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Undergraduate Research Opportunities and Funding

Working in a laboratory allows students to experience how science progresses in the real world.

It is particularly useful for those thinking about working in the field of research; not only offering a chance to develop practical skills, but also providing an opportunity to work alongside established scientists, meet new people and share ideas.

The information provided here is largely for Undergraduates. For those seeking funding for an MPhil or PhD in Cambridge, please visit the Graduate School of Life Sciences website.

General Information

All individual bursary schemes have their own specific eligibility criteria; it is wise to read these carefully.

Application deadlines vary, but if you are considering applying to a scheme abroad, be mindful of the time it takes to obtain a visa, especially if you are planning to visit the USA.

Most schemes are highly competitive.


Funding, Scholarships and Competitions

The following is far from an exhaustive list of the available research funding, but gives an idea of the opportunities available. If you are interested in attending a particular institution it is always worth checking if they run their own programmes.

The British Society for Plant Pathology (BSPP) 1 April

An undergraduate vacation bursary open to all BSPP members that will provide modest support for work on specified research projects during the summer vacation.

Further details can be found here

The Genetics Society 31 March

Grants for undergraduate students interested in gaining research experience in genetics by carrying out a research project over the long vacation, usually prior to their final year.

Further details can be found here

British Division of the
International Academy of Pathology (BDIAP)

End of May

Support for training in pathology in the UK including:
  • BDIAP Scholarships for undergraduate elective or vacation studies.
  • BDIAP Grants for undergraduate BSc studentships, inlcuding support for medical students with an intercalculated year.
Further details can be found here
Kidney Research UK

27 November 2015


Training fellowships available with the purpose of enabling medical graduates to gain specialised training in renal research.

Grants for medical students, with an interest in renal medicine, taking an intercalculated year. applications open in January.

Further details can be found here

Microbiology Society Applications open on 1 December 2015

The Harry Smith Vacation Studentships are available for undergraduate students to work on microbiological research projects during the summer vacation.

Further details can be found here

The Wellcome Trust Mid-February

Awards for promising undergraduate students to provide hands-on experience of research during the summer vacation.

Further details can be found here
The Sanger Institute 7 December 2015

The Sangar Institute Prize gives undergraduate students the opportunity to experience genomic research for three months in a Sanger Institute Laboratory.

Also sandwich-year, summer and work experience placements available via application throughout the year. 

Further details can be found here

Biochemical Society

24 February 2016

Grants are available for undergraduate students looking to carry out a summer lab placement.

Further details can be found here

John Innes Centre 18 January 2016

The John Innes Centre, The Sainsbury Laboratory and The Genome Analysis Centre provide UK and non-UK students with the opportunity to spend a summer on their research programme in plant, microbial and computational biology.

Further details can be found here

Experimental Psychology Society

1 March 2016

This scheme finances a number of bursaries to support undergraduate students studying psychology during the summer vacation immediately prior to their final year.

Further details can be found here
The Physiological Society 31 January 2016

Vacation Studentships giving undergraduate students the opportunity to undertake a physiology research project  over their summer break.

Further details can be found here

Action on Hearing Loss

Applications for the will be announced in early 2016

A summer studentship scheme aiming to introduce undergraduate students to hearing, deafness and tinnitus research in the UK.

Further details can be found here

Society for Endocrinology

11 March 2016

A grant to assist undergraduate students in gaining research experience by working in a research environment.

Further details can be found here

Amgen Scholars Programmes 1 February 2016

For undergraduate students who have not completed their bachelor or first degree, providing hands-on research experience culminating in a symposium.

Details of the European Programme can be found here

Details of the Japan Programme can be found here

The Vienna Biocenter Summer School 31 January

A Summer School consisting of a research project, lectures and symposium for students who have completed at least two years of university study.

Further details can be found here

The Zurich Biology Undergraduate Summer School (BUSS) March

For undergraduates in life sciences to perform a significant research project.

Further details can be found here

EPFL (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne) Summer Research Program January

A summer research fellowship for students who would like to pursue a career in Life Sciences. 

Further details can be found here

UNIL (Universite de Lausanne) Summer Undergraduate Research Programme 31 January 2016

Aimed at undergraduate students who have completed the second or third year of their university degree in any biological or medical field.

Further details can be found here

HHMI (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) Janelia Research Campus Undergraduate Scholars Program 7 January 2016

A 10 week summer program for scientists, engineers, and mathematicians with significant research experience.

 Further details can be found here

SENS Research Foundation Summer Scholars Program February

Giving undergraduate students the opportunity to conduct biomedical research to combat diseases of aging, such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, and macular degeneration.

Further details can be found here

HSCI (Harvard Stem Cell Institute) Internship Program (HIP) February

Undergraduate internship program for those interested in a summer research experience in stem cell biology.

Further details can be found here

Caltech Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) 22 February

This program introduces students to research under the guidance of seasoned research mentors at Caltech and JPL.

Further details can be found here

The Kupcinet-Getz International Science School (Weizmann Institute of Science) 15 January 2016

A summer school for undergraduate students to take on a research project in mathematics, physics, chemistry or the life sciences.

Further details can be found here

British Veterinary Association (BVA) Harry Steele-Bodger Memorial Travel Scholarship April 2016

The scholarship is intended to assist a visit to a veterinary or agricultural school, research institute or some other course of study approved by the BVA.

Further details can be found here

Sankara Eye Foundation September, December, February and May

Clinical Volunteering and Clinical Observership at Sankara Eye Hospital in India.

Further details can be found here

The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) 26th Febraury 2016

A Summer vacation scholarship for undergraduate students with a weekly allowance to complete a research project in biology, biochemistry, bioinformatics, biomedical engineering, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, physics and statistics.

Further details can be found here

Imperial College London - Faculty of Medicine 01 March 2016

Revolutions in Biomedical Summer Programme offering up to two scholarships for the programme,
which will cover the full tuition fees in addition to accommodation and
reasonable travel and living expenses.

Further details can be found here


Funding within the School of Biological Sciences
For specific departments at Cambridge University, please visit their individual websites or see some examples below.

Balfour Fund and Studentship

January (next available award for graduate entry October 2017-18)

The furtherance of original research in Biology, especially Animal Morphology.

Further details can be found here

Balfour-Browne Fund 18 April 2016

Grants for research advancing the study of entomology.

Further details can be found here

J Arthur Ramsay Fund 23 May 2016

Scholarship to work in the research laboratories of the Department of Zoology during the summer vacation.

Further details can be found here

S P H Johnson Summer Vacation Bursaries Early May

Summer vacation bursaries which must be to be supervised by a Pricipal Investigator in the Genetics department.

Further details can be found here

J.R.S. Fincham Bursary for Summer Vacation Research Late May

Limited support for students undertaking vacation research, in the Department of Genetics or elsewhere who intend to take part II Genetics. 

Further details can be found here


Finding Other Sources of Funding

Your project supervisor or Director of Studies may know of other sources of funding. It could be worthwhile to ask them about:

  • various national bodies for academic disciplines (Royal Societies, British Councils etc)
  • industry contacts associated with the project area you intend to embark on

For example:

Whilst without financial reward, volunteering can be incredibly fulfiling for you as an individual and can change the lives of those involved with the organisation you volunteer for.