Permanent position as (Senior) Research Software Developer at UCL

My group at UCL is recruiting a new permanent generalist research software developer (also known as research software engineer). Even though we usually employ a range of programming languages in our projects, the job description explicitly mentions Julia among the desired languages!

For more information, see the announcement and the full advert. The position is based in London, UK, but for the time being we’re all working from home.


can one really live in london on that salary?


It’s possible… It all depends on how long a commute you want :grinning:.


According to the Office for National Statistics the median gross earnings for full-time employee in London is 736£/week, so (more than) half of the entire population of London with a full-time job lives with the salary offered or less.


According to the Office for National Statistics the median gross earnings for full-time employee in London is 736£/week, so (more than) half of the entire population of London with a full-time job lives with the salary offered or less.

Sure but I doubt that half the population of London has “either a PhD degree in a computationally based field or equivalent professional experience and have experience of analysing, researching and solving complex programming problems” (as stated in your position posting).


I think you’re both from the USA? I didn’t expect to get to this point, but let’s turn this thread into a discussion about salaries in London:

  1. London has a bad reputation for cost of living but, maybe apart from renting, it’s really not true that it’s more expensive than other big cities in Europe. And even renting is not necessarily worse than many other cities in neighbour countries. I sometimes had quick looks at renting in the US, well, I find that expensive in absolute terms, but see point below to rescale renting with the earnings
  2. it may come to your surprise but salary scale in UK is very much different from the USA, including for software engineers. Some random links I’ve found with a quick search that you could have easily done yourself:
  3. the position is at a university, not a big tech company or a hedge fund, and remember that also universities in UK don’t necessarily pay as much as you’d expect in the US
  4. this a permanent position but people are of course free to leave if they want to pursue a different, possibly more profitable, career, and some people in my group did over the years. Some went to startups, others to established tech companies, others went back to academia that, uh, has exactly the same salary scale.

Research software development is at the unfortunate intersection of requiring highly marketable skills but at the same time serving a sector (academia, R&D) that is not exactly overfinanced.

I imagine that most people employed in these jobs do it for the non-pecuniary, intangible benefits of working on interesting problems with smart people — pretty much the same as research.

@giordano: offering remote work with occasionally required physical presence (eg a week every month to meet people) may increase your chances of finding a suitable candidate. I was talking to a radiologist friend the other day, it is amazing how the markets for these kind of jobs changed in the past 2 months.


All of this is absolutely true :white_check_mark:

Quoting from the appendices to the job description:


I actually do live in London, albeit on a PhD stipend that is only 1/2 of what that salary would be. What I noticed is that on my stipend living anywhere in Zone 1/2 was immediately using at least 3/4 of it (or possibly all of it) - but that was in Islington. When I moved to Zone 3 (Ealing) that dropped to about half my stipend on rent. The tradeoff was a slightly longer (but somewhat nicer) commute.

There a few points to consider. In the UK in most private companies (more flexible I’d assume) will not allow you to work more than 90 days remotely (i.e. different country) per year. I’d be surprised if UCL was any different.

it’s really not true that [London is] more expensive than other big cities in Europe.

If you compare it with e.g. Berlin (where I live now), it is incredibly expensive. and that doesn’t even include the time you spend commuting, which is not free (it really is not :slight_smile: ).

Applying median gross earnings to explain low salary on a job marketed to I’d say 5% best educated/skilled part of the labor market is… amusing. Sorry, I can’t take it seriously and you shouldn’t make such excuses either. If UCL can not provide monetary gratification, it should at least try to come up with some meaningful perks. And no, working at (insert the name of a university) is NOT the ultimate perk. :smiley: The reasons given by @Tamas_Papp sound way more credible, but I’m not entirely sure if the premise that you work on interesting problems with smart people holds in academia and doesn’t outside :wink:

@giordano this is by no means an attack. I’m facing very similar problems trying to find people for positions in my grant and I wish I could pay them more. And I find it harder and harder to advertise to my students jobs which I consider exploitative in one way or another.
Universities don’t seem to notice that they run on a stream of fresh blood :stuck_out_tongue: that enters the system and is sucked dry. But the stream is starting to dry out.


I am not from the USA, but a little closer (Vienna, Austria), and the first post (“can one really live in london on that salary?”) was also one of the things popping into my head when I looked at the posting.

Thank you, however, for the posting! It is refreshing to see that institutions establish the sort of groups that your are part of.
Also, thank you for introducing me to the term “research software engineering”, which very succinctly describes what I would like my (R&D) job to be more like (currently it leans more towards management) – I think this will come in handy articulating that. :smiley:

I agree that the reasons for working this kind of jobs that @Tamas_Papp gives are relevant, I have found myself in a similar situation a couple of times in the past.