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.

Image of Facility Development student Harrison Laurent

​Facility Development student Harrison Laurent


Update following Covid-19 pandemic: all supervisors should have received an email about possible studentship extensions. Please contact Martin Jones at ISIS if you have not received this or have any questions.

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 70 of these studentships across a wide range of topics and university partners; here is a full list of studentships sup​ported to-date​​​:​
ISIS Facility Development Studentships Awarded to 2022.pdf

Case studies of previous and current ISIS facility development students and their work are available by clicking the names below: 

Harry Lane​, ​​Anna HerlihyMatilda RhodesRichard WaiteRanggi RamadhanRalf Zies​che

The 2022 call has now closed. Information about the 2023 call will be posted in Summer 2023.​

ISIS has available a limited number of 50%-funded studentships availabl​e to UK users to run from autumn 2023: the deadline for requests is 6pm on the 14 September 2022. Below is a link to the 2022 ​studentship form​, and a text version of the information below, including an appendix containing details of the scoring guidelines, for download. 

​Important Dates for the 2022 call

Call for Studentships​Opens 11 July 2022
 Closes 5pm BST 14 September 2022
Panel Meeting​November 2022
Announcement of ResultsDecember 2022

What are ISIS Facility Development Studentships?

ISIS wishes to co-fund PhD studentship projects which include an element of facility development or are a continuation of a project previously funded by this call. Studentship projects 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 be a continuation of a project previously funded by this call. This may include technique, software or sample environment development.

Software projects should provide evidence of how the software will be sustainable and usable beyond the lifetime of the project, and technique or sample environment should provide evidence of the wider applicability of the project within the community beyond the immediate PhD student project. Letters of support from the science and/or industrial community demonstrating the wider applicability of projects are encouraged. It is recommended that you contact Martin Jones ( ahead of submitting a proposal to discuss the nature of your facility development. Proposal reviewers will wish to know that the proposed facility development can reasonably be carried out within the duration of a studentship, and that other resources required for the development (e.g. any significant capital or resource costs required) are available from other sources.

Joint ISIS-Diamond studentships

ISIS is keen to encourage studentships jointly with Diamond. Projects in collaboration with the Diamond light source and partly supported by Diamond must be applied for via the DLS studentship process found at The ISIS facility studentship form cannot be used for joint proposals;​ please see the section 'Joint ISIS and Diamond projects' below for further details.​

How many studentships are available?

ISIS will make available funding for approximately 5 half studentships, together with up to 2 joint with Diamond. Projects in collaboration with the Diamond light source and partly supported by Diamond must be applied for via the DLS studentship process. ​

Eligibility Criteria

ISIS Facility Development Studentships are co-supervised by a UK university academic and ISIS staff. Any academic belonging to a UK university with the authorisation to supervise PhD students may apply as the university 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. Any applicants who have received previous awards must ensure that a closing report on any previous studentships has been submitted to ISIS ( before applying for a new award.

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. 

Students will be asked to present their work at ISIS student meetings during their projects. A final report on the outcomes of the project and its impact will be required at the end of the project.

What will ISIS provide?

ISIS will provide up to 50% funding for each studentship. Matching funds from other sources must be secured by the applicant and proof of funding submitted with the application.

Up to £2000 per year per student for travel and consumables will also be available for research training expenses including the cost of travelling to and from the Rutherford Laboratory. These funds are to be claimed against actual receipted expenditure provided by the student and will not be paid directly to the University) The student will need to be 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.

How long are the studentships for?

Studentships should start in autumn 2023 and can be for a maximum of 4 years.

How to apply?

The completed application form, together with a 2-page project description of the studentship science project including risk management and critical pathway for the PhD program, and the facility development component, together with any letters of support should be emailed to Martin Jones ( by 5pm on the 14th September 2022. 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 should be described and must include details of risk management and the critical pathway of the research program.

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.

Letters of Support Letters of support from researchers and/or industries within the field may be included where appropriate. Demonstration of a wide potential user base and significant interest in the proposed development are encouraged.

Previous Project Outcomes Proposals from applicants who have previously received an ISIS Facility Development Studentship must include an additional page in their proposal submission listing the outcomes from the previous award. This must include the status of the facility development component of the project and its usage; it should also include the current status of the science project and any publications, presentations, and further grant applications arising from the original award.

When should applications be made?

The deadline for applications for this call is 5​pm on 14 September 2022.

Selection criteria for ISIS to provide funding:

The criteria for assessment are listed below and guidelines for marking issued to referees and panel members is given at the end of this document.

The quality of the science (40%). External referees chosen from the ISIS facility studentship referees panel will carry out assessment of this criterion (/40). Exceptional proposal will be expected to show world leading / ground breaking research with high potential impact academically and/or industrially, likely to result in publication in very high impact general journals (Nature, Science etc.) and/or top-rated journals for individual fields, or strong industrial significance.

The quality of the facility development aspect and the benefit to the ISIS community (40%). Appropriate 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 (/40). Purely scientific projects, unfeasible 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 encouraged and should be included in the application. The appropriate ISIS group leader will assess facility development. Continuation proposals must identify how the apparatus will be used in the new proposal, including any future development, and the significant outcomes from the previous award.

The quality of the PhD training (20%). 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 (/20). The proposal must contain a description of the PhD critical path and risk management. External referees chosen from the ISIS facility studentship referees panel will carry out assessment of this criterion.

For submissions from applicants who have had a previous facility development studentship, the outputs from the previous project, in terms of the facility development component and science component, will also be taken into account when evaluating the new proposal.

Joint ISIS-Diamond Proposals.

Joint ISIS and Diamond projects proposals should be submitted to the Diamond call for studentships only. Full details of the Diamond submission process can be found on the Diamond studentship website​

Projects that link technique development across both the Diamond and ISIS facilities may also be funded and our welcomed. 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 reviewed as part of the Diamond and ISIS Review Panels composed of Diamond and ISIS staff. Successful Diamond and ISIS supervisors will then be invited for interview by a Review Panel, again composed of Diamond and ISIS staff and Studentships awarded on the basis of these interviews (please note, typically only Diamond and ISIS supervisors will be interviewed). Interviews will focus on the selection criteria detailed above, the training provision for the PhD Student and the role of the Diamond and ISIS supervisors to the PhD project.

Proposals seeking joint Diamond and ISIS supervisors should be submitted to the Diamond call for Studentships only. The request for joint Diamond and ISIS supervision must be indicated on the application form and in the case for support. Joint ISIS and Diamond proposals should be via the online Diamond proposal form and the science case must comprise a three page project description. Joint ISIS and Diamond proposals should clearly demonstrate why it is a joint proposal and of the three pages, half of one page must detail the X-ray aspects of the PhD project and half of one page must detail the neutron aspects of the PhD project.

​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.

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

Selection process for ISIS Facility Development Studentships​:

Proposals will be sent for external review and to the relevant ISIS group leaders. Once scores from reviewers and group leaders 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, and will also be concerned regarding diversity of successful applicants. Scoring guidelines for referees, ISIS group leaders and panel members are given in the appendix to the document linked above.

The panel will meet to review proposals soon after the application deadline, and applicants will be informed in late 2022, after which a list of funded project titles and PIs will be published.

Proposal information:  

Applicants should provide the information requested on the application form. The description of the research project should take into account the selection criteria given above and should be a maximum of two pages (three pages for continuation 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)