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Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Scheme

The ICR offers paid undergraduate summer vacation scholarships every year.

The summer 2023 scheme is now closed. The scheme will open again mid-January 2024.

Group of students

The ICR’s Undergraduate Vacation Scholarship Scheme offer undergraduate students in the middle years of their degree the chance to gain hands-on cancer research experience. Through the scheme, students will gain an understanding of the research environment and develop new skills.

The scheme offers a selection of exciting research projects hosted by different ICR teams across our Chelsea or Sutton sites. These will give insights into scientific research and the opportunity to work under leading UK academics and clinicians. 


The scheme for summer 2023 is now closed. Students were asked to submit their initial applications by 17th February 2023. The deadline for submission of final applications to the ICR by supervisors is 24th March 2023.

Scholarship funding will be allocated through a competitive selection process, and applications that are successful will be announced in early May. For more details on the application process please check how to apply.

Demand for these scholarships will be high so we cannot guarantee that Team Leaders/designated contacts will be able to respond to all enquiries they receive. If you have not been contacted by 24th March 2023 please assume that your application was not successful this time.

Further information can be found in FAQs. Please contact [email protected] with any questions or for guidance on the application process.


Funds are available for up to seven undergraduate students to undertake a six to eight week research project (with a stipend of £300 per week).

Ring-fenced places for people from under-represented groups

As part of the ICR commitment to promote diversity and racial equality in science, in the 2023 summer studentship scheme at least three of the available places will be allocated to people from under-represented groups (Black British and first-generation students1). These individuals have been identified as underrepresented minorities among both ICR students and the wider UK postgraduate student community. While some of the bursaries will be ring-fenced, the programme is open to applicants of all backgrounds.

What’s a Vacation Scholarship?

  • It enables students to gain research experience and skills while undertaking a cancer research project.
  • It aims to encourage students to consider postgraduate studies.
  • It enables you to work under the supervision of a cancer researcher during the project.

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The scheme is for undergraduate students at UK Higher Education institutions in the middle years (i.e. second of three, second/third of four) of their undergraduate degrees.
  • Applications are encouraged from students who have not previously undertaken any form of summer placement.

Students are not eligible:

  • If they are in their first or last year of study.
  • As a student enrolled in a course outside the UK (even if it’s a UK University based overseas).

Previous student experiences

“Working with the Institute of Cancer Research has provided unparalleled access to excellent resources, facilities and mentorship that will no doubt have a positive impact on my career. […] In conclusion, the ICR studentship was a fantastic opportunity that has certainly influenced my career plans for the better and given me some further insight into cancer research. I would fully recommend undertaking an ICR vacationship for any budding academic, and I would be thrilled to come back in the future in whatever form that might take.” – Hira Mayet

“Having the opportunity to work within a new laboratory that is participating in fundamental research towards finding a cure for cancer is highly motivating and has reassured me that pursuing a career in research is something that interests me.[…] I have had the opportunity to meet and work with scientists who have worked within the field for many years, and this has allowed me to gain an insight into the different paths people have taken since graduating and has helped with planning what route I would like to take when I graduate. Working at the ICR has been an enriching experience and I will leave having not only vastly improved my practical laboratory skills, but also having grown as a person throughout the experience.” – Holly Barber

“Being a vacation student at the Institute of Cancer Research has allowed me to gain lots of invaluable experience. Not only did I have the opportunity to carry out, analyse and present my own experiments, the internship also gave me an insight into what a research career entails. In particular, I enjoyed generating my own hypothesis along with coming up with approaches to test and validate it - it is an incredible experience that I would not be able to encounter whilst at university. [...] I have thoroughly enjoyed every moment of this internship and have learnt so much from it. Before this internship, I wasn't sure if a PhD or a career in research would suit me, but it has inspired me and I will definitely consider applying for a PhD after I graduate.” – Lella Lam

“I was surprised at how much my university world applied within the laboratory. The ICR summer internship has inspired me to investigate doing a clinical/biological PhD, as I had always thought medicine was the only route to fulfil my interests! I think the best way to know for sure if you are interested in something is to immerse yourself in the subject, and the ICR summer internship allows you to do that, I would highly recommend applying! [...] Overall, my experience at the ICR was fantastic and I couldn’t have asked for a better internship. I will stay in contact with many people I have met at the ICR!” – Suzanne McGowan

“Beyond direct project work, it was a fantastic experience to work in a friendly office environment and speak to others about their work within the ICR. It gave me the opportunity to learn about the different roles which make the important work of the ICR possible. I have found this to be the perfect introduction to the different aspects that a career in research would bring and I would urge other students to apply for the experience if a career in research interests them.” – Jessica McAleese

“As a theoretical mathematics and statistics student, I would say it was a brilliant opportunity to challenge myself in a different field, which satisfied my curiosity and opened up a new world for me. […] All in all, I benefited greatly from this summer program, not only for its steep learning curve in academic and professional knowledge but also for the valuable experiences in cooperation and communication.” – Yuqi Zhang

“It was a great chance to apply knowledge that I had learnt in my undergraduate degree in a more targeted clinical setting. Importantly, I was also able to observe the implications of this research outside of the laboratory. [...] The project taught me a lot about the scientific research process. I learnt about the importance of formulating meaningful research questions and utilising different methods to explore a given dataset. Critically examining the results was required all throughout the duration of my project, and it led me to fully grasp the degree of reflection, as well as trial and error, that goes into obtaining meaningful research outcomes. I've especially enjoyed receiving constant feedback from my supervisor and team leader as it allowed for a continual hands-on learning approach that has not been part of my undergraduate learning so far.” – Amelie Siew

1Being a first generation student means that none of your parents, step-parents or guardians have any university-level qualification, such as a degree, diploma or certificate of higher education.