RSB Policy Internships
The RSB annually hosts two policy internship positions for current PhD students who are funded by AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, and NERC.
The successful applicants each spend three months working at the RSB within our education or science policy teams. Start and end dates can be negotiated as appropriate.
The applications window for internships running through 2024 is NOW CLOSED (as of 2nd October 2023).
For information on how to apply for internships in 2025, go to the UKRI Policy Internships Scheme webpage.
About RSB policy work
The Society’s policy teams work to support and guide the development of policy outputs from the Society. This includes synthesising and communicating evidence-based advice from our community to decision- and policy-makers, as well as developing knowledge exchange workshops, events and policy communications such as our weekly Science Policy Newsletter, which has over 21,000 subscribers.
Our policy work spans the biological sciences. Our education policy work focuses on the 5-19 curriculum and qualifications across the UK, teacher training, recruitment and retention, and subject-specific CPD for teachers. Our science policy work focuses on policy issues relevant across animal, biomedical, plant and environmental sciences, such as the use of genetic technologies, climate change and biodiversity loss, or biological security. Our policy work also has a focus on knowledge exchange and advice to support development of research culture, equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), and the research landscape (research funding, infrastructure, workforce and communication).
We regularly reply to government and national level consultations and inquiries and engage pro-actively with policy development through the work of our Fellows, Committees and Groups. Our individual members and Member Organisations represent a valuable network of expertise and policy interest.
Find out more about the impact of our policy activity.
What does a policy internship at the RSB involve?
An internship with the Society will involve the combination of a specific project to be substantially delivered within the period of the placement, along with involvement in ongoing projects and activities of the RSB team. This may involve background research and working with our staff team and members to generate a response to a government or Parliamentary consultation, or the development of one of our Policy Lates events, for example.
Opportunities will also be available to get involved in other policy projects and activities (e.g. surveying our membership, assembling one of our newsletters, researching and writing a report, briefing or statement, or organising a workshop) and to join the wider RSB team in organising events such as Voice of the Future and Parliamentary Links Day.
In addition to delivering a defined project, the Society will aim to encourage and support our interns' attendance at relevant Parliamentary and charitable events, as well as participation in appropriate external and internal policy workshops, meetings and discussion groups.
Our interns will also be offered a wide range of opportunities to produce written outputs for publication, such as authoring an RSB news story. The Society has a busy calendar of committee, task force and steering group meetings so some experience of working with networks and committees, preparing papers for discussion, and recording committee proceedings, would also be on offer.
Interns receive guidance, training and help from members of the policy and publications department and across the Society as appropriate to their task. We aim to ensure that internship activity portfolios meet both the interests of the UKRI Research Council applicant and the needs of the Society at the same time.
Though the range of activities available to each intern is often wide and varied, we aim to tailor the programme to the skills-set, aims and interests of the individual. We take particular care to ensure that interns maintain a balance across their activities and feel well supported by the team during their time with us.
Testimonials from our past policy interns
“Working at the RSB has been a great opportunity to get involved in lots of different aspects of both science and education policy work. I’ve been involved in writing summary briefings of policy developments, responding to government consultations, collating articles for a newsletter as well as attending lots of different meetings of RSB groups, giving me chance to learn about lots of exciting projects happening across the wider RSB network. It’s been really interesting to learn about the work that goes on behind the scenes to influence policy, as well as gaining more of an understanding of how policy decisions impact research and science education as well as wider society.” Katie Pickup, 2023.
“I can’t recommend the RSB policy internship enough, it helped me to understand the critically important task of engaging government and the public on the way that the biological sciences can help us secure a more sustainable future. The team were really supportive and provided a range of interesting projects where you can learn a lot and see the impact of your work.” Adam McCarthy, 2022. Read Adam's blog for NWSSDTP and UKRI.
"The internship has been amazing, I was given the opportunity to work on so many different projects, from a governmental consultation to a science communication article which have allowed me to develop my writing, and communication skills. The team has been so helpful and supportive throughout the whole process and made me feel so welcome. Coming out of this internship I feel like I have a grasp of what policy work entails and how important it is as link between science and society." Karendeep Sidhu, 2022. Read Karendeep's interview in The Biologist.
“Although a virtual internship meant that I couldn’t meet any of my team members and other RSB staff in person, it didn’t stop them from welcoming me in and going the extra mile to make sure I felt included and supported. All of the RSB staff were friendly and engaging, making for a brilliant work environment. I was able to explore different areas of science policy and get a glimpse of the scope of work the RSB undertake. I gained valuable skills, including communicating and working within a team, different styles of writing and project management. I really feel empowered to tackle a new career in science policy following the completion of my PhD, thanks to the wonderful experience I had with the RSB policy team.” Georgina Fauconier (nee Collins), 2021.
“I feel I have had an extremely valuable internship experience. The science policy team are very supportive and helpful, and gave me lots of guidance while also letting me take control of my projects and express my own creativity. The whole of RSB are a great group of people and I felt included and part of the team from the start. I got to work on so many interesting projects with quite a broad subject range, I was never bored and got to explore subject areas I would not in my own research. I’ve learned a lot about policy, politics, and learned societies as well as improved and developed many skills (writing for lay people, interpersonal and teamwork skills, networking). I have had the chance to be creative in my work which I thoroughly enjoyed and will be seeking to do more of when I go back into my research. I also feel like I have made an impact and been a part of the team rather than a responsibility and I really appreciate that!” Susi Keane, 2020.
"I utilised my analytical competencies to support the team and learnt more about the problems that currently face secondary science education. This was an important responsibility and I felt trusted and respected to undergo such a task. [...] I am exceedingly grateful for my time with the RSB. The organisation presented me with an exciting, friendly and professional introduction to education policy, opening countless doors of opportunity." Matt Harwood, 2019.
“When I arrived at the RSB everyone was so welcoming, friendly and excited to hear all about my PhD. Everyone had come from such a diverse range of science backgrounds, with lots of different interests, so I was quickly refreshing my basic biology knowledge…. It has opened my eyes to all the jobs that are being done to make science happen and be as effective as possible. I am thoroughly inspired”. Eleanor Smart, 2018.
Past interns have also cited their internship with us as invaluable for future career steps:
“My three-month policy internship was one of the most productive and enjoyable parts of my PhD – the exposure to the wide variety of options outside of academia was eye-opening and led to my current job”. “I’d highly recommend an internship for anyone whether they’re thinking of leaving or staying in academia, and highly commend RSB on the basis of my experience – it was an invaluable insight into a different side of things.”
How will we be recruiting?
To apply in autumn 2023 for internships in 2024, go to the UKRI Policy Internships Scheme webpage.
The post will be advertised through website and social media channels. Interviews will be held virtually via Zoom.
The Royal Society of Biology integrates equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) as an important part of our business plan, and continued engagement from our Board of Trustees, staff and members reflects the importance of these values.
The Royal Society of Biology is committed to embedding and communicating EDI strategies throughout the organisation and its activities. We acknowledge the importance of diversity at all learning and career stages to ensure equal opportunities and create an inclusive environment that welcomes, attracts and benefits from a variety of experiences, skills, qualities and perspectives. We strive to tackle barriers and create a life science community that is representative of the wider society we serve. We welcome applicants from diverse backgrounds.
Working arrangements and location
Royal Society of Biology, 1 Naoroji Street, London WC1X 0GB
Interns will work standard hours (9am – 5pm), and we can accommodate part time, flexible, hybrid and fully remote working upon agreement. Our office building is in Central London, close to Kings Cross, Exmouth Market and several green spaces and parks. In 2024, we anticipate that staff will continue hybrid working – both at the office and from home. The Society has remained fully-operational through home working throughout the pandemic and we are able to continue to accommodate such an arrangement.