What types of internships are suitable?
All placements are required to be:
- Unrelated to the student’s PhD research project
- Outside of academia – Research roles in academia or research institutes are not generally appropriate, even in an area unrelated to the student’s PhD project. However, if you are able to offer a sufficiently differentiated experience for the student and they would also develop non-lab skills (i.e. a wider range of transferable, work-related skills) then this may be considered.
- At an appropriate level to challenge a talented PhD student
PIPS are expected to be discrete projects (or a series of smaller projects). They should be planned to provide you with experience at a level appropriate for a postgraduate student. The following are common PIPS experiences, but could be in any suitable field so don’t feel constrained by these suggestions:
- A well defined desk-based research project
- Review or analysis of manufacturing, processing or production techniques
- Marketing, publishing or sales
- Business development or project management
- Legal offices
- Internal audit or consultancy
- Teaching – in schools, using the Researchers in Residence scheme 1, or through other mechanisms
- Policy – developing policy or working in a related setting, such as a government department, parliamentary select committee, local authority, non-departmental public body, professional association, charity, research funder or medical organisation (such as NHS Primary Care Trust)
- Public engagement
- Media, e.g. press office, science publishing company, public organisation
Do I have to go on a placement during my PhD? I don't want to go into industry.
Yes: the PIPS placement is mandatory for all DTP students. The only exception is for the DTP iCASE students, as they will already be spending time on placement with their industry partner.
PIPS is one of the benefits of a BBSRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) research PhD. We often get feedback from students saying how much they enjoyed taking a break from their studies to do something completely different and that it gave them a different perspective. The placements are very flexible: you can choose to undertake your PIPS almost anywhere to suit your own interests and career ambitions. Regardless of your career aspirations, PIPS are intended to provide you with an early opportunity to develop a broader understanding of how your research training can have an impact in the wider economy and society. They are also intended to widen your horizons to the range of careers open to you and to help develop your broader work-related skills.
What about students with disabilities?
The needs of students with disabilities should be considered during the organisation of internships within institutions. All students funded from the DTP Training Grant are expected to carry out an internship at some point during their PhD.
I have an iCASE or NPIF studentship - Do I have to do a PIPS?
Collaborative Awards in Science and Engineering (iCASE) and National Productivity Investment (NPIF) studentships have their own funding conditions and arrangements for industrial placements. These are not classified as PIPS.
iCASE and NPIF funded students should refer to their PhD offer letter and contact their academic supervisor for further information about industrial placements.
Why are PIPS not related to my research? Can I undertake a research-focused placement?
PIPS are not about doing more research. For all internships, the experience must not be directly related to your PhD project. PIPS are intended to help you understand how your research and professional skills can be used in a more broadly relevant context. Research roles in academia or research institutes are generally not appropriate, even in an area unrelated to your PhD project. However, a predominantly research-based placement in an industry setting may be suitable, provided it offers a sufficiently differentiated environment.
When can I go on my placement?
You will be eligible to start your placement once you have successfully passed your transfer viva and upgraded at the end of your first year. The timing of your PIPS should be agreed with your supervisor to ensure that it causes minimal disruption to your research. The ideal time to undertake PIPS is towards the end of the second year / beginning of third year. Your PIPS must be completed by the end of your third year.
In certain cases, and with the agreement of your supervisor, it may be possible to continue a placement into the final year – but this is not encouraged. Your final year should be left as free as possible so you can concentrate on finishing your PhD, writing your thesis/papers and exploring career options.
What is the duration of the PIPS?
PIPS must be the equivalent of 3 months. You have the option to do the placement in either a 3-month block or as a series of shorter blocks over a longer period of time. This can be agreed through a discussion between yourself and your supervisor to minimise disruption to your PhD. It will also be dependent on the nature of the placement and the needs of the host organisation.
Where can I get help with planning and organising my placement?
Our PIPs scheme is organised by all three White Rose Universities. You will be invited to annual PIPS Information Sessions organised locally in Leeds, Sheffield and York and/or across the DTP. These sessions will be co-ordinated by the PIPS Contacts.
PIPS are student-led, meaning you need to be proactive about organising your PIPS. However there is plenty of support available from your PIPS contact to help you select and secure your placement and work out the logistics and paperwork. See ‘Where can I find PIPS opportunities’ Q&A below for advice on finding a PIPS host, as well as ‘How do I find a PIPS‘ and PIPS Case Studies and PIPS Hosts.
Where can I find PIPS opportunities?
See ‘How do I find a PIPS‘ for the four main ways to find your PIPS. Also view PIPS Case Studies and PIPS Hosts for ideas as to which hosts you could do your PIPS with. If there is a host you are interested in but they aren’t advertising a PIPS opportunity – get in touch with them directly to ask if they are interested in hosting you for a PIPS (often they are!)
The DTP is also alerted to a number of high quality PIPS opportunities throughout the year. These are added to this website – See list of PIPS Opportunities (also highlighted on the right-hand-side of each page).
You can also contact your local PIPS Contact for all the latest information regarding possible PIPS host organisations and to discuss how to arrange a placement with a host organisation of your choosing.
What paperwork do I need to complete?
There are different documents that you need to complete before, during and after PIPS.
Click the following link to go to the PIPS Paperwork page, which explains the process
Can I stay with my family or friends during my PIPS?
You need to check the rules for your University with your PIPS Contact.
If you are allowed to, and you choose to, stay with family or friends during your PIPS, please note that you will not be able to use your PIPS allowance to claim rent. This is because we cannot provide an audit trail for such arrangements that will satisfy University and BBSRC financial regulations.
In order to claim back your rent from your PIPS allowance, you must stay somewhere which has a formal rental agreement from an established landlord or a hotel.
Of course, there is nothing stopping you choosing to donate some of your stipend to your family / friends to make an informal contribution to the cost of your stay, if you wish to do so, but you cannot claim this back.
Can I stay in an Airbnb during my PIPS?
You must use University approved accommodation. The exact policy will depend on your University. Some do not allow the use of Airbnb or similar accommodation in any circumstances. Other Universities may advise against using such unregistered accommodation and, if you choose to go ahead, you must provide proof of valid homeowner insurance as specified by the University purchasing and health and safety regulations.
You therefore need to plan your PIPS accommodation well in advance and check with your University PIPS Contact before you book or pay a deposit.
Case studies are very helpful to our DTP. They allow us to showcase the PIPS scheme and let our other students see the sorts of placements that have been undertaken and the benefits you have gained. Please take as many photos as you can of yourself whilst on PIPS – ensuring you have permission of your host and any other individuals who will appear in the photos – and send them to the DTP Co-ordinator with a quick quote on how you found your PIPS. Send to Catherine Liddle email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can a PIPS be split?
PIPS are normally undertaken in one, 3-month block, as PGRs and host organisations benefit the most from this continuity. However, flexibility does exist and, if there is justification for the benefit of the individual PGR, a PIPS can be split into two or three placements at different time periods, either with the same PIPS host or with different hosts, so long as the total time period on placement adds up to 3 months. This could take the form, for example, of 2 x 6 week blocks or 3 x 1 month blocks. A one-month block would be the recommended minimum amount of time with any single host in order for them and you to benefit from the placement. Separate placements can be held at different times of the year, and across two academic or calendar years, if necessary. (The best time to undertake PIPS is usually towards the end of year 2 and the beginning of year 3, to minimise the impact on your studies).
If you split your PIPS into separate time blocks with the same host, you need only complete one set of paperwork (Memorandum of Understanding – MOU – and the health and safety checklist), making sure that you specify the different date ranges when you will be on placement.
If you split your PIPS into separate time blocks with different hosts, you will need to fill out 2 lots of paperwork i.e. a MOU and a health and safety checklist for each host organisation.
An additional flexibility is that a PIPS can take place on a part-time basis over a longer period of time e.g. 2 days a week. The part-time option might be useful in specific circumstances e.g. when a PGR has come back from maternity/paternity leave and has officially extended their PhD period or it might be an option that is agreed with your supervisor to minimise the impact on your research. It might even be at the request of the PIPS host organisation to support a longer term project.
Can I do a placement in my 4th year?
A student becomes eligible for a Professional Internship for PhD Students (PIPS) once they have passed their first year transfer viva/interview, hence a PIPS placement is normally undertaken during the second or third year of the four-year PhD programme. The timing is in consultation with the student’s supervisor to ensure minimal disruption to their research. A PIPS can be undertaken in the fourth year in exceptional circumstances but this should be only as a last resort where earlier attempts to plan PIPS have not been successful and must be agreed with your local PIPS contact. NB PIPS cannot be undertaken after handing in at the end of the PhD, as you are no longer classed as a student at this stage. Extensions cannot be granted for this purpose.