ISIS Facility Development and Utilisation Studentships
17 Apr 2018



ISIS has an annual call for 50%-funded studentships which include an aspect of facility development.


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ISIS neutron training course students.


ISIS has an annual call for Facility Development and Utilisation Studentships.  These are co-funded studentships, normally 50% funded by ISIS and 50% by a university, which contain an element of facility development - for example development of equipment, software or experimental processes.  Studentships have an ISIS supervisor and a university supervisor who work in partnership throughout the student's project.

Over recent years, ISIS has funded around 40 of these studentships across a wide range of topics and university partners.

A full list of studentships supported to-date can be found h​ere​​.​ The 2019 studentship form can be found here​.​

ISIS is also co-funding studentships with the Faraday Institution and with the UK Catalysis Hub - there are separate application processes for these which will be available on the Faraday and Catalysis Hub websites when the calls are announced.​

Important Dates for the 2019 call

Call for StudentshipsOpens 24 July 2019
 Closes 25 September 2019
Panel MeetingNovember 2019
Announcement of ResultsDecember 2019 / January 2020
Students start
​​Students must be appointed by end of 2020

What are ISIS Facility Development and Utilisation Studentships?

ISIS wishes to co-fund PhD studentship projects which focus on the development of ISIS facility capabilities or the utilisation of capabilities previously funded by this call. Studentship project​s can be within any of the science areas studied by neutron scattering or muon spectroscopy at ISIS and should have a strong science case​, but they must include facility-development or the utilisation of facilities previously developed under this call alongside a strong science case. This may include technique, software or sample environment development which is of wider use within the facility beyond the immediate PhD student project.

We particularly welcome joint applications to ISIS and Diamond and will look to ring-fence four joint studentships for those joint applications which meet the application criteria.

It is recommended that you contact Martin Jones ( ahead of submitting a proposal to discuss the nature of your facility development.

How many studentships are available?

ISIS will make available funding for approximately six half ISIS studentships and up to four joint ISIS/Diamond half studentships. Projects in collaboration with the Diamond light source and partly supported by Diamond will be looked on favourably (see below).

Eligibility Criteria

Any academic belonging to a UK university with the authorisation to supervise PhD students may apply. We assume that the applicant will be the university PhD supervisor. An ISIS staff scientist must be a co-applicant and co-supervisor, and play a full and equal role in the studentship project and supervision, including the interviewing of potential candidates.

All applicants must provide evidence with their application that they have already secured a 50% contribution of project costs.

The student must spend at least one year of their time at ISIS (at RAL for joint ISIS-Diamond studentships), in addition to normal short trips for experiments, during their PhD (in a schedule to be arranged by mutual agreement between the ISIS and university supervisors). Standard PhD progression qualifiers (1st / 2nd year reports etc.) may be used to assess the degree of interaction with the ISIS facility. If it is deemed insufficient interaction has occurred, STFC reserves the right to withdraw funding.

What will ISIS provide?

ISIS will provide up to 50% funding for each studentship including any fees required by the host University. Matching funds from other sources must to be secured by the applicant and proof of funding submitted with the application. The student will need to b​e registered at the host university, and ISIS will make payments to the University to cover the ISIS portion of the stipend and fees. ISIS (STFC) will set up an agreement with the host university which specifies a schedule for payments to the university to cover the ISIS contribution to the studentship, together with other details of the working arrangements for the studentship.

In addition, up to £2000 per year per student for travel and consumables (to be claimed by the student against actual receipted expenditure) will also be available for research training expenses including the cost of travelling to and from the Rutherford Laboratory. 

How long are the studentships for?

Studentships should start in autumn 2020 and can be for between 3 and 4 years.  Studentship posts not filled by end of 2021 will be withdrawn.

How to apply?

The completed application form, together with a two-page project description of the studentship science project and the facility development component, a one page project plan or Gantt chart (total three pages), letters of support and proof of co-funding should be emailed to Martin Jones ( by 6pm on 25 September 2019. Project description must fit within the two page limit and must contain the following headings;​

  • ​Background Background information of the proposal including why it is timely and interesting and the goals of the project.
  • PhD Project The scientific project to be undertaken by the PhD student including important milestones.
  • Facility Development/Utilisation How the project will either develop the facility or profitably utilise facility development previously funded under this call, including details of wider use beyond the immediate research team and legacy applications.
  • Partnerships Details of partnerships, 1) within the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory 2) with industry and 3) with other academic institutions / ISIS users.
  • Project Plan In the form of a Gantt chart or similar on a separate page​

Applications should be made by 25 September 2019

Selection criteria for ISIS to provide funding

The following criteria will be used for assessment (in order of significance)

  • The quality of the science (40%)
  • The quality of the facility development aspect and the benefit to the ISIS community (40%). Appropriate examples of development projects will be of wider use to the ISIS community beyond the immediate PhD project and may focus on instrument, technique, sample environment or software development. Purely scientific projects or those with weak development aspects will be rejected. Letters of support from institutions other than that of the applicant(s) demonstrating the significance of the project to the wider ISIS community are welcomed and may be included in the application.​
  • The quality of the PhD training (10%). What will the student undertake during their PhD and how will the combination of ISIS and University resources provide a rewarding and beneficial experience for the student.​
  • Partnerships (10%). Partnerships with other RAL institutions (Diamond light source, Central Laser Facility, the Research Complex at Harwell, the Harwell Imaging partnership, RAL Space etc.), government laboratories (The Hartree Centre, NPL etc.) or private industrial will be viewed favourably, especially where such links are supported through additional funding. Supporting letters from additional project partners must be included.
  • An ISIS staff scientist (or ISIS and Diamond for joint proposals) as co-supervisor of the student
  • The student should spend at least one year of their time at ISIS (50% of their time at RAL for joint ISIS-Diamond projects), in addition to normal short trips for experiments, during their PhD (in a schedule to be arranged by mutual agreement between the ISIS and university supervisors).
  • Demonstration of a source of co-funding to provide the 50% contribution not supplied by ISIS or Diamond.​

    Selection process:

    Proposals will be sent for external review. Once reviews have been received, a selection panel consisting of ISIS senior staff and members of the ISIS user community will rank the proposals for potential funding. In addition to the above selection criteria, ISIS will seek a breadth of science areas and partnering universities when making a final decision on which applications will be supported.

    The panel will meet to review proposals soon after the application deadline, and applicants will be informed in late 2019 or early 2020​, after which a list of funded project titles and PIs will be published.

    Joint ISIS-Diamond Proposals.

    Projects that link technique development across both the Diamond and ISIS facilities may also be funded. These proposals must meet all the criteria for ISIS-only proposals, are expected to have PhD supervisors from the University partner, the Diamond Light Source and the ISIS facility and will be independently assessed by the ISIS and Diamond studentship panels. For joint ISIS and Diamond projects, proposals should be submitted to both the ISIS and Diamond calls for studentships.

    ISIS and Diamond recognise that strong partnerships between the institutions are facilitated by joint projects and therefore joint proposals will be considered favourably by the committees from ISIS and Diamond. Furthermore, referees will be instructed to look favourably on these projects when allocating a score for partnerships.

    Accepted projects will be funded 1/4:1/4:1/2 ISIS:Diamond:University (1/3: 1/3: 13 funding ratio is also possible).

    Proposal information:  

    Applicants should provide the information requested on the application form.  In addition, a Gantt chart or project plan and a description of the research project to be undertaken should be provided. The description of the research project should take into account the selection criteria given above and should be a maximum of two pages for ISIS-only applications and three pages for joint ISIS and Diamond proposals.

    Certain information (applicant and institution, general project description) may be made public by ISIS for successful proposals. ​

    Contact: Jones, Martin Owen (STFC,RAL,ISIS)