Research Assistant Internships

Our Research Assistant internship scheme enables LISS DTP funded students to work as Research Assistants for a period of up to 13 weeks with an academic (other than their immediate supervisor) based at King’s, Queen Mary or Imperial. Interns will benefit from, for example, working with a larger team of researchers, gaining academic writing practice, training in research methods, networking and dissemination, collaboration with external partners.  Interns continue to receive their usual stipend payment for the duration of the internship and payments are extended by the relevant number of weeks at the end of the original funding end date.

Details of internship projects are listed below.  If you are interested in one or more of these, please get in touch with the person named as Contact.  Please note that funding for these internships is only available to ESRC-funded LISS DTP students. The Contact is responsible for selecting the student to take up the internship.  If you are selected, the you must then apply for an internship extension via the form at in order to show that you have obtained the agreement of your supervisor and so that the appropriate changes to your funding records can be made.

Academic Proposals for Internships

If you are an academic and would like to propose a project for a Research Assistant Internship, please complete the online  proposal form .  You can submit the form at any time, but proposals are considered bi-annually in December and June.  The next round will be considered on the 15th June 2021.


Contact: Andrew Brooks


Department: Geography

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: June-August, start and finish dates are negotiable but must be Summer 2021

Project duration: 13 Weeks

Closing date: this internship has now been filled by Joris Gort

Expertise: The goal will be to write for an academic geography audience and to approach the topic with a critical perspective. Therefore a background in  development or economic geography and familiarity with Marxian or other heterodox approaches will be required. No previous academic publishing experience is requisite.

Project description: Chinese political influence and financial muscle is having  tremendous purchase in new territories. Huge Chinese investment is building roads across Africa, developing ports in the Indian Ocean and pumping gas from the Gulf of Guinea. The most significant aspect of China’s increasing engagement in Africa is the rapidly accumulating debt burden. African leaders have been on a shopping spree with somebody else’s credit card. For instance, Kenya borrowed $3.2 billion to build a modern railway line linking Nairobi and Mombasa. The line is now up and running but generating huge losses. Some borrowing might be prudent to help deliver badly-needed infrastructure, but much is poorly planned. The terms of the loans are opaque, and projects overpriced. With a Covid-19 induced global recession in the offing, it seems inevitable that some African countries will default on these unsustainable debts. In the 1980s Africa experienced a lost decade of development as a crippling debt burden and rising interest rates, following irresponsible lending and borrowing from Wall Street banks, led to widespread cuts in government services and the near collapse of health and education. Decision makers in the US were able to dictate policy and impose their will on African economies, forcing them to liberalise in exchange for debt restructuring through their control of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Sadly, it looks like when the next bubble bursts there will be further pain across Africa. The purpose of this project is to i) Map the scale and scope of Chinese lending in Africa, ii) Identify one or more African country most likely to default on current debts, iii) Draw on experiences from the last debt crisis to theorize the consequences of the next and consider how China may re-shape the political economy of Africa. The output will be a single journal article submission.

Description of work involved: The student needs to review a range of sources: academic, press, government documents, economic reporting, to map the scale and geography of Chinese lending in Africa. Subsequently, a signal case study will be developed and theorized using critical approaches. The target will be a submission to a leading journal towards the end of the internship. A secondary goal, will be to write an op-ed for popular media summarizing the main findings to facilitate wider dissemination. Due to Covid this piece of work has been designed to be purely desktop based and can be carried out remotely.

Student benefits: This is a discrete and self-contained project with the objective of producing one co-authored journal article, first authored by the PhD candidate with the supervisor as second author. The student will benefit from the experiencing of co-writing and guidance through the peer review process. Moreover, drawing on the supervisor’s experience, once published they will work to promote the article across various public-facing media.

Contact: Adam Chalmers


Department: Political Economy

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: April to July 2021

Project duration: Semi-part time (flexible) for a maximum of 13 weeks-equivalent work over a four-month period (April to July 2021)

Closing date:  this internship has now been filled by Constance Woollen

Expertise: The ideal candidate will have very good quantitative research skills including (1) advanced knowledge of statistical analysis and (2) a working knowledge of text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis. They should also have experience building and managing large datasets as well as developing and applying coding schemes. Excellent writing and organisational skills are also required.

Project description: Our project seeks to better understand the role of the state as a driver of corporations’ social impact: the effect (positive or negative) that a business has on their own workforce, their local community, the environment, and wider society. Importantly, existing scholarship has largely side-lined the state in this regard and a near consensus in the literature has formed around the notion that the state has retreated from regulating its own domestic multinational firms. Corporations are thought to have instead become their own champions of advancing positive social impact. We carried out a short pilot study in 2019 systematically investigating these assumptions. Our initial findings challenge this consensus view and paint a far more nuanced picture of the role of the state as a driver of corporate social impact. These findings frame two main research question clusters that define the aims of our project. (1) Are states ‘norm makers’ or ‘norm takers’ in the diffusion of global social impact norms? For instance, where and when do we see global impact standards, like the UN Global Compact, downloaded into state law? Alternatively, when are existing state norms actively uploaded into global norms? Do states sometimes bypass the global level, and instead cross-load norms with other states and do we see patterns of regional clustering around a norm-leader? (2) How can we account for variation in the ‘restrictiveness’ of state-driven social impact guidelines? Are states captives to their largest industries or multinationals? Are some aspects of social impact simply harder to quantify and regulate than others? How do regional races to regulatory top and bottom factor in?

Description of work involved: The student will engage three main tasks. The first task is to help expand the dataset and build our corpus of documents. This will include organising and collecting state social impact guidelines from four sources: Carrots and Sticks, Principles for Responsible Investing, the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative, and the European Corporate Governance Institute. The second task involves analysing these documents. This will include some hand-coding using the Comparative Agendas Project coding scheme but will primarily involve using various text-as-data techniques (e.g., creating taxonomies and calculating term frequency statistics; estimating cosine similarity scores and using these in path analysis to test diffusion effects). The third task is writing up results and drafting a paper co-authored with the two principle investigators. This will likely involve drafting parts of the literature review or methods section as well as working on the statistical appendix.

Student benefits: The main benefit is publishing a co-authored paper with the Principle Investigators. This will add to the student’s CV and will help them in a competitive job market where publications play a major role. Second, the student will benefit from learning new methodological skills and adding to their methodology-toolkits. Text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis are increasingly becoming critical skills as social science and public policy make a turn toward big data. Third, the student will have an opportunity to expand their network in academia. This will result from working with the two Principle Investigators and others working on the project (including a LISS-DTP PhD student) as well as from presenting their work at international conferences.

The successful candidate can expect to receive specific training in text mining, natural language processing, and text-as-data analysis as part of this internship (in the specific areas where these skills are lacking). These are increasingly important and transferable quantitative skills that would prove useful for any budding academic or individuals seeking jobs in public policy, government, or think tanks.

Contact: Jayati Das-Munshi (Project would be jointly supervised by Dr Peter Schofield)


Department: Psychology

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: Can be flexible – but will require approvals in place for data access which will take around 1 month (unless already has access to datasets)

Project duration: 13 weeks

Closing date: TBC

Expertise: Doctoral level quantitative data analysis expertise / experience is required – ideally using secondary health survey / electronic health records. Knowledge of inequalities in physical / mental health would be desirable.

Project description: There are major concerns that the impact of COVID-19 has led to adverse outcomes in people with severe mental disorders. In particular, there have been widespread changes to service provision (with a move to remote consultations, as well as public health advice to stay at home which led people to stay away from health services even when in acute crisis), and linked concerns that lock down measures and social distancing efforts may have exacerbated feelings of social isolation with further adverse impacts on mental health, in vulnerable populations. Furthermore the social/ economic impacts of the pandemic have led to major concerns that this will further adversely impact people with severe mental illnesses, who were already vulnerable. This study will assess the impact of changes in care provision across primary and secondary care (using data from secondary mental health care records from south London linked to primary care records) to assess if measures and impacts linked to the COVID-19 onset in the UK have led to an increase in deaths in people with severe mental illnesses, potentially mediated through the withdrawal of face-to-face mental health services. This is a secondary data analysis informed by prior service user consultation exercises which reflect their concerns that COVID-19 has exacerbated underlying health inequalities in people living with severe mental health problems. The study findings will be fed back to commissioning groups and primary care to inform how care is provided as the pandemic unfolds.

Description of work involved: The student will work with a linked dataset from primary and secondary care and will be supported to conduct/ lead on analyses assess the impact of COVID-19 on 1. deaths in people with severe mental disorders; 2. Whether changes to service provision (greater remote consultations, reduced face to face consultations) mediated observed mortality in this population. The student will be supervised to lead analyses using advanced quantitative methods- including interrupted time series analyses, and mediation/ path analyses. The student will be encouraged to lead the writing of one academic paper or report to commissioners on the main findings and will be encouraged to share findings with our service user advisory group.

Contact: Jenny Driscoll


Department: School of Education, Communication & Society

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: Ideally February/March start.

Project duration: 13 weeks, ideally full-time but we can be flexible.

Closing date: 11th Feb 2021

Expertise: Essential: Excellent and oral communication skills; Good IT skills; Desirable: Statistical analysis skills; an interest/experience in the use of creative technologies to create attractive and innovative resources .

Project description: This internship project will contribute to a project funded by the King’s Together: Multi & Interdisciplinary Research Scheme and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAA) Social Science Impact Fund (SSIF). The long-term aim of the project is to strengthen the ways in which organisations and agencies engaged in safeguarding and child protection work together, by learning from the challenges posed to multi-agency working by Covid-19. The study was designed in response to widespread concerns about the operation of child safeguarding and protection arrangements consequent upon the Covid-19 lockdown and social distancing measures in England. In light of the challenges to intra- and inter-agency communication and the impact of actions taken by individual agencies, such as redeployment, on joint working, the study focuses on practitioner working and the multiagency response to the COVID-19 Pandemic, both strategically and operationally. It was granted ethical approval by the King’s College London Research Ethics Committee [LRS-19/20-19420] and has been deemed a service evaluation by participating NHS organisations. We have completed the first stage, comprising 67 interviews with service leaders/senior professionals in each of six disciplines involved in child protection (Children’s Social Care, Police, Education, Health, Mental Health and Law) and Safeguarding Partnerships (the tripartite leadership team charged with coordinating and delivering targeted services for children and families in each local authority area). Currently (November 2020) we are preparing the second stage, comprising a national survey of similar professional groups, which will focus on the lessons taken from the first lockdown to shape practice during and beyond the second lockdown. The aim is to share emerging good practice for multi-disciplinary working during the crisis and make recommendations on ‘future proofing’ the safeguarding system in England. We will do this through 4 partner organisations and 7 members of an Expert Reference Group.

Description of work involved: By the time the intern starts, we expect to have administered the survey and will be working on analysis, dissemination and impact. There will be some scope for the intern to choose activities of most interest to them, from the following: 1. Analysis of the survey data, leading to an article from the survey stage of the research. 2. Development of outputs and resources of direct utility to practitioners working with children and families and senior managers planning responses to ongoing disruption from Covid-19 measures. Resources will be developed in conjunction with partner organisations and the Expert Reference Group but are likely to include good practice sheets, case studies or podcasts for professionals. 3. Policy and advocacy work, including a short report for the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board and other interested parties and an advocacy video. 4. an article on the findings from the first stage of the project, arising from our conference presentation for the International Journal of Children’s Rights or otherwise.

Student benefits: The student will gain from: 1. Working with a larger team of researchers. We have a team of 3 staff from Education, Communication & Society, backed by expert partners from the Law Faculty (Professor Gillian Douglas, Dean) and IoPPN (Professor Andrea Danese) and external partners. 2. Academic writing practice and potential for publication. The multi-disciplinary nature of the project opens up varied opportunities for publications across disciplines. 3. Analysis of quantitative data sets and writing up the survey results 4. Developing skills in research impact activities. This project provides a unique opportunity for the intern to contribute to developing resources to inform current policymaking at national and regional level and to support practitioners as the effects of the pandemic on child safeguarding become clearer and as agencies develop medium to long term plans in response. Developing these skills is becoming ever more important for modern day researchers carrying out research with an explicit aim to change/adapt/develop policy and practice. 5. Collaboration with external agencies: The intern will liaise with our 4 partner organisations and Expert Reference Group. Partner Organisation are: the National Police Chief’s Council, Vulnerability, Knowledge and Practice Programme (reporting through the cross-government Child Safeguarding Reform Delivery Board), The Children’s Society, The Association of Safeguarding Partnerships (TASP) and the Association of Child Protection Professionals (AoCPP). Our Expert Reference Group and Partner Organisations includes Professor Jenny Pearce, Simon Bailey (Chief Constable of Norfolk and National Safeguarding Lead for the Police), Dr Peter Green of the National Network for Designated Health Professionals, Martin Pratt, Director of Children’s Services at the London Borough of Camden, Sarah Hannafin of the National Association of Head Teachers and Hannah Parry of the Association of Lawyers for Children. 6. Networking and dissemination will be a central activity for the intern as we develop resources for practitioners and look to engage with policy-makers to maximise impact from the project.

Contact: Nicholas Michelsen


Department: War Studies

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: April – June 2021

Project duration: 13 weeks, full time

Closing date: this internship has now been filled by Rhiannon Emm

Expertise: A successful application needs: 1) Experience of qualitative research (interviews). 2) An interest or expertise in international/strategic communications research. 2) An interest or expertise in academic debates about climate change and its relevance to international relations. 4) An interest or expertise in the Caribbean Community or Caribbean region in International Relations.

The project sits at the intersection of several fields of study. Applicants are expected to be able to demonstrate knowledge or expertise in at least two of these fields (International Relations, the Caribbean region, Strategic Communications, Climate Change)

Project description: This project seeks to develop a new research agenda and construct an international research network exploring the Strategic Communications methods, practices and conduct of the member states of Caribbean Community (CARICOM) relating to climate change. The research project is concerned to explore how small island states seek to influence international relations through their strategic communications about the global climate emergency, in light of region’s extant exposure to the national and human security consequences of climate change (e.g. soil erosion, hurricanes, sea level rise). The project seeks to examine and explore how small island states may be understood as powerful communicative actors in International Relations. The project will involve interviewing CARICOM professional strategic communicator, so as to develop preliminary research findings on which to establish the wider research agenda. The project aims to invert the normal direction of epistemological authority in international relations, turning to small island states in the global south that are experiencing the sharp end of the global climate emergency, for lessons that may be learned by northern developed states which have been shielded from the security implications of climate change. The potential for policy impact from the research project follows from laying the groundwork for grants and publications aiming to learn lessons from CARICOM strategic communications practices with respect to climate change. CARICOM has unique qualities as a potential case study for shedding light on the role of the private sector in international strategic communications practices, and due to the history and emphasis on climate communications in regional diplomatic research and investment. The project is also intended to support the creation of new partnerships between UK-based scholars and scholars based in the Caribbean Community, which could evolve to include international student/academic exchanges, and wider research collaborations.

Description of work involved: The student will provide research assistance to support the development of a new research agenda, and to support the creation of an international research network. This will involve: reviewing academic literatures on climate change in International Relations, Strategic Communications and/or the Caribbean Community, drafting sections of text, assisting in the organisation and administration of a research workshop, and supporting primary research (conducting or transcribing interviews with CARICOM professional strategic communicators). This work has three principle targets/goals: 1) To support the development of a standard research grant proposal to ESRC, to be submitted in the summer of 2021. 2) To support the creation of an international research network, through the organisation of an online workshop/seminar bringing together researchers based in the Caribbean (University of the West Indies), with UK based academics, to explore climate security from a communications perspectives, with a focus on the strategic communications practices of small island states in International Relations. 3) To support the publication of a research article on ‘CARICOM Strategic Communications and the International Relations of Climate Change’. This will launch a new research agenda exploring the communications strategies of small island states, and how they seek to influence international relations with respect to the global climate emergency, drawing on interview data that will be gathered in the spring of 2021.

Student benefits: 1) The research assistant will be involved in international research network building, through helping to organise an online workshop/ seminar. The student will thereby gain experience of academic event organisation and administration, as well as having the opportunity to build individual relationships and contacts with international academics. 2) In providing research assistance to support the development of an ESRC grant, the student will gain experience of the application process, and may potentially be a candidate for any subsequently offered research positions. 3) Through supporting the conduct of primary interview research, and reviewing relevant academic literatures, the student will be mentored with respect to a key process in academic professional life (the development of a research article). The intention is that the research assistant will be a co-author on the research article, setting out the project research agenda. This will benefit the career development of the student, and support their transition into professional academic life after they complete their doctorate.

Contact: James Rubin


Department: Psychological Medicine

Institution: King’s College London

Project timeline: We are flexible. We can accept interns immediately, or any time until 1 February 2020. But earlier is better from our perspective.

Project duration: Flexible – we would prefer 13 weeks full-time, but are happy to discuss this with the student.

Closing date:  this internship has now been filled by Alexandra Martin

Expertise: Either some experience in conducting qualitative research, or experience in analysis of quantitative survey data.

Project description: Our team work closely with Government to understand how and why people are behaving in relation to the pandemic. This qualitative and quantitative work explores: children’s attendance at school; why people get a test for Covid; how to help people adhere to self-isolation; understanding levels of anger in the community; exploring adherence to social distancing; and understanding healthcare workers attitudes to personal protect equipment. Three of us are members of SAGE and its subgroups, and we get regular urgent requests from Government to provide science advice.

Description of work involved: The student will work with us on one of our COVID-19 projects. Our portfolio of work develops rapidly as Government requests arrive, but we always have a wide choice of qualitative and quantitative projects to choose from – the student will be supervised directly by the Dr Rubin and the senior post-doctoral research most closely linked to the chosen project.

Student benefits: Our work is at the interface of science and policy. The student will get an insight into how government requests translate into research, and how that then informs policy. At present, we have requests from Public Health England, Cabinet Office, and Department of Health and Social Care. The student will also get an understanding of the challenges of conducting research at pace – something many employers expect (e.g. market research, civil service, consultancy).