Academic engagement: factsheet

Information about how academics can work with the Scottish Government, including student placements.

Academics and higher education institutions can get involved in the work of the Scottish Government in numerous ways. 

In government, staff draw on a range of different sources, including academic expertise, to gain access to the latest up to date and relevant evidence and use it to inform government policy. 

We manage a number of different schemes for academics through partner organisations which helps us to maintain this flow of expertise.

Engagement opportunities

SGSSS PhD Studentship Programme

The Scottish Government/Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) Studentship competition is run twice a year. The Competition gives SGSSS PhD students the opportunity to apply to undertake a three-month placement in the Scottish Government as part of their PhD programme.

The student projects on offer are stand-alone, exploratory pieces of work specifically developed for students and will include ongoing support and mentoring throughout. Students can also gain transferrable skills and receive coaching on how to best use the experience on application forms for future jobs. These placements offer the opportunity to gain knowledge of a sector and expand professional networks as well as a chance to decide if a career in Applied Research at the Scottish Government is an option they would wish to pursue. 

The studentships are co-ordinated by SG in partnership with SGSSS. Students must be registered for a PhD at a Scottish university in a social science discipline and must be in their 2nd or 3rd year (or part-time equivalent) at the date of the start of the internship and with more than 3 months left of their PhD when the placement starts.

How to apply

Social science students can apply directly through the SGSSS website. Adverts are typically open for applications throughout February (for spring intake) and July (for autumn intake).

SG contact: 

UKRI Fellowship Programme

The United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) Fellowship Programme provides a development opportunity of up to 18 months for early and mid-career academics. 

Social and economic research are the lead disciplines with cross-disciplinary expertise drawn from across UKRI, including The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). Fellows co-design research with the Scottish Government to inform policy on a designated priority area and help improve the exchange of knowledge between policy and academic institutions.

To be eligible applicants must be based at an organisation eligible for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) funding and have a PhD or equivalent experience.

How to apply

The UKRI fellowship programme is run periodically (annually or biennially), with applications welcomed between February and April. Successful applicants are notified by September the same year. Full eligibility information and details on how to apply can be found on the UKRI website.

SG contact: 

DataLab MSc Data Science Student Placement Programme

Scottish Government offers exciting paid placement opportunities for postgraduate students studying data science subjects. MSc students are paid while working on a specific SG project lasting between 8 to 12 weeks. Students usually start placements between late May/early June and the placements end in August.
The placements provide valuable opportunities to gain experience working in the Scottish Government as well as opportunities for students to apply their academic skills in a workplace setting. The scheme also helps with the development of essential workplace skills including communication, teamworking and business problem-solving.

How to apply

Project bids are submitted to the Datalab by the end of March each year with students then matched and working on the placement throughout summer.
This scheme is run directly through the Data Lab.

SG contact:

Data Lab PhD Placement Programme 

PhD candidates can be commissioned to work on a specific SG project for 10 working days (up to 70 hours). These PhD placements are designed for shorter, exploratory or consultancy work from a PhD researcher studying in data or AI-related fields.

How to apply

These opportunities are arranged on an ad hoc basis through the Data Lab


SG contact:

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