Each year the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) offers level 2 and 3 (and 4 in the case of integrated masters) undergraduate students from quantitative disciplines outside of the NERC science remit, the opportunity to do a paid summer placement working on a research project within the environmental sciences. Placements are 6-10 weeks long.

For a brief introduction to the NERC REPs scheme and QUADRAT DTP please view our panopto presentation. Please note: this presentation relates to the 2019-20 recruitment round which has now closed.

Quantitative disciplines include but are not limited to: mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics and chemistry


A salary of up to £2,000 is available at the National Living Wage. A further £500 will be available for project research and training expenses.


The REP scheme is not open to students already studying within NERC’s science remit (e.g. biological sciences, environmental sciences, geography, geoscience, archaeology etc). Applicants must meet all of the eligibility criteria below:

• Be a current registered student at the University of Aberdeen or Queen’s University Belfast.
• Be studying for an undergraduate degree in a quantitative discipline e.g. mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics, chemistry (outside of NERC’s science remit).
• Be applying for a placement in a different school/department to their undergraduate degree. Where multiple disciplines sit within one school (e.g. QUB SNBE) candidates can apply to a project within the same school provided it is within a different discipline to that which they study e.g. an Engineering student can apply for a project within Geography.
• Be undertaking their first undergraduate degree studies (or integrated Masters). First and final year UG students are not eligible to apply (you cannot be graduating this year).
• Be expected to obtain a first or upper second-class UK honours degree (to be evidenced by email from personal tutor or equivalent or by providing your record card or provisional transcript).
• Fall within the eligibility criteria for NERC PhD students (i.e. be a UK or EU national or have permanent residence / right to remain in the UK). Passport confirmation will be required for successful candidates.

The application round for summer 2020 placements has now closed.

Please check back in April/May 2021 for updated information and a list of projects taking place in summer 2021.

Project Catalogue

Implementing a Machine Learning Approach for the understanding of social learning in honeybee foragers supervised by Fabio Manfredini and Juliano Morimoto, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen

Modelling historical ice phenology data and implications for future environmental change supervised by Andrew Newton and Donal Mullan, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast

Assessing the long-term impact of climatic variables on coastal changes in Scotland using geospatial tools supervised by Anshuman Bhardwaj and Lydia Sam, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen

Climate change and the future viability of Europe’s longest Ice Road supervised by Donal Mullan and Andrew Newton, School of Natural and Built Environment, Queen’s University Belfast

Geostatistical analysis of spatiotemporal trends of COVID-19 spread in UK supervised by Lydia Sam and Anshuman Bhardwaj, School of Geosciences, University of Aberdeen


NERC is the Natural Environment Research Council and as such the NERC subjects are the environmental sciences such as biology, biological sciences, ecology, marine biology, soil science, geography and geology, archaeology, atmospheric and polar sciences. For the full description please visit the NERC website.

NERC are explicitly looking for candidates with quantitative skills developed outside of the usual NERC subjects. These disciplines include but are not limited to: mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics and chemistry.

Please apply for a maximum of one project. Multiple applications will not be considered.

Yes, you must currently be studying for a non-NERC science undergraduate degree at either the University of Aberdeen or at Queen’s University Belfast. You must be a registered student at the time of the placement taking place and therefore final year undergraduates, recent graduates and alumni are not eligible to apply.

A salary of up to £2,000 is available at the National Living Wage. The successful candidates will be set up as employees and paid a salary at the university’s current living wage of £9.30. The salary will be paid monthly in arrears following submission of a monthly timesheet. A further £500 will be available for project research and training expenses, the costs of which must be itemised and justified in the final report.

Placements will be on a part-time basis, likely 2-3 days per week (max. 189 working hours over the duration of the project). This equates to approximately 18 hours (c. 2.5 days) per week for 10 weeks. You will need to agree a suitable working pattern with the project supervisor – hours can vary from week to week but must not exceed 189 hours in total. REPs placements must be 6-10 weeks long, therefore you cannot complete all 189 hours in fewer than 6 weeks. Monthly timesheets will be required.

No, unfortunately final year students are not eligible to apply because they will no longer be a registered student with the institution at the time the placement takes place. Only 2nd and 3rd year students are eligible, and 4th year students in the case of a 5 year programme such as MEng.

Unfortunately, the answer is no. If you are completing your honours project and will graduate this year then you are not eligible to apply.

No, the REPs placement is extra-curricular and does not contribute towards your degree but is a valuable experience and opportunity to develop new skills.

In this case (amalgamated schools such as SNBE at QUB), students within the non-NERC disciplines are eligible to apply both to the projects within their school/department (but out with their discipline) and to projects in other schools. For example, an engineering student based in SNBE could apply for a project within the discipline of Geography, but a Geography student could not.

No prior knowledge or education in the environmental sciences is required. Projects do not assume knowledge in these areas but instead put value on the quantitative skills you can bring to the environmental sciences. Training will be provided where necessary.

This depends on the project and the work that is required. Some projects require a candidate with a specific background (such as a computer science student) or a specific skill set (such as coding), but others are more general. You are asked to demonstrate how you meet the needs of the project in the application form. Supervisors will select candidates with the most appropriate skills for the project.

Some projects will require you to already have specific skill sets such as coding (specified in project description), however additional training will be provided in the areas required for you to complete the project. Training will vary from project to project – some details are given in the project overview, but supervisors can provide more information if required.

It is expected that applicants will have the capacity and computing infrastructure (internet connection and laptop / desktop computer) to work from home, however some supervisors make specific mention of the availability of a laptop (please see project descriptions). It may also be possible to borrow a laptop from the central university. Please speak to the supervisor in the first instance. Supervisors will provide access to any specialist software.

You are not required to contact the supervisor before applying, but you may do so if you have questions about the project content or skills required.

After the deadline has passed, supervisors will assess the applications they have received and identify the most suitable candidate. One candidate for each project will be asked to attend a brief interview (10-15 minutes) via Microsoft Teams. Once the interviews have been completed, the top 3 candidates will be awarded the project and funding.

Please ask your personal tutor to email sbsinternships@abdn.ac.uk with this information, from their institutional email address. Students can forward this information on if necessary, provided the original sender details are clear. Alternatively, you can submit a record card or provisional transcript. University of Aberdeen students can download this from their student portal or contact infohub@abdn.ac.uk for this.

It is a NERC requirement that both the candidate and the supervisor complete a brief final report form upon completion of the placement. This form will be provided towards the end of the placement. We also ask that you write a short blog post about your placement experience.

A passport check will be undertaken to confirm successful candidates’ eligibility to work in the UK. This process will vary depending on which institution you are registered at, and which project you will be undertaking (whether it is at Aberdeen University or Queen’s).