SPITFIRE Research Experience Placements Scheme 2017

The NERC Research Experience Placement (REP) scheme is aimed at addressing the shortage of individuals with quantitative skills coming into environmental science.

REPs provide an opportunity for undergraduate students in quantitative disciplines to engage in active research projects, enhancing their skills and gaining valuable experience of what it is like to be a postgraduate researcher in environmental sciences. The SPITFIRE DTP is offering six placements of 8–10 weeks across the partnership to be taken over the summer period (19 June – 22 Sept 2017). REPs are open to undergraduate students from across the UK and include a stipend and limited research support funding for work on supervised staff‑defined research projects.


The REPs provide a minimum stipend of £200 per week over a minimum 8-week project duration, in addition to a Research and Training Support Grant (RTSG) of £500. Total funding for individual REPs will be capped at £2500 and any additional costs incurred by the host organisation must be met from within research budgets. Payment to the student will be made in 3 instalments by the UoS Faculty Finance Team.

Summary of Responsibilities

Supervisors are responsible for:

  • Supervising the student throughout the course of the project,
  • Providing the appropriate training for the safe and successful completion of the project,
  • Ensuring adequate space and equipment is available to complete the project,
  • Providing a report back to the DTP operational team before the 20 October 2017,
  • Arranging all necessary requirements for visiting student status within their organisation/department/AU/Faculty etc.

Students are responsible for:

  • Arranging their accommodation while in the placement,
  • Committing to engaging fully with the research project and maintain contact with the supervisor over the full term of the project,
  • Completing the required feedback survey on the completion of the placement,
  • Providing input to the final report following completion of the survey.

Application Process


Supervisors from across the SPITFIRE DTP partnership should submit their proposals electronically to spitfire@southampton.ac.uk using the REP Supervisor Proforma. Projects will be accepted up until 12 noon Monday, 8 May 2017.

Supervisors should clearly state the amount requested and the duration of the project.

Projects should:

  • have a clearly defined objective,
  • be within the science remit of NERC,
  • be suitable for a student with a background in a different discipline to sensibly complete within the timescale of the award,
  • include more than purely a computer/modelling component, i.e., some element of fieldwork, data collection, activity to give an understanding of the wider context etc.,
  • give scope for thought and initiative on the part of the student and should not use the student as a general assistant,
  • be based at an eligible UK research organisation.

Projects will be verified for their suitability by the SPITFIRE DTP Operational Team. Project supervisors will be notified of proposal acceptance within a week of receipt, with projects advertised on the SPITFIRE DTP website as soon as approved.



Students should submit a REP Student Proforma, a brief CV (no more than two pages) and transcripts or tutor statement indicating your mark profile to spitfire@southampton.ac.uk. Project titles will be advertised here as they become available, so please check back regularly.

The deadline for student applications is noon on Friday, 2 June 2017. Applicants who wish to be considered before a full list of project titles have been made available are welcome to submit an application early and update their list of chosen projects as these become available.

Students will be selected by the SPITFIRE DTP Operational Team and notified by Tuesday, 13 June 2017.

Student applicants must be:

  • studying for a degree in a quantitative discipline outside of NERC’s scientific remit (e.g., mathematics, statistics, computing, engineering, physics),
  • undertaking the placement in a different department to their undergraduate degree,
  • in the middle of their first degree (or integrated Masters) studies,
  • expected to obtain a first or upper second class UK honours degree,
  • eligible for subsequent NERC PhD funding (UK, EU or right to remain in the UK).

A Fast Instrument for Ozone Eddy-Covariance Fluxes – Dr Mahairi Coyle

Solar Variability Effects on Weather via the Global Atmospheric Electric Circuit – Mervyn Freeman

How Suitable are Ceilometer Data to Estimate Cloud Cover – Dr Amelie Kirchgaessner

Characterising Saltation Over Early-Stage Aeolian Bedforms on a Beach – Dr Jo Nield

How Strong is the Ocean Floor? – Ivo Peters

Reconstructing Climate and Geomagnetic Change Information Preserved in Marine Sediments from the Portuguese Margin – Chuang Xuan & Paul Wilson

Does Plant Community Composition Affect Ecosystem Processes? – Bjorn Robroek

Characterising Kimberlitic Perovskites – Dr Thomas Gernon

Role of the Diamondback Moth Circadian Clock in its Impact on Brassica Plants – Dr Herman Wijnen and Dr Haruko Okamoto

Machine Learning Investigations of Sub-surface Weathering of Gabbros from the Oman Drilling Project – Prof Damon Teagle

Specific Detection of Atmospheric Nitrogen Oxides at Ultra-trace Levels – Towards Understanding the Self-cleansing Capacity of the Remote Atmosphere – Markus M. Frey


For any further information and guidance please contact spitfire@southampton.ac.uk.