Guidance for Employers

The BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) is a consortium between the Universities of Reading, Lancaster, Southampton and Surrey along with Rothamsted Research. We provide doctoral (PhD) level training to postgraduates across the Food Security subject area with funding from the BBSRC.

What is the PIPS programme?

Professional Internships for PhD Students (PIPS) aim to provide BBSRC funded PhD students with the opportunity to carry out a non-academic work experience placement during their PhD. Such experience is important both to help early career researchers understand the context of their research and to expose them to the range of opportunities available to them after they graduate.

What types of internships are suitable?

BBSRC anticipates that the PIPS programme will be used to provide students with experiences in a wide range of workplaces.

For all internships, the experience should not be directly related to the student’s PhD project. PIPS are intended to help students understand how their research and professional skills can be used in a more broadly relevant context. Research roles in academia or research institutes are not appropriate, even in an area unrelated to the student’s PhD project.

Internships should ideally be discrete projects that are well planned and managed. They should provide experience at a level appropriate for a postgraduate student.

Examples of different types of internships include:


  • a short desk-based research project
  • review or analysis of manufacturing, processing or production techniques
  • non-research roles such as
    • marketing, publishing or sales
    • business development or project management
    • legal offices
    • internal audit or consultancy

Teaching – in schools, using the Researchers in Residence scheme1, or through other mechanisms

Policy – developing policy or working in a related setting, such as a government department, local authority, non-departmental public body, professional association, charity, research funder or medical organisation (such as NHS Primary Care Trust)

Media – a wide variety of roles are possible here that help students understand the wider societal context of their research. Such internships could include working in science communication roles or other roles in:

  • press office
  • science publishing company
  • zoo, museum or botanic garden.

 When should the internships take place?

The student’s in our current cohort are indicating they would like to do their placement during the third year of their studentship. This would be between Oct 2014 and Oct 2015. There is flexibility in the timings of the placement, this is to accommodate the requirements of the host organisation but also to avoid disruption to the students PhD project.

 How will the internships be funded?

Each student has been award a BBSRC Training Grant. The students will be in receipt of their normal studentship stipend during the internship so would incur no direct costs to the host organisation.  Should the host employer be able to contribute to any add-on costs associated with requirements for additional travel or accommodation it would be appreciated.

What will the host organisation gain from the PIPS?

The benefits of the PIPS scheme to the organisation hosting the student include:

  • establishing, maintaining or developing collaborations with academic partners
  • developing links with specific research areas, including bringing the expertise and experience of research trained individuals to policy analysis and development
  • working with a highly skilled individual on projects that might not otherwise be undertaken, such as a short research or business development project
  • providing staff with experience of line management over a short, defined period
  • renewing the enthusiasm of staff (e.g. teachers, policymakers, project managers).

Information taken from the BBSRC website: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/web/FILES/Guidelines/dtp-faqs.pdf