External Placements

A key part of the DISCnet training are short placements in local data science industrial partners and non-profit organisations. These placements provide an opportunity for the students to experience applying their skills to real-world problems, while the host organisation can benefit from access to some of the best talent in the South of England. We expect these placements to be split into two 3-month blocks, one at the end of the first year and the second in the third year. These two blocks could be with the same company or different ones. 


Our first 2 years of running these placements (2018 and 2019) have been a great success, sourcing 37 placement opportunities across a range of sectors (finance, defence, insurance, space, entertainment, non-profit, etc) and company sizes (start-ups, SMEs and multi-nationals). We offered several placements with government agencies including the National Crime Agency, STFC Scientific Computing Division and Brighton and Hove County Council. We further provided two international placements with colleagues at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs (LBNL) in California and the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) in South Africa.


Below we provide a short video of one of our DISCnet students Reese Wilkinson (University of Sussex) talking about his interest in such placements. Reese has since completed a placement with a start-up company, Fat Fish Games.

If you are interested in offering a placement to PhD students for 3 or 6 months, to work on a data intensive project inside your organisation, please email discnetplacements@soton.ac.uk.


“There is no doubt that there is a shortage in the UK of the skills that we need to grow our business. I know that lining up the output from academia with the needs of industry is not an exercise that can be completed  overnight.  However DISCnet will significantly increase our chances of attracting the right candidates from a much wider catchment pool. Just as importantly, it will enable us to provide valuable experience to PhD students, whether or not they eventually choose to join us.”


​​Brian Luff, Chairman, Critical Software