Guidance for ineligible and unsuccessful students

Nuffield Research Placements are highly competitive and inevitably many applicants will either be unsuccessful or fail to meet the eligibility criteria. If this affects you, don’t panic – there are still plenty of other STEM-related enrichment opportunities that you can get involved in. Here are some of the things you can do to explore your interest in STEM:

Get some good advice

A great starting point for information about careers, apprenticeships and work experience is the National Careers Service which is an excellent resource to help you plan your career. The job profiles contain links to relevant learned societies and professional bodies which may be able to help you arrange a work experience placement.

You will find lots of useful advice and links to UK-based organisations offering summer placements on the Student Ladder site. In addition, you could speak to your science teacher about arranging a visit from a STEM Ambassador to your school. As individuals from a science, technology, engineering or maths background, ambassadors can give you some excellent first-hand guidance on their career path which might help you make informed decisions about your own future.

Undertake a CREST Award

CREST is a UK award scheme for 11–19 year olds which gives you the chance to build skills, demonstrate personal achievement and recognise success in STEM project work. The scheme is endorsed by UCAS for use in personal statements and a CREST Award can also be used towards the ‘skills’ section of a Duke of Edinburgh programme. You will carry out a piece of work from one of three categories: research, investigation/design and build or science communication. There are lots of resources and plenty of guidance on British Science Association website.

Become a Leader for STEM

An excellent way of finding out more about scientific and technical careers is to undertake the Leaders Award for STEM.  The enrichment scheme involves becoming a Leader for STEM within your school or college, interviewing a professional scientist, technologist, engineer or mathematician and writing a report on the career pathways you are interested in.  The programme is open to students up to 19 years old and combines very well with anyone undertaking a CREST Award.  Find out more about this engaging scheme on the Leaders Award website.

Get involved with the Teens in AI initiative

The Teens In AI initiative is a platform for young people aged 12-18 years to explore Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, and data science. It aims to give young people early exposure to AI and how it can be developed and deployed for social good. You can find out all you need to know about Teens in AI via their website and don’t forget to check out the Teens in AI Accelerator programme running in London throughout August.”

Write an article for the Young Scientists Journal

The Young Scientists Journal is an online publication written by young scientists for young scientists. Anyone aged 12–20 studying a STEM subject can make a contribution to the journal. Articles can be based on scientific research carried out as part of coursework projects, competitions or work placements, but the editors are also keen to receive shorter review-style articles and multimedia news items. You could also help the Young Scientists team by editing articles, managing the website, designing publicity materials and promoting the project through social media. Simply visit the Young Scientists Journal website.

Work on a research project with the Institute for Research in Schools (IRIS)

Working on one of the many science research projects offered by IRIS gives you opportunities to be involved in cutting edge research, taking part in for example, the annotation of a whipworm genome supported by scientists at the Wellcome Sanger Institute.  This is part of a collaborative effort to tackle a neglected tropical disease.

IRIS then gives you opportunities to present your work at its summer regional conferences.  You learn skills of team work, communication, data analysis and get an experience of the thrills and challenges of real science.  Schools sign up to IRIS – it’s all free, and we offer guidance, support, resources and online training.  Projects in particle physics, astrophysics, climate change, ionic liquids, biodiversity are some of the areas you can get involved in.  Alumni from IRIS report it has given them confidence and a real chance to contribute. 

Your school needs to sign up to enable you to take part.  Please encourage them to join in via the website

Do some practical science using your smart phone

The nQuire-it web platform, developed by the Open University, gives budding young scientists the chance to carry out investigations into the physical world using the Sense-it app which can be downloaded on to any smart device. Users can sign up to various scientific ‘missions’, covering subjects from astrophysics to zoology. Download the app and you can start participating in a highly collaborative, world-wide research project from your very own home. Find out more by visiting the nQuire website.

See also

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

Read the eligibility criteria very carefully before you start an application.

Also on the web

Check out the Science Council's Future Morph website for information about careers in STEM

If you're over 19, the National Careers Service website has lots of resources to help you plan your career

For information about student internships and work experience, visit the Student Ladder website

You can find out more about STEM Ambassadors on the STEMNET website

Read about the CREST Awards on the British Science Association's website

Find out more about the Leaders Award for STEM on the Leaders Award website

Visit the Young Scientists Journal website for more information about science writing opportunities

Read more about the Sense-it app and mobile research projects on the nQuire website