We are looking for graduate, early career researchers with a passion to drive innovative research in the field of housing, homelessness or wider social justice issues such as poverty, destitution, welfare systems, complex needs or adverse childhood experiences.

If you are interested read on, or please share with anyone who might be interested in this fantastic opportunity!

About us

The Oak Foundation is an international philanthropic foundation funding projects in conservation, human rights, abuse, housing, learning disabilities, and other social justice issues.

Oak’s mission is to: commit resources to address issues of global, social and environmental concern, particularly those that have a major impact on the lives of the disadvantaged.

The Oak Foundation’s Housing and Homelessness Programme, focuses on preventing homelessness by funding sustainable solutions that improve the economic and social wellbeing of marginalised youth, adults and families.

There are three priorities:

  • promoting economic self-sufficiency;
  • increasing the availability and supply of affordable housing;
  • preventing homelessness.

For more information see – http://www.oakfnd.org/housing-and-homelessness.html

The Institute for Social Policy, Housing, Equalities Research (I-SPHERE) at Heriot Watt University was established with a mission: to use world-class research to help drive change for people affected by extreme disadvantage.

We specialise in research into:

  • Complex needs and adverse childhood experiences
  • Homelessness and housing exclusion
  • Housing policy, law and rights
  • Housing needs, affordability and access
  • Poverty, including food and fuel poverty, and destitution
  • Welfare systems, welfare reform and welfare conditionality

Our partnership with the Oak Foundation aims to drive change for people suffering disadvantage through:

  • Delivering high quality research that brings new learning and insights;
  • Developing a stream of early career researchers equipped to undertake high quality, policy and practice-applied research;
  • Supporting Oak Funded projects and wider organisations to use research and evaluation to strengthen their impact.

About the internships

Each internship is for a period of 6 months.

During this period the intern will undertake an independent research project.

In addition to the research project, the intern will have the opportunity to work with the Oak Foundation team on wider research and information projects. This enables Oak to gain from the intern’s knowledge and ideas and interns to gain valuable experience in research and work in the sector.

An independent research project

The research proposal is developed and delivered by the intern. Support, guidance and quality assurance is provided by Oak and I-SPHERE.

In addition, a high-level Research Advisory Group will be established with members who have significant expertise and interest in the research area. The Research Advisory Group group will steer, inform and test the research, and will facilitate its impact on policy and practice.

For our next internships we are looking for innovative research proposals which will contribute to both the Oak Foundation and I-SPHEREs programmes. Therefore research can be on homelessness and or on wider issues of poverty, destitution, welfare systems, complex needs, or adverse childhood experiences.

Quality research proposals shall:

  • have clear, focused research questions
  • offer new insights in areas where there is insufficient evidence
  • have clear methods which can be quantitative and/or qualitative
  • be both meaningful and achievable within the internship period.

Heriot-Watt will publish the final research report at the end of the internship period and promote the findings, with the assistance of the Research Advisory Group.

Candidate Criteria – Education, qualifications and experience required


  • An excellent undergraduate degree in a social science or arts and humanities discipline
  • Applicants should be competent social researchers with a background in a social science or arts and humanities discipline.
  • Self-motivated with strong research skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Good team player with good interpersonal skills
  • Ability to identify and analyse difficult problems
  • Strong communication skills
  • Willingness to undertake travel as required


– A relevant Masters or PhD degree in a social science or arts and humanities discipline.

– Voluntary and/or work experience supporting people affected by disadvantage.

Terms of internship

We aim to appoint two interns per year, working consecutively.

Interns are paid the London living wage, regardless of where in the country they live.

Interns can be based anywhere in the UK but will be required to travel to the Oak Foundation office in London and to Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh from time to time. All expenses will be paid for these trips, and all research fieldwork expenses will also be met. The interns will normally work 35 hours per week, with a holiday entitlement of 14 days over the six-month period.

Starting dates are flexible but we are ideally looking for someone to start in November 2019.

How to apply

To apply you need to complete a short application form Application form SJInternship including details of your independent research proposal and email along with a copy of your CV to [email protected].

The closing date for this round of applications is Monday 30th September at midnight.

Candidates invited to interview will be informed by email shortly after the closing date.

If you have any questions regarding the roles contact Jill McIntyre (Project Coordinator) at [email protected] or call 0131 451 8366.

Further Information

– You can learn more about the experiences and work of our current and previous interns here

Application form SJInternship

The Housing Studies Association (HSA) is a limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 13958843 at 42 Wellington Road, Greenfield, OL3 7AQ.
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