University of Dundee

Undergraduate Summer Opportunities

The applications Portal is now closed for the 2022 Summer School

At the School of Life Sciences we are committed to inspiring the next generation of researchers and leaders in life sciences.

We therefore provide a number of summer research opportunities for Undergraduates, giving students the invaluable experience of working in real research laboratories during the summer vacation months. The schemes are open to University of Dundee students and those studying in other UK Universities.

Research in modern biology is becoming ever more interdisciplinary. We are therefore looking for students studying the biological and biomedical sciences, but also MBChB undergraduates with an interest in basic biological mechanisms, as well as students with a background in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Programming and Engineering.

Is a summer research placement right for me?

A career in life sciences research can be extremely rich and rewarding. However, it can often be difficult for an undergraduate student to imagine what it might be like to work full-time in a world-class research team. What is it like in a real laboratory? What does it feel like to discover something new about, for example, cancer biology? It is almost impossible to get a feel for how research is conducted from the comfort of a lecture theatre or from within a busy practical class. We aim to address this via the summer research placement.

The School of Life Sciences at Dundee is a unique environment from which to experience research at the cutting-edge. The School comprises over 80 research groups within a large, single, city centre campus and is made up of almost 900 research staff and students attracting external funding in excess of £50 million per year. Indeed, the School of Life Sciences at Dundee is now one of the largest and most productive research institutes in Europe.  Our reputation for excellence is genuinely global and is reflected in the fact that researchers in our laboratories represent no fewer than 60 different nationalities. Dundee University has every facility you could imagine from a modern University and the Dundee University Students' Association (Student's Union) is consistently voted one of the best in the UK.

If visiting Dundee for the first time over the summer months, the city is located in a stunning location on the east coast of Scotland, within easy reach of the beautiful Scottish Highlands and less than 90 minutes by rail from the cultural centres of Edinburgh and Glasgow, and only 14 miles / 24 km from St Andrews.

How does it work?

The School offers a number of summer lab-based placements supported by a variety of funding bodies (for further details see the tabs on the right hand side menu).

In all cases, applicants will initially be considered for our Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship scheme. A key priority of this scheme is to provide research opportunities for groups that are underrepresented in postgraduate research. Should you not meet the eligibility criteria for this scheme or not be successful in securing a place, your application will also be considered for other schemes we run including:

Most students will be provided with a salary payment at the National Living Wage to work in a specific laboratory for 6-8 weeks across the summer months (June, July, August). Some of the Learned Societies, such as the Medical Research Scotland Scholarships, provide a stipend payment at around £250 per week.

Our website also has links to other opportunities for summer placements and we would encourage unsuccessful applicants to our programme to look at these to fulfil their goals.

For enquiries please contact

The applications Portal is now closed for the 2022 Summer School 

Only ONE application per student will be considered.  Submitting multiple applications and nominating additional Supervisors will not increase your chance of success. 

All placement offers are subject to a successful interview, the interview panel may also include any nominated Supervisors.

Successful applicants will be selected in a two-tier process. Shortlisting for interview is based on the applicants grades in relevant modules, the previous academic and extra-curricular experience, and the quality of the case made within the application (note all applications are reviewed by independent assessors).  This is followed by the interview stage where we are particularly looking for enthusiasm and knowledge in the area of the prospective placement. For the Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship scheme, applicants who meet one or more of our widening participation criteria will receive a contextual flag which will be used to prioritise for funding (please see here for more details).

Applicant with caring responsibilities?

We actively encourage applicants with caring responsibilities to apply. Additional bursaries are available to defray these costs to enable participation in this programme.  For more information please see our Flexible Dependent Care Grants scheme page here.

A Successful Programme: Testimonials from summer students:

What did you like most about your summer placement?

“I believe that the Symposium at the end was the most rewarding part of the placement as it brought various people together and gave me the opportunity to express all that I learnt.”

“The thing I liked the most about the summer placement was the people I have met and interacted with during the entire programme, everyone was very warm, accommodating and open to teaching and guiding me”

“Having hands-on experience on a day to day basis and knowing that the work I was carrying out was very important”

“Attending great seminars and learning about research lab life and skills that I will take with me throughout my academic and professional career in the future. Thank you again for this great opportunity!”

“Real project work, help and advice from colleagues, opportunity to link with professional Scientists, insights into lab based work that just aren't possible in an undergrad lab, end-to-end execution of projects including all prep of materials, the summer school Symposium... actually I'm struggling to think of anything I didn't like :) ”

Has it made a difference to your future plans?

Yes (78.6% of 28 interns)

Would you recommend this programme to other students?

Yes (100 % of 28 interns)