Apply for an NPIF Internship

The London NERC DTP is offering funding for two 3-month internships as part of the UK National Productivity Investment Fund.

These fully-funded 3-month placements are intended to enable and encourage PhD students to explore impact from their research and develop links between academia and industry, sharing knowledge and skills, and increasing mobility and flow of talent between these sectors. The placement projects all include links with the UK Industrial Strategy.

Please be aware that due to the current COVID-19 pandemic, these internships have been made available for remote working. In the event that restrictions have been eased, we will look at working with Willis Research Network to revise this.

Available Projects

Defra Science-Policy Internship

UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) Logo
Organisation: UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra)
Supervisor:  Amanna Giles (Chief Scientific Advisor’s Office Expert Advice Team)
Proposed Start Date: 01/12/2020

About Defra: Defra are the UK government department responsible for safeguarding our natural environment, supporting world-leading food and farming industry, and sustaining a thriving rural economy. Defra’s broad remit means they play a major role in people’s day-to-day life, from the food we eat to the air we breathe, to the water we drink. Defra’s priorities include: a cleaner, healthier environment, benefiting people and the economy; a nation better protected against floods, animal and plant diseases and other hazards; a world leading food and farming industry; and a rural economy that works for everyone, contributing to national productivity, prosperity and wellbeing. Recently Defra published the 25 year plan, which as a set of ambitious goals to help improve our environment and with EU Exit high on Defra’s agenda it is an exciting time to work for the department to help shape how future policy will look. Within Defra, the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) is responsible for the acquisition and use of high-quality evidence to support these priorities, and for providing scientific advice to the ministers. Interns will be partnered within a policy team but with access to the CSA’s office, giving them the opportunity to have an impact on how policy and evidence interface within Defra.

What the internship will involve: During the internship, you will work with the Chief Scientific Adviser’s Office and Defra-policy team to provide analysis of a priority policy issue. The policy issue will be decided on in conversation with Defra and the intern to reflect current policy priorities. Examples of high-profile science-policy issues include (but are not limited to) air quality; indoor air pollutants and particle matter; waste and resources; plastics in the environment; food and farming; alternative methods of food production; farm animal welfare; insect protein; marine conservation zones; environmental impacts of flame retardants; environmental impacts of unconventional gas; trends in wildlife habitats; ecological systems; landscape character; environment and human health; emerging technologies/techniques for monitoring. The main output from the internship will be an evidence summary (known as an evidence statement) for a policy issue, to be published by Defra and used in Defra’s decision making process. Alongside this, you will have the opportunity of joining the Chief Scientific Adviser and other senior policy officials on engagement with stakeholders or other Government Departments, and have access to events open to Defra employees, e.g. seminars with guest speakers, training and shadowing opportunities.

Benefits of working with Defra: Being embedded in Defra will provide you with valuable insight into the policy-making process, particularly how research is used to inform decisions; it will improve your understanding of high-profile policy issues; and working directly with policy teams gives you opportunities to build a network of policy and evidence contacts and work in an interdisciplinary environment. You will be contributing to improving the evidence base of a high-profile policy issue, have the opportunity to produce work that will have a high impact and ensure that evidence is strongly embedded into decision-making, and will have an Evidence statement to add to your portfolio. Whether you’re interested in a policy, research or alternative career path, the internship will develop your transferrable skills in project leadership, systematic review methods, communicating complex information to non-experts, writing for a policy audience, working at pace, and balancing needs of policy and evidence. After your internship, you have the opportunity of joining a growing group of Defra internship alumni to continue access to networks after the internship finishes.

Location: You will be based jointly in Defra’s Chief Scientific Adviser’s Office and a relevant Defra policy team. With the ongoing COVID19 situation, work will be done remotely unless it is safe to return to offices. You will be in daily contact with your host team and will work as part of the team, including joining team meetings and events. Defra are open to flexible working and will accommodate flexible working requests wherever possible.

This internship must be started by the 04/01/2021.

This internship would be suitable for part-time study.


These internships are available to current London NERC DTP students in cohorts 4 and 5. The start date for these internships is the 22nd of June 2020.

* Students in their final 6 months of PhD funding are not eligible to apply.

The deadline for applications is 12 noon on the 21st May 2020.



Applications for internship funding are now closed.

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