skip to content
 

in association with the Worshipful Company of Armourers & Brasiers

The Department has been running a European vacation placement scheme since the early 1990’s and it is now widely recognised as being highly successful. We expect there to be competition for these placements, which will be awarded on the basis of criteria outlined below. However, it should be emphasised that in recent years we have been able to offer placements to the majority of applicants, so you should not be deterred from applying by a concern that you are unlikely to be accepted.

The placements should provide experience which will be useful for the remainder of your course in Cambridge within the Natural Sciences Tripos and are also likely to lead to an improvement in your language skills. (They are in French- or German-speaking areas.) The placements also serve a useful function in strengthening the Department’s links to other prominent centres of Materials Science research in Europe, so we are naturally keen to send students who will enhance our reputation.

The institutions have been chosen for the suitability of the working and social environment they provide. In fact, they are all located in particularly attractive parts of Europe. We have placed students at most of them in recent years and these placements have all been highly successful. Students who will be taking Part II or Part III Materials Science may also be able to obtain financial support for travel costs from their College. You are advised to consult your Tutor about this. It is anticipated that the placement will impose little or no net financial burden and, indeed, many students have been able to fit in some tourism within their budget or to return with a small financial surplus.

The member of staff responsible for coordinating the European placements is Professor T.W.Clyne and any queries should be sent by email to him (twc10@cam.ac.uk), or to Mrs Lianne Sallows (lmc31@cam.ac.uk).

Financial Arrangements

Most of the institutions make payments to the students during the placements and/or provide suitable accommodation. In some cases this is provided free of charge and in others it comes at a reduced rate. The quality of the accommodation may vary somewhat between locations, but in general it will be of a good standard  - broadly comparable to what might be provided by a College in Cambridge. In addition to the payments from the Institution, students awarded placements will be eligible for a bursary from the Armourers & Brasiers fund. The amount awarded is discretionary and will vary depending on the cost of living in the location, the financial support provided by the institution and the accommodation arrangements. It is also dependent upon students proving they have made an application to their College or other funds to seek further financial assistance (copies of applications/letters can be sent to Mrs Lianne Sallows, lmc31@cam.ac.uk). No account is taken of the financial circumstances of the student. Typically, the bursary will be of the order of £500, but it may be appreciably larger or smaller than this for particular placements. Payments are made in two stages:  the first payment is made when all arrangements for the placement have been finalised, and the second payment is made at the end of the placement when a Final Report Form and a short report are received. The first payment is the full sum awarded less £100, and the second payment is £100. Some Colleges may be prepared to contribute towards travel expenses if they have their own funds for this purpose. Other potential sources of funding within the University include the Worts Travelling Scholars Fund. Application forms for this may be obtained from the Board of Graduate Studies, 4 Mill Lane, Cambridge CB2 1RZ. The closing date is 1 March.

Language Skills

The majority of the 20 or so placements on offer are in German-speaking regions, with the remainder in French-speaking regions. In all cases, English is widely spoken in the host institution and, to a lesser extent, in the surrounding area. It is unlikely that the lack of any prior knowledge of the language concerned, or a reluctance to attempt any communication or reading based on it, would prove to be a significant handicap. Certainly there will be no need to write anything in a language other than English. However, these placements should ideally be viewed as an opportunity to improve your language skills and your stay is likely to be more enjoyable and fruitful if you are prepared to make efforts to communicate in the native language, both within the institution and outside of working hours.

Eligibility & Selection

The students selected will be those who seem likely to benefit most from the experience and to prove most satisfactory from the viewpoint of the host institution  -  both in terms of successfully completing a research project and from the point of view of interacting well with personnel there at various levels. The following will all be advantageous.

  • Evidence of academic potential and an ability to respond well to the challenges of research work.

  • A mature and responsible attitude towards time-keeping and working with colleagues.

  • Evidence of an interest in Materials Science, including the intention to study the subject in later years.

  • Evidence of an interest in foreign languages.

Students wishing to apply should complete the online CaMPUS form on the left by 10 January. This includes a section for indicating your preferred location(s). The websites listed under each institution may be consulted in order to obtain further information about the location and system there. In addition, written comments about locations, made by Cambridge students placed in previous years, are available on the main page for the European placements.

Final Reports

At the end of their placement, students complete a Final Report form giving information about their activities and some technical details of their work. In addition, copies of any technical reports submitted to hosts and a short (1 or 2 page) informal report for the Armourers & Brasiers’ Company should be sent to Mrs Lianne Sallows (lmc31@cam.ac.uk). The Armourers & Brasiers’ report should not incorporate any detailed technical information or results, but should summarise the overall experience of the placement.