Hands-on Work Experience with Research using Population Health Data

What is this about?

The Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, based in Swansea University Medical School, is a world-class resource for conducting population health research, holding billions of records from a variety of data sources covering the Welsh population.

An interdisciplinary workforce in the Data Science Building conducts a variety of methodological and applied research projects, as well as supporting and further developing SAIL Databank. Skills used include software development, database development and management, epidemiology, statistics, data mining, data visualisation and more.

This internship program offers a 12 week paid position to students and others interested in gaining experience with real-world data analysis, to develop and apply their skills in this highly secure state of the art technical environment. It is a great opportunity to develop your skills working as part of a multi-disciplinary team, enhance your experience and work with some of the latest technology to assist you on your path to further employment.

This work placement may be especially relevant for students in the Health Data Science, Health Informatics, and Computer Science degree programs at Swansea University, though applications from other disciplines who have similar skills, expertise and technical background who are interested are welcome.

What are we looking for?

We have a wide range of opportunities which require a diverse array of skills. The SAIL analytical services team, for example, use SQL, R, Python and a range of other tools to undertake the research activities of the department.

We are looking for people that can work well as part of a team and are interested in contributing to data analysis, software development, and related research activities.

Placement Departments and Example Projects

SAIL Analytical Services is an interdisciplinary team that provides research support for the SAIL Databank, collaborates with internal and external research groups on SAIL research projects, and leads our own methodological research projects in developing new methods of working with large datasets. Examples of possible projects with our team:

  • Analysis and Visualisation of GP Dataset Coverage – SAIL Databank holds primary care data for 75% of the practices in Wales.  A common question is how representative the data we hold is.  The goal of this project is to undertake analysis to compare the population with primary care data to the Welsh population overall, and develop visualisations showing the geographic, historical, and demographic profile of the dataset.
  • Accuracy of Address Records – SAIL Databank holds resident address data from individuals in several different datasets.  The accuracy of address data could be assessed by comparing different sources.
  • Automated Cohort Creation – Develop tools to assist in automatic selection and creation of cohorts selected from the general population for research.  Including capturing relevant variables that will be used in a study.
  • Health Data Research UK (HDRUK) supports world-leading research to develop cutting-edge analytical tools and methodologies to address the most pressing health research challenges. These tools and methods allow us to use complex and diverse data at an unprecedented depth and scale. As a national informatics research programme, HDR UK can capitalise on the UK’s unique research strengths and data assets including those in the SAIL Databank.

We would hope that an applicant joining us would add value by maximising the utility of available routine health-related data, as well as UK cohorts, surveys and non-health administrative data, using novel and reproducible methods and techniques to produce a suitable output by the end of their internship towards our ongoing research portfolio and strategic goals.


Work placements are paid, up to full time, for a period of 12 weeks. Start and end dates can be flexible based on students’ schedules.

The payment is £16,654 per annum on a pro rata basis, with the number of hours per week to be agreed with the student. Some students will be limited in the hours they can work by university policy (a 12 hour per week limit for those in full time masters’ programs at Swansea University, and a 20 hour per week limit for international students on tier 4 visas).

Who can apply?

Anyone who is either a student in a relevant degree program (at Swansea University or elsewhere), or has some relevant experience, is welcome to apply, provided the applicant is eligible to work in the UK.


For a brief informal discussion about accessing work placement opportunities at the  Data Science building, please contact Dan Thayer, Senior Data Scientist – Team Lead, SAIL Analytical Services ( or Ashley Akbari, Senior Research Officer, Health Data Research UK (

Learn more about Data Science at Swansea University Medical School.

Application process

Please send a CV and covering letter to Dan Thayer ( and Ashley Akbari ( by May 11th 2018.