Think Ahead: SURE Scheme, information for Undergraduate Students

Photograph: Student in a labDo you want hands-on experience of research?  Want to develop your CV and enhance your employability?

The Think Ahead: Sheffield Undergraduate Research Experience (SURE) could be exactly what you're looking for.

We offer undergraduate students who are not in their first or final year of study an opportunity to participate in a 6 - 8 week summer project and experience "life as a researcher", gaining lab experience, improving technical abilities and developing many of the transferable skills which are now considered essential for a career in research. 

The projects are supervised by Early Career Researchers in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry & Health and the Faculty of Science.

Successful applicants will work with their project supervisor to apply for external funding to cover a student stipend.

This scheme also contributes towards the extra-curricular element of the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR)

Research Projects

Projects are based in the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health or the Faculty of Science. However, supervisors are often looking for skill-sets from areas outside of their immediate academic field, so we actively encourage applicants from all disciplines.

Past projects have covered the following research areas:

Cancer studies Medical Physics - computer modelling Animal and plant sciences
Cardiovascular Science Neuroscience Cell and Developmental Biology
Health Economics Molecular Biology


Human Metabolism Biochemistry Physics and Astronomy
Infection and Immunity Biotechnology


Further details of current and past projects can be found here.

Applications for 2018 placements:

To apply for the scheme please complete this online google form.  You will be asked to upload a CV which is no more than two pages long (please have this ready).  Unfortunately you are unable to return to a partially completed application form, but you will receive a copy of the answers you have submitted.  If you would like to view the questions before you start to complete the application form they can be found here.

Deadline for applications is: 22 November 2017 (5pm)

If you have any queries please contact Helen Cowen at

General support for CVs and applications can be accessed through the University's Careers Service.

Student testimonials

I will be much more confident answering questions in interviews about having experience of research having gone through a whole project.

TA SURE Student

Most people will have odd jobs to add to their CVs, I'll have something relevant.  The Think Ahead SURE scheme enhances your team working skills, but you are also able to work independently and support is there if you need it.

TA SURE Student

The Think Ahead SURE scheme has given me a fantastic opportunity to learn more about social scientific research. As a History and Philosophy student, my studies tend not to focus on research methods. Being able to learn these skills, which are essential to rigorous scholarship, has been incredibly valuable. Most importantly, however, thanks to the Think Ahead SURE scheme I am thinking of continuing into academia to train as a social scientist, possibly in Sociological Studies. I am also seriously considering doing future research in Public Health.

TA SURE Student 2015

Think Ahead SURE - Undergraduate Student Guidance

Eligibility to apply

TA SURE offers undergraduate students who are not in their first or final year of study the opportunity to participate in a 6 – 8 week research project. Projects usually take place in the summer between June and August. Projects are supervised by an early career researcher from the Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health or the Faculty of Science.

What are you applying to?

Think Ahead: SURE offers consumable funding to a number of short term research projects. This enables early career researchers to gain experience of supervising their own projects, and undergraduate students have the opportunity to gain experience of working on a research project and develop skills necessary for a career in research.

You are applying to the scheme as a whole, not to an individual project. Your application will be made available to all the Think Ahead: SURE supervisors who will assess your suitability to work on their project from the information you provide.

How to apply

Please complete the online application form and upload a current CV which is no more than 2 pages long. Any application submitted without a CV will not be considered. Links to materials which can support you in writing your application and/or CV can be found in the right bar on the website.

Tips for a successful application:
• Make sure that your CV contains your full name and contact details (including a non-TUoS email address), the course you are studying and any achieved/expected results.
• Try to keep to the point and within the guidelines (2 page CV).
• It doesn’t matter if your supporting statement is short, as long as you get the message across.
• If you have research experience list the skills that you have, or transferable skills from other jobs and activities that you have participated in; such as time management, ability to deal with stressful environments, critical thinking, team working, initiative, reliability and resilience.
• Make sure that you spell check your work before uploading the CV and submitting the application.

Recruitment process – what happens?

All eligible TA SURE applications are assessed by each TA SURE supervisor for suitability for working on their project. Each TA SURE supervisor shortlists candidates to be invited to interview.


Shortlisted candidates are invited to interview in December. The interviews will be conducted by a panel of Think Ahead: SURE supervisors from similar disciplines who think that a candidate may be suitable for working on their project. The interview will explore elements of a candidate’s application in further detail and will assess their suitability for working on a particular project.

Following the interview process, TA SURE supervisors will be paired with their preferred candidate. The pairings will be notified by email, usually before the Christmas break. At this point the successful undergraduate must formally accept/reject the summer placement.

Funding for your summer placement

The primary aim of the TA SURE scheme is to apply for a summer vacation bursary from an external funder such as the Wellcome Trust or the Biomedical Society. Think Ahead will support successful pairings to apply to funding bodies. This process is very competitive and although funding is not guaranteed, the TA SURE scheme has a considerable track record of achieving summer vacation bursaries.
If an external stipend is not achieved there are a number of options which students and supervisors can explore.

Timeline 2017 / 2018

Projects released 3rd November 2017
Undergraduate application deadline 22nd November 2017 (5pm)
Shortlisting 29th November 2017
Invitiation to interview 1st December 2017 (no later than 5pm)
Interviews 8th December 2017 (held at the Medical School)
Appointments Successful candidates are notified on 15th December 2017
Applications for funding December 2017 - May 2018: Student and supervisor pairs are supported to apply for external vacation bursary funding
Projects start June 2018 - students are inducted into their places of work
Presentation day August 2018 - projects end.  Students present their research to the cohort.
Written reports deadline August - September 2018.  Final written reports are collected and Think Ahead: SURE is uploaded to the student's HEAR.