Graduate working at STFC

Physicist - Year-Long Placement

STFC offers you an opportunity to gain paid practical experience as part of your degree.  Each year STFC recruit up to 45 sandwich students who are able to use and develop the skills they’ve acquired at university in a working environment, providing learning on the job and working on real projects alongside expert scientists and engineers. Learning new skills to help in their further studies.

ISIS is a world-leading centre for research in the physical and life sciences at the STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford in the United Kingdom. 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.

A 70 MeV H- linear accelerator and 800 MeV proton synchrotron are the backbone to neutron production at ISIS.  The accelerators operate at 50 Hz and accelerate 2.5x1013 protons per pulse.  Once at 84% of the speed of light the protons are extracted to one of two tungsten targets where spallation neutrons are produced. This sandwich student role is based within the Synchrotron Group of the Accelerator Division.

Job Description

Protons are confined to the synchrotron vacuum vessel by a repeating pattern of quadrupole magnets which focus the beam.  The protons oscillate within this focussing channel, so-called betatron oscillations, and the number of oscillations over the synchrotron circumference is called the betatron tune.   Measurements of the tune throughout the acceleration cycle are important to understand beam behaviour and optimise accelerator performance and efficiency.

Working as a physicist within the synchrotron group you will design and develop a system for measuring the base-band tune of the ISIS synchrotron throughout the acceleration cycle using existing beam position monitor signals, following the methods developed at CERN.

List of Duties/ Responsibilities

  • research and familiarisation with the base band tune measurement method from CERN
  • research and develop solution for ISIS synchrotron
  • design required electronic circuits, liaise with electronic engineers within ISIS diagnostic group
  • organise production of circuit boards and integration into ISIS
  • plan for implementation and testing of the measurement system on ISIS beam
  • commission tune measurements on ISIS during dedicated machine development time
  • specify and write required software for data acquisition and measurement user interface
  • provide updates and report on testing at appropriate meetings
  • produce written documentation for project, including theory, electronic circuits and software.

Personal Skills and Attributes

You will have average 2:1 or above over the completed portion of a physics/experimental physics degree course that includes electronics modules/labs.  They will be comfortable using the MS Office suite of applications and have some experience with computer programming, ideally in the LabVIEW environment (data acquisition and software development).  Some of the work may involve entry into controlled radiation areas. 

It is expected that at all times you will demonstrate the core STFC values of striving for excellence, working and collaborating effectively as a team, working with inspiration, trust and transparency whilst always treating others with respect. 



  • 2:1 or above, average over completed portion of degree course.


  • AS/A2 levels in Electronics and Computing

Knowledge / Skills and Experience


  • significant electronics component to degree course
  • computer programming experience
  • proficient in the use of MS Office applications (Excel, Word, PowerPoint).


  • experience with LabVIEW for data acquisition and software development
  • background knowledge of, and interest in, particle accelerators (eg: degree modules, visits etc…)

Personal Skills and Qualities


  • good communication skills
  • demonstrate good team working capabilities
  • willingness to learn new skills, both technical and non-technical
  • open minded and flexible in relation to the type of work assigned
  • well organised, with a logical approach to work and good time management
  • willingness to undertake occasional entry to and/or work in radiation environments.


  • high quality technical written reports
  • high quality oral presentation skills.

Knowledge / Skills and Experience


  • knowledge of undergraduate level electromagnetic theory and ability to perform calculations
  • strong grasp of electronics theory and circuit design experience.

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