Organisation STFC
Organisation Detail Science and Technology Facilities Council
Reference Number IRC252199
Location Edinburgh See on Map
Salary £30782 - £46576
Date Posted 08 January 2020
Grade UKRI-Band E
Contract Type Open Ended
Hours Full Time
Closing Date 21 February 2020
Interview Date

Brief Description

Salary: £30,782 to £46,576 (depending on Grade and experience and inclusive of an annual allowance of up to £4000)
Grade:  D/E
Contract Type: Open-Ended
Hours: Full Time
Closing Date: 21st February 2020

We have three brilliant new opportunities for Software Engineers to join our team at our UK Astronomy Technology Centre (UK ATC) at Edinburgh, and be part of either our ALMA, SKA or MOONS project.

You will be involved in designing and implementing software for the world’s leading scientific instruments that probe the Universe to discover its secrets. You would be working at the premier astronomy technology centre in the world, in the dynamic and attractive city of Edinburgh.

One of a technical team developing software for telescopes and instrumentation on demanding mountain-top sites in Chile and in space, you could also be helping to expand applications of our technology in environmental and medical research.

You will have experience designing and developing software systems involving one or more of: concurrent systems, object oriented development; user interface design and implementation. We are looking for reliable and flexible individuals with good interpersonal skills, and have the ability to integrate and work effectively within the existing close-knit team. Good written and verbal communication skills (in English) and the ability to communicate effectively with colleagues, project partners and customers are essential.

Based in Edinburgh you will work in a friendly and flexible environment, on a beautiful site combining a historic observatory with modern state-of-the-art facilities, however you should be willing and able to travel to sites both in the UK and overseas.


When construction is completed in 2027, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) will be the World’s largest radio telescope, comprising a 197-dish array in South Africa and a 131000-antenna array in Western Australia. The UK ATC has an agile software team contributing to the global SKA software development effort: the team leads the design and implementation of the software systems that will be used by astronomers and observatory staff to prepare, schedule, and manage observations with the SKA. You will be a software test engineer, who will work to develop comprehensive test suites and system tests, verifying the software created by the team and its integration with components developed by other agile teams within the SKA project.

In this role you will be working closely with developers as part of the UK ATC agile team, including a UK ATC-based astronomer as Product Owner. Your work will verify that the software meets requirements and ensure its usefulness to astronomers. Your contribution will play a part in the success of the SKA observatory, one of the world’s most ambitious scientific projects. As the SKA approaches the early construction phase, this post provides an opportunity to help shape and inform team testing practices and to highlight the best practice that should be adopted in a global, project-wide context. This position also offers opportunity for travel, with inter-team meetings currently held every three months and regular meeting rotation between host countries. for more information on SKA please click here.


ALMA is the World’s premier radio interferometer at mm/submm wavelengths. The UK ATC is responsible for delivering the ALMA Observing Tool, which is used by thousands of astronomers the world over to prepare their ALMA proposals and observations. The UK ATC is also part of an international team that delivers the ALMA data reduction pipeline, which automatically processes the vast majority of ALMA data to create calibrated data cubes and images. This post involves working on both tools.

In this role as an ALMA Observing Tool/ALMA Pipeline developer, you will be working with UK ATC based colleagues and ALMA team mates from around the world. Maintaining and extend the ALMA Observing Tool, you will help the observatory offer new observing modes and ensure that the Tool can be used by thousands of  astronomers during the ALMA annual call for proposals. This work is vital to the observatory: your contributions will touch every observing proposal and observation made with ALMA. In your role as an ALMA pipeline developer you will work closely with scientists and developers to develop pipeline heuristics and code to assess data quality. Your work on the pipeline will be essential today-to-day ALMA operations, ensuring the data given to astronomers is of the highest quality and can support their science. For more information on ALMA please click here.


MOONS is a multi-object optical and near-infrared spectrograph for the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT). It consists of a front-end unit containing a retractor mechanism, a calibration system and a fibre positioner consisting of an array of 1000 small pick-off arms. The pick-off arms are connected to optical fibres which direct the light from up to 1000 targets to a pair of 3-channel spectrographs. The project is managed by the UK ATC in collaboration with teams in 5 other countries (Chile, France, Italy, Portugal and Switzerland). The UK ATC is also responsible for the delivery of the calibration system and fibre positioner system and the overall software control of the front-end unit. In this role of Software Engineer/Developer you will have responsibility for helping to develop and implement algorithms for the control and calibration of the instrument, implement software to interface with the ESO overarching software architecture, and support the successful integration, testing and commissioning of the instrument. For more information on Moons click here.

Organization Description

UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, and a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. More information can be found at

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation, and our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world.

Shortlisting Criteria (S), Interview Criteria (I) or both (S&I) 

For the band D and E role you will have:

  • A good honours degree (or equivalent) in the physical or computer sciences (S&I)
  • Experience working in a professional software development environment, with an excellent knowledge of development processes (S&I)
  • Experience designing and developing software systems involving agile development; concurrent systems, object oriented development; user interface design and implementation (S&I)
  • Experience using Java, python, C++, java script or similar OO languages (S&I)
  • Experience with testing large software systems (S&I)
  • Excellent communication skills and the ability to work independently, in a team, and in international, collaborative projects (S&I)
  • Willing to travel within the UK and abroad for short periods (S&I)
  • Excellent problem solving skills (I).

For the band E tole you will also have:

  • Knowledge of radio interferometry (for the SKA and ALMA post)
  • Experience designing tests and testing environments (test configurations would be an advantage) (for the SKA post)
  • Experience with the SAFe agile development environment (for the SKA post)
  • Experience with real-time programming and debugging (for the Moons post).

For the band E role you will also need to meet at least three of the below Shortlisting Desirables (S):


  • Higher degrees would be an advantage (S)
  • Professional Engineering qualifications (e.g. British Computer Society, Chartered Engineer) would be an advantage (S)
  • Knowledge of astronomy, instrumentation and telescopes (S)
  • Experience working with scientists and engineers to refine code requirements and specification, and to validate implementations (S)
  • Familiarity with the European Southern Observatory(ESO) software (S)
  • Capable of working at altitude (S)
  • Organisational ability to manage a diverse workload with competing time demands (I)
  • High level of self- motivation and drive, and capable of motivating others (I)
  • Track record of analytical and problem- solving skills (I)
  • Ability to present information clearly and precisely to an audience (I).

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

To enable us to hire the very best people we will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.

Employee Benefits

UK Research and Innovation recognises and values employees as individuals and aims to provide a pay and reward package that motivates staff to the best of their ability. The reward and benefit package includes a flexible working scheme, an excellent Defined Benefit pension scheme, 30 days annual leave allowance and a number of other benefits.

Developing Talent

We are committed to developing employees in their roles throughout their career. Learning and development plans enable employees to continue their professional development through training and development opportunities such as e-learning, classroom training and on-the-job experiences. We encourage our employees to share their learning across teams and organisations.

Equal Opportunities

We strive to make decisions based on individual merit and ability. We welcome applications from all sections of the community and promote equality of opportunity in accordance with the Equality Act 2010. As holders of Disability Confident Employer status, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

Online applications only. Please submit a covering letter and CV ensuring that the IRC reference is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Please note that failure to address the above criteria or submitted without a covering letter may result in your application not being considered.

If you would like to receive this advert in an alternative format (e.g. large print, Braille, audio or hard copy), are unable to apply online or do not wish to create an account but would still like to apply for a specific role, please contact us by telephone on 01793 867000.

If you have not already logged into iRecruitment (including as a current employee) you will be re-directed to the login/register page by clicking the "apply now" button. If you don't have an account with us, by choosing to register you consent to UK SBS processing the information you provide as part of the Recruitment Service. You can select appropriate job alerts and notifications as part of your account preferences, and you are able to close your account (withdraw consent) should you wish to do so. Before starting your online application and inputting your personal details, please read our Privacy Notice which contains full details of how your information is processed once you have made an application.