Research Councils

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Research councils are publicly-funded organisations that has the responsibility of providing support for postgraduate studies and to further increase knowledge in a variety of sectors, thereby contributing to the progress of public life. Research councils employ more than 12,000 people, including researchers and technicians. They also fund postgraduate studies for about 30,000 people, and they are the main source of funding and grants for research students in the UK. 

Research Councils

The research councils have a partnership known as Research Council UK (RCUK). The members are:

Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)

Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)

Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)

The Pirbright Institute

Medical Research Council (MRC)

Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

RCUK Shared Services Centre Ltd (RCUK SSC Ltd)

Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC)

You can find details of each one on our website. Each research council has its own subject-specific demands, such as the need for researchers in cancer related issues at the MRC. The entire network of councils is overseen by the RCUK Shared Services Centre. As it covers administrative and management areas for the council, it has a need for employees in various office-based roles.

Job types

As well as studentships, a variety of jobs can be found at UK research councils. These typically include roles in:

  • Administration
  • Finance
  •  IT
  • Science
  • Technical roles

There are many opportunities for graduates in trainee roles that will provide experience in the field and training in personal development.

The ideal employee

RCUK is looking for its employees to be:

  • passionate and professional at work
  • fun and enthusiastic
  • understanding of the business needs of RCUK
  • a sharer in the values of the organisation

Its motto is “Professional people working together to deliver quality services for the benefit of the research community”. Demonstrating how you display this as an employee will be to your advantage when applying for a job.

Finding a job

The RCUK has a bespoke recruitment website which lists jobs by type and location. Vacancies at research councils are also regularly advertised here on As some of the jobs are involved with the most-advanced levels of research, industry magazines and academic publications also carry job adverts for research councils.

You can get advice on applying for jobs both in and out of academia on the Careers Advice pages of The articles include advice on what to include in your CV and interview tips which will be invaluable when applying for vacancies at research councils.

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