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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Careers Service Summer Bursary Scheme has been suspended for Summer 2022. Watch this space for 2023.

The Careers Service Summer Bursary Scheme is for all University of Cambridge undergraduates who wish to undertake unpaid or low paid work experience over the summer in order to prepare for their careers. Successful applicants are awarded a bursary of up to £500. Funding will not be given if a company should be paying you a fair wage.  

Students may apply to one of the three undergraduate strands, choosing the one most relevant to their summer work experience:

  • Media
  • Arts & Heritage
  • Not-for-profit

Who can apply?

The bursary scheme is open to current full-time permanent Cambridge undergraduates of all years, including those in their final year. The scheme is open to students of all subjects, nationalities, colleges, and abilities. Students already in receipt of a full or partial Cambridge bursary will be given priority. Students intermitting need to make the careers service aware prior to their application.

You may only apply once you have a confirmed offer of work experience.

If you have previously applied but were unsuccessful, you may reapply the following year. If you have previously received a Careers Service Summer Bursary for one strand of the scheme you may be eligible to apply again, but only for a bursary from a different strand.

What types of work experience are funded?

Your work experience (or similar unpaid, or very low paid work) should last for a minimum of twenty working days. Your working time can be split to cover a maximum of two separate placements (e.g. two blocks of ten days), but each placement must be in the same sector as the bursary you are applying for. Your work experience must take place between 15 June and 30 September, and start after the awards have been allocated.

You may find it helpful to consult the feedback reports from previous recipients via Handshake.

Placements which involve remote or virtual working arrangements will be considered as long as all other application requirements are met.

Most organisations (UK or overseas) are eligible for funding, provided that they are in a sector relevant to the strand that you have applied for. Please note that the Careers Service and awarding bodies cannot undertake to investigate organisations to check that they are well regulated, safe or comply with legal requirements. The types of organization exempt from each scheme are as follows:

  • Exempt from Not-for profit scheme: commercial, profit-making organisations; political organisations e.g. political parties; laboratory-based projects that are being undertaken to obtain technical or scientific skills and/or experience. 
  • Exempt from Media scheme: work experience in PR, Advertising or organisations which liaise with the media rather than being an actual media organisation.
  • Exempt from all 3 schemes: overseas (and UK) adventure and ‘volunteering’ schemes run by commercial organisations requiring payment to take part are ineligible; placements that are undertaken as a requirement of your university course. This includes research being undertaken for the purpose of completing a dissertation, or other course requirement. 

The selection process and bursary report

Bursaries are not financially means-tested, nor awarded based on academic performance. Rather, they are awarded to applicants who successfully demonstrate how receiving a bursary will benefit their future career by enabling them to gain valuable skills and experience.

To apply, upload your CV and budget form, and complete the online application form (the link will be available soon for 2021 applications).

Representatives from organisations independent of the Careers Service will form three awards panels (not-for-profit, media, and arts and heritage), which will meet in Easter term to decide on bursary recipients. Any offer will be conditional upon confirmation from the organisation offering your placement. You must take up the position on the agreed starting date.

Successful candidates will be required to submit a bursary report (two sides of A4) on their summer experience by the 30 September, which will be made available to other students through the Careers Service. Students must have done a minimum of twenty days’ work prior to this report deadline. The bursary will be paid in two instalments: the first half prior to the placement, and the latter upon receipt of the bursary report.

Key 2020 dates 

January 2020 Online applications open for all bursary schemes
3 May 2020 Not-for-profit scheme closes (midnight)
15 June 2020 Media and Arts and Heritage schemes close (midnight)
30 September 2020 All work experience to be completed, bursary reports submitted
October 2020 Final bursary payment following report submission
Terms and conditions


By making an application you agree to release all of the personal details in your application (your name, contact details, CV, and answers to questions) to the members of the selection panel.


The University (including the Careers Service and the Researcher Development Committee) cannot undertake to investigate organisations in order to check that they are well regulated, safe, or comply with legal requirements. The University accepts no liability for loss or damage suffered whilst undertaking the work placement. The award of a bursary to join an organisation is not our official endorsement that the organisation will be able to offer or fulfil their obligation to provide useful work experience. Any information provided by the Careers Service is general information only and should not be relied upon in deciding whether to accept a placement.

Voluntary work, especially abroad, may not always be well organised. You are responsible for checking that working conditions and, where applicable, travel and accommodation arrangements, are satisfactory and that they meet the minimum standards you had agreed with the organisation concerned when arranging the placement.

Your data and use of your feedback report

By applying to this scheme, you agree that in the event of your application being successful, you will submit an anonymous feedback report by the deadline. You give permission for your report to be shared in part or in whole with the funders of the bursary scheme, and for it to be uploaded onto the password-protected section of the Careers Service website. You give permission for excerpts from your report to be used by the Careers Service in relevant material, e.g. the Careers Service Guide, bursary scheme marketing, and relevant pages on the Careers Service website. You agree that your report will be held by the Careers Service for a maximum of 5 years and will then be deleted.