Science internships, placements & work experience: Expert career advice and an insight into the science industry

Find the latest internships and placements with top employers in the science industry

If you're interested in working in science and research, we've got all you need to know and the jobs to get your career started.

Science internships 2020

science internships & placements

An internship is a great way to gain top-notch experience in a professional setting. On one of these programmes, you'll spend time working for a company and developing your professional skills, awareness and ability.

Science students who undertake science internships in the UK will benefit from the fact that they are learning relevant information that will benefit them in their future careers. Many of these schemes take place in the summer months.

The reason for this is that it allows undergraduates to squeeze them in between their university years and make great use of their free time. As such, when searching for science summer internships, you'll generally find that they last from as little as one week to as many as 12 weeks (or even more).

If you wanted, you could even arrange to undertake numerous short-term summer science internships or voluntary programmes, to gain experience of working with a few different companies and boost your CV even more. There are many opportunities for students to get involved in science internships in London or the surrounding areas.

For example, previous interns have worked for major organisations including the likes of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Cancer Research UK, National Physical Laboratory and ProClinical, among others.

Search for Science Internships

Science Placements 2020

These work experience programmes are essentially the same as science internships – only they last for longer.

Which companies offer science industrial placements?

Many major organisations offer science placements in the UK, giving undergraduates a great chance to gain first-hand experience of working in a professional environment and also show that they can make a valuable contribution to the company. These companies include the likes of:

  • GlaxoSmithKline: the pharmaceutical giant offers students the chance to undertake work experience in areas such as analytical chemistry, medicinal chemistry, microbiology and clinical research, among others.
  • Wellcome Trust: the biomedical research charity offers work experience in many key areas of the business, including education and learning, engaging science, humanities and social science, insight and analysis and more besides.
  • Unilever: the company runs an industrial placement programme, on which students get the chance to work alongside managers and work on real projects. One of the perks of this science placement programme is that the best undergraduates can earn themselves a place on Unilever's future leaders programme (starting after graduation).
  • Johnson and Johnson: the company offers undergraduates the chance to get involved in industrial placement years in a number of different business areas, including microbiology placements, regulatory affairs placements, clinical research & medical affairs placements and drug safety placements, among others.

Search for Science Placement Jobs

What branches of Science can I do an internship or placement in?

The science and research industry is broad and covers many areas, from physics to chemistry, to psychology to biomecial sciences. We've made it easy by breaking up these fields so that you can find out more about work experience opportunities which suit the degree you're studying:

Where can you do a Research Internship?

science research internship

While scientific research work experience programmes may not exactly be 'mainstream', that's not to say that they don't exist. Just don't expect to find thousands of them.

Also, you may find that some research programmes don't offer payment, and you may also have to look into securing funding. Examples of companies that offer UK research internships and placements include:

  • MRC Harwell: a research company based in Oxfordshire that studies genetics, and the link between genes and disease. The company offers work experience opportunities for students interested in gaining lab experience. These take the form of six month placements.
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC): this research council, based in Swindon, is one of seven research councils that constitute Research Councils UK (RCUK). Research experience placements (REPs) offer opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in summer research projects. Take a look at the BBSRC website for more.
  • Unilever: the company runs an industrial placement programme, on which students get the chance to work alongside managers and work on real projects. One of the perks of this science placement programme is that the best undergraduates can earn themselves a place on Unilever's future leaders programme (starting after graduation).
  • NERC (Natural Environment Research Council): the council funds independent research relating to environmental science in the UK. As such, it aims to help students who are interested in working in environmental science, by funding research internships London and elsewhere in the UK.

Make sure you also do some independent research of your own to see what other opportunities exist.

Search for Research Internships

Science Top Employers 2018 – 2019

We've compiled the best companies to work for as a student in the science industry. The top five science employers for 2018 – 2019, taken from the Top 100 Undergraduate Employers Guide, are:

  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Lubrizol
  • Unilever
  • Cancer Research UK
  • Pfizer

Click here to find out more about the Top 100 Undergraduate Employers

Psychology internships and placements 2020

If you're keen on gaining experience of working in psychology, then you'll be pleased to know that there are plenty of opportunities to do so. Many companies run psychology work experience programmes, in the form of psychology placements and internships. Here are some examples of programmes that exist, to give you an idea of what's out there:

Placements in Psychology

  • Middlesex University London: the university runs a psychology placement scheme, designed to offer students the chance to gain professional experience and develop crucial skills. These can be undertaken in any one of a number of different settings, including the likes of the prison service, charities, victim support teams, or teams that work with offenders. However, students can also arrange their own UK psychology placements if they prefer, before clearing it with the university's employability service.
  • London South Bank University (LSBU): the university's department of psychology organises voluntary placement schemes, with the goal of helping students to prepare for the world of work. Again, there's plenty of diversity in terms of where students can work, from NHS clinics to rehabilitation units to youth offending.
  • Surrey & Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust: the Trust offers students who are studying for a psychology degree the chance to undertake a placement in a clinical environment, whereby you'll be interacting with key stakeholders (e.g. patients and colleagues, etc).
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital: the famous London hospital takes on a few placement students every year (usually within its paediatric psychology department). Check out the hospital's website to find out more.

Psychology internships

Psychology is a competitive sector to enter, so every bit of experience you get during your undergraduate degree will serve you well when it comes to graduating.

This is equally true for those students who want to carry on their learning as part of a psychology postgraduate course, as it is for those graduates who want to enter a professional role as soon as possible after university.

It's worth bearing in mind the fact that, while work experience in the form of placements and psychology internships in the UK are extremely useful for helping you develop your understanding of the sector and key skills, it is a somewhat niche sector.

What this means is that 'structured' psychology work experience programmes can be hard to come across – especially as many of these programmes offer a limited number of places.

However, this doesn't mean that there aren't opportunities out there for undergraduates who are interested in psychology. All it means is that you need to be creative and find your own equivalent of a psychology internship.

How to find psychology work experience in 2020

There are many ways for you to gain experience of working in an environment that is relevant to psychology. However, you also need to be aware that, unlike traditional placements and psychology summer internships, many of these opportunities are voluntary and as such are unlikely to be paid.

Places where psychology students can find / ask for voluntary work experience include the following:

  • Do-it Trust ( – this charity exists to help people find opportunities to volunteer with organisations and groups across the UK. There are thousands of voluntary opportunities listed, so you should definitely be able to find something near you regardless of where you're based.
  • Team London – as the name suggests, Team London exists to offer people the chance to make a positive impact in the city. This includes everything from community volunteering, to helping to improve the environment, to working with young people and becoming a Borough Ambassador. If you're unable to find psychology internships in London, then this may well be the next best thing.
  • TimeBank – this national volunteering charity recruits and trains volunteers who can then take part in important social programmes. The mentoring opportunities are diverse, including the likes of working with UK residents who can't speak English, to supporting young people who are leaving care, to working with Ex-Service personnel with mental health problems.

Chemistry internships and placements 2020

chemistry internships & placements

There are plenty of great opportunities out there for chemistry students to get involved in relevant and insightful work experience programmes with major companies.

These include both chemistry placements and internships, for which we have hundreds of reviews online in our reviews section, which have been written by placement students and interns from previous years.

What can you expect from chemistry industrial placements?

While every company's placement scheme will be different, in terms of how it's structured and the specific science projects you'll be working on, there are still key similarities that exist between most programmes.

For example, many chemistry companies will ask you to work on both independent research projects as well as team projects, meaning you'll have to show that you have both time-management skills and great communication skills.

Depending on the company you work for, you may well get the chance to work in professional laboratories on your chemistry placement. This could involve working on anything from toxicology to molecular biology, giving you the chance to apply your chemistry knowledge and get used to the pressure of working in a real scientific setting.

What are chemistry summer placements?

Some companies offer students the chance to undertake what they call 'summer placements', which are shorter periods of work experience that take place – wait for it – during the summer (often between each academic year).

Here at RateMyPlacement, we prefer to call these programmes summer internships, but regardless of what they're called, it's worth remembering that they still offer you the opportunity to gain real-world experience (which is the most important thing).

While you don't get as long to spend with a company on one of these programmes, you still get a chance to develop your skills and use your time efficiently. You may even get a chance to get undertake a few of these schemes during your time at university, in order to gain a range of experience.

Chemistry internships in the UK

The specific projects you'll be working on will depend on which company you work for during your chemistry internship, as well as which team you're part of. For example, previous students have worked on research and development (R&D) projects, while others have been involved in product development (involving engineering and design aspects) and testing.

Examples of other projects that interns have worked on include the synthesis and characterisation of new drug molecules, to the viscosity modification of crude oils, so make sure you do your research into what a company does (and what the role includes) before you apply.

How are chemistry summer internships structured?

In a nutshell, chemistry work experience programmes and pharmacy internships often allow you to work fairly independently, therefore giving you the chance to manage your own workload and take responsibility for your own projects.

Of course, having said that, undergraduates will still get support and guidance from colleagues and managers, in order to help them learn and cope with a professional workload.

Depending on the company, you may also get assigned your own mentor or work buddy, who can help you and monitor your progress (even if it's not part of the programme, you can always ask to be assigned a mentor).

Physics internships and placements 2020

While there aren't many companies out there that offer undergraduates the chance to undertake specific 'physics' work experience, there are other programmes that can at least help you to develop skills that are relevant to the future career you want.

For example, rather than physics internships in the UK, you may want to undertake research and development (R&D) work experience, which will allow you to develop your analytical thinking ability (which is relevant to all scientific disciplines).

Biology internships and placements 2020

biology internships & placements

If you're keen on a career in biological science, then it's a good idea to get some science work experience under your belt before you graduate. However, there aren't many companies out there that run specific biology placements or biology internships in the UK.

Instead, the best thing you can do is to gain experience working for a company that is at least part of the overall science sector – by this we mean areas such as chemistry, pharmaceuticals or research.

Many companies run work experience programmes than can help you develop professional hard (technical) and soft (personal) skills that are relevant to a career in biological science.

Science work experience reviews

RateMyPlacement exists to help undergraduates find great placements and internships, and take the first steps in their careers as a result. Key to this aim are our thousands of honest, peer-to-peer reviews that have been written by previous years' students.

These offer current undergraduates the chance to research employers before they apply to their job roles, and therefore get a better idea about which companies offer the best work experience programmes.

We host thousands of reviews that cover a diverse range of sectors, including science. In fact, we have almost 4,000 science scheme reviews online, covering everything from biology and chemistry to environmental science, pharmaceuticals, physics and sports science.

If you want to pursue a career in the science sector, it's worth securing a placement or internship that you know is going get your career off to a great start. Our reviews can help you to do that, so why not take a look today?

Click here to read our science reviews

Biomedical Science internships and placements 2020

biomedical science internships

People who work in biomedical science play a major role in diagnosing diseases and testing treatments to make sure that they work effectively and help patients. As such, these scientists are experts when it comes to working out how cells, organs and bodily systems interact.

According to the Institute of Biomedical Science (IBMS), biomedical scientists "provide the 'engine room' of modern medicine with 70% of diagnoses based on the pathology results provided by laboratory services." (IBMS, 2018)

Which companies employ biomedical scientists?

As biomedical scientists play a major role in the healthcare system, it's no surprise that many of them find employment with the National Health Service (NHS). Similarly, these experts are also employed by private healthcare organisations, so many scientists work in hospital laboratories.

Biomedical scientists also play an important role within public health bodies / government organisations such as Public Health England, the Medical Research Council and the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).

How can you become a biomedical scientist?

In order to enter a sector as technical and integral to public health as biomedical science, it's extremely important for undergraduates to gain as much relevant experience as they can before they graduate.

Employers will expect modern graduates to have undertaken some kind of scientific work experience, whether in the form of a biomedical science work placement or voluntary placement.

You'll also be expected to have a strong foundation of scientific knowledge, in the form of relevant GCSEs, A levels and a biomedical science degree (or similar) that's been accredited by the IBMS.

Environmental Sciences internships and placements 2020

Environmental science is about understanding the natural world around us, how humans impact it and what the future holds for global ecosystems.

Where do environmental scientists work?

Graduates that have studied environmental science and developed an understanding of the area can go on to work in diverse industries. Many organisations now understand how important corporate responsibility and sustainability is, and therefore turn to environmental scientists in order to help them develop sustainability strategies.

Environmental science graduates can also find employment with public sector / government bodies, in important areas such as policy advice, conservation, waste management, environmental health and town planning.

Major environmental organisations include:

  • Environment Agency
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
  • Natural England
  • The Wildlife Trusts
  • The Woodland Trust

How can you become an environmental scientist?

You can develop and hone many of the skills you need to become an environmental scientist by taking on environmental placements and environmental science internships with organisations. For example, key skills that undergraduates need to have include being able to gather data, plan projects, produce reports and also present findings (good communication).

The best way to gain experience is often to volunteer to work for local wildlife and conservation charities and organisations, which will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to the sector and your proactivity.

Click here to read one of our reviews for environmental science placements.

Or click here to read what an environmental internship is like.

Energy Sector internships and placements 2020

The oil, gas and energy industry is extremely diverse and offers many great career opportunities for ambitious students. It's also an industry that caters to people from different backgrounds, be it engineering, science, design or mathematics.

The energy sector in particular is often the focus of attention, given the need to efficiently tackle climate change and develop sustainable energy strategies for the future, including everything from wind power to nuclear to solar power. Common career paths that exist in the oil, gas and energy sector include:

  • Geologist
  • Geochemist
  • Chemical engineer
  • Civil engineer
  • Offshore installations
  • Maintenance technician

How energy placements can benefit you

Gaining practical working experience in the oil, gas and energy industry can benefit you in a number of ways. For example, the sector is very much focused on teamwork, so you'll be able to contribute to team projects and learn how to work effectively with others in order to reach a goal.

Depending on which area you work in, you may also be required to communicate with clients, which will help you learn how to communicate with key stakeholders. Other skills you'll be able to develop include the ability to plan projects and manage / assess risks.

Companies that offer oil internships

Many major companies within the oil, gas and energy generation sector offer undergraduate placements and internships. These include:

  • Atkins
  • BP
  • Centrica
  • E.ON UK
  • Eneco Wind UK
  • ExxonMobil
  • Gazprom Marketing and Trading
  • National Grid

Pharmaceutical internships and placements 2020

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the "global pharmaceuticals market is worth US$300 billion a year, a figure expected to rise to US$400 billion within three years." (WHO, 2017)

Pharmaceutical companies invest in research and development (R&D) in order to develop new medical and healthcare products that help people to live longer, healthier lives. Many major pharmaceutical companies operate globally and employ thousands of people, with offices located in many different countries.

Which companies offer pharmaceutical placements?

Lots of pharma companies take on placement students and interns every year, in order to attract talented undergraduates and keep their workforce strong.

As a result, if you're interested in gaining experience with a major company in one of the world's largest and most profitable industries, then you should consider undertaking pharmaceutical work experience. The following are just a few of the companies that have offered pharmaceutical / pharmacy placements and internships before:

  • AstraZeneca
  • Boots
  • GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Lloyds Pharmacy
  • Pfizer
  • Roche

How will a pharmaceutical / pharmacy placement or internship benefit you?

There are many benefits that come with completing a placement or internship. First off, you get to gain experience of going through the application and interview process, which is always beneficial and can help you to prepare for future interviews.

You'll also get the chance to take on real responsibility in your role, as you'll be treated the same as any other employee and relied upon to add value to the company. Depending on what role / company you're in, you may also get the chance to put new ideas forward and take part in stakeholder meetings.

As major pharmaceutical companies operate globally, they often have large marketing, human resources (HR), information technology (IT) and supply chain departments. You may be offered the chance to spend time in different teams, in order to give you a varied experience.

Read for pharmaceutical internships in the UK here. Or you can find out more about pharmaceutical summer placements here.

Food Science internships and placements 2020

Food science may not be as well-known as other major scientific disciplines, such as chemistry, biology and physics, but in many ways it is just as important. It's no exaggeration to say that the work done by food scientists impacts the vast majority of us on a daily basis.

This is because food science focuses on continually improving the food that we eat, to make it healthier, safer and more sustainable (in terms of its production and also the way it is packaged). Therefore, it's safe to say that the work done by food scientists has had a greater impact on public health than most other scientific areas have.

Which companies offer food industry placements and internships?

With a foundation of food science knowledge, students and graduates can find careers within a range of different industries, including healthcare, agriculture, food production, fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG), retail and engineering, as well as with government / public sector bodies.

If you are keen on moving ahead and building a career within the food science sector, then relevant work experience in an industry such as the ones listed above can be very beneficial to your development. Companies that offer relevant placement and internships include:

  • Danone
  • Heinz
  • Mars
  • McDonald's Corporate
  • Mondelez
  • Nestlé

We have student reviews of food science placements here, while you can also see which companies offer food internships here.

Forensic science internships and placements 2020

Forensic science is arguably one of the most famous scientific areas at the moment, largely thanks to its portrayal in popular books, TV shows and films. Essentially, this scientific discipline revolves around collecting and testing samples.

This could involve testing crime scene evidence, examining human remains, or analysing DNA, blood or tissue samples. As such, to succeed in this sector it's important to have strong analytical skills, an understanding of anatomical and genetic science, and experience of working in laboratories.

Work experience relevant to forensic science

Forensic scientists are likely to specialise in certain areas, so while experience working specifically in the forensic science field may be hard to come by (due to the sensitive nature of the work these scientists do), you can gain experience of working in other scientific fields that are relevant to forensics.

For example, completing placements or internships in toxicology, biology or chemistry can be beneficial for your professional development.

If you were to gain experience of working in a hospital laboratory setting, research centre, or corporate setting (such as within a pharmaceutical company), this would give you great content for your CV and show prospective employers that you are committed to a scientific career.

Check out reviews for forensic science internships in the UK and placements here

Sports science internships and placements 2020

Sports science is an exciting area to study and work in, as it gives undergraduates the foundational knowledge required to forge a career in the sports industry. If you're interested in both the world of sport, and the science of the human body, then this area is likely to be right up your street.

Sport science combines aspects from various scientific disciplines, such as biomechanics / biology, physiology and also psychology. For example, this field involves looking at everything from how exercise impacts the human body to how to treat injuries caused by sport, as well as how mentality and psychology impacts sporting success.

What career paths exist within sports science?

Given the fact that the sporting world is now so diverse and includes many competitions that are globally popular, there are many different branches of sports science (and many difference career paths as a result). Some of these include the following:

  • Clinical psychologist
  • Exercise consultant
  • Health adviser
  • Performance analyst
  • Personal trainer
  • Sports coach
  • Sports therapist

Do sports internships exist?

The good news is that it is possible to gain practical experience that is relevant to a career in sports science, though you should spend some time researching and thinking about companies that you'd like to work for. You'll probably have to contact them yourself and ask if they take students on and offer work experience programmes.

If you need help or advice, remember that you can ask your university's career service or placement officers. You should also be able to find local volunteering opportunities, with youth sports teams for example, so consider every opportunity that exists for you to gain experience.

What are the benefits of sport science internships or relevant work experience?

On a work experience programme, you'll get to develop key skills that make you more employable. For example, you'll be able to test your research skills, as well as your organisation and time management. You'll also be able get used to what it's like to work in a professional environment and operate as part of a team.

Check out reviews for sport internships in the UK here


As you can see from the above, there are many opportunities for budding scientists to undertake relevant work experience and work with major scientific organisations. However, it's important to be proactive and actively seek out placements and internships wherever you can.

We have thousands of peer-to-peer reviews that can offer you a real insight into what it's like to work for a scientific organisation, so it's definitely a good idea to check them out and see which companies are leading the way.

We also advertise hundreds of placements and internships for major companies, which offer you the chance to take a huge step towards the career you want.

Industrial Placement Student

Industrial Placement Student


Placement Year (10 Months+)

"There is a lot to learn but I have always found the level of support and guidance really helpful"
Read case study