Work experience in the School of Physics & Astronomy

We receive a huge number of enquiries asking about the possibility of doing some work experience in the School of Physics. At present, we do offer work experience for Year 12 students aged 16 or over by one of the two routes below: gaining a Nuffield Research Placement, or being accepted for a place on the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics work experience week, which runs twice a year, usually in January and July. Unfortunately we're not able to offer placements for students in other years, or on alternate dates, or shorter 'work shadowing' visits. If at some point we do offer other work experience opportunities, these will be added below.

The Science and Technology Facilities Council offers Y10-13 work experience at some of their sites across the UK - see their website for more information.

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics work experience week - applications now open

Jan 2015 work experience group
The January 2015 work experience group

All work experience places for 2018 have been filled; you can sign up for email alerts when the 2019 dates are announced by filling in this form.

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JBCA) is the astronomical research centre of the University of Manchester, and is one of the largest astrophysics groups in the country. The research interests of the JBCA span almost every area of astrophysics, from the Sun to the Big Bang and we are one of the world's most important centres for the technical development of radio telescopes and instrumentation. The JBCA is also responsible for the operation of the eMERLIN and VLBI national facilities and the Lovell telescope; the operations centre for these facilities is at Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire. The Observatory will also be the site of the new international project office for the Square Kilometre Array telescope.

We are occasionally able to take on Year 12/A-Level students for a week-long work experience programme, where up to 12 placement students spend the week working as a team across a range of short astrophysics projects and experiments at our main research centre in the Alan Turing Building in the University of Manchester campus. The group ends the week by giving a seminar on their work to JBCA staff and PhD students. Past research topics have included the moons of Jupiter, dark matter simulations, estimating the age of a globular cluster, and spectroscopy of planetary nebulae. It's not expected that you would have any knowledge of the research topic, but they all involve working with real data as an astrophysicists would - so using maths and computing to study some aspect of the universe.

The work experience week is held twice a year, in late January/early February and in early July. Dates are announced on this page approximately 3-4 months in advance.

Eligibility for the work experience programme:

  • You must be aged 16-18, or you will be 16 by the beginning of the week you're applying for.
  • You should be in Year 12 (first year of A-Level) or equivalent
  • You must be studying both physics and maths.
  • You have to be available for the whole week. Each day will run roughly 10am - 4pm
  • If accepted, you'll need permission from your school and a parent or guardian.
  • This is not a residential placement, and most attendees either live locally or can stay with local relatives. You can apply regardless of where you live, but you'll have to arrange and pay for your own transport and/or accommodation - we can't reimburse these costs, and please note that there will only be staff supervision 10-4 while you're on campus.

Note that this placement is based on the University's main Oxford Road campus, not at the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire. We regret that we're unable to consider applications from students in earlier years, or from students who will complete their A-level courses this year. We also can't offer placements or work shadowing on alternative dates.

If you have any questions that aren't covered above, you can contact

Nuffield Research Placements

Alex W, Nuffield student from 2014
One of our 2014 students, working on pulsating globular cluster stars

The Nuffield Foundation offer over 1000 4-6 week summer placements in STEM subjects each year. See their website for this year's dates and information on how to apply. Note that this is an external agency and that if you're successful in being awarded a place this doesn't mean your placement will necessarily be at the University of Manchester.

"Students in the first year of a post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) course are eligible to apply. Placements are available across the UK, in universities, commercial companies, voluntary organisations and research institutions. We particularly encourage students who don't have a family history of going to university or who attend schools in less well-off areas. We make sure no-one is excluded on a financial basis by covering students' travel costs. Some students may also be eligible for a weekly bursary in addition to travel expenses. Your regional coordinator will be able to advise on eligibility." -- from

See their information for applications in 2017

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