Undergraduate research

The University of Sussex Junior Research Associate (JRA) and Sussex Undergraduate Research Associate (SURA) are pioneering programmes which aim to develop future research leaders.

JRA and SURA programmes reward academic excellence by supporting high achieving undergraduates to work alongside Sussex's top research faculty during the summer vacation.

The schemes' purpose is to help our most talented students who seriously consider post-graduate study realise this ambition. Over eight weeks Undergraduate Researchers work closely with academic supervisors and mentors, build connections with other researchers and gain invaluable research experience in preparation for future PhD study. Successful candidates will, also, receive a bursary of £1800. It is a unique chance to participate in real-life research and discover whether or not you would be suited to a career in research.

Once the projects are completed candidates will produce academic posters and present their findings during the annual Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition which takes place in the autumn term.

Overview of the scheme

Undergraduate Research falls under two main strands: Junior Research Association (JRA) and Sussex Undergraduate Research Associate (SURA). The only difference between the two is that SURA encourages First-Generation Scholar students to explore the possibility of postgraduate studies and a career in research. Additionally, bursaries are awarded to projects concerning Neuroscience.

If you are thinking of applying for the Sussex Neuroscience awards please contact Dr Ruth Staras in Life Sciences (R.Staras@sussex.ac.uk) for more information.

The scheme runs for eight weeks over the summer vacation. The dates for 2017 will be from Monday 12 June to Friday 5 September 2017.

Each student will receive a bursary of £1600 which will be paid in two instalments of £800 (first instalment paid at the start of the project; second payment is subject to satisfactory progress of the student). Additionally, each JRA/SURA will be entitled to £200 to cover research related costs which are claimed using the Student Expense Form.

Once the projects come to an end all award holders are required to create an A1 academic poster summarising the research undertaken. The poster will be displayed at the annual Undergraduate Research Poster Exhibition in the autumn term. University will pay for the printing and displaying of the posters.   

Whilst working on projects, Undergraduate Researchers will have the opportunity to access training and enjoy social activities such as:

  • A workshop to support the creation of an academic poster
  • An introduction to postgraduate study session exploring consideration of further study
  • An  introductory session with the Sussex library research team and admission to the Sussex Research HIVE, a designated area for researchers, for the duration of the scheme
  • A workshop on research skills including induction to research
  • A celebration event for all undergraduate researchers at Sussex over the summer including a barbeque, quiz, and ‘research speed dating’ networking session
Entry Requirements

In order for students to be considered for the JRA or SURA awards it is required that the applicants meet the following criteria:

  • Students must be in their middle year of academic study i.e have completed one year of study and not to be in their final year
  • Students must be seriously considering post-graduate study
  • Students must have agreed for their projects to be supervised by an active faculty member for the duration of the award and mentored by a PhD or early career post-doc
  • Students can either "attach" themselves to existing an project or come up with an original proposal as long as a member of faculty is willing to supervise
  • The scheme is open to all academic disciplines across all Schools of the University of Sussex, including Brighton and Sussex Medical School (BSMS)
Application Procedure

How do I apply?

***Number of characters for the summary has been increased to 1000 characters and for the proposal to 8000 characters.**

  • Before completing the application we strongly recommend that you familiarise yourself with the 2017 JRA Terms and Conditions of Award available to download in the Forms and Guidelines section
  • All applications are made online and the link to the application is available below
  • A template of the application is available to download in the Forms and Guidelines section
  • All applications must be made by the student requesting the bursary. However, we advise that students discuss their proposed research project in detail with their supervisors who may contribute to the research design
  • If you wish to be considered for the Alzheimer's Disease or Sussex Neuroscience award state it clearly on your application
  • You can save your progress and come back to complete further stages
  • All documentation must be uploaded by the applicant and incomplete applications will not be accepted. If your referee does not want to disclose their letter it can be sent to Anna Izykowska (a.izykowska@sussex.ac.uk)   
  • Applications will close after the deadline
  • Ensure you press submit when you finish

You can learn more about the application process and what it is like to be a JRA by watching a video recording and looking at the presentation slides of the JRA/SURA Briefing talk which took place on Wednesday, 15th February 2017.

To apply click here.  **Number of characters for the summary has been increased to 1000 characters and for the proposal to 8000 characters.**

What documents do I need to provide?

  • CV (no more than two sides of A4)
  • Academic Reference
  • Supervisor Statement
  • Forms for the reference and the statement are available to download in the Forms and Guidelines section



6 February 2017- the competition opens

7 April 2017, 5:00 pm - deadline to apply

9 May 2017 - applicants informed of outcome


Forms and Guidelines

JRA 2017 Terms and Conditions of Award [DOCX 32.12KB]

JRA/SURA 2017 Application Template [PDF 84.12KB]   **Number of characters for the summary has been increased to 1000 characters and for the proposal to 8000 characters.*

Academic Reference Form [DOCX 13.32KB]

Research Supervisor Statement Form [DOCX 13.94KB]

How to approach a supervisor [PDF 127.92KB]

Lecture recording and presentation slided from the JRA/SURA Briefing:

JRA/SURA Briefing Presentation [PPTX 9.38MB]

More Information

For more information and enquiries about the application procedure please contact Anna Izykowska, Doctoral School Coordinator on undergraduate-research@sussex.ac.uk or 01273 87 7114.





Alessandro Miele JRA 16

"The JRA has been a fantastic experience which has provided me with the opportunity to develop many invaluable skills for the future. The actual work itself has allowed me to learn to use new software packages which will be beneficial to my third year and postgraduate studies, as well as my career. Aside from the actual skills and knowledge acquired, the JRA has also opened my eyes to the world of research."

Alessandro Miele, "Post-Crisis Banking", Business and Economics JRA 2016


"JRA gave me the chance to explore my degree topic from different angles that I found intellectually stimulating and enriching. I also had the opportunity to gain insight on how the university research community functions and received precious advice regarding how to apply and pursue studying at post-graduate level. I think the scheme provides a great opportunity for students interested and keen in gaining experience in conducting real-life research as well as the chance to develop a set of transferable skills, important and useful for future academic studies and career."

Giulia Ravaccia, "Testing a paradigm for involuntary influence of aggression", Psychology JRA 2016