The Undergraduate Research Opportunities Programme (UROP) offers second-year students the chance to get hands-on research experience working with reputed academics.
The students are paid for their time and feature as authors on any work that is published. This programme not only offers students a taste of research early on in their careers, but also boosts their employability by teaching them valuable transferable skills.
Improved writing, analytical skills, time management and people skills, are just some of the benefits that students have pointed out from their work with UROP.
Hamish, a philosophy, politics and economics student, picked a project that suited his interest in interdisciplinary aspects of psychology and linguistics, exploring the efficiency of using questionnaires to answer philosophical questions. The paper, which he co-authored, will soon be published and he has already spoken at several conferences about this work.
Hamish hopes to work in drug policy reform – an area that he believes will draw on the subjects he has studied and the learning he gained from his UROP project – all of which will be beneficial to his work in the future.
“I got to design the experiment and run it, including writing the script that evaluated how much respondents of a questionnaire understood the intention and implications of the philosophical questions put to them,” he explained.
“My name is on the paper and I’m a published academic author without a master’s or PhD yet, which is an amazing achievement.”
Dominic, who completed his degree at Reading and is now a master’s student at another university, also gained a lot from the experience. He said:
“UROP definitely set me apart from my peers when I was applying for my master’s – I think it contributed hugely to my application being accepted. It allowed me to demonstrate my passion for the subject and my proficiency in conducting research.”
Helping students find their true calling
While UROP helps students deepen their interest in the subject they are studying, it also has the potential to help them find their true calling. Bella, a business and French student, found her love for sustainable food when she applied for a project centred around it. She is now an intern at the Institute for Science and Technology and looking forward to beginning her master’s in this field in September.
“I chose business because it was a safe option, and while interested in food sustainability, I wasn’t sure how to pursue it,” she explained.
“UROP was an amazing gateway into the subject and helped me realise how passionately I felt about it. It helped me get my current internship and acceptance on to my upcoming master’s programme. As a business student, I wouldn’t have been able to be on the career path that I am currently on and feel so passionately about without having been part of UROP.”
Reflecting on what she learnt through UROP, Bella said: “The skills I gained also helped me going into my final year in terms of writing my dissertation, carrying out research and finding resources. Working on the project introduced me to coding which I’m really glad to have in my repertoire.
“My supervisor was very helpful, but the tools that they gave me to teach myself were what I found most invaluable.”
Recognising the potential UROP has to change students’ lives, Reading graduate Adam Fahn has kickstarted a crowdfunding project to raise funds for two maths students.
Speaking to CONNECTED, Adam said how he wished he could have been part of a research project when he was a student: “There were postgraduate students doing a research project on traffic flows and I remember thinking that was absolutely fascinating.
“What really interested me was the use of maths in the real world and the benefits it can have. If I’d had the opportunity to have worked on a research project I think it may have kept my interest more alive in the years after graduation.”
Adam has generously made a gift of £550 (including gift aid) to the crowdfunding project. In addition to this, the University will match fund to up to £500 which makes your gift even more valuable to two bright students.
You can show your support for our crowdfunding project by donating here today, sharing the project on social media or among your networks to inspire as many people to help as possible.