Summer Vacation Students / Paid Internships

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC), part of the recently formed UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), is one of Europe’s largest science research organisations. We’re trusted to support, enable and undertake pioneering projects in an amazing diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving ground-breaking advances in science and technology.

We now have opportunity for undergraduate students to gain practical work experience during summer 2019, while earning a generous salary. If you are interested in starting your career working at the forefront of scientific research, you could even be selected as one of our sponsored students and receive a payment of up to £6,000 per annum for the rest of your course.

Students can work for 4 -12 weeks at either the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (Harwell, Oxfordshire), Daresbury Laboratory (Warrington) or The UK Astronomy Technology Centre (Edinburgh) on projects relevant to their intended or current course of study, under the supervision of experts in their chosen field.

We offer an invaluable experience with exposure to world class science and technology, and the opportunity to develop working relationships that continue well after your placement has finished.

The closing date for most roles is 31st March. Please note applications for the Particle Physics Department (PPD) project closed on 21st February.

You may apply for a maximum of 3 positions. Once you have reviewed the roles below please complete the following online application form, with a short paragraph to explain your interest and suitability. You will then need to email your CV and University transcripts (where possible) to our recruitment partner UKSBS at  including ‘STFC Vacation Student’ in the email subject, and detailing the project/s that you are applying for in the body of the email.

In previous years we have had an exceptionally high response for many roles, and subsequently we reserve the right to close individual projects early.

All candidates must have existing right to work in the UK.


We now have the following vacancies within selected STFC departments:


ISIS is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences. Our suite of neutron and muon instruments gives unique insights into the properties of materials on the atomic scale. We support a national and international community of more than 3000 scientists for research into subjects ranging from clean energy and the environment, pharmaceuticals and health care, through to nanotechnology and materials engineering, catalysis and polymers, and on to fundamental studies of materials.

The ISIS summer student placement scheme is now open to applicants, allowing undergraduate students studying for a degree in Science, Engineering or Computing to gain experience working in the scientific environment at ISIS Neutron and Muon Source. ​​

Location: All ISIS roles are based at Harwell, Oxfordshire.

ISIS-1: Deuteration Facility Summer Students: Flow Chemistry Method Development + Amino Acid Synthesis

ISIS is a world-leading neutron and muon facility whose user community depend on the provision of speciality chemicals which are isotopically-labelled in order to effectively perform their experiments. The Deuteration Facility aims to provide such materials. You will be involved in the development and execution of custom synthetic pathways in order to generate high-quality products for use by the ISIS and ILL user communities... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Chemistry, Natural Sciences

ISIS-2:Ultra-precise Modelling of the Next Generation of the ISIS accelerator

The ISIS neutron and muon source is based on one of the world's highest intensity proton accelerators. We are working on upgrading the proton accelerator to increase the beam intensity even further. In this project, we will describe the ISIS upgrade scheme in a state-of-the-art simulation code called OPAL (Object Oriented Parallel Accelerator Library), developed in collaboration with the Paul Scherrer Institute in Switzerland... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Engineering, Physical Sciences, Computer Science

ISIS-3: The new liquids and glasses structure database

Neutron scattering from glasses or liquids is very different to that from crystals. The past few years of development in neutron scattering techniques have now revealed the structures of many such samples, e.g. pharmaceutical solutions, green solvents, and aromatic compounds. We aim to make these data more easily accessible to the wider scientific community... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Computer Science

ISIS-4: SasView Development Support

The ISIS Pulsed Neutron & Muon Source is a world-leading facility for condensed matter (nanoscale) research, and operates one of the largest and most advanced suites of Small-Angle Scattering (SAS) instruments anywhere. One of the challenges is developing user-oriented state-of-the-art data analysis software to meet the demands of the scientific programme... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Mathematics, Computer Science, Physical Sciences

ISIS-5:Making a muon stopping range and degrader calculator

Modelling the stopping range of charged particles in different materials is key to a range of science areas from particle physics to cancer therapy. At ISIS, muons are used to probe material properties, and this requires a beam of muons to be stopped within the sample. This project will develop a simple to use calculator... Link 

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics

ISIS-6: Extending radiation source modelling capabilities in a new simulation code.

Radiation transport simulations are key to designing safe and efficient neutron instruments at spallation sources such as ISIS.  The radiation transport codes are being developed continually to utilise modern high performance computing facilities. The project will aim develop a module for the new deterministic code to extend the current source options... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Physical Sciences, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics

ISIS-7: Neutron and Muon Experiment Control Software Development

In order to control experimental setup and data collection for neutron experiments, we at ISIS develop and maintain a suite of software and associated systems for the scientists. The data acquired is collated from a number of distributed systems using various communications protocols... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Computer Science, Mathematics or Natural Sciences with an interest in computing.

ISIS-8: Data Streaming and Data Reduction High-throughput for the European Spallation Source

The European Spallation Source, currently under construction in Sweden, will be the world’s most powerful pulsed neutron source upon completion in 2023. The experiments will produce very high data volumes of critical scientific data. This requires lossless transport, and high frequency IO for essential operations of the facility... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Computer Science, Mathematics or Natural Sciences with an interest in computing

ISIS-9: Growth of crystalline samples for encasing nuclear materials

We encounter radiation everywhere, with natural sources such as in terrestrial rocks and in science and technology, notably in nuclear power stations. The energy of emitted particles damages these materials and degrades them. This issue is particularly important in the safe immobilization of nuclear waste, and constitutes one of the pressing issues that modern society faces. Finding materials that are chemically stable, even when radiation-damaged, is a major challenge. This project is to discover if it is possible to make single crystals of the inert host material, zirconolite...Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Physical Sciences, Chemistry, Materials.

ISIS-10: Variable Temperature X-Ray Diffraction Method Developer

The position will offer the student an excellent opportunity in the field of crystallography to use and develop the skills they have acquired at university, whilst learning many new ones along the way. The main focus of the work will be to develop methodology for optimisation of measurements utilising variable temperature X-Ray diffraction measurements... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences

ISIS-11: Neutron spectroscopy and molecular simulations – force-field optimisation

This project aims to establish an innovative new method for analysing neutron spectroscopy.  The focus is in developing MDMC, an open source software package written in Python which allows force-field parameters of molecular simulations to be optimised against neutron spectroscopy data...Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics

ISIS-13: Building a database to discover the elemental composition of ancient artefacts using Neutron Resonance Capture Analysis

When we investigate the origins and properties of ancient artefacts it is essential to determine their elemental composition without damaging the specimen. Neutrons represent an invaluable tool in this respect. It is essential to build a reliable database containing quantitative information about the cross sections and resonance energies of the most common elements in the periodic table... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences

ISIS-14: Impact on buffer isotope content on protein interactions and structure.

The stability of a protein is fundamental to its biological function, hence investigating the effect of solvation and hydrogen bonding on its structure and interactions is of great importance in biology and medicine. In this project we will investigate the structure and interactions of two globular proteins as a function of the solvent D2O content... Link 

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Biology, Chemistry

ISIS-15: Contributing to outreach activities within the ISIS muon group

The ISIS muon group are involved in several important outreach activities during 2019. These include developing the website (likely to be also used by the International Society of Muon Spectroscopy), running an international advanced school on muon techniques, and supporting new webpages providing technical information about muon chemistry... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Communications, Computing

ISIS-16: Developing a component library for parallelized simulations of neutron instruments

Neutrons are exceptionally powerful probes of materials properties. Although their useful properties make neutrons ideal probe particles, they are both difficult and expensive to produce, and it is therefore critical that neutron instruments are designed to best use the limited number available. A powerful computer simulation tool to achieve this is Monte-Carlo ray-tracing... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics

ISIS-17: Data Analysis for Muon Spectroscopy

Muon spectroscopy is a powerful technique for studying a wide variety of materials, from exotic many-body quantum states to the chemical reactions of free radicals. The work is will involve learning new computer languages, coding and documenting mathematical functions with reference to published research, testing the new functions by analysing real experimental data... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Natural Sciences, Computer Science, Mathematics

ISIS-18: QENS and MD analysis of bio-macromolecules

Neutron scattering has helped underpin our understanding of soft matter science. Understanding such complex environments is far from trivial, but Molecular Dynamic simulations overlap the time and length scales accessible. This project will focus on the interpretation of existing simulations of hydrated and lyophilised proteins and subsequent comparison with results from existing neutron data... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Biology, Chemistry, Natural Sciences

ISIS-19:  Web Developer in the Science Facilities Computing group

Computing is essential to the science that we support. We would love to have a vacation student join our team this summer to help develop software used to support our operations. We mainly develop tiered solutions using Java, C# and web technologies... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Software Engineering, Computer Science

ISIS-20: ISIS neutron source python teaching tool

The project is to design, implement and test a python program themed around aspects of the computing that takes place at ISIS. The users of this program would be secondary school computing students... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Software Engineering, Computer Science

ISIS-21: D development of elemental analysis using muons

This project is to develop the unique capabilities by the muon facility. Implanting negative muons results in X-ray emission which is element dependent and therefore can result in the determination of the elemental composition. We would like to employ a summer student to develop new data analysis techniques that can be used to speed up the identification of the elements from the X-ray spectrum... Link

You might particularly like this if you are interested in: Computer Science, Mathematics or Natural Sciences with an interest in computing

The Strategy, Planning and Communications Directorate (SPC) is responsible for UKRI-STFC’s overall strategy, communications and stakeholder relations, bringing together the core functions that are needed to help the organisation shape, communicate and monitor our national and international strategic agenda. To operate effectively in a complex policy and funding environment, UKRI-STFC must actively manage its relationship with external stakeholders. The International Group within SPC oversees all of UKRI-STFC’s International activities and represents UKRI-STFC on major scientific policy fora such as the OECD’s Global Science Fora where the Group provides the UK delegate. The Group’s work includes input into the development of international science strategy for the UK and the identification of international opportunities of strategic importance to the UK.

Location: Harwell, Oxfordshire

SPC-22: International Project Officer

The purpose of this role is to assist the International Officer with a variety of projects and tasks, as well as other colleagues in the International team, Including the European Programme Support Officer and Project Support Officer. The goal of the team is to ensure that UKRI-STFC maintains a high profile with existing and potential new international partners and that UKRI-STFC’s goals and ambitions are understood by other stakeholders including the other Councils of UKRI. You will work closely with the team to help achieve this goal. You will provide support for the team, including planning for meetings, desk-based research as well as helping to develop resource documents for internal use.

Further responsibilities:

  • Assisting with a variety of project work as well as  providing general support to the International Officer and other members of the International team
  • Helping to plan and organise meetings, including with colleagues in overseas offices and for international visitors
  • Helping to develop international briefings and other internal documents and information resources
  • Support for International Fora (ESOF, ESFRI, GRC, OECD)
  • Research assistance for input into a number of workstreams underpinning UKRI-STFC’s strategic  international activities, such as providing information on European funding programmes and identifying international opportunities for collaboration

You must have completed, or about to enter your 3rd year of study. A letter of recommendation from your university is required.

Since its inception in 2013, the Hartree Centre has rapidly established itself as the UK’s foremost HPC and Data Analytics technology centre. At the Hartree Centre we are investing in world-class people and facilities to create world-leading capabilities, working with strategic technology partners at our state-of-the-art Sci-Tech Daresbury site. Our mission is to transform UK competitiveness by accelerating the uptake of data-centric computing, big data and cognitive technologies.

Location: Daresbury, Cheshire

Hartree-23: HPiC Demo Developer

The Hartree Centre has a Raspberry Pi Cluster called HPiC, created as a platform for software demonstrations and for outreach events. It resembles a supercomputer by networking together 20 Raspberry Pi 3 Model B’s, allowing them to communicate and execute parallel programs. At present, HPiC only has a few demos – which do not demonstrate the breadth of science, engineering and technology areas that the Hartree Centre and STFC operate in.

You will create interactive demonstrations based on successful Hartree projects. The demos will be of a varying level of complexity to cater to everyone from primary school children to industry experts.

The demos may cover areas such as natural language processing, AI, visualisation of galaxies or water models, and can be tailored to the interest and background of the applicant.  Aside from specific demos, there is also a need to improve the ease of use of HPiC to make it accessible to more demonstrators with minimal training, so the role will include developing documentation and informal training of staff.

Further responsibilities will include:

  • Working with Hartree staff to convert successful projects into demos
  • Development of a robust GUI to aid with demo selection and start-up
  • Improvement of current demos
  • Writing documentation for demonstrators

You will demonstrate the following knowledge / skills / experience:


  • Programming skills with at least one language e.g. C, Python


  • Experience in parallel programming
  • Experience or interest in/of public outreach activities

The STFC Technology division provides advanced technology and engineering in support of both STFC funded activities and other high profile international projects. Our technologies and competencies are world class, and our expertise encompasses micro-nano engineering, through microelectronics, to major engineering structures.

Location: Harwell, Oxfordshire

Tech-24: Design of CMOS blocks to be used in scientific image sensors

Based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory at Harwell, the CMOS Sensor Design Group is world-leader in the design of advanced CMOS Image Sensor for scientific and other high-end applications, like bio-medical and industrial imaging.

We provide advanced solutions for imaging applications. Our portfolio includes the design of intelligent pixels, high speed sensors, radiation resistant designs, low noise devices and large area sensors for the detection of photons and charged particles.

We have strategic relationships with leading edge CMOS foundries and use state of the art Computer Aided Design tools. We can also provide full camera solutions, we have facilities for the detailed optical characterisation of the sensors and direct access to facilities for the test of the sensors with a broader range of radiation, including charged particles, and for the irradiation of the sensors.

The work program for the vacation students is as follows:

  1. Refresher of electronics
  2. Introduction to CMOS technology
  3. Basic principles of CMOS design
  4. Training on the main tools for electronics design
  5. Study of a simple block
  6. Design and simulation of analogue/mixed signal block
  7. Layout and verification

The work program will be tailored to the background and interest of the successful candidates.

The ideal candidate for this role will be studying on an Electronic Engineering or Physics Degree and must have some knowledge of basic electronics:

  1. Passive components
  2. Active components
  3. Circuit Network theory

Last updated: 05 March 2019


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