Lancaster University is looking for companies who would be interested in taking a student placement next summer. 

Our process is centred around the provision of placement projects to our MSc students, but they also offer the opportunity to attend knowledge exchange events at the University, deliver guest lectures to our students, explore wider collaborations with our academic staff and challenge teams of students to complete group projects.

This is the fourth year of the Data Science programme at Lancaster University. In the last three years we have recruited 130 students and arranged 100 external placement projects. Thanks to our hosts, our students were able to experience the use of data science in a wide range of industrial and research settings. Several of our students have been offered employment by their hosts and are making an ongoing contribution to their organisations. We are committed to building on our joint success and to doing everything we can to ensure the best experience for our students and partners.

Programme Purpose

Lancaster University’s Data Science Partnership Programme is intended to give students the opportunity to use their skills on real world data science problems. We believe it is highly beneficial that the students’ academic learning is complemented by workplace experience to enable the student to gain an understanding of the business context in which most data science takes place. The programme is also intended to provide organisations with the opportunity to acquire skilled resources to work on a project of their own specification. We encourage all of our hosts to consider how the application of data science may optimise the way their business operates and makes decisions. This consideration is intended to enable project hosts to determine what tangible outcomes from a placement project would be of most use to themselves.

The programme also has the purpose of allowing our hosts to see the skills and attributes of an emerging data scientist with the possibility of recruiting them as a member of staff. To this end, the University does not assign students to projects – each host is requested to consider the students’ applications, interview where appropriate and select the most suitable candidate. It is our wish to build long term, mutually beneficial, partnerships with our hosts therefore we have no desire to assign students to projects for which they may be ill-suited.

Our programme is also the means by which the University’s data science research and expertise can be propagated out to our hosts. We see our placements as offering the opportunity to pilot collaborative projects with a view to establishing wider partnerships to exploit the findings of our academic work.

Programme Costs

We ask our placement hosts to provide a selected student with a stipend equivalent to the UK minimum wage for the time spent working on the project. For 12-week projects this is typically £3,000. This can be paid directly to the student or to the University, which will pass on this sum in its entirety.

Programme Opportunities

As part of the programme we offer a series of options for participation. We would be very pleased if you would like to participate in the following activities:

Guest Lecture (All year)

We offer the opportunity to all of our partner organisations to deliver a lecture to our students. The lecture can make specific reference to the placement project offered by the organisation or can be a more general discussion of the organisation’s use of data science. Opportunities for delivering lectures are available throughout the Autumn and Spring terms. If you are interested in delivering a lecture to our students please advise Simon Tomlinson of the range of suitable dates and the proposed topic of the lecture. We can offer on-campus accommodation for our partners as required.

Student Group Projects (Spring)

As part of the students’ learning experience we will look for a number of our partners to provide a business challenge and appropriate data to form the basis of group projects for our students. The challenge will be worked on by a team of 5 students for 5 weeks in the Spring term. We would require a statement of the insights desired by the partner, access to data sufficient to conduct an investigation and access to a member of our partner’s staff who can answer any queries arising. The students will conduct the specified investigation and produce both a written report and verbal presentation. The partners who specified previous projects confirmed that they received actionable insights as a result of the student activity. Please notify Simon Tomlinson if you would like to participate.

Data Science Partner Workshop (Late Summer)

We will hold a partner workshop to provide a forum for our partners to discuss data science issues of relevance to their organisation. It is our intention to promote the flow of ideas between our partners and to assist in the optimisation of their data science strategy.

Placement Projects

Student placement projects are at the centre of our Data Science MSc Programme. We look for placement opportunities that will be of benefit to the host organisation whilst also giving real-world experience to our students. The topics of each project are specified by the host rather than ourselves. The only requirements for each project are as follows:

  • The project must be relevant to Data Science and allow students to use their skills
  • The project must be relevant to the business of the host organisation
  • The project must be sufficiently demanding to form part of an MSc

The broad nature of these requirements enable us to offer a highly diverse set of projects to our students. In previous cycles of our programme we had a very wide range of placement projects. Examples included:

  • Optimising placement of a units in a wind farm
  • Enhancing the efficiency of an ambulance service
  • Improving quality control in manufacturing
  • Modelling conditions for dynamic pricing

A detailed process flowchart and timeline can be found in the placement process documentation. In summary, our yearly placement process consists of the following phases:

Phase

Events

Project Scoping (Autumn/Winter)

Placements are agreed with hosts.

Project descriptions are completed.

Project Allocation (Winter/Spring)

Students apply for placements.

Hosts interview students and make offers. Students are assigned to placements.

Placement Preparation (Spring)

Academic supervisors are assigned.

All parties meet to discuss the projects. Preparatory documentation completed.

Placement Delivery (Summer)

Students start placements.

Hosts give students site inductions where appropriate.

Detailed project plans submitted. Progress reviewed.

Projects completed. Dissertations produced.

Placement projects generally start in June and last 12 weeks, but, provided the projects are scheduled after the students have completed their taught material, there is a degree of flexibility in their timing and duration. Further details are available in the process documentation or from Simon Tomlinson.

Interested parties should contact Simon on: 01524 510 537 or via email: s.tomlinson2@lancaster.ac.uk

Lancaster University

Our Partners: