Recruiting for UKRI and UK SBS

Graduate Optics Engineer

Early Careers
210000WH Requisition #


Science and Technology Facilities Council


The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is one of Europe’s largest 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, technology and Engineering.

STFC is one of nine organisations that have been brought together to create UK Research and Innovation (UKRI); a new organisation with a vision to ensure the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation.

Our graduates join us in a permanent position, starting a real job from day one. Graduates enjoy two years of formal soft skills training together with technical training and development, as well as a direct route to professional accreditation. STFC graduates have the opportunity to build on their degree, taking their understanding, knowledge and skills to a new level in a dynamic, creative, collaborative culture.

The Optical Systems Group within RAL Space is responsible for the conception, design, development & testing of optical systems for space instrumentation and ground-based astronomical projects. Optical systems form the core of many of our instruments and you will work at the heart of multi-disciplinary teams, on projects at the frontiers of science and technology. The role will be varied and you may find that you work on several projects within your first few years. The group’s recent work on optical instruments ranges from space-based, e.g. Earth-observing camera system for the International Space Station, and Solar and planet-finding missions, to ground-based astronomy, e.g. design of the spectrograph optics for the next-generation extreme-large-telescope (the ELT).

Summary of Key Duties & Responsibilities 

The graduate will work under the supervision of an experienced optical engineer. Duties may include:

  • Conceptual design of optical systems;
  • Detailed optical design and tolerancing;
  • Construction of optical propagation and radiometric analysis models;
  • Stray light analysis (e.g. scattered light, thermal emission, spectral cross-talk);
  • Assembly and characterisation of optical breadboards and prototypes;
  • Optical testing of components and systems; 
  • Optical procurement (components and test gear) and liaison with manufacturers;
  • Alignment and test of flight hardware;
  • Participation in design reviews;
  • Travel to customer facilities to support assembly and integration of hardware;
  • Preparation of specifications, test plans, test reports, project presentations and other documentation;
  • Occasional help with outreach activities and tours.

Optical systems form the core of many of our instruments and the graduate will work in project teams alongside other science and engineering fields.

The graduate will need to work from time to time in a laboratory environment and must be vigilant in terms of health and safety. The graduate may also be required to work in customer facilities for short periods of time during instrument assembly and integration.

The Optical Systems Group requires a practical graduate with a demonstrable aptitude for optics. They will be required to show an understanding of optics theory, have some practical experience with optical instruments and optical measurements. A knowledge of space or astronomy projects and would be beneficial.

In order to apply for the role you must have:

  • Obtained first degree bachelors or Integrated Masters, (not doctorate) in a relevant subject in either 2020, 2021 or be due to receive it in 2022 
  • Expected or have achieved a 2:1 or above 
  • The right to live and work in the UK
  • Some degree-level specialisation or interest in optics
  • Experience in solving practical physics or engineering problems 
  • Practical laboratory skills 
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills. 


  • Experience with modelling optical systems.
  • Experience in optical testing and alignment 
  • Knowledge or experience with projects in the space or astronomy fields 


About The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) 

The STFC is a world-leading multi-disciplinary science organisation where curiosity, blue-skies thinking meets practical, application-led science and engineering. Our goal is to deliver economic, societal, scientific and international benefits to the UK and its people – and more broadly to the world. 

As one of Europe’s largest research organisations, we’re trusted to support, enable and undertake ground-breaking projects in an outstanding diversity of fields. Through world-class facilities and people, we’re driving progressive advances in science, engineering, computing and technology. Our research seeks to understand the Universe from the largest astronomical scales to the tiniest constituents of matter, yet creates impact on a very tangible, human scale. 

For more information about STFC please visit 

You can also visit our careers site 

About UK Research Innovation (UKRI) 

UKRI is an organisation that brings together the seven disciplinary research councils, Research England and Innovate UK. Together, we build an independent organisation with a strong voice and vision ensuring the UK maintains its world-leading position in research and innovation. 

Supporting some of the world’s most exciting and challenging research projects, we develop and operate some of the most remarkable scientific facilities in the world. We are pushing the frontiers of human knowledge through fundamental research and delivering benefits for UK society and the economy through world-class research, skills and business-led innovation. 

More information can be found at  

How we support EDI in the workforce 

At UKRI, we believe that everyone has a right to be treated with dignity and respect, and to be provided with equal opportunities to thrive and succeed in an environment that enables them to do so. We also value diversity of thought and experience within inclusive groups, organisations and the wider community. For further information, please visit ‘How we support EDI in the workforce’

Disability Confident Employer

As users of the disability confident scheme, we guarantee to interview all disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy/ies. We will ensure that individuals with disabilities are provided reasonable accommodation to participate in the job application or interview process, to perform essential job functions, and to receive other benefits and privileges of employment. Please contact us to request accommodation. 

How to apply 

Online applications only preferred for this role. Please submit a CV and covering letter which clearly outlines how you fulfil the criteria specified along with your motivation for UKRI and the role. Ensure that the job reference number is included in the filename description of each document uploaded. Note that failure to address the above criteria or submit an application without a covering letter may result in the application not being considered. Assessment will only be based upon the content of your submitted covering letter and CV and not the ‘experience’ section of the application. 

UKRI seeks to ensure it creates and maintains a system of openness, fairness and inclusion – a collaborative, trusted environment, which is attractive to and accessible to everyone who is interested in developing their career with us. 

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