Research Council Policy Internships Scheme

SPICe hosts a number of PhD students every year. Students are recruited via the Research Council Policy Internships Scheme.

SPICe works together with the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) at the UK Parliament, the Research and Information Service (RaISe) in the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the National Assembly for Wales Research Service, to select and interview potential candidates for Research Council United Kingdom internship placements. These placements are hosted by each of the four parliaments/assemblies. 

Students are expected to produce at least one briefing paper, participate in a policy inquiry and/or organise a policy event.

More details of the scheme can be found on the Research Council UK website:

Current placements

Gareth Thomas is a PhD student on a collaborative project with the University of Exeter, and Rothamsted Research.

Gareth’s PhD research involves looking at beneficial soil fungi, specifically investigating the chemical signalling they produce which enables them to increase plant growth biomass and protect plants from crop diseases. This can help to generate novel, sustainable methods for agricultural practice, aiming to reduce our over-reliance on the application of fertilizers and pesticides which are damaging to humans and our environment.

Gareth’s project with the Scottish Parliament will explore agricultural policy post-Brexit, focussing on agricultural risk management strategies. Agricultural activity is highly exposed to a range of risks due to variability in markets, and the biophysical environment in which it operates, including climate. Post-Brexit, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) funding from the EU to Scotland will cease. Therefore, there will be potential to revise Scottish agricultural policy, and risk management strategies could be integrated as a core component of this policy framework. Gareth will investigate risk management policies in countries outside of the EU to see what can be learned from other countries, before Scotland leaves the EU in 2019.

Fiona Coyle is a PhD Candidate in Science and Technology and Innovation Studies (STIS) at the University of Edinburgh. She holds an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Aberdeen and an MS.c. by Research in STIS from the University of Edinburgh. Fiona's research explores how the societal and ethical dimensions of genome-editing debates are architected through tools, such as the inclusion and exclusion of actors, rhetorical devices and argumentative patterns. 

Fiona has specific research interests in the societal, ethical and regulatory aspects of new and emerging science and technology (NEST) and her research at the Scottish Parliament will explore how medical devices are regulated from a Scottish perspective.  

Previous placement students

James Walker

September to November 2017

SB 17-79 Negotiation of Trade Agreements in Federal Countries

Kate Grant

March to June 2017

SB 17-69 How can we reduce obesity in Scotland?

Damon Davies 

January to March 2017

SB 17-22 Drug misuse

PE1637 on Prevention of ship-to-ship oil transfers and trust port accountability


Morgan Tatchell-Evans

October to November 2016

SB 16-102 Implications for Leaving the EU - Forestry

SB 16-93 Scottish Forestry

Roseannah Murphy

Autumn 2016

SB 16-76 Child and Adolescent Mental Health –Trends and Key Issues 

SB 16-75 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Legislation and Policy


Joe Ryan-Hume     

Autumn-Winter 2015

SB 15-84 Food for Thought: Scotland and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)


Samatha Pollock           

Summer 2015

SB 15-38 International Perspectives on Land Reform


Declan Finney

Summer 2015

SB 15-40 Good for climate, good for health


Reuben Nowell

Spring 2014

SB 14-36 Mental Health in Scotland


Carla-Leanne Washbourne

Spring-Summer 2013

SB 13-41 Treatment options for residual waste


Alan Mueller

Spring-Summer 2013

SB 13-37 Pandemic Influenza (‘Flu’) 


Theresa Meacham         

Autumn 2012

SB 12-71 Renewable Energy: Community Benefit and Ownership


Gary Kerr                              

Summer 2012

SB 12-47 Climate Change-The Role of the Individual


Rudra Kapila

Spring-Summer 2012

SB 12-37 Offshore Renewable Energy


Susanna Ebmeier

Spring 2012

SB 12-28 Peatlands and Climate Change

SB 12-26 Climate Change and Health in Scotland


Lorna Street

Spring 2010

SB 10-33 Invasive Non-Native Species


John Dowens

Autumn-Winter 2008

SB 08-72 Climate Change: Emissions Trading

SB 08-37 Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Land Use, Land Use Change and Forestry



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