Undergraduate Bursary Scheme 2023



Find out more about the 2024 Bursary Scheme


Oxford University Museum of Natural History has been a hub of world-leading research since its foundation in 1860. Home to extensive geological and zoological collections, and host to a lively programme of exhibitions and events, the Museum continues to inspire its 750,000 annual visitors, and cultivate public interest in the natural sciences.


The Undergraduate Bursary Scheme is designed to give undergraduate students hands-on experience working in a museum of natural history. The scheme accepts applications from students from underrepresented backgrounds who are ordinarily resident in the UK.

These bursaries are kindly supported by the EPA Cephalosporin Fund and the Carey Family.


I had the most wonderful opportunity to explore new scientific techniques and build upon research skills I had, with help from leading researchers in the field. I now have a better understanding of how research is structured and carried out, and feel more comfortable in making decisions about my further studies. (Bursary Student, 2022)

My supervisors were excellent! They were supportive, enthusiastic, and engaging. (Bursary Student, 2022)

What We Offer

The Undergraduate Bursary Scheme provides students from underrepresented backgrounds the opportunity to gain 5-6 weeks of practical work experience in a museum, and to contribute to departmental output in collections, research, or public engagement.

The bursaries offer a total stipend of £2250 to cover travel and living expenses. Students will have the option of staying in accommodation to be provided by the Museum at no additional charge. 

Projects will run at fixed dates between June and September 2023.


To be eligible for the bursaries, applicants must meet the following criteria:


  • be ordinarily resident in the UK (your UK residence should not have been wholly or mainly for the purpose of receiving full-time education, eg you moved to the UK for educational purposes at the start of your course); and
  • be, at time of application, undertaking an undergraduate degree at a UK or Irish university; and
  • be in at least the second year of your course; and
  • not yet have undertaken a substantial period of research (e.g. integrated research masters); and 
  • meet at least one of the following criteria:
    • be in the first generation of your family to go to university (i.e. none of your parents, stepparents, or guardians have higher education qualifications); or
    • be care experienced (for a period of more than 3 months); or
    • have been considered as statutorily homeless and qualified for assistance under your local authority's 'main homelessness duty'; or
    • be a refugee, stateless person, or asylum seeker, or been otherwise forcibly displaced within or outside your country of origin; or
    • be from a low-income background and in receipt of more than the minimum levels of support detailed from your regional funding body (see financial eligibility below to check if you meet this criterion)

The Museum is committed to increasing the participation of students from underrepresented backgrounds. We would strongly encourage applications from students of Black, Bangladeshi, and Pakistani ethnicity, who are underrepresented are underrepresented across higher education.    

Eligibility Definitions

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Your country of ordinary residence is the country in which you are normally resident, out of choice and for a settled purpose, apart from temporary or occasional absences. It is not a country in which you are studying, working or living temporarily. You would usually have indefinite leave to enter or remain in the UK in order to be considered ordinarily resident. Those with a time limitation on how long you can stay in the UK (for example, a time-limited UK visa) would not usually be eligible for our programmes.

We define ‘care experienced’ as those students who under the age of 18 have ever lived in public care or as a looked-after child, including:

  • living with foster carers under local authority care.
  • living in a residential children's home.
  • being 'looked after at home’ under a supervision order.
  • living with friends or relatives in kinship care – either through a formal arrangement (eg a Special Guardianship order) or an informal arrangement without local authority support.

Your care experience should have been for more than 3 months.

We consider an estranged person to be someone under the age of 25 who has not communicated with their parents/ stepparents/ guardians due to a breakdown in their relationships and has had no physical and financial support from them for at least 12 months.  Estranged persons may also have been assessed as independent by Student Finance during undergraduate study.

We include those who are now in the UK and have ever been a refugee, stateless person, or asylum seeker, or been otherwise forcibly displaced within or outside their country of origin. This could include those with discretionary leave to remain in the UK, and those granted other forms of humanitarian or human-rights related protection in the UK. 

The information below is provided for applicants who would like to check whether or not they meet the financial eligibility criterion (..."be from a low-income background and in receipt of more than the minimum levels of support detailed from your regional funding body").

Applicants who received at least the following levels of support from their regional funding body during their degree meet the financial eligibility. The minimum qualifying support levels for the different regions are set out below:



Students who received at least the following levels of maintenance loan in the year 2023-23 are eligible:

  • Studying outside London, not living with parents: £7,791
  • Studying in London, not living with parents: £10,324
  • Living at home: £6,314

If you are currently on a placement year and only eligible to receive a non-means tested level of loan, please get in contact with Ella (ella.mckelvey@oum.ox.ac.uk).


Students in receipt of the following are eligible:

  • Young student bursary of at least £500
  • Independent student loan of at least £6600 in 2022-23

Northern Ireland

Maintenance grant of at least £689


Minimum qualifying support levels for students who began their undergraduate course during or after the 2018-19 academic year:

  • Studying outside London, not living with parents: Maintenance grant of at least £5,208
  • Studying in London, not living with parents: Maintenance grant of at least £6,408
  • Living at home: Maintenance grant of at least £4,488
How To Apply


Applications for the 2023 Bursary Scheme are now closed

Selection Process

Following the application closing deadline, submitted applications will be assessed for eligibility. Eligible applications will be blindly assessed by the relevant project supervisor and a team of two other staff members. A shortlist of applicants will then be decided upon for each project.

Applicants will be shortlisted according to the following criteria:


  • The strength of their application statement.
  • Relevancy and strength of previous experience and achievements to the project selection criteria (academic, work experience, hobbies and interests). This will be assessed based on the candidate's CV and application statement.
  • The strength of their academic reference.

All applicants will receive an email on 19 April 2023 confirming whether or not they have been shortlisted.

Shortlisted applicants will then be invited for an interview. This interview will take place either in-person or online, depending on the preference of the applicant. The Museum will cover travel costs for in-person interviews. Interviews are expected to take place from 26 April – 9 May 2023.

Successful applicants will then be decided on, taking into account their interview and written application.


We are aiming to make our undergradute projects accessible to people with disabilities/disabled people, people with impairments, and people with access needs. If you would like to discuss accessibility, including adjustments that you are likely to need in your accommodation or workplace, please get in touch with Ella. 

Email: ella.mckelvey@oum.ox.ac.uk

Any information provided will not influence the assessment of the strength of your application.

OUMNH general acccessibility information.

I developed an increased appreciation for the collaborative work that goes on behind the scenes in a museum - bringing together perspectives of researchers, conservationists, artists and other experts from diverse fields to preserve and study the vast amounts of behind-the-scenes collections as well as to create engaging displays and exhibitions! (Bursary Student, 2022)