Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships at Oxford | Graduate Access | University of Oxford
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Image credit: Joshua Ettinger / Graduate Photography Competition
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Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships

Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships provide promising undergraduates with hands-on experience of research, with the aim of encouraging them to consider a career in research.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wellcome has decided to cancel the Biomedical Vacation Scholarship scheme for 2020. The scheme will re-open in 2021. However, UNIQ+ Digital launched on Monday 6 July offering participants an insight into research at PhD level and guidance on preparing a competitive graduate application.

Applications for our 2020 programmes have now closed. Register your interest to keep up-to-date with news about the future of Graduate Access Programmes at the University of Oxford.

Information for applicants to our 2020 programmes

For 2020, we’re looking for 6 talented students to take part in biomedical research projects within Wellcome’s science remit that will be supported by one of our participating departments. Further information about the subject areas in which projects are available in 2020 can be found on our Projects page.

To be eligible you’ll need to be a UK resident studying at a UK or Irish university. You should be in the middle year(s) of an undergraduate degree (eg BA, BSc, etc) in a relevant subject area. Examples of relevant subject areas include:

  • science (including biomedical, natural, computing or physical sciences)
  • medicine
  • dentistry
  • veterinary medicine
  • engineering; and 
  • mathematics.

Although Oxford doesn’t offer research projects in all of these areas, you may express an interest for any project in a subject area that matches your existing academic experience, even if you’re undertaking a degree that is not a traditional biological science course. You don’t have to be studying at the University of Oxford to be eligible, and we strongly encourage people studying at other UK or Irish universities to apply. Full details about the eligibility criteria will be published when applications open.

The information below is correct for our 2020 programmes.

You don’t have to be studying at the University of Oxford to be eligible

Your Oxford research experience

We know that financial, socio-economic and other circumstances can make it difficult for some to continue into postgraduate research, which is why Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarships awarded by Oxford will be targeted to encourage access to postgraduate study from under-represented groups. A Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship will enable you to experience postgraduate research at Oxford first-hand. It will introduce you to our talented research community and give you the chance to experience some of what Oxford offers its students directly, for yourself. You can find out more about Wellcome BVS projects that took place in previous years, including a case study.

Student with 3 test tubes with coloured liquids
Biochemical research in the laboratory
(Image Credit: Greta Pintacuda / Graduate Photography Competition)

What's on offer at Oxford?

A Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship will give you the opportunity to carry out a research project at the University of Oxford, in our state-of-the-art facilities under the supervision of Oxford academics and researchers.

You’ll gain an insight into studying at postgraduate level, as well as the chance to gain real-life research experience and develop your academic skills. You’ll also receive guidance on how to improve your CV and career prospects. You’ll learn new and develop existing academic and research skills, which will help you when preparing an application for a postgraduate course. 

Opportunities and benefits of a Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship at Oxford

A Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship will provide you with sufficient financial support to ensure that a research experience at Oxford is a viable alternative to other summer employment.

You will receive:

  • a basic salary at real Living Wage plus holiday pay and National Insurance contributions (estimated to be in the region of £2,650 before tax and employee National Insurance);
  • free accommodation provided by one of our colleges (more information about accommodation can be found below);
  • up to £250 for your travel expenses to and from Oxford at the start and end of your research project; and
  • an application fee waiver for applying to a postgraduate course at Oxford (currently the application fee is £75 per application).

Carrying out a summer research project at Oxford will:

  • enhance your research skills;
  • enhance your ability to make a competitive application to postgraduate courses;
  • introduce you to leading researchers and staff at the University of Oxford; and
  • offer you information about opportunities for postgraduate study and research careers.
Enhance your ability to make a competitive application to postgraduate courses


You will be offered a single room in accommodation provided by one of our world-famous colleges (see our FAQ: What is a college?) for the duration of your seven-week project at no cost to you. We will let you know which college will provide accommodation to you. You will be able to check in to your room on Monday 6 July, and you will need to check out on Friday 21 August.

Close up of a student in a lab holding a box
Working at a laboratory bench
(Image Credit: Medical Sciences Division)

What happens during a research project?

At the start of your Wellcome BVS project you’ll receive an induction, which will introduce you to the University and the research group in which you’ll be based for the duration of your project.

As a Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholar, you’ll work on a self-contained piece of research over seven weeks. As well as being supervised by Oxford academics, you will have the opportunity to meet with our DPhil (PhD) students and learn more about what it’s like to be a postgraduate research student at Oxford.

Over the course of your project you’ll have many opportunities to improve your research skills in your potential research area. Depending on your research topic, this might involve improving your programming skills, or learning some new laboratory or data analysis skills. You may also have the opportunity to attend talks by leading scientists in Oxford on both their research and their career trajectory, and to meet and discuss their research with them.

Our intention is that everyone who takes part will gain tangible benefits from the programme in terms of confidence, skills and experience that will enhance any future postgraduate or job application. Further information about the subject areas in which projects are available in 2020, can be found on our Projects page.

You’ll have many opportunities to improve your research skills in your potential research area

More than just research

We sometimes hear from our graduate students that they didn’t know what to expect from coming to the University of Oxford. Sometimes they found the University’s reputation intimidating and had concerns that they might not enjoy Oxford or fit in. Sometimes they had strong ideas about what a typical Oxford experience or Oxford student was like. This might have put them off applying even if the course and the facilities were a great fit for them.

If you’re awarded a Wellcome Biomedical Vacation Scholarship at Oxford, you’ll live in college accommodation and experience life as a postgraduate student. Social activities, including dinners, will introduce you to our community and to some of the University of Oxford’s famous traditions and locations. You’ll also attend talks on the graduate admissions process at Oxford, on graduate careers, and on life as a research student by current Oxford research students.