Funding for NERC studentships


Undergraduate research experience placements (REPs) 2024

The NERC REPs scheme aims to encourage students to consider a career in environmental sciences through funding to support paid summer placements for undergraduate students.

They also enable Doctoral Training Partnerships (DTPs) and Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) to address:

  • demographic and diversity-related challenges
  • the quantitative skills gap in environmental sciences

In addition, REPs encourage undergraduates from any discipline to consider a career in environmental science.

REPs are currently supported only in institutions involved in NERC DTPs and CDTs.

Each DTP or CDT will have flexibility within their REPs allocation to decide the balance of focus on demographic underrepresentation or the quantitative skills gap.

Addressing underrepresentation and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) are areas of particular focus for NERC. Therefore, NERC welcomes focus on applications from student groups that are typically underrepresented in high education pathways.


Funding for a number of REPs is made available to each NERC DTP and CDT annually.

Each eligible DTP or CDT will be awarded £25,250 through the REPs 2024 allocation. This funding can be used flexibly to support a minimum of six placements

Each REP can be between six to 10 weeks, during the summer vacation.

Where necessary, they must receive a contribution towards research and training expenses during the placement. Additional funding beyond this amount must be found from other sources, including the department.

NERC encourages using any remaining funds to support:

  • additional REPs
  • cohort activities
  • development opportunities for REP students

REP students should be made an employee of the hosting organisation and receive a salary for the duration of the placement. Students must be paid at least the appropriate minimum wage rate (national living wage for those 21 and over).

Placements may be undertaken as full or part-time to allow more flexibility for students.


Eligibility of hosting institution

All DTP2s are eligible to host REPs and CDTs in years two and three of their recruitment rounds will be eligible to host REPs.

Eligibility of participating undergraduate students

Students are subject to eligibility criteria to be able to apply for NERC REPs and must be:

  • undertaking their first undergraduate degree studies (or integrated Masters). Note: students in their final year who have graduated and no longer have student status at the time of the placement start are not eligible
  • eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding

Please note this guidance should be read in conjunction with the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) training grant terms and conditions and guidance documents.

Research project criteria

Proposed REP student projects must:

  • have a clearly defined objective
  • be within the science remit of NERC
  • be feasible for a student to complete within the timescale of the award
  • include more than purely a computer or modelling component. That is, some element of fieldwork, data collection, activity to give an understanding of the wider context including participation in lab or team meetings, networking and training and so on
  • 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

Responsibilities of the DTP or CDT lead organisation

The DTP or CDT lead organisation is responsible for administering REPs hosted within their partnership. Specific responsibilities include:

  • coordinating the REPs award process across the DTP or CDT partners and advertising across all relevant partners
  • ensuring that opportunities are publicised and advertised to all relevant groups and recruitment policies are followed. DTPs and CDTs should utilise and where appropriate, implement the diversity, equity and
    inclusion best practice principles in doctoral recruitment
    for the recruitment of REP students
  • ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made for students that need them during the interview or recruitment process
  • ensuring the application process and placements are as accessible as possible
  • ensuring that students complete the REP reporting form within the required timeframe
  • collating financial information for each REP and reporting this to NERC
  • collating the collected diversity data (mandatory) relevant to each stage of the recruitment process and reporting this to NERC
  • ensuring that students complete the REP reporting form
  • disseminating REPs funds to host organisations as appropriate following payment from NERC
  • DTPs or CDTs may wish to consider positive action such as ring-fenced funding which is allowable where there is evidence of under representation or disadvantage. It is the responsibility of the training grant holder (the director or other lead) to ensure that such action is compliant and delivered in line with the relevant equality legislation. (NERC or UKRI are not able to provide such advice)

Responsibilities of the hosting organisation

The host organisation is responsible for:

  • selecting a suitable undergraduate student and ensuring eligibility (see student eligibility requirements above) and confirming their eligibility using the UKRI criteria listed under the ‘eligibility’ section
  • ensuring the REPs project falls within the NERC remit and is of suitable quality
  • ensuring that appropriate supervisory arrangements are in place
  • ensuring each student has a PhD student mentor from the DTP or CDT
  • ensuring that the application processes used are inclusive and accessible
  • ensuring that reasonable adjustments are made for students that need them while undertaking placements
  • ensuring that the placements are carried out in accordance with all applicable ethical, legal and regulatory requirements including but not limited to relevant provisions of the:
    • General Data Protection Regulation
    • Data Protection Act 2018
    • Bribery Act 2010
    • Fraud Act 2006
    • Equality Act 2010
    • Modern Slavery Act 2015
  • the identification, protection and exploitation of any intellectual property rights arising from the work
  • ensuring that all facilities, agreements about access and collaborations necessary for the work are obtained before the work commences and can be ensured through the period of the work
  • ensuring that all costs awarded by NERC for the REPs are used and accounted for appropriately
  • ensuring that a PhD interview (where appropriate) is offered to all students who completed REPs within the DTP or CDT


The student will be required to complete a brief report on the outcome of the placement. The DTP or CDT is required to report the financial information about salary and expenses and the mandatory diversity data from all stages of the recruitment process.

Last updated: 4 June 2024

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