Joint EPSRC and POST Postgraduate Initiative

Closing Date: 03 October 2014

A three month secondment opportunity to the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) open to EPSRC funded PhD students.

Background

Parliament passes laws, scrutinises Government and acts as a forum for debate on issues of concern. Science based issues permeate all these areas of work. Most MPs and Peers do not have a background in science or technology and look to others for specialist advice and information.

The Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) is an office of the two Houses of Parliament (Commons and Lords), charged with providing balanced and independent analyses of science and technology based issues of relevance to Parliament.

During their time at Parliament, EPSRC / POST Fellows will work on a policy topic grounded in science and technology. Examples of previous topics include 'Big Data and Transport' and 'New Nuclear Power Technologies'. Following the placement the fellow will be invited to write a short report for EPSRC detailing their work over the three months and the outcomes achieved.

Eligibility

All EPSRC funded postgraduate students registered for a PhD or EngD (except first year students) who will still be studying (receiving a stipend) in March 2015 are eligible to apply. Students must be in at least their second year by the closing date of 03 October 2014.

You must already be funded by EPSRC to be eligible to apply. If you are not funded by EPSRC there are other opportunities available for working at POST, see working with POST on the UK Parliament website.

Details of placement

Nature of work

POST regularly publishes short briefing papers (POSTnotes) and longer reports giving Parliamentarians a broad overview of the background to an issue and an analysis of the policy implications (see Directory of POSTnotes for examples of POST publications). POST also works very closely with a wide range of select committees in both Houses.

During his / her time in Parliament, an EPSRC / POST Fellow should expect to produce a POSTnote, contribute to a longer report, or assist a select committee in a current inquiry.

The topic of the Fellowship will be determined in liaison between the Fellow and POST, depending on the research interests of the Fellow and the relevance and timeliness of the topic in Parliament. The overall work programme of POST is determined by its Parliamentary Board.

The Fellowship will involve:

  • Identifying and liaising with a wide range of interested parties including industry, academia, regulatory bodies, non-governmental organisations and government.
  • Drafting concise briefing materials.
  • Responding to comments from internal and external peer review.

There may also be opportunities for Fellows to organise seminars to inform or disseminate their work.

POST is a strictly non-partisan organisation - Fellows will be expected to abstain from any party political activity and generally to uphold the principles of parliamentary service, including a commitment to confidentiality, during their time with the Office.

In all cases, Fellows will be encouraged to interact closely with people and activities in the two Houses of Parliament, including select committees, MPs and Peers, their support services, 'All-Party Group' meetings and the very wide range of other activities at the Palace of Westminster. Access to conferences, workshops and seminars can be arranged.

Funding arrangements

The successful applicant will receive a three month extension to their PhD funding. EPSRC will make arrangements to reimburse the additional costs to the university to ensure that their stipend will continue to be paid while based at POST. Funding will be reimbursed at the current minimum PhD rate as stated on the EPSRC website. When a candidate is based at POST, computing, email and other facilities necessary for the project will be supplied by POST.

Working arrangements

Fellows are expected to spend as much time as possible working in POST's offices in Westminster. EPSRC and POST are keen to encourage applicants from all over the UK. For those successful applicants who are not within frequent travelling distance of POST in London, EPSRC will provide funding to cover basic travel and accommodation needs.

How to apply

Applications

Applicants should submit:

  • A completed application form (available to download at the end of this page), which has been approved and signed by their Head of Department or principal supervisor.
  • A two-page briefing on an appropriate topic for a POSTnote. The topic should not be in your area of expertise. The briefing should be in 12 pt font or larger on A4 size paper.

You may want to use text boxes and graphs to highlight key facts. References should be included, and can be in a smaller font at the bottom of the page. The briefing does not have to look exactly like a POSTnote, but it should be written in the same style.

The briefing should:

  • Summarise relevant current research and developments in this field.
  • Highlight the main policy issues.
  • Demonstrate your ability to write in a style suitable for a parliamentary (rather than academic) audience.

Before preparing your briefing you should examine the 'POST style' of writing, and the type of policy issues that are raised and discussed. POST publications can be viewed online on the POST publications page of the UK Parliament website.

Please send an electronic copy of the completed application form and proposal to Sheila Baird, as well as a paper copy with your supervisor’s signature and university stamp, to:

Sheila Baird
First Floor South
EPSRC, Polaris House
Swindon
SN2 1ET
Tel: 01793 444080

Assessment

Applications will be assessed by a panel of EPSRC and POST personnel. The criteria for assessment are:

  • Motivation
  • Relevant training and expertise
  • Written communication
  • Choice of topic
  • Quality and organisation of information

Schedule

Activity Date
Deadline for applications 03 October 2014
Initial sift of applications October 2014
Interviews (at POST) Week beginning 24 November 2014
Final decision End of November 2014
Start date for successful applicant From March 2015 subject to security clearance

Start date and length of placement

The fellowship is for three months and may be carried out from March 2015, but candidates should try to avoiding starting in June, July and August, which are the summer recess months. The start date is to be agreed between the applicant, POST, the applicant's supervisor and University, and EPSRC. Ideally, students should commence their placement prior to receiving their final stipend payment.

Contacts and sources of further information

Any queries relating to the application process should be directed to Sheila Baird.

Lydia Harriss from POST is available on 0207 219 8380 to discuss any general aspects of the scheme and of parliamentary activity.

Please note neither EPSRC nor POST can advise on the strength or weaknesses of individual proposals.

For more information on science in parliament see:

Resources