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School of Arts and Humanities


The Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship
3 July – 11 August 2023


Guidance for Applicants

This document provides details on how to apply to the Arts and Humanities Research Summer Internship. Please read these guidelines carefully before making your application.


1. Application Method

You must apply to this programme via the online form: We will not consider applications which are submitted to us via any other means.


2. What does The Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship offer?

The Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship is designed to:

  • enhance your research skills;
  • enhance your ability to make a competitive application for postgraduate courses and funding;
  • give you the opportunity to engage with inspiring arts and humanities research staff and students at the University of Cambridge;
  • inform you about opportunities for postgraduate studies and research careers in arts and humanities.


3. Eligibility

To be eligible for the Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship you must:

  1. have, or expect to have  and be able to prove right to live and work in the UK, with no restrictions on how long you can stay before the 3 July 2023:;
  2. have been ordinarily resident in the UK (but not mainly for full-time education) since 1 July 2020;
  3. be currently undertaking an undergraduate degree at a UK or Irish university;
  4. be in the penultimate year of your course;
  5. have proven and potential academic excellence:
    Applicants would usually be on track to achieve a final undergraduate degree grade of a strong 2:1 or First in arts and humanities. If your transcript shows year on year grade progression towards the upper range of a 2:1 or above, then we would encourage you to apply.  
  6. have an interest in undertaking a research postgraduate degree (MPhil/Masters’) in the arts and humanities, and be intending to make an application to a UK higher education institution for 2024-2025 entry.
  7. consent to abide by the terms and conditions of the offer, should you be made one, and commit to providing all requested feedback within one month of the close of the programme;
  8. meet at least one of the following criteria:
  • be in the first generation of your family to go to university (e.g. neither of your parents have an undergraduate degree);
  • entered university at undergraduate level from a care background or a Foyer resident;
  • being a young carer;
  • be estranged from your parents/guardians;
  • belong to an ethnic group under-represented at Cambridge (British Black or Mixed Black, Bangladeshi or Mixed Bangladeshi, and Pakistani or Mixed Pakistani);
  • be in receipt of free school meals at secondary school;
  • receive full state support for maintenance for your course of undergraduate study;
  • be a mature student (entered undergraduate degree as a mature student (that is, 21 or over at the start of current undergraduate course);
  • be either a single parent, or lone guardian of a young person who is aged under 18 and/or is still in full-time education;
  • having refugee status.

For more information on the above criteria and whether you satisfy them, see the Widening Participation Criteria section below.


4. Selection Criteria

Applicants will be selected according to the following criteria:

Proposed project: You will be given the opportunity to propose your own topic of interest within the subject areas offered by the prospective supervisors. Please see the details of possible research areas below.

Academic Achievement and Potential: This will be evaluated through the candidates’ application form, university transcript, a reference, and an interview. Applicants would ideally be on track to achieve a final undergraduate degree grade of a strong 2:1 or first-class degree (e.g.: if your transcript shows year-on-year grade progression towards the upper range of a 2:1 or above).

Opportunity: This refers to the extent to which applicants will benefit from the programme, given their previous educational experiences. Preference will be given to students who have not already had the opportunity to undertake research in relevant areas (see Research Experience section below).

In addition to academic merit and your potential to do research in the relevant field and your proposed project, selection for the programme will take account of the following information which is collected via your application form and personal statement:

  • socio-economic information including financial circumstances
  • any relevant contextual information
  • additional scores would be given to applicants who demonstrate more than one of the special circumstances listed under the eligibility criteria;

We understand that factors such as socio-economic disadvantage can make it difficult for students to demonstrate their full potential. Therefore, we use a range of contextual data that you provide in your application to help us better understand your achievements in the context of your particular circumstances. Applicants who can demonstrate more of the socio-economic factors listed in the eligibility criteria will be more likely to be considered for the internship provided that they also meet our academic criteria.

Applicants will be selected based on their proposed project, academic achievement, potential in the context of their education to date, and the benefits the programme will be able to provide them.


5. Application Dates

The application deadline: 9am, Tuesday 2 May 2023

Interviews (held online): weeks commencing 8 and 15 May 2023 (TBC)

The programme will operate a short waiting list in case any selected candidates are unable to take up their place. We will inform you if you are on the waiting list.


6. Accommodation and Pay

You will be paid for participation in the programme at the rate of Cambridge Living Wage (currently £10.90 per hour), for a 35-hour week. This is intended to offset any loss from other paid summer employment opportunities.

In addition, participants will be provided with single accommodation at Hughes Hall for the duration of the programme including weekends. Rooms will be allocated at random unless a student has specific needs (which you are invited to set out in the Accessibility section of the online form). You are expected to live in this College accommodation for the duration of the programme and comply with College regulations. In exceptional circumstances, agreed with your supervisor, you may arrange alternative accommodation for yourself.


7. Expectations

Successful candidates will be expected to:

  • live in Cambridge for the duration of the programme;
  • for full-time internships, participate in a research project for 35 hours per week for 6 weeks on the dates provided (3 July - 11 August 2023);
  • attend all training sessions organised for the programme;
  • the programme will also include a number of additional events (such as career talks, presentations, and social events) which will take place outside normal working hours. You are strongly encouraged to attend them as part of your career- and cohort-development;
  • commit to providing all requested feedback at the end of the programme so that we can improve it for future years.

At all times, you will be expected to maintain the highest standards of research integrity.

Through the Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship we aim to help you enhance your academic skills and to introduce you to the postgraduate experience at the University of Cambridge.

Please note that he University of Cambridge, along with most other research-intensive UK universities, normally expects a minimum of a good 2:1 as an entry requirement for postgraduate studies, and many highly competitive programmes will normally expect a first-class degree. Participants in the Arts and Humanities Summer Research Internship who decide to apply to the University of Cambridge will not receive any preferential treatment at the application stage.


8. Reference

You should select a referee who is either a tutor or other academic member at your current institution who knows you and your work well. This referee will be contacted when you submit your application. We strongly advise that you ensure your referee will be happy to provide a reference before you submit their contact details in your application.


9. Research Experience

Please indicate if you have undertaken a research placement, work experience, either at your current institution (whether as part of, or outside of, your course) or through another organisation, or research project of any other kind for a total duration of 2 weeks or more.


10. Widening Participation Criteria

Please indicate whether you satisfy any of the widening participation criteria (listed above) by selecting the appropriate criteria on the application form. The corresponding question on the application form, as well as further details, where applicable, can be found in the table below.

If you are shortlisted, we may contact you to request evidence to support the widening participation criteria you have selected. This ensures transparency in our assessment processes and fairness for all. Acceptable evidence is set out in the table below. We recommend, but do not require, that you prepare your evidence in advance of applying.


Question, Further Details and Evidence

Free School Meals

Question: Were you eligible for free school meals at secondary school?

Evidence: Letter or other notification from your school confirming this.

Care or Foyer Background

Question: Did you enter university at undergraduate level from a care background or as a Foyer resident?

Evidence: A letter from the Local Authority or Foyer confirming this.

Estranged from Family

Question: Do you consider yourself estranged from your parents/guardians? Someone under the age of 25 who is not communicating with their parents/guardians due to a breakdown in their relationships. You may also have been assessed as independent by Student Finance during your undergraduate study.

Evidence: Name, title, and contact details of a non-academic referee who can speak to your situation.*

Single Parent or Guardian

Question: Are you (or have you been) a single parent, lone foster parent, or lone guardian of a young person who is aged under 18 and/or still in full-time education during your undergraduate degree course?

Evidence: Name, title, and contact details of a non-academic referee who can speak to your situation.*

Caring Responsibilities

Question: Do you (or did you) have caring responsibilities for an ill or disabled family member who could not manage without this help?

Evidence: Name, title, and contact details of a non-academic referee who can speak to your situation.*

First Generation Applicant

Question: Are you in the first generation of your family to go to university?

Evidence: Name, title, and contact details of a non-academic referee who can speak to your situation.*

Underrepresented Groups

Question: Do you identify as belonging to an ethnic group underrepresented at postgraduate level in the Arts and Humanities at Cambridge? Currently underrepresented ethnicities are: Black British, Mixed Black British, British Bangladeshi, and British Pakistani.

Mature Student

Question: Are you a mature undergraduate student (i.e.: 21 years of age or over at the start of your current undergraduate course)?

Evidence: Proof of age and university transcript showing course start date.

State Support

Question: Are you in receipt of full state support for maintenance for your course of undergraduate study?

Evidence: Scanned copy of the Student Finance (or Student Awards Agency Scotland) Notification of Award letter for the full amount of maintenance received; this should detail any loan/grant in addition to the standard government loan that all UK resident students are eligible for; any screenshot must include: your name; the name of the issuing authority (i.e.: Student Finance England); and the amount of funding received and confirmation of this.

Refugee Status

Question: Have you been granted refugee status in the UK?

Evidence: Name, title, and contact details of a non-academic referee who can speak to your situation.*

*We will offer instructions to referees if and when we contact them. Requested references will be short and will simply confirm the widening participation criterion in question. Referees could be a teacher, neighbour, family friend, social worker, doctor, or suchlike depending on your circumstances; the choice of appropriate referee is yours but should ideally not be a partner or immediate family member.


11. Interviews

Second stage of the application process will involve an interview during the weeks commencing 8 or 15 May 2023 (precise date and time to be confirmed). Shortlisted candidates will be invited to a short (c. 15-20 minute) interviews with a small panel of assessors. The interviews will take the form of a conversation, will further explore what you wrote in your application, and will focus on the selection criteria outlined above (i.e.: opportunity, your proposed project, and academic achievement and potential). Your satisfaction of the eligibility and widening participation criteria will not be discussed in the interviews. More details regarding the interview will be provided to shortlisted candidates in due course.


12. Supervisors and potential areas of research:

Supervisor: Dr Rune Nyrup

Hosting Department: Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence

Your application should identify an ethical question regarding AI, data or algorithms that you would like to explore during the internship. Make sure you answer the following questions:

  • Which technology are you interested in?
  • What ethical problem (or potential for benefit) does this technology raise?
  • Are there proposals for solving this problem (or realising the benefit)?
  • Is there a specific book or theoretical framework you’d be interested in applying?

It’s helpful to point to one or more concrete examples that you know of, for example from your previous studies, news stories or your own experience.

Examples of topics

The following are examples of topics that people are currently working on at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. They are meant as inspiration for topics you might look at, but proposals for other topics are also very welcome.

  • Algorithmic fairness: Do data-driven hiring software tools rank female applicants lower than equivalent male applicants? Do predictive policing tools overestimate the likelihood that crime will happen in neighbourhoods with large minority ethic population? How can we detect and mitigate unfair treatment by algorithms?
  • Social AI and machine consciousness: In the past year, ChatGPT and other large language models have proven extremely good at imitating human language. This makes it tempting to think of them as conscious, or as having a mind. Does it make sense to think of a computer programme as conscious? How would we know if it is? Does it matter to how we treat these systems or their outputs?
  • Explainability and medical AI: Modern AI systems are incredibly complex. This makes it difficult to explain how they work or why they make certain decisions. Some policymakers have proposed banning unexplainable AI systems from high-stakes decision-making, such as medical applications. But is unexplainability a problem if the decisions turn out to be accurate? What kind of explanations is it that we’re lacking? Is there a way to make medical AI systems more explainable?


Supervisor: Dr Bethany Dubow

Hosting Department: Faculty of English

Your application should focus on any aspect of early modern English Literature (c. 1550 – 1670), and particularly welcome proposals addressing issues of gender, sexuality, science, ecology, poetics or theatrical performance. In your proposal, please make sure you provide details on the following:

  1. Which early modern writer (or writers) are you interested in researching?

Example answers: Shakespeare; Margaret Cavendish; Edmund Spenser (etc.)

  1. Which early modern literary works will this research consider?

Example answers: the comedies; ‘Poems and Fancies’; ‘The Faerie Queene’ (etc.)

  1. What is your theme/topic?

Example answers: the gendering of nature; atomism and early modern science; the ocean

  1. Rationale for proposed topic:

Writing in full sentences, explain your reason for wanting to research this topic as it emerges in the works of your chosen author(s). Why do you think this topic might be important and/or interesting? Answers to this question should be between 100 and 200 words.