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School of the Humanities and Social Sciences

SHARE interns Farradeh, Chloe and Junad sitting on steps outside Harvey Court, postgraduate accommodation at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge

The Social Sciences and Humanities Access to Research Experience (SHARE) scheme gives undergraduates from across the UK paid opportunities to try postgraduate research and experience living and socialising as a postgraduate student at Cambridge.

This year’s cohort of ten SHARE interns spent six weeks over July and August living in Cambridge, at Gonville & Caius College, working alongside academics and postgraduate students on a variety of research projects across the social sciences and humanities. They also completed a dedicated programme of training, skills modules and workshops, covering topics such as research methods, applying for funding and presentation skills.

Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as part of the Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership for Social Sciences, the SHARE programme aims to increase access to postgraduate research generally, as well as study at Cambridge, and is predominantly aimed at students who are currently underrepresented in postgraduate research.

“It has helped me realise what postgraduate study is like, as someone who was the first in their family to go to university, let alone go to Cambridge,” said Chloé Hawryluk, a second-year Politics undergraduate at the University of Liverpool, whose internship with the Institute of Criminology explored the experiences of children with speech, language and communications needs in the youth justice system.

“What surprised me the most was the independence we had on the project – we’ve been able to almost do the entire research ourselves: interviews, a literature review, statistical analysis… It’s been really good to get that independence. The internship has taught me what research consists of and it has shown me this is definitely for me.”

Supported by a range of host departments at the University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University’s Cambridge campus, the SHARE programme gave students the opportunity to work on projects that included mapping archaeological heritage in South Asia and exploring the historic impact of endemic malaria in Britain.

“I always wanted to go into research but I didn’t have a clear idea,” said Ethan White, an archaeology student at Canterbury Christ Church University. “There’s so much more to research than I thought and so many different routes to go down. The archaeology team I’ve been working with have been really welcoming and they taught me so much.”

As well as finding out first-hand what a postgraduate research project can involve, the interns also had the chance to immerse themselves in the day-to-day life of a Cambridge student.

Hosted by Gonville & Caius College, the interns spent their six weeks living in typical postgraduate accommodation, with a team of current Caius postgraduate student mentors, who organised a social programme and supported the interns throughout their stay.

“Caius has a very large, very active postgraduate community, who want to share their experience with undergraduates from outside of Cambridge,” said Melissa Calaresu, Deputy Senior Tutor at Gonville and Caius College. “It gives the interns an opportunity to get a sense of the history of Cambridge and also access the spaces in Cambridge. That’s one of the things I think the SHARE interns have really enjoyed: making Cambridge feel like home and feel like a place that they could come to as postgraduates.”

“I applied because I think the SHARE programme will open a lot of doors for me – it’s a big opportunity,” said Junad Miah, a second-year student studying Education, Culture and Society at Goldsmiths University in London. “I learned a lot and I know these are skills I can transfer into my own research. I had a lot of imposter syndrome but [the programme] made me realise this is for me and I do want to go into research and academia.

“I loved the whole social aspect of it. I’m very privileged to have such amazing housemates and interns on this programme. The social events organised by the College were great and just exploring the city and the Colleges, checking out the libraries, eating at Selwyn [College] dining hall with them every Friday; the social aspect was amazing and I will cherish that forever.”

“We are so pleased to have completed another summer of SHARE; a programme only possible through sponsorship from ESRC and generous support from the University of Cambridge and Gonville & Caius College,” said Professor Michelle Ellefson, Director of the Cambridge ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

“These summer research internships are an important way to introduce academic research to undergraduates. One of the most effective ways to widen participation in social science research is to engage with research with established academics.

“As the first in my family to earn a PhD, my own research career would not have been possible without doing research during undergrad. Making connections with current graduate students and academics in these settings is really important for better understanding how academic research works and ways to pursue graduate study. We are really pleased that the University of Cambridge has funded SHARE for the next three summers.”

Find out more

The Social Sciences and Humanities Access to Research Experience (SHARE) scheme runs annually throughout July and August. Next year’s scheme will open for applications in January 2024 so keep an eye on the Cambridge ESRC DTP website for updates and more information.