I have had quite a few recent questions around this recently so thought I’d highlight some key sources and thank my colleague Deborah Fowlis for her suggestions.
Some organisations offer small bursaries to enable undergraduates to work in research during summer vacation. Successfully applying for your own funding looks impressive on your CV. Your first step should be asking the School and your potential supervisor if they can access/apply for any other funding on your behalf.
The University’s Academic Affairs Scholarships Sharepoint site highlights the Research Council’s EPSRC undergraduate vacation scholarships but closing date is quite soon (20 March) according to the EPSRC.
As well as the EPSRC one, the Sharepoint site flags up the College Vacation Scholarships. Closing date 27 March. College Scholarships are good for summer research funding. Find a potential supervisor and write a proposal yourself (often with help from the supervisor).
The Wellcome Trust offers what they call biomedical vacation scholarships. Details here show that physics is one of the eligible degrees although success may be more likely for those applicants doing research with some biophysical/biological aspect or context. The Wellcome Trust also offer opportunities in science policy.
The Carnegie Trust Vacation Scholarships is one to look out for. Closing date is past for this year but one to know about for next year
The Student Experience Grants from UoE are one-off contributions of up to £5,000 to support innovative projects that will “enhance students’ social, academic, intellectual, entrepreneurial, sporting or cultural development”. Summer lab research is eligible for funding (though you need to demonstrate the benefit to others) and any current student can apply. Twice yearly deadline
Finally, my Work Experience Resource for Physics and Astronomy students on MyCareerHub has more suggestions.
The Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest research organisations and offers funded summer placements at its three sites including at Edinburgh
For some funders you need to be second year or beyond in your degree. The bursaries are administered in myriad ways – sometimes it is YOU who applies once you have found a willing academic, sometimes it’s the participating academic .Sometimes you will have to come up with your own research proposal, but the academic will usually be willing to help (if you ask nicely).
There is advice on the process of writing research proposals on the Prospects website (UK centred, aimed at PhD candidates – just need to scale it down a bit for undergrad projects) and also the Northwestern University website (USA centred, but same structure, and aimed at undergrad projects).