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The Gurdon Institute


Please note that we are no longer accepting applications for the 2021 programme.

Formerly called ‘the Gurdon Institute’s Work Experience Programme’, the Aspiring Scientists Training Programme is funded by the University of Cambridge’s Widening Participation programme. Our aim is to enable students with an interest in pursuing a career or higher education in science to get first-hand knowledge of an academic research environment when they may not ordinarily have the opportunity to do so.

Selected students will spend time in a lab and in hands-on workshops about topics central to research at the Gurdon Institute. In addition, students will prepare and deliver a presentation at the end of their work experience week. 

Our Work Experience Programme for summer 2021 will be part of the University of Cambridge’s Widening Participation programme.


For one week, students will:

  • spend 3 hours in a lab each day, learning and practising research techniques
  • attend four interactive workshops
  • research a scientific topic or technique and create and deliver a presentation to work experience colleagues
  • meet and network with PhD students and other scientists to talk to them about their jobs and get advice about careers and educational opportunities


This programme is for students in state (non-fee paying) schools, ages 16+ who are currently pursuing A-level or IB qualifications in biology and who are interested in higher education or a career in science.

Please see the application form for additional eligibility information.

Due to limited availability, please note that spaces will be competitive and completing an application form does not guarantee placement. 


Students who are selected to participate are eligible to receive free lunch at the Gurdon Institute (up to £10 per day) and reimbursement for transportation (up to £50 per week, receipts required).

We will also provide accommodation for all placement students during their placement week (Sunday night to Thursday night).

We will provide all of the other materials and equipment needed for the work experience. 

How to apply

1. Read through the job description document.

2. Read through the application guidance document. NOTE: this document is only to help you plan your responses to our online application form. We will not accept any applications that are submitted outside of the online application system (see step 5 below). 

3. Check with your parent(s)/carer(s) and your school to be sure that you are free and able to attend the work experience during the dates listed on the application form.

4. Look around online to find out more information about the labs that interest you and the work they do.

5. Complete an application form online.

NOTE 1: This programme will be run in accordance with UK Government and University of Cambridge guidelines with regard to COVID-19. Should there be any changes to the planned programme, applicants will be notified as soon as possible.

NOTE 2: Be sure to read through the application guidance document to plan your responses before attempting to complete the online application, as you may not be able to save your progress in the online application form. 

NOTE 3: You will need to provide the details of a teacher who is willing to act as a reference for you in case we need more information. Before you submit the form, please check that your teacher is happy to do this, if requested.

NOTE 4: If you are selected for a placement, you will be required to provide proof of your right to work in the UK on your first day. This means that you will have to provide an official document, such as a passport, to be checked before you can begin the placement with us. More information about the sort of documents you can bring to fulfil this requirement can be found here and here

Student Comments from 2018 & 2019

"It is a great experience to meet new people and discover what life in the lab is really like."

"Interesting, informative, enjoyable week."

"It gave me an experience hard to find elsewhere." 

"I learned that it's possible for me to become a scientist."

2019 cohort week 2


Please reach out to us at with any questions.



Online applications are now closed for the Aspiring Scientists Training Programme (July 2021).

Please read the job description and the guidance document carefully before completing our online application form.

For more important details about the programme and more information about how to apply, please read the 'how to apply' section of this page. 

The deadline is 1 March 2021.



If you have any questions, please contact 

Job Descriptions

Information on the work experience programme in 2020 will be available later.