Theoretical Physicists

  • Job Reference: R19667
  • Date Posted: 11 September 2023
  • Recruiter: AWE
  • Website:
  • Location: Reading, Berkshire
  • Salary: £31,000 to £60,000
  • Sector: Government & Defence, Science & Technology
  • Job Type: Permanent

Job Description

AWE is currently recruiting for Mathematicians, Chemists and Radiation Scientists with a broad range of skills, at various stages of their careers, to work alongside likeminded scientists.

Theoretical Physicists

Location: Reading/Basingstoke area (Potential opportunities for hybrid working in some roles)


Junior Physicists (recent graduates): £31,000 - £35,000 (depending on your suitability and level of experience)

Experienced Physicists (PHD or graduates with post-grad experience): £36,000 - £44,000 (depending on your suitability and level of experience)

Senior Physicists (experienced physicists with qualifications coupled with experience in industry): £45,000 - £60,000 (depending on your suitability and level of experience)

Closing Date: 09th October 2023

As part of our People Promise, AWE (one of the best 25 big companies to work for in the UK) has a range of benefits to suit you. These include:

  • Time to recharge your batteries with 270 hours of annual leave (plus every other Friday off work)
  • Consideration for flexible working arrangements so that your work may fit in with your lifestyle. Just let us know on your application if you wish to work part time
  • Opportunities for Professional Career Development that include funding for the annual membership of a relevant professional body, access to mentors and training
  • Employee Assistance Programme and Occupational Health Services
  • A generous defined contribution Group Personal Pension (we will pay between 9% and 13% of your pensionable pay depending on your own contribution)
  • Life Assurance
  • Discounts - access to savings on a wide range of everyday spending
  • Special Leave Policy including paid time off for volunteering, public service (including reserve forces) and caring for your family
  • A host of voluntary & core benefits to suit your health and wellbeing - more information available on our careers site

We have various roles available across our Physics function. As a Theoretical Physicist, you could be involved in working in any of the following areas:

  • Design Physics: The Design Physics Group underpin theoretical and modelling capabilities to enhance the understanding of the complex physical processes associated with nuclear weapon function, whilst applying them to the current and future product designs. They use state of the art multi-physics codes to model hydrodynamics, radiation transport and nuclear processes using a range of experimental data to benchmark the predictions. A role within this group involves working as part of a team, alongside independent research. A strong physics and mathematics background and an inquisitive nature are particularly relevant to this discipline.

  • Radiation Science: The Radiation Science Group develops and utilises photon, electron and neutron transport codes. Some commercial codes such as MCNP are used, other codes are bespoke or developed in-house. Computer modelling is used to simulate environments and conditions that can no longer be directly achieved. Experiments are conducted at facilities in the UK and abroad to provide valuable simulation data which are used to validate the modelling codes used. Using your background of physics, you shall be able to understand the concept of the calculations that are required to perform the experiments and validate the computer codes. This role will entail analysing tasks and performing modelling of the transport of electrons, photons or neutrons through different mediums.

  • Physics of Material: The Materials Physics Group is responsible for developing the knowledge and understanding of material behaviours to support the UKs deterrent. This involves performing experiments measuring material properties in exotic states of matter such as those found in the centre of planets or stars, and during violent chemical and nuclear reactions. A wide range of data is needed including atomic and nuclear cross-sections, high pressure EoS, strength and fracture, plus high explosive detonation properties. There are also opportunities to develop and use cutting edge experimental techniques on various national and international facilities - Orion laser and ASP accelerator at AWE, Diamond Light Source (UK), Neutron Ignition Facility (US), Linac Coherent Light Source (US), European XFEL(Germany).

  • Systems Assessment: The Systems Assessment Group provides deterrent effectiveness and consequence assessment capability to AWE and our customers. It develops and maintains this capability by undertaking scientific research, conducting experimental trials, utilising operational analysis techniques, applying statistical methods and developing software models. One of our central aims is to provide support and advice on the effectiveness of the UK nuclear deterrent throughout its life cycle. There main focus is monitoring and assessing strategic threats to the system in order to provide support to CASD (Continuous at Sea Deterrence). They also apply their expertise to assess the wider asymmetric threats to the UK and provide support to nuclear threat reduction programmes including arms control and treaty verification.

The teams are also involved in research into nuclear weapons effects related to blast damage, radiological assessment, human response, system survivability, fire ignition and spread, and electromagnetic pulse. They collaborate with the wider industry, universities, US partners and MOD stakeholders to develop and share capability, and better understand requirements on the deterrent.

There is a diverse skillset within our Physics group and as such we would welcome applications from candidates who can demonstrate knowledge or experience in several of the following areas:

  • A degree or equivalent level of experience working in Physics, Mathematics, Computer Science or any other STEM discipline.

  • Experience in undertaking scientific research in either a university or industrial context

  • A methodical approach to complex problem solving using technical knowledge

  • Strong communication skills, verbal and written

  • The ability to prioritise a varied workload; ensuring timely delivery with minimum supervision

  • Experience or enthusiasm to learn scientific programming using languages such as Fortran, C++, Python, or a similar high-level language, and of working in the Unix/Linux environment

  • Knowledge of radiation transport codes (MCNP knowledge would be particularly advantageous)

  • Using bespoke software to complete detailed analyses of physical problems

  • Theoretical modelling of Mechanical and Thermodynamic systems

  • Fundamental understanding and knowledge of:

    • Finite Element Analysis

    • Hydrodynamics

    • Molecular dynamics simulation

    • Quantum mechanical simulations

    • Atmospheric dispersion

    • Aerosolisation

    • Computational code development and physics modelling

    • Nuclear physics

    • Meteorology

  • Ability to plan and manage the delivery of own work efficiently, or that of a small technical team

  • Ability to provide technical input within own field of expertise that can influence project or team activity

All applicants must be willing and able to obtain and maintain the relevant security clearance required and be willing and able to work in designated areas.

These roles may require occasional travel within the UK and overseas.