Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC242506
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.

The Vulcan high power laser is part of the Central Laser Facility situated at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK.  It is an ultra-high intensity laser interaction facility that provides a service to both national and international university-based research groups, allowing them to conduct experiments in the field of plasma physics. Vulcan is one of the most powerful lasers in the world, and is under continuous development to maintain its world-class status.

Summary of Key Duties/Responsibilities

It is envisaged that over the year, time within this role will be shared between development projects and operating the laser or providing support to the laser programme.

  • Development Project:
    Vulcan is already a sophisticated and complex machine with many optical, mechanical and electronic sub systems. The post holder will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of new elements into the Vulcan laser system to enhance system performance.  This may involve constructing optical hardware, optical design work and/or software development.
  • Vulcan Operations:
    You will join the Vulcan Laser Operations Group as part of a small team working in a friendly atmosphere, contributing to the success of experiments making this a world leading facility. For more information on the Central Laser Facility visit

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

Some basic knowledge of lasers and optics is required.  The ideal applicant would have an interest in this field, and demonstrate knowledge above the expected undergraduate level.  Lab experience beyond standard undergraduate labs is also highly desirable.
The post holder must be computer literate, having at least a working knowledge of MS Office applications (primarily Word, Excel and PowerPoint). They should be self-motivated and able to communicate easily with colleagues and have the ability to work within a small team.



  • 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 
  • first two years of degree course in physics, or a closely related subject, with grades corresponding to a 2:1 or higher
  • A-level Maths or equivalent
  • A-level Physics or equivalent.


  • A-level Computing or further Maths.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • basic optics
  • experimental physics laboratory course
  • experience of standard computer packages (e.g. Office).


  • knowledge of one programming language (e.g. Visual Basic, C++, MATLAB)
  • experience working in a research or laboratory environment
  • knowledge of laser/optical theory and optical modelling techniques/software.

Personal Skills, Qualities and Attributes


  • effective written and verbal 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
  • highly motivated and able to work independently
  • good problem-solving skills
  • responsible approach to health and safety.

Special Requirements


  • you must be physically capable of working in a high-power laser laboratory: good vision in both eyes (wearing prescription glasses if required); able to stand for extended periods.

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: