SPITFIRE DTP Research Experience Placement Scheme 2019

The NERC Research Experience Placement (REP) scheme is aimed at addressing the shortage of individuals with quantitative skills coming into environmental science. REPs provide an opportunity for undergraduate students in quantitative disciplines to engage in active research projects, enhancing their skills and gaining valuable experience of what it is like to be a postgraduate researcher in environmental sciences. 

Placement Details

The SPITFIRE DTP is offering two 8 week placements across the Partnership to be taken over the summer period (17 June – 25 Sept 2019). REPs are open to undergraduate students from across the UK and include a salary for work on supervised staff‑defined research projects.  


The REPs will provide a salary, paid at no less than the minimum wage rate.  The hourly rate may differ depending on the location of the placement, as employment procedures and processes will vary at each institution.

Hours per week may vary based on location, but the placement will be over a minimum of 8 and maximum of 10 weeks.

Supervisors may wish to find funds to top up cost in salary and/or for a Research and Training Support Grant (RTSG) if the project requires it.  Total funding for individual REPs will be capped at £2500 and any additional costs incurred by the host organisation must be met from within research budgets.

Summary of Responsibilities

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Supervising the student throughout the course of the project;
  • Providing the appropriate training for the safe and successful completion of the project;
  • Ensuring adequate space and equipment is available to complete the project;
  • Arranging all necessary requirements for student employment status within their organisation/department/School/Faculty etc.;
  • Providing a report back to the SPITFIRE DTP operational team by Monday, 7 October 2019 jointly with the student.

Students are responsible for:

  • Arranging their accommodation while on  placement;
  • Committing to engaging fully with the research project and maintain contact with the supervisor over the full term of the project;
  • Providing the REP Final Report back to the SPITFIRE DTP Team one week after completion of the placement and no later than Monday, 7 October 2019, jointly with the Supervisor.

Application Process

Supervisors:  Supervisors from across the SPITFIRE DTP partnership should submit their proposals electronically to spitfire@southampton.ac.uk using the Supervisor Proforma. Projects will be accepted up until 12 noon Monday, 11 March 2019.

Supervisors should clearly state the amount requested and the duration of the project.

Research Projects:  Projects should:

  • Have a clearly defined objective
  • Be within the science remit of NERC: http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/portfolio/remit/
  • Be suitable for a student with a background in a different discipline to sensibly complete within the timescale of the award
  • Include more than purely a computer/modelling component i.e. some element of fieldwork, data collection, activity to give an understanding of the wider context etc.
  • Give scope for thought and initiative on the part of the student and should not use the student as a general assistant
  • Be based at an eligible UK research organisation

Projects will be verified for their suitability by the SPITFIRE DTP Operational Team. Project Supervisors will be notified of proposal acceptance by Friday, 15 March 2019, with projects advertised on the SPITFIRE DTP website as soon as approved.

N.B.  If your project is accepted, the main Supervisor or a representative must be available to evaluate the student applications/candidates between 13-17 May 2019.

Students:  Students should submit a Student Proforma, a brief CV (no more than 2 pages) and transcripts or tutor statement indicating your mark profile to spitfire@southampton.ac.uk

The following projects are now open for application:

  1. Comparative genomics for food security – targeted genome sequencing and use of big data / Mark Chapman
  2. Testing von Baer’s Law of Embryologic Divergence in Deep Time / Thomas Ezard
  3. Understanding a changing world: studying the decline of Antarctic sea ice / Maria-Vittoria Guarino
  4. Historic Changes in Coastal Flooding around the UK / Ivan Haigh
  5. Finding boundaries: using machine learning to identify sharp transitions in the Southern Ocean / Dan Jones
  6. A portable droplet microfluidic sensor for continuous monitoring of phosphate in fresh water / Xize Niu
  7. Developing Earth Observation Monitoring for Welsh Peatlands / Alan Radbourne
  8. The exploration of a Beach Vulnerability Index for England / Ian Townend

The deadline for student applications is 12 noon on Friday, 10 May 2019.  Applicants who wish to be considered before a full list of project titles have been made available are welcome to submit an application early and update their list of chosen projects as these become available.

Students will be selected by the SPITFIRE DTP Operational Team and notified by Tuesday, 21 May 2019.

Eligibility of Students:  Selected students must meet all the following criteria to be eligible for the REP Scheme:

Student applicants must be:

  • studying for a degree in a quantitative discipline outside of NERC’s scientific remit (e.g. mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics):  http://www.nerc.ac.uk/research/portfolio/remit/
  • applying for a placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree
  • in the middle of their first degree (or integrated Masters) studies
  • expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree
  • eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (i.e. UK, EU or right to remain in the UK)

Please note that in order for applications to be considered, the following must be submitted to spitfire@soton.ac.uk:

  • REP Student Proforma – Application
  • CV (no more than 2 pages)
  • Transcript or Tutor statement indicating your mark profile


For any further information and guidance please contact spitfire@southampton.ac.uk.

Useful Downloads

REP Student Proforma - Application

REP Final Report