July 9, 2020, by abrierley

My experience conducting research with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) and the Deterrence and Assurance Academic Alliance (DAAA)

by Murry Liptrot student at the School of Politics & International Relations

This placement took place as part of the School of Politics & International Relations Placements module.

 This remote research placement provided me with the opportunity to complete an independent piece of research/report focusing on any area within the general study of deterrence. The placement consisted of considerable independent study, but with the assistance of a technical partner from DSTL which included a weekly phone call to check on the progress of my report, and emails so any of my queries could be answered. I found working with my technical partner to be a very positive experience as working with somebody who shared my enthusiasm for deterrence meant that throughout the 10 week placement, I found myself increasingly seeking clarification on new material so that I could produce the best report possible.

I decided that my research would focus on the use of counter-narratives to deter individuals from adopting extremist ideologies in an attempt to minimise future terrorism. Growing up in Manchester and experiencing first hand the terrible impact the 2017 Manchester Bombings had on peoples lives, through focusing my research on deterring extremist ideologies specifically, I could offer tangible policy recommendations which could possibly contribute to making peoples lives safer. I found that researching a topic that was meaningful to myself to be very rewarding, and I’d encourage those interested in research placements to do the same.

The application process was seamless and required myself to submit my CV and an application form outlining why I was interested in the role, and how my past experiences prepared me for it. For future students interested in this placement, I would recommend tailoring your CV to specifically relate to this position in order to give yourself the best chance of admission. Once I was accepted onto the placement, I met with my DSTL technical partner where we spoke about in what direction I wanted to take my research. From this experience, I’d strongly suggest others to already have a research area in mind, as due to the placement only lasting 10 weeks, narrowing down the scope of my report became very important in order to meet the deadline. 

For myself, as I was interested in so many areas of deterrence, narrowing the scope of my research was challenging, however retrospectively, through assessing in which topic area my report could produce the most tangible policy recommendations, my decision making and critical thinking skills have been enhanced. Simultaneously, coordinating my research and retaining professional communication with my technical partner has allowed me to develop into a more valuable team player who is not afraid to ask for help when needed. Additionally, as a result of conducting in-depth research under demanding time constraints in my penultimate year at university, I feel more confident in completing my dissertation whilst under the pressures I will likely face in my final year.

This placement allowed me to conduct research on a topic that I was and am increasingly interested in. The experience also gave me a taste of what working in the defence sector may be like, and subsequently, a clearer direction for my future career.

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