Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC242498
Location Didcot See on Map
Salary £18946 - £18946
Date Posted 25 August 2017
Grade RC-STU
Contract Type Student - Sandwich Course
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 30 October 2017
Interview Date

Salary: £18,946
Grade: RC-STU
Contract Type: Fixed Term for 1 year
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 30th October 2017
Interview Date: 28th and 29th November 2017


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 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.

Each year we offer opportunities to undergraduate sandwich students to gain practical experience, working alongside technical experts at the forefront of scientific research. 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.

This position is in the ISIS Hydrogen and Catalysis Laboratory (IHCL) which is part of the ISIS support labs. The labs and the group support the user community by offering offline characterisation and general lab space to prepare, run and analyse their samples. The Hydrogen and Catalysis Laboratory boasts a wide range of instrumentation and analytical equipment used by the ISIS User community and staff, as well as other research staff on the RAL campus. This suite of instruments allows a wealth of physical property information to be obtained. The instruments include thermogravimetric analysis, volumetric analysis (surface area, pore size and distribution measurement), Raman, IR spectroscopy and dynamic scanning calorimetry.

Information on ISIS can be found at, and on the ISIS Support Laboratories

Summary of Key Duties

This position will offer an excellent opportunity for you to use and develop the scientific skills you have acquired at university, whilst learning many new ones on the way. The main focus of the work will be method development, so that the lab’s full capability can be exploited. You will also have the opportunity to get involved with a number of development projects with the ISIS Molecular Spectroscopy Group in both beamline and offline experiments.

This position will be within the Support Laboratories Group working with the Molecular Spectroscopy Science Group and you will contribute to the development of the following new methods:

Chemisorption – Measuring the chemical reaction between molecular adsorbates in nano structures of technical relevance including heterogeneous catalysts. This will involve benchmarking and optimising recently acquired new equipment within the IHCL by selecting suitable test materials and testing regimes. During this project you will be testing different catalyst materials, looking at their sorption properties and using mass spectrometry to analysis the chemical products. The role will include documenting the accuracy and repeatability of the new instrument so that a new techniques will be available to the ISIS instrument scientists and user community.

Infrared Spectrometry – The IHCL houses a state of the art FTIR instrument which through the addition of a series of modules can be adapted to look at different materials. This project will be to develop robust methods for using gas and liquid flow cells. This will require careful selection of appropriate chemical systems that can be observed in the IR region. By proving the reliability and adaptability of these modules it will make these types of analysis available to the ISIS user community.

You will be expected to test these methods on a range of samples and produce documentation (user manuals, quick start guides and validation documents) for use by future users of the instrumentation. You may also have the opportunities to attend neutron beamline experiments, aid website development and learn new techniques in the other ISIS support laboratories.

You will support ISIS users in the operation of specialist equipment and assist in characterisation of their samples. Full training will be given.
You will be working directly with Support Labs management and regularly liaising with the Molecular Spectroscopy Science Group, facility scientists and external users.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

You must be enthusiastic and highly motivated and you should be able to work well as part of a team as well as working independently. A strong interest in physical sciences and working in a laboratory environment is essential. You are expected to be currently studying a science based university course and currently achieving a 2:1 level or above.



  • at university, enrolled on an undergraduate degree course and required or have requested to take a year out of studies to gain experience within industry 
  • right to live and work in the UK 
  • currently achieving a 2:1 grade in University courses
  • enrolled on a Science degree course.


  • A-B grade Chemistry, Maths at A-level or equivalent.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • laboratory experience
  • analytical instrumentation knowledge.


  • some relevant work experience
  • experience of working in a team
  • understanding of lab safety.

Personal Skills, Qualities and Attributes


  • good communication skills
  • demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • the willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • open minded and flexible in relation to the type of work assigned to them.



  • attention to detail
  • strong interest in physical sciences.

In addition to the competitive salary, an excellent index linked pension scheme and generous leave allowance are offered. Full details of offered benefits can be found on STFC’s careers pages.

From April 2018, STFC will be part of UK Research and Innovation. UK Research and Innovation will bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and a new organisation, Research England. The aim is to create a system that maximises the contribution of each of the component parts and creates the best environment for research and innovation to flourish. The vision for the new organisation is to be the best research and innovation agency in the world. More information can be found online here.

Applications are handled by UK Shared Business Services. To apply please download the application form and save it to your pc. You must upload the completed form and a covering letter to support your application. Please save all your documents with the IRC reference number in the filename and your name.

STFC Sandwich Student Application Form

You must be on a sandwich degree and be taking the industrial placement as a recognised sandwich year to be eligible. You must also have the right to work in the UK. Please ensure that you include a reference from your University as part of your application form.

You can apply for up to three Sandwich student placements; this will require you to complete ONE application form however please ensure that you upload the application form to all three placements and save the relevant reference number (e.g. IRC205817) in the filename of each application that you upload.

Closing date: 30th October 2017
Interview/assessment date: 28th – 29th November 2017

As this job does not fulfil the Home Office Code of Practice criterion for obtaining sponsored migrant worker status we will be unable to apply for sponsorship for anyone not eligible to work in the UK.  At interview, all shortlisted candidates are required to bring with them identification documents and original documents that prove they hold or can obtain the right to work in the UK. You can check your eligibility here: