ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
ACCESS - Advancing Capacity for Climate  and Environment Social Science
A woman next to a post-it board with others sat at a desk working with her

Placement Schemes

One of the core aims of ACCESS is to increase the accessibility and impact of environmental social science. We can do this by building capacity for more effective inter- and trans-disciplinary working amongst environmental social scientists and those we work with.

High-quality placement schemes hosted by credible organisations can help. They provide an opportunity for academic social scientists to improve their interdisciplinary research skills and gain experience of applying social science insights in practice. 

Placement schemes can offer important development and networking experiences, especially in helping researchers understand more about policy development and delivery. For example, UK Research and Innovation offers UKRI-funded PhD students a three-month placement at an influential policy organisation. The Open Innovation Team, which tends to have broader eligibility criteria, offers placement opportunities for PhD students to work across a range of policy projects.  

Sarah Golding at the 2023 Summer School at Dartington Hall

One of our ACCESS Knowledge Exchange Fellows, Sarah Golding, completed an RCUK (now UKRI) policy internship during her time as a PhD student.

You can read more about her experiences on placement at Public Health England here.

Sarah told us:   

“I really valued having the opportunity to take time out from my PhD studies to complete a policy internship at Public Health England. I worked across a variety of topics and projects, usually in interdisciplinary teams, and gained insight into the needs and priorities of my public sector colleagues. I learned a lot from them about how social science evidence can be communicated and used in a non-academic context.   

I found the whole experience to be very enjoyable and affirming, if a bit daunting at times! Completing the placement strengthened my resolve to focus my post-PhD career on projects that enable the application of social science evidence in ways that can directly improve people’s lives. In fact, I am pretty sure my placement experience contributed to securing my role as a Knowledge Exchange Fellow for ACCESS. For example, I gained valuable skills and understanding of a public sector environment (that I could mention on my CV!), a transdisciplinary publication record with my public sector co-authors, and an increased passion for working at the science-policy interface.” 

Why join a Placement Scheme?

Specific benefits and opportunities vary depending upon the host organisation and remit of the placement, but in general, such schemes can help to: 

  • Bring together academics, policy makers and practitioners to share knowledge and work collaboratively on applied projects
  • Extend networks across different disciplines and sectors to help form co-production partnerships 
  • Build relationships and generate shared experiences with new colleagues 
  • Increase environmental social scientists’ understanding of a range of professional contexts  
  • Build capacity amongst environmental social scientists to support important policy goals such as Net Zero and Nature Recovery 
  • Enable more effective use of social science knowledges to help us shift towards fairer, safer and more sustainable societies 

How do I find a Placement Scheme?

Externally-hosted placement schemes are signposted on our training news page, in our newsletter and on our social media channels X and LinkedIn. 

We advise you to always check details and eligibility criteria directly with hosting organisations.

Please subscribe to our newsletter for updates on the latest placement opportunities, as well as other events, jobs, funding and news from ACCESS.   

We do not maintain a comprehensive database of placement schemes, and you will probably find other opportunities through internet searches and word-of-mouth within your own networks.

Please let us know about any placement schemes that might be of interest to the wider ACCESS network by contacting us  

Placement Case Studies

Outside a Welsh Government building

Working at the Welsh Government

Blog by Dr Caroline Verfuerth at CAST & Cardiff University and Dr Laura de Vito at the University of the West of England (ACCESS Leadership College Fellow). Both reflect on their fellowship placement at the Welsh Government.

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