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Theoretical Physicists

Reading, Berkshire, UK
Closing date
8 Jun 2022

Job Details

What if you could work with remarkable people on extraordinary things? What if the end result was something a little bit special? What if your role was mission critical?

For nearly 70 years, AWE has been at the forefront of nuclear weapons research and development. We have a critical mission: to provide the warheads for the UK’s ultimate deterrent – Trident. We also use our unique skills to provide wider UK government with counter-terrorism and nuclear threat reduction solutions.

It takes a special sort of person to work at AWE. What if that person was you?

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 area (Potential opportunity for hybrid working in some roles)

Package: £26,500 - £60,000 (depending on your suitability and level of experience)

AWE (one of the best 25 big companies to work for in the UK) offers an attractive array of benefits which include:

  • Market leading contributory pension scheme
  • Generous holiday entitlement (270 hours a year, including Bank Holidays, plus every other Friday off)
  • Flexible working hours
  • Salary sacrifice scheme
  • Consideration for either full time or part time hours. Just let us know on your application if you wish to work part time
  • Relocation package available (terms and conditions apply)

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: Providing underpinning theoretical and modelling capabilities to enhance the understanding of the complex physical processes associated with nuclear weapon function and applying them to current products as well as enhancing the ability to design for the future. Use of state of the art multi-physics codes to model hydrodynamics, radiation transport and nuclear processes and use a range of experimental data to benchmark the predictions. The role entails working as part of a team and also independent research.  A strong physics and mathematics background and an inquisitive nature are particularly relevant to this discipline.
  • Radiation Science: Developing and utilising photon, electron and neutron transport codes. Some commercial codes such as MCNP are used, other codes are bespoke or developed in-house.  Using your background of physics, you shall be able to understand the concept of the calculations that are required. This role will entail analysing tasks and performing modelling of the transport of electrons, photons or neutrons through different mediums. Results will need to be presented through reports or verbal presentations to internal and external customers.
  • Physics of Material: simulating 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. This discipline offers a diverse range of physics: modelling condensed matter, deformation and fracture, high explosive detonation and burn, atomic and nuclear physics.
  • Systems Assessment: There are a wide range of disciplines within the Systems Assessment Group. It is a multi-discipline group that provides mission effectiveness and weapons effects assessments to AWE and our government stakeholders. We also contribute a range of capabilities in support of the UK’s national nuclear security and treaty verification requirements. We undertake fundamental scientific research, experimental trials, software model development and operational analysis to provide strategic answers directly into our customer community

This 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 once restrictions are lifted.


Please note that you must be a British National to apply for a role at AWE.

AWE plays a crucial role in the defence of the United Kingdom, by providing and maintaining the warheads for the country’s nuclear deterrent. We are a centre of scientific, engineering and technological excellence, with some of the most advanced research, design and production facilities in the world. Our unique expertise also assists the UK Government in developing and delivering a range of innovative and integrated support services, including national nuclear security and counter-terrorism solutions.

AWE is an equal opportunities employer. We value diversity and welcome applications from candidates from all backgrounds. We particularly welcome applications from sections of the community which are currently under-represented at AWE, including women, BAME and people with disabilities.


AWE profile image

AWE plays a crucial role in national nuclear security. Working to support the defence of our country, we’re a community of creative thinkers from all kinds of backgrounds in all kinds of roles, with one clear mission – to keep everyone, our environment and everything around us safe and secure. Our role in nuclear defence and the specialist expertise we provide to the government, is vital in the defence against the most serious threats faced by the UK – and to keeping the peace. From developing the warheads for the nuclear deterrent, to providing counter-terrorism and nuclear threat reduction solutions, the work we do is of global importance.

Why work for us
What we do is unique and so are the people who work here. We are a team of around 6500 people – proud to be part of such an important mission. We are com​mitted to equality at work and to mainstreaming diversity and inclusion in everything we do. We believe that by bringing together a diverse range of people we’ll get the diversity of thought to approach challenges in new ways.

Training and development
We believe in supporting our people through long-term investment in learning and development. Alongside in-house and on-line training capabilities, we support membership of professional bodies. We also focus on building and developing leadership skills, in pursuit of our best-in-class ambition. We do this through tailored leadership development programmes, accredited by the Chartered Management Institute, designed to equip our leaders with the skills to drive performance and bring out the best in their teams.

Graduate schemes
Our two-year Evolve programme offers three career pathways: Science, Engineering and Corporate & Operations. The programme is designed to be flexible, to incorporate a range of experiences as well as business needs. You’ll undertake several placements to expand your knowledge of your discipline, enabling you to develop yourself and your ongoing career. Your line manager will work with you and support you on your journey.

What we are looking for
We are always looking for high-calibre people to join our team. Whatever stage of your career, AWE is an exciting and challenging environment to develop your skills and achieve your potential. Our ambition is to create workplaces where we recognize and celebrate differences, encourage diverse contributions and our employees feel able to be themselves at work. We strive to create a genuine culture of openness and inclusion and encourage diverse applicants. Please note that you must be a British National to apply for a role at AWE.

Reading, UK

Number of employees

Main areas of research
Nuclear defence, nuclear forensics, radiation detection, plasma physics, hydrodynamics, high-performance computing, materials science

Positions recently recruited for
Computational physics, criticality scientists, experimental physics, radiation science, high-performance computing, radiation detection

Must be a British National

How to apply
Please visit our website for further information

Tel +44 (0)118 981 4111

Find Us
+44 0118 98 24643
AWE Aldermaston
United Kingdom

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