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. 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.
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 may not be directly related to the 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. Previous students have found that 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 as 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. These sessions will be co-ordinated by the PIPS Contacts. in each University.
We will work with you to help you find your own placement opportunity, as this allows you to choose a PIPS which best meets your requirements. There is plenty of support available from your local training managers to help you select and secure your placement. In addition, there are a number of high quality PIPS opportunities which are alerted to us throughout the year. These are added to this website – See list of PIPS Opportunities on the right-hand-side of each page. Students will be alerted via email each time a new opportunity is added. Please look out for these. If you are not receiving these PIPS alerts then please contact WRDTP@leeds.ac.uk.
What types of internships are suitable?
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
Where can I find PIPS opportunities?
Contact your local Training Manager 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.
Find out about your options using the link below:
What paperwork do I need to complete?
It is expected that students will plan their PIPS with their academic supervisor and University PIPS Contact, and key contact at their chosen host organisation.
We advise you to read all the following information before you go on your PIPS, so that you are fully aware of what is required and what information you need to collect whilst you are there in order to complete the reports when you come back.
The following paperwork is required:
1/ Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
This needs to be completed before you start your PIPS. It ensures that you and your host are in agreement as to what you will be doing during your placement and what outputs and outcomes will be achieved. Complete as much as you can and then ask your contact at the host organisation to fill in their sections.
Download the MOU template here:
2/ Learning Gain Tool
This needs to be completed for the first time before you go on your PIPS. The Learning Gain Tool is an online skills assessment tool that is specifically designed to help both you and your host organisation get the most from this opportunity.
You complete a short questionnaire twice – before and after your PIPS. It allows you to see the impact of your placement on a number of key skills and competencies. You will be able to print out and keep a copy of your results. It might be useful for you to use this in the future to demonstrate how you have acquired skills which are considered valuable by employers.
Previous students have told us that the Learning Gain Tool results have been extremely useful when they are applying for jobs – It has allowed students to clearly demonstrate that they have developed or enhanced particular skills/competencies:
“I completed the Learning Gain Tool immediately after my internship ended, I didn’t take much notice of the results at the time because I was keen to get back to laboratory work. However, upon re-visiting my results several months later, I realise what an invaluable tool it is for enhancing my self-awareness of the transferable skills gained from my internship. In particular I was surprised to see how much my internship had enhanced my professional skills (personal effectiveness) and upon reflection, I have taken a more professional approach to my research after my PIPs experience. The Learning Gain Tool has also helped me realise how much immersing myself in a charity environment for 3 months enhanced my commercial awareness and networking abilities. I will use the results of the Learning Gain Tool in development of my CV and in future job applications as I complete my PhD here in Sheffield. The skill sets on the Learning Gain Tool are helpfully subdivided so know when I can experiences gained during my internship as an example of where I developed specific work-based skills. The results from the Learning Gain Tool can also act as triggers to help me remember what I achieved on my internship”.
“In doing the review it highlighted to me just how much my role within a science communications agency raised my commercial awareness and understanding of infrastructure within a company. It also made it very clear to me that my oral and written communication skills were being improved during my role. The review process highlighted to me, before I started the position, areas that were weaker and that I could focus on improving during my PIPS. In terms of CV and interview for future employment, seeing my learning gain in various areas made it clearer where I had improved and allowed me to demonstrate my skills and evidence exactly how I have developed them with examples from the PIPS”.
You need to ask your local PIPS Contact for your individual login details.
Link to log into the Learning Gain Tool:
Links to information explaining how to log onto the Learning Gain Tool and how to use your data:
3/ Finance forms
Make sure you collect claim forms from your Finance Office or PIPS Contact before you go on your placement and keep all receipts and other proof of expenditure whilst you are on your placement. See finance questions and answers for more information about your PIPS allowance and how to claim it.
Whilst you are on placement, collect as many photographs as you can. We need ‘action pictures’ – of you and your host supervisor / other members of your team engaged in the work on PIPS. Make sure the photographs are as high quality as possible – they may end up on this website or in other publicity material for the DTP! You can use your mobile phone camera… or why not ask if your host company has a marketing department or a professional photographer who could come and take some pictures?
Always seek permission of anyone else who will be deliberately or inadvertently included in the photographs (don’t forget people in the background who may not realise the photograph is being taken). Individuals must be given the chance to opt out of photographs.
5/ Feedback from your host
You will need to gain feedback from your host organisation about how the placement went from their point of view.
A link will be added here shortly to a PIPS Host Feedback Form
6/ Claim form
Submit your completed accommodation and travel expenses claim form to your PIPS Contact or Finance Officer in your University, together with your receipts and other evidence of expenditure.
7/ Learning Gain Tool
Complete the questionnaire again after you have been on your PIPS so you can compare the before and after results.
There are two reports you need to write. They are a compulsory requirement of your placement. You should complete them immediately after completing your PIPS, within one month at the latest.
i) Case Study
Case Studies are extremely useful to highlight the great experiences students have had on PIPS and to help students who are starting to plan their PIPS. Some Case Studies will be displayed on this website.
See examples on our PIPS Case Studies page
Download the following template to write your PIPS Case Study:
A link will be added here shortly to a PIPS Case Study Template
Make sure you attach all the photographs you have taken during your PIPS and give a description of what they are about and who the people are.
Send the completed Case Study and photographs to the PIPS Contact for your University within one month of completing your PIPS.
ii) Online BBSRC report
You will need to complete an online report via the BBSRC website. The end of PIPS report is the way that BBSRC has decided to track the PIPS scheme and it is vital that you complete the report. Non-submission of PIPS reports by students is taken very seriously by BBSRC and could impact on our future funding.
You need to request a unique link by sending an email with the text “Please e-mail me a unique link to the BBSRC DTP PIPS Placement Report” in the subject field to:
Ensure you complete the report on-line within one month of completing your PIPS.
What if I need to pay travel/accommodation expenses?
Funds are available to reimburse you for reasonable travel and/or accommodation costs – up to a maximum of £2050 – to give you flexibility to choose the PIPS of your choice, regardless of location. PIPS can be taken anywhere in the UK and also abroad.
You will still be paid your stipend (salary) whilst on PIPS.
How do I claim back my expenses?
It is vital that you keep all receipts and other evidence of expenditure for accommodation and travel whilst you are on your PIPS. Expenditure cannot be reimbursed without sufficient evidence. Evidence for accommodation will include things like a formal rental agreement with your landlord and receipts for payment, either monthly or in one lump sum. Evidence for travel includes things such as confirmation of payment of train fares and copies of tickets or car mileage and petrol receipts. An additional piece of evidence useful for all types of expenditure is a scan of your bank statement – make sure you only show us the items we need to see and that you cover up any information that is not relevant to your PIPS claim.
If you are undertaking your PIPS abroad, you will need to convert your expenses payments into pound sterling (£/GBP). In this case, you need to provide evidence of the exchange rate at the time of the financial transaction. This evidence could be, for example, a screenshot of a currency converter website, including the date.
Collect a claim form from your Finance Office or PIPS Contact. Complete the form and submit it to your Finance Officer or PIPS Contact , together with your receipts and other evidence. The exact process may vary depending on your University. If in doubt, check with your PIPS Contact.
If you are happy to pay all your expenses then claim them back at the end of your placement, you can complete the claim form when you get back.
If it helps your cash-flow, you can submit your claims monthly during your PIPS. In this case, ensure you collect 3 claim forms before you go on your PIPS, particularly if you will be living away from your normal university base. Complete a claim form at the end of each month and post it back to your PIPS Contact, or Finance Officer as relevant, together with your receipts and other evidence of expenditure for that month.
For any other queries about claiming PIPS expenses, get in touch with your PIPS Contact.
Can I apply for PIPS Additional Funding?
We anticipate that most PIPS placements will be completed within the £2050 standard PIPS allowance.
PIPS Additional Funding Requests can be made up to a maximum of £1,500 (over and above the standard £2050 allowance). However, these extra costs need to be agreed before committing to the placement. Applications need to be received in advance for consideration at the DTP Management Board meetings. See ‘How to Apply’ below.
Please note: there is limited additional funding available and there is no guarantee that additional funding requests will be approved.
You can apply for extra funding for particularly expensive placements – to cover accommodation and travel. However, note that there is no separate pot of additional funding. The only reason we can offer additional funds in some cases is that other students do not spend all of their PIPS allowance. The ‘surplus’ is what we use for additional funding requests. Your request may therefore not be successful because there are no available surplus funds.
If you do decide to apply for additional funds, your request will need to be supported by your supervisor and will need to demonstrate a clear business case, including accurate costings.
You must demonstrate that you have explored all other potential additional sources of funding and identify where additional support is being gained or has been requested but has not been granted. Your host organisation, for example, may be willing to contribute to your additional expenses or may be able to provide a benefit in kind, for example, company accommodation. Your supervisor may be able to help you secure additional funding from your research institution or other grant funding.
PIPS Additional Funding Requests are not for the purpose of funding placements abroad. If you are planning to undertake your PIPS abroad, the expectation is that you can achieve this within the standard PIPS allowance of £2,050. If you do apply for additional funding for a placement abroad, this will only be considered if you can demonstrate without doubt that you could not gain a similar type of experience in the UK (which would be covered by your standard PIPS allowance).
How to apply
An application form is available from the DTP Co-ordinator, Catherine Liddle, email: email@example.com
PIPS Additional Funding Request Forms must be submitted in advance for consideration at a DTP Management Board meeting. These are held in March, June, September and December each year.
- Applications that miss the deadline for one Management Board meeting will be put forward for consideration at the next meeting, so long as there will be at least 3 months before your planned PIPS start date.
- If an application is submitted with less than 3 months’ notice, it will not be considered.
- You are advised to submit any request for PIPS Additional Funding as far in advance as possible e.g. you can submit it 6 months in advance. The deadlines below are the latest dates that applications should be received.
The annual deadlines for submission are as follows:
for PIPS Additional Funding Requests to be received by DTP Co-ordinator
For consideration at DTP Management Board meeting held in…
For PIPS starting in…
June, July or August
September, October or November
December, January or February
March, April or May
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