Applied Social Scientist

Porton Down
28 Nov 2018
10 Dec 2018
Contract Type
Full Time

Can you help the military to gain advantage in crisis and conflict situations that are becoming increasingly uncertain and complex? Would you enjoy challenging them to think differently, or organise themselves in innovative ways? Are you passionate about applying your expertise in the social sciences to deliver cutting-edge research for the benefit of the UK’s Defence?

A challenging future requires Dstl to understand and analyse new approaches to how the military commands and controls complex operations. Working within the Human and Social Sciences Group, but in close partnership with operational analysts, systems thinkers and cyber & information systems specialists, you will lead research and provide advice to MOD to help improve the performance of military headquarters.

You will use, or assure the use of, qualitative and quantitative approaches which allow aspects such as training, learning, doctrine and organisational design to be considered. Through helping to identify the required balance between effectiveness, agility and resilience within military branches, your work will impact Defence’s thinking now and into the future.

We are looking for someone who has;
• Applied expertise within the social sciences, with the enthusiasm to further apply their skills, knowledge and experience within a military context
• Self-motivation and is comfortable working under their own initiative
• The ability to work collaboratively and in inter-disciplinary teams (across functional areas, with customers and suppliers), with experience of assuring and overseeing the work of others
• An aptitude to think and work innovatively and a willingness to up skill in emerging areas
• Good communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to engage with a variety of stakeholders
• A motivation to apply creative, critical thinking and problem solving skills to overcome current and future problems facing Defence
• A desire to grow their capabilities and their colleagues’ capabilities, as well as to grow the impact of research outputs from across the organisation.

In this role you will;
• Lead work strands aiming to improve the performance of military headquarters, including crafting and scoping requirements, setting the direction of the work, developing technical approaches, and delivering through others
• Work collaboratively as part of inter-disciplinary teams, and partner with Academia and Industry to create outputs of high quality which meet customer needs
• Provide rigorous review of approaches and outputs to ensure the appropriate robustness of research delivered to customers
• Explore and use data visualisation techniques to present research outputs in a meaningful way to technical and non-technical audiences
• Provide timely, impartial, evidence-based advice to customers, so they can make informed decisions underpinned by evidence
• Help develop the capabilities of the Human and Social Sciences Group in line with Dstl’s strategic direction, act as a role model, and grow the impact of human and social science research across Dstl.

• Working within inter-disciplinary teams
• Working with a diverse stakeholder community
• Achieving outcomes through others and influencing military customers

Person specification

We’re looking for individuals who can bring a mix of skills, knowledge and experience to our team including combinations of;

• Knowledge on how organisations can be designed, how they can learn and how they can change, and experience of embedding interventions to improve how they perform
• Experience in driving the direction of research, and working in inter-disciplinary teams to deliver through others
• Excellent communication skills to both craft effective professional relationships with our customers and delivery partners, and to communicate complex technical concepts effectively to non-specialists
• Awareness of the Defence and Security environment or similar (e.g. emergency services, medical, transportation, high reliability organisations)

Having skills and ability in a number of the areas listed below, is desirable:
• Experience of conducting experiments on non-traditional approaches, with the aim of assessing their effectiveness in future operating environments
• Experience of working in the Defence and Security domain or similar (e.g. emergency services, medical, transportation, high reliability organisations)
• Understanding and application of qualitative and quantitative research methods
• Broader awareness / expertise in a wider range of human and social sciences disciplines

Membership, Chartership or accreditation of a relevant professional body would be a benefit, (e.g. British Psychological Society, British Sociological Association). We will support your development towards professional memberships as appropriate.


A degree in a relevant human or social science discipline (e.g. Psychology, Management Science, Sociology).

A higher level of academic or professional qualification in a relevant human or social science (e.g. MSc in social science, management science, systems thinking or a similar discipline).


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Changing and Improving
  • Working Together
  • Communicating and Influencing

Benefits Pensions

Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.


We'll provide a great range of benefits including;
• Chartership and accreditation support
• Pension
• Generous annual leave
• A competitive salary
• Flexible working
• Excellent learning and development
• Onsite gyms and restaurants
• A range of staff discounts for high street and online shopping, restaurants and days out

Things you need to know Security

Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.

Successful candidates must meet the security requirements before they can be appointed. The level of security needed is security check.

Selection process details

This vacancy is using Success Profiles, and will assess your Behaviours and Experience.

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK nationals only.

This job is not open to candidates who hold a dual nationality.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles.

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

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