Fourth-year SWWDTP student Nyle Bevan-Clark reports on his recent placement with Senedd Research
From May to July this year I undertook a parliamentary placement at Senedd Cymru, the Welsh Parliament. When I first saw the advert for the placement, which is part of UKRI’s Policy Internships scheme, I jumped at the chance to apply; I have long been interested in politics and devolution and I was keen to find out how research informs parliamentary and democratic processes. The placement also presented an excellent opportunity to explore career options aside from the traditional academic pathway.
During the placement I acted as a Research Assistant for Senedd Research, Senedd Cymru’s in-house research service. The Research Service is responsible for providing non-partisan, research-informed evidence and has three main duties:
- producing accessible, informative research articles on key areas of policy and legislation;
- supporting committees and Members by producing research briefings;
- running an enquiry service to help Members in answering constituent enquiries accurately.
I was placed in the Economy, Communities, and Local Government research team under the supervision of the Senior Researcher for Culture, Media, Sport, and Heritage. Working within this team meant that I was expected to act on tasks both adjacent to and unconnected from my own areas of research in culture, music, and the creative industries.
Senedd Cymru, Welsh Parliament
As well as producing evidence-informed research on topics within the cultural sector, I also engaged with unfamiliar policy and research areas, such as social housing and homelessness.
I completed two peer-reviewed research articles which were published on Senedd Research’s website. This meant breaking down large policy reports, legal documents, and evidence from stakeholders into accessible and user-friendly summaries.
My first article focused on current trends in homelessness policy; the second on the environmental impacts of the creative sector in Wales. I also contributed to a research-briefing document to aid Members in their scrutiny of the Welsh Government’s proposed plans for a national gallery of contemporary art, and responded to constituent enquiries from Members on topics as diverse as gas safety legislation, emergency radio in Wales, and scheduled heritage monuments.
I attended meetings of the Culture, Communications, Welsh Language, Sport, and International Relations Committee, and participated in the Chair’s brief and pre-sessional meetings with the clerking team. I had the opportunity to attend Senedd-wide events and plenary sessions, including weekly First Minister’s Questions in the chamber.
I had the chance to meet visitors from the UK Government’s Wales Office and was provided with diverse training sessions on constitutional futures, bilingual working, and parliamentary research processes by the host partner. I was also grateful to receive Welsh lessons to continue developing my language proficiency.
This placement has been hugely beneficial to my professional and career development. I have been able to delve deeper into producing people-focused research with real-world impacts, something that I feel passionately about with my own research. The flexibility of the placement allowed me to attend various events, including both a conference and a study day with the Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research and Data (WISERD).
The experience has taught me that I enjoy working with people and thrive best in a team environment. I have learnt the importance of being flexible and the need to turn out research quickly and thoroughly, so that politicians are equipped with clear and impartial evidence and findings.
I thoroughly enjoyed the placement, and it was an exciting time to be involved with the work of the Senedd as it pushes forward constitutional reform within a changing UK political landscape. I would strongly encourage other postgraduate students to consider a UKRI Policy Internship – it is an invaluable opportunity to gain transferable skills that highlight the real-world impacts of communicating research outputs into policy.
Bevan-Clark, N. 2023. Tackling homelessness: ‘a mountain that can feel impossible to climb. Senedd Research, 15 May. [Access here: Tackling homelessness: “a mountain that can feel impossible to climb” (senedd.wales)]
Bevan-Clark, N. 2023. Private jets and plastic feathers: the carbon footprint of the creative industries. Senedd Research, 21 July. [Access here: Private jets and plastic feathers: the carbon footprint of the creative industries (senedd.wales)]
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