HotStart & Externally Funded Summer Studentships

HotStart & Externally Funded Summer Studentships

We support students who want to gain research experience at the University of Aberdeen over summer. Students (and supervisors) can apply for funding for placements either from external organisations or from our internal Hotstart schemes. The Medical Science Hotstart scheme is coordinated by Dr Jenny Gregory and Dr Ian Fleming and the deadline for applications is the last Wednesday in March each year. There are also opportunities to apply for placements and jobs abroad or elsewhere in the UK, the Careers and Employability Service can provide guidance and links for these.

How to plan for a studentship

If you are interested in undertaking a summer project you should first approach a member of staff (usually by email in the first instance) to see if they may be willing to supervise summer projects. If you are not sure who is working in the area you are interested in, search the University web pages (such as Institute of Medical Sciences) to find out.

If the member of staff is available for summer projects you may be asked to meet with them to find out more about the project. This will be your chance to impress them as you may not be the only student enquiring about work in their lab – treat it as an informal job interview and do some homework on their research before you go along.

You can then decide where to apply for funding for the project. Many learned societies have funding for summer projects, though they often require your supervisor to be a member.

How to apply for Hotstart

Each year a limited number of Hotstart summer vacation studentships are available to fund undergraduate students who have just completed their third level courses. These studentships provide a limited amount of financial support to help students cover living costs whilst undertaking research projects of between 4 and 8 weeks in length within the School of Medicine, Medical Sciences and Nutrition. These paid projects offer students the chance to contribute to some original research and experimental work, whilst allowing them to gain valuable experience that would enhance students' CVs.

The stipends are paid on a weekly basis, so the total varies depending on the length of the project. Hotstart studentships are highly sought after, so we recommend that students who intend to do a summer placement also apply to some external funding opportunities to maximise the chance of securing a stipend to help cover living costs during a summer placement.     

To apply, please send a cover letter and a copy of your CV to both the Hotstart coordinators, Dr Jenny Gregory and Dr Ian Fleming. Your cover letter is the most important part of your application - preference is not automatically given to those with the highest grades. The deadline is the last Wednesday in March each year and applications are welcome from November onwards.

Cover letter and C.V. guidance

Your cover letter should:

  • Be no more than 1 A4 page in length (minimum font size 10)
  • Clearly introduce yourself and give the name of your supervisor
  • Give the planned duration of the project in weeks and whether you will complete this full or part time (funding is available for up to 8 weeks full time)
  • Give the main location for the project (for example whether it is remote or at a particular site)
  • Describe the project you plan to do
  • Describe what skills and knowledge that you bring to the project
  • Describe what you expect to gain from the project
  • Be saved using your name (for example JennyGregory_CoverLetter.doc)

Your C.V. should:

  • Include an overview of your courses and grades (do not send a separate file with your transcript)
  • Include your employment / volunteer history and any positions of responsibility you have had
  • Be no more than 2 A4 pages in length (minimum font size 10)
Project FAQ

Does my research have to be based in a laboratory?

No. Placements should include a substantial element of research but are not confined to laboratory projects. They can be wide ranging including educational, data-focussed, applied (such as sports-science projects) or literature reviews.

Can I do a project remotely?

Yes. we have run remote projects successfully since 2020 and as long as you and your supervisor are happy, you are welcome to complete all or part of your project remotely rather than on-campus.

Can I do the project part-time or take a break in the middle?

Yes. You are welcome to organise your time according to your availability as long as both you and your supervisor are happy and it doesn’t overlap with University teaching.

Does my supervisor have to work in the School of Medicine Medical Sciences and Nutrition?

No. Though we would expect most supervisors to be based in SMMSN, in line with the University of Aberdeen 2040 strategic plan, we aim to support interdisciplinary research so having supervisors from elsewhere in the University is welcomed.

I’m not a 3rd year student, can I still apply?

No, the Hotstart placements are only available for students between 3rd and 4th year, as this is the cohort of students who benefit the most from undertaking a summer studentship. However we would encourage you to apply for one of the externally funded studentships instead.

What happens if I get awarded both an externally funded summer (or MSci) and a Hotstart placement?

If you receive an externally funded placement for your summer project, or an MSci placement, you would no longer be eligible for your Hotstart placement. This makes sure that as many students as possible get the chance to gain research placement experience. We strongly encourage you to apply for both however. We keep a reserve list, so should you receive both sets of funding, your Hotstart award will be passed to the next-ranked applicant.