially with larger employers) as they prompt you to give evidence of the required competencies for the job from your experiences and help the employer judge how you will demonstrate this in the job. They are questions such as:

  • Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with other team members to achieve a goal 
  • Describe a time when you have had to manage a number of tasks at the same time. (How did you decide on the priorities? What were the challenges?)

A useful structure to use when answering competency-based questions is CAR: 

  • Circumstances: briefly describe the situation 
  • Action: talk specifically about what you did 
  • Result: talk about the outcome

Make sure that you are: 

  • Focused - listen carefully to the question and keep your answer focused and not too general or vague. 
  • Positive - it's not a time to be modest; describe any contributions, level of responsibility and achievements in a positive way using different recent examples for each question 
  • Truthful - exaggeration will catch you out as interviewers are trained to spot this and will ask further probing questions to establish the facts!

An example answer to a competency-based question:

Tell me about a time when you had to work closely with other team members to achieve a goal

‘I was recently involved in a group research project as part of my course, where I worked within a small team to research and present a topic over a period of several months. The team was drawn from several different degree programmes, all of whom had different course commitments, meaning that we could not all allocate the same amount of time to the project each week [Circumstance]. Having decided who would be responsible for which aspects of the project, I suggested that we meet at the end of each week so that we could all feedback to the rest of the team on our progress, and let everyone know what our other commitments were over the next few weeks. By communicating closely with each other, I was able to help my colleagues when they had heavy course commitments by doing extra work on the group research project, and they likewise helped me when my workload was at its heaviest [Action]. As a result, we completed the project ahead of schedule and received a good mark for our presentation [Result].

Who can apply

The scheme is open to all first-, second- and penultimate-year undergraduate students. You must source your own research placement / experience.

Support available

The scheme provides you with a bursary of up to £500 to cover the costs of undertaking research experience in the summer vacation.

You will also have access to mentoring and post placement support from Doctoral Researchers, as well as attendance at the “Taking it to the next Degree Workshop” about studying for a PhD.

The amount you apply for will depend on the individual circumstances of your proposed work experience. Expenses funded include:

  • Accommodation costs
  • Travel expenses
  • Living costs and utilities bills
  • Insurance

Previous winners

See details of previous winners of our work experience funding schemes and their experiences.