SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit

Training and Guided Study programme (TAGS)

The Training and Guided Study (TAGS) Programme provides opportunities for individuals to pursue flexible, non-degree study and training at SPRU.

The content is planned to meet individual Study Fellows' particular interests and a member of SPRU staff acts as tutor. In most cases an individual programme is built around a varying combination of two main components:

  • participation in taught courses offered in the MSc courses;
  • supervised study or research in areas of special interest.

In addition to these arrangements for individual Study Fellows, specially designed short training courses for groups from particular organisations or countries can be arranged.

Who participates?

1. Officials in government agencies such as ministries of industry, energy, planning, education and training, and science and technology, as well as organisations such as national science and technology policy bodies, national research councils and universities.

  • A member of the Malta Council for Science and Technology spent three months at SPRU studying the internationalisation of science and technology policy in order to assist with the establishment of a new International Affairs Unit within the Council.
  • An official with the Indonesian Agency for Assessment and Application of Technology spent three months in SPRU studying policy options for stimulating technology development.

2. Academics seeking to broaden their existing research expertise or to develop new teaching and training programmes in science and technology policy and management.

  • A Research Fellow in the Political Science Department at the University of the Basque Country spent three months in SPRU studying science and technology policy-making at the regional level.
  • A researcher from the National Center for Research on Monitoring and Evaluating Environmental Impact at EMBRAPA in Brazil spent a year developing a new research and teaching competence in the area of environmental assessment.

3. Research students registered for PhD/DPhil degrees at universities in their own countries, but undertaking part of their programme at SPRU.

  • An Italian student from the Scuola Superiore S. Anna spent two periods of six months and one year studying technological change and industrial dynamics in the avionics sector within the SPRU Complex Product Systems (CoPS) Innovation Centre. 
  • A Brazilian student spent one year in SPRU as part of his PhD on research and development expenditure and business firm success.

This last category commonly includes research students from other European universities who have won EU Marie Curie training fellowships to study at SPRU, either at doctoral or post-doctoral level.

As a growing number of universities in the world develop doctoral programmes in science and technology policy and technology management, these 'sandwich' arrangements for their doctoral students, organised through the TAGS programme, have become increasingly popular. They provide a mechanism for new doctoral programmes to tap into SPRU's library, data and faculty resources while building up their own. SPRU is very positive about hosting research students from these universities and views it as an important way to strengthen its links and collaboration with other universities throughout the world.

Duration and timing

Changes to the UK immigration rules and the issue of visas to visiting students have necessitated the following changes in the permitted length of visits to SPRU as a TAGS fellow. These are as follows:

(a) For applications from EU Member States, up to 12 months (governed by visiting student rules);
(b) For applications from any country requiring a visa, a maximum of 6 momths (governed by new visa rules).

We regret this change but are unable to offer a longer stay under the TAGS programme to overseas applicants (ie, from individuals not from an EU Member State).

Within the requirements set by immigration and visa rules, the duration of an individual's visit under the TAGS programme may vary. A minimum duration of about 8 to 10 weeks is recommended, although a few stay for shorter periods.

Administrative arrangements

Meeting with supervisorParticipants have the status of SPRU Study Fellows and are provided with shared desk space. They also have access to computing facilities, SPRU's specialised research library, and all seminars and other academic activities. They are also usually registered with the University as 'Visiting Students', and have full access to all University facilities - although this may not be possible for very short visits.

Applications may be made at any time, usually with a view to starting a study programme at the beginning of the University terms in October, January or April. Application forms and further information may be obtained from:

Janet French
Research and Enterprise Co-ordinator

Visiting Researchers at SPRU

For information on how to become a Visiting Fellow in SPRU, please see Visiting Fellowships.