Research Internships

The Graduate Research School encourages all PhD students from all disciplines, domestic and international, to complete a research internship during candidature. Develop new insights, critical skills and expertise and expand your networks.

Design a research internship

You can design your own research internship with an industry partner. These research internships must extend for greater than 60 days over a minimum three month period and can be full-time or part-time, in-person or virtual. While research internships can be taken any time during your course (except before confirmation of candidature or during the last six months of candidature), you will need to submit an internship plan before you reach 18 months of full-time candidature (or part-time equivalent).

Plan ahead

Start planning your research internship early in candidature. Your internship must include research & development (R&D) activities that are related to your research topic but can be broader than your specific research project. Discuss possible research & development (R&D) activities for an internship with your supervisors.

Examples of R&D activities include:

  • Working individually, or collaboratively with industry, to apply design thinking and identify and solve real industry problems with recommendations to improve or develop solutions.
  • Reviewing the literature & critically assessing new findings, challenging assumptions, conducting evidence-based research and development, testing prototypes, developing or improving product or service design, collecting prototype data, developing prototype protocols, test marketing.
  • Constructing and operating a pilot plant to test and/or improve operations.
  • Implementing Phase I-III clinical trials.
  • Building algorithms, new programming languages or operating systems.
  • Developing new policies and frameworks.
  • Developing creative works, delivering live performance of creative works, recording or rendering works and curated exhibitions or events.
  • Increasing the knowledge of humankind, culture and society or applying new knowledge through creative works.

Prior to approaching an industry partner you may wish to use the tools and support provided by UWA Careers and Employability to self-assess your technical capabilities and transferrable skills and build your résumé. Explore UWA's Employability Resources to develop a pitch to a potential industry partner that describes your skills, knowledge and personal attributes.

Approach an external or industry partner organisation (also known as a Research End User – REU – or partner organisation). Businesses, government departments and organisations, and non-government and community organisations are all examples of possible partner organisations, provided they are not affiliated with a university. If you are already employed by an organisation, your employer may partner with you for a research internship in some situations.

Read more about partner organisations here: government and non-government. You can email [email protected] if you would like clarification of whether a potential partner meets the definition of an REU organisation.

Discuss internship logistics with your supervisors and industry partner. You can plan for a full-time or part-time internship or a mix of both provided the total time spent on the internship is greater than 60 days (full time or equivalent) spread over three months or more. The internship can be in-person or virtual or a mix of both. You can plan an internship for any time in your candidature between confirmation of candidature and the final six months of your course.

Read the internship eligibility conditions as you will need to meet these conditions, such as satisfactory progress and up-to-date milestones, at the time of your internship. If you are a sponsored international student, check with your sponsor that an internship is possible. All students, except students on RTP and UWA scholarships, will need to check that an internship does not breach the scholarship conditions.

You can indicate in your research proposal and first progress review that you are planning an internship.

Submit your internship plan before 18 months of candidature

Submit your internship plan in HDRhub by starting a Research End User Engagement application. This internship plan is an indication of your intention to undertake an internship and not a formal agreement. Your plan needs to be submitted before you are 18 months of full-time candidature.

If you are part-time, your plan needs to be submitted before you reach 36 months of candidature. If you plan to take an internship before 18 months of candidature, you should submit your plan and formal internships agreement at least 1 month prior to the internship.

In the HDRhub Research End User Engagement application, you will need to note the planned dates of the internship, the name of your Industry Partner, the hours you intend to work and other details.

Submit your internship agreement at least one month before the internship
At least one month prior to your internship, your internship plan needs to be formalised as an internship agreement. This formal internship agreement is signed by you, your supervisors and your industry partner. The agreement will include how any intellectual property (IP) arising from the internship will be managed.

Submit your formal internship agreement in HDRhub.

You cannot start your internship until this formal internship agreement has been approved by the GRS in HDRhub.

Once you have the formal agreement signed by your industry partner, the GRS strongly encourage you to complete the internship as a matter of professional courtesy.
Start your internship

Check your internship eligibility. At the time of your internship, you need to meet the internship eligibility conditions which include making satisfactory progress and ensuring your milestones are up-to-date.

Start your internship. In total, your internship will need to extend for greater than 60 days over a minimum of three months. Internships can be planned for longer than this period or extended during the internship. If you wish to extend your research internship, you will need to submit a Research End User Engagement extension application in HDRhub.

Consider any payments. If your internship is paid, students with RTP/UWA living allowance scholarships (stipends) can choose to suspend their living allowance or receive both the internship payment and the living allowance.

During your internship you will be protected by UWA’s insurance as you are engaged in course-related activities.

Complete your internship
Record completion of your internship in HDRhub. Complete your HDRhub Research End User Engagement record which asks for a written reflection on your internship experience.

Satisfactory completion of a research internship of greater than 60 days over a minimum three month period will be recorded on your academic transcript.

Whether or not your internship outcomes can be included in your thesis will need to be negotiated between you, your supervisors and your industry partner.

Enrol in an Internship Program

You may consider enrolling in a pre-existing internship related to your research area. While these internships may not offer the same flexibility as an internship you design yourself, such as set commencement dates and inflexible working hours, they often require less up-front planning.

The GRS partners with the following key research internship providers that provide research internships suitable for a wide range of disciplines. You may also wish to explore whether there are specific internship programs in your discipline.

If you apply for a pre-existing Research Internship, the internship needs to be reported in HDRhub in the same way that a self-designed internship is managed - submit an internship plan, upload the formal internship agreement, seek approval from the GRS and record completion of your internship once you have finished.

Other industry engagement opportunities

In addition to research internships, there are other ways to engage with industry during your candidature. These opportunities include mentoring and innovation, entrepreneurship and commercialisation programs, training in transferable skills and more.

Some training programs will be delivered by UWA, others are recognised by the University but delivered externally by another educational institution or by industry or other research end user.

Information for partner organisations

  • Your organisation, the PhD student and UWA (represented by the student's PhD supervisor and endorsed by the the UWA Graduate Research School) will collaborate on the scope of the research and development activities to be undertaken by the student. All parties will sign an Internship Agreement before commencement.
  • The duration of research internships is equivalent to 60 days or more over at least three calendar months and can be completed part-time or full-time, at your workplace, on campus, online or a hybrid arrangement. Longer internships can be negotiated.
  • The internship activities must be related to the student’s area of research, reflect both the interests of your organisation and offer a professional development opportunity for the student. The student’s ability, access to resources and time allocated for academic study and mentoring need to be considered.
  • Your organisation will nominate a workplace supervisor to orientate the student, act as a mentor and provide feedback throughout the internship, and liaise with the PhD supervisor at UWA.
  • The Internship Agreement will address intellectual property (IP) and signed by all parties. Typically, the internship IP is held by your organisation, while any background research IP is retained by the student.

What is a partner organisation?

A Partner Organisation (Research End-User) is an individual, community, employer or organisation external to academia that will directly use or directly benefit from the output, outcome, or results of the research.

  • Examples of research end users includes businesses, governments, non-governmental organisations, communities, and community organisations.
  • Exclusions include universities and their affiliates such as research institutes, controlled entities, or subsidiaries. For further queries, please email [email protected]
What are some examples of projects PhD students have completed in a research internship with industry?

PhD students have:

  • Worked individually, or collaboratively with industry, to apply design thinking and identify and solve real industry problems with recommendations to improve or develop solutions.
  • Reviewed literature & critically assessed new findings, challenged assumptions, conducted evidence-based research and development, tested prototypes, developed or improved product or service design, collected prototype data, developed prototype protocols, test to market.
  • Constructed and operated a pilot plant  to test and improve.
  • Implemented Phase I to III of clinical trials.
  • Built logarithms , new programming languages and operating systems.
  • Developed new policies and frameworks.
  • Developed creative works, delivered live performance  of creative works, recorded or rendered works and curated exhibitions or events.
  • Developed creative & systematic work to increase the stock of knowledge of humankind, culture and society and devise new applications of available knowledge.
When can a research internship start?
Anytime following Confirmation of Candidature and meeting the eligibility requirements.

UWA PhD students who are enrolled, completed 12 to 18 months into their studies and wish to start a research internship, need to submit their Research Internship Agreement, and Internship Proposal outlining the scope of work, and sign it with the Partner Organisation, UWA’s academic supervisor and approved by UWA’s Graduate Research School.

UWA PhD Students who are enrolled and completed less than 12 months into their studies can provide written confirmation of a future 60 FTE day minimum (over 3 month) internship with the Partner Organisation. They would commence their internship after their Confirmation of Candidature (12 months) with completion prior to their exams being finalised (48 months).
What are the financial obligations?
Partner Organisations providing an internship with UWA’s partner programs, APR Intern and iPREP, make payment as defined by the program and can be negotiated by scale.

Payment for bespoke internships can be negotiated with the student by the Partner Organisation and reflected in the Internship Agreement.

Unpaid internships may be arranged in discussion with the Research Internships team. Please email [email protected]
How long is a research internship?
Research internships are normally for 3 calendar months (equivalent to 60 FTE working days) in duration and can be extended with negotiation and approval from UWA.
How are the research internships developed?
Research internships are developed in collaboration between the Partner Organisation, and UWA student and academic supervisor.

Partner Organisations can access UWA’s internship programs APR Intern and iPREP or develop a bespoke internship to suit the needs of your organisation.

If you are interested in establishing a bespoke research internship, please contact the UWA Graduate School of Research at [email protected].
What is the role of the supervisor in the partner organisation?
One or more members of the Partner Organisation will be a co-supervisor to the student. This role will help develop meaningful project outcomes and key tasks for the student to complete during the internship. Partner Organisations may access UWA’s APR Intern and iPREP internship programs or develop a bespoke internship. Many student placements ultimately lead to employment opportunities after a formal internship has been completed.
What is an internship agreement for a PhD student?
The Internship Agreement set out the roles and responsibilities of the Partner Organisation, students and UWA. This includes students undertaking to comply with the Partner Organisation’s policies and procedures, agreeing to maintain confidentiality of information, and outlining the project tasks and time commitments and agreed arrangements.
How will intellectual property IP be protected?
Prior to the internship, an agreement including intellectual property (IP) will be executed by all parties. Typically, the internship IP is held by the Partner Organisation, while any background research IP is retained by the relevant party.
What insurance cover is provided?
PhD students are protected by UWA’s insurance whilst engaged in course-related activities such as an internship which is recognised and approved the UWA Graduate Research School. Where an employer is offering a research internship under an employment contract, the employer provides insurance coverage. Please note: Recognition of such an arrangement as a research internship will require some criteria to be met, particularly as UWA PhD students may not suspend to take up employment.
Can an internship be covered under an employment contract?
In cases where the UWA student is working on a discrete R&D project with the Partner Organisation under an employment contract, the student is entitled to employment conditions covered by Fair Work Act and insurance coverage is met by the Partner Organisation. In most such cases the university will not be a signatory to that contract so the nature of work described in the employment contract must be recognised as equivalent to the criteria that define a research internship and approved verified in writing by the UWA supervisor or the Dean of the UWA Graduate Research School. The start/end dates and days of engagement must also be reported to the Graduate Research School. The student is entitled to employment conditions covered by Fair Work Act and insurance coverage met by the Partner Organisation.

In some situations, a research internship with an employer may be possible. Please contact UWA’s Graduate Research School of Research Internships team at [email protected]

Information brochures

Information for industry partners

Information for industry partners [PDF, 451.6kb]

Information for HDR supervisors

Information for HDR supervisors [PDF, 525.6kb]

Contact us

Questions about research Internships can be directed to [email protected]