Course Director: Eberhard Bort
An Exciting Political Environment
Since the establishment in Edinburgh of a Scottish Parliament in 1999, the University of Edinburgh has been offering, to qualified undergraduates, the opportunity to partake of an educational programme involving an internship with the Scottish Parliament. There are two semester-length sessions (mid-January to end of April and beginning of September to mid-December, as well as a shorter summer programme (end of May to end of July).
Still a relatively new political institution, the Scottish Parliament is an exciting political environment – now more than ever, since it has become clear that a referendum on Scottish independence will be held in October 2014.
Aims of the Programme
The Internship Programme’s aim is to introduce students to key aspects of Scottish and British politics and culture by means of formal tuition followed by placements in the Parliament, built around a research project designed to aid the work of the host MSP (Member of the Scottish Parliament). The objective of the course is to give students an understanding of how Scotland has evolved as a society, especially in the context of the United Kingdom, how key aspects of its cultural development reflect that process, as well as focusing on the policy-making process in Scotland and the impact the Scottish Parliament has had since it was ‘re-convened’ in 1999.
Assessment is through the academic courses (including class presentations, essays, briefings and exams, and a the research project during the placement.
Enrolment into the programme is restricted to about twenty students in any semester (ten for the summer programme). Entry is open to students who have completed at least two years of study at their home institution.
The applicants' standard of English has to be very high - full competency in writing and speaking English is an indispensable prerequisite to intern successfully with the Parliament.
The closing dates for applications are
• 1 July for the Autumn/Fall semester
• 1 November for the Spring semester
• 1 April for the Summer Programme
Brian Gilbert, a former participant in the programme, summed up his experience: "This program has been nothing short of amazing. I've gained so much insight into the happenings of both the Scottish Parliament and politics in general. The friends that I've made, both in and out of the program, will stick with me throughout the rest of my life. I've done things that I've only ever dreamed of. I've written a comprehensive paper on a subject that now feels like second-nature to me. …. This is truly a once in a lifetime experience and I am so happy to have done this."
In the first five weeks of the programme, students enrol in course work offered by members of the College of Humanities and Social Science, taking three subjects. These will provide you with a background in British Politics and the specific nature of Scottish politics, society and culture. Academic work (comprising 30 contact hours per course) and project work will be examined. The academic element of the Internship continues across the duration of the Internship as a whole, as described below.
Interning in the Parliament
Following the completion of course work, students will be assigned to MSPs. A research project (on a topic agreed between intern and MSP, and approved by the Director of Studies) will be undertaken.
Recent research projects by parliamentary interns have included a wide range of subject matters and topics, including:
'Why does Scotland have no plumbers?!?' An Investigation into Scotland's Skills Shortage
Beyond the Numbers: Female Representation in the Scottish Parliament
Business and Educational Achievements by the Scottish Executive and their Communication
Class Size isn't Everything: A Study of Class Size Reduction Policy in Scotland
Comparative Analysis between American and Scottish Election Campaigns
Controlling Firearms in Scotland
The Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 and its Effects on the Criminal Courts
Suicide in Scotland: The Need for a Hotline
A Study of Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) in Scotland
Connecting with young People: Labour Approaches to Democratic Engagement through the Scottish Parliament
Comprehensive View of Higher Education: Scotland
What's the Scottish Parliament ever done for me? A Study on the Awareness of Scottish Parliament Policy Amongst Older People
Interns will be provided with study space in the new Parliament building while continuing to have a permanent academic base and office facilities in the University's Institute of Governance, whose members will support interns in their research. Interns will carry out responsible work, and will contribute meaningfully to the development of Scottish political life.
The Internship phase of the programme comprises a two-week transition, in which coursework is completed and preparations for residency at the Parliament are finalised; and an eight-week period in which the Interns, at their new base at the Parliament, focus upon their research project, returning to the University, one day a week, for a compulsory session organised by the Institute. In the summer programme, which covers
9 weeks, academic courses and interning will be combined for the first four weeks.
The programme is designed specifically to provide students with 70 credits (30 credits for the three courses and 40 credits for the project). The summer programme provides 50 credits.
This page was published on 20 February 2013