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UG Vacation Projects

Each year a limited number of vacation projects are available to our students. They are small research projects supervised by a member of academic staff. They typically last for 6 to 8 weeks. The students are normally paid £210 per week (uplifted by 5% for summer 2024). The projects are very popular. Apart from being interesting paid work, they are a good introduction to a research career. The projects are now run in close collaboration with URSS. This adds transferrable skills and a wider sense of community, making the projects an extremely valuable experience for a range of future careers.

Funding Sources

There is support for vacation projects and work experience from a variety of University sources, the URSS scheme is the most significant. There are also some external sources, but not many and they can be hard to find (please do try though!). The department funds or underwrites a significant proportion of the projects - see rules and conditions below for the eligibility requirements.


If you want to help your department, vacation projects are an area where modest donations go a long way. Offers of vacation projects or work experience in industry would also be greatly appreciated. Our students are superb and can be very cost effective. The department will be pleased to help with arrangements email 

For Staff

You can apply for funds from the University URSS scheme and from some other sources (e.g. Royal Microscopical Society). Research groups should fund any other costs.

For Students

If you would like to do a vacation project, you should contact a member of staff who you might be interested in working with. Many projects are formulated for a specific student by prior arrangement. Arrangements tend to be made in December and January. Read the rules and conditions below to see if you are eligible for funding.

Rules and conditions

Please note that these rules have been implemented from 2016 onwards.


  1. Students should find a supervisor willing to take them on, and agree a project title and description; you should be sorting this at least a week ahead of any formal application deadline (see next).
  2. Students MUST apply for a URSS award (deadline 4th February 2024) and are strongly encouraged to look for other funding, e.g. through the Nuffield Foundation /Institute of Physics
  3. The department will give additional funding to all 3rd year MPhys/MMathPhys with 1st class classification in 2nd year AND successful URSS applications, topping up to £210 per week for up to 8 weeks (i.e. up to a total of £1680)
  4. If Physics department funds remain, students will be considered for funding in the following order and may receive full or partial funding: 3rd year MPhys/MMathPhys with 1st class result in 2nd year but unsuccessful URSS applications, 3rd year MPhys/MMathPhys with high 2.1 (>67%) in 2nd year AND with successful URSS applications, and 2nd year students with successful URSS applications AND outstanding results (high 1st) in their 1st year.
  5. Projects should last, and will only be funded for, between 6 and 8 weeks.
  6. The department will contribute funding to no more than 2 summer research students per supervisor.
  7. Individual research groups may choose to independently fund students who lie outside these categories.
  8. If funding is available from other sources (e.g. GRP or external sources) then this should be used before department money, and the department money will not contribute to a student receiving more than £1680 in total.
  9. Students will be notified as to whether their projects have been funded after the URSS announcement.


  • You cannot do a final year project with the same supervisor as your summer project without seeking prior approval from the Final Year Projects Co-ordinator.
  • Summer projects with the same supervisor in consecutive years are strongly discouraged.
  • All students given funding (of any amount) from the Physics department will be required to complete the URSS scheme.
  • You must prepare a poster for URSS.
  • You must engage with the summer project seminar series.

Applying for a URSS award

There is an application form that must be completed by the student and supervisor. Please take note of the guidance for applications (found here). For dates, if you do not know exact dates please just put indicative dates that add up to the correct total amount of time.

If required, the cost code for transfer of the bursary is 01PXREVA

And the named finance contact in Physics is Katherine Branch

Please contact potential supervisors to discuss projects available for Summer 2024.