Graduate working at STFC

Vulcan Sandwich Student (Physics) - 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.

The Vulcan High Power Laser Facility 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. Diagnostics of laser performance are a key part in the continued enhancement of this system.

Welcome to STFC

The Science and Technology Facilities Council is one of Europe's largest multidisciplinary research organisations supporting scientists and engineers world-wide.

List of 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.

Diagnostics Development:

Vulcan is already a sophisticated and complex system with many optical, mechanical and electronic sub systems and you will be given responsibility for the development, testing and integration of additional components on the Vulcan laser system. You will directly contribute to the development, testing and integration of laser diagnostics into the Vulcan laser system. This will involve constructing optical hardware and may also include optical design work and software development.

Vulcan Operations:

You will join the Vulcan Laser Operations Group as part of a small team (8 - 10 people) working in a friendly atmosphere and contributing to the success of experiments carried out by our visiting scientists. He / she will (under supervision) contribute to the successful operation of the £30M laser facility as well as the maintenance and enhancement of the capabilities of this world leading facility. F

Personal Skills and Attributes 

You 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.Qualifications


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


  • 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.

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