• Graduate Employers Guides - Dstl

TSR Wiki > Careers > Graduate Employers Guides > Dstl

Employer Information

  • Application deadline: Various
  • Starting salaries: 21-26k (Bsc/Beng - PhD)
  • Regions: Salisbury, Portsmouth and Sevenoaks.
  • Industries: Defence and Aerospace
  • Website: www.dstl.gov.uk
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Telephone:
  • Address:

Porton Down Salisbury Wiltshire SP4 0JQ

What is Dstl?
The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) is an agency of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) and exists to supply the very best, impartial, scientific and technical research and advice to the MOD and Other Government Departments.

Since Dstl's creation, we have tackled some of the most challenging science and technology problems facing the UK Government and we have developed some exciting solutions. Our work is highly valued by all those we work with, who depend on our advice being the very best for when it really matters.

Dstl is the centre of scientific excellence for the UK Ministry of Defence, housing one of the largest groups of scientists and engineers in public service in the country.

Its 3,500-strong workforce includes some of the nation's most talented and creative scientists.

With the brief to ensure that the UK Armed Forces and Government are supported by world class scientific advice, Dstl delivers defence research, specialist technical services and the ability to track global technological developments.

Its capabilities compare with the best in the world, supporting procurement decisions, defence policy-making and operations.

What roles are available at Dstl?

Application process for Dstl.

Entry requirements and type of person suited for Dstl.
You must be a UK national and have resided in the UK for the previous five years. If you hold dual nationality, of which one component must be British, you may be required to relinquish your non-British nationality. Some posts are not open to dual nationals, due to the sensitive nature of our work and the need to deploy personnel across a wide range of Dstl projects. Security vetting will also be required.

Future prospects and training at Dstl.
There are many different career paths available to our staff and, we actively encourage our staff to always be looking for the next step – whether that is promotion, a cross-department move, or a secondment to MOD, Industry or Academia. Within Dstl, staff may seek promotion either through taking up a new role, or via our career level review scheme. This scheme enables staff to apply for promotion without having to take up a new role. Success in the career level process is dependent on the individual being able to prove that they are consistently delivering at a higher level and their role being suitable for a level rise.

Other comments about Dstl.

My Experience - Helena Moretti

Last summer, I jumped in the car for a two and a half hour trip to Portsmouth, to begin my internship with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). I had been interested in defence for a long time, and I was incredibly excited to get started, and to make the first steps in what I hoped would be my career path.

There was a bit of preamble before I was jumping up and down in the kitchen with my flatmates, celebrating the email offering me a place. The application process was simple and completely transparent. The first step was an application form, asking for all the usual grades and work experience, some online tests, and competency questions. The one thing that made Dstl’s application form very different was the eligibility questions.

As a department of the Ministry of Defence (MOD), you have to meet certain citizenship criteria in order to apply, as you can be asked to work with sensitive material whilst you’re there. You also need to supply two references who will confirm your honesty and discreetness. If you feel the need to discuss the ins and outs of your work with your flatmates, this isn’t the job for you! If, however, you can keep the details quiet and are looking for a job that will allow you to make a real difference right off the bat, read on.

The interview was far less nerve-wracking than you would expect. There was no assessment centre for the summer internship, no group exercises, no building towers out of paper cups, and no eyeballing the competition. It was two employees who were genuinely interested in whether or not defence was my passion. It made a refreshing change from jumping through hoops, and I felt as though Dstl’s application process was trying to help me rather than fail me.

After receiving my offer, there was an anxious wait for security clearance which I was told could take up to three months. Luckily, it didn’t take as long, but the hunt for houses over the exam period was still rather stressful. I ended up in a less-than-perfect student house with a slug infestation and a slight mould issue, but I’ve been told by the other employees of Dstl that there are plenty of nice areas around! The job was still entirely worth it, which should definitely tell you something.

The work itself was incredibly exciting. I was thrown into a challenging project, but was supported the whole way through. I was an analyst in the Strategic Balance of Investment (Strat BoI) team, but it was far more varied than finance. Government policy, military resources and the opinion of military advisors all came into the mix, making it much more rewarding than the one dimensional number crunching you find in other financial roles in the private sector.

Most of all, working for the MOD gave me a huge amount of job satisfaction. Even as a summer student, you work on important projects that will have a real impact on the work done by Dstl and consequently on UK defence and security. At no point was I made to feel like a summer intern. I was treated like a ‘real’ employee, with real work, real responsibility and a real opinion. My work came with all the perks that full-time employees receive, including a shuttle bus to work and flexi-time. Considering that I commuted from my home North of London for the last two weeks (in order to avoid spending any more time in that house than I absolutely had to), the flexi-time was a fabulous resource. Essentially, provided that I completed my work and did 37 hours a week, it didn’t matter when I did them. That level of responsibility means that I came away with a proper experience of working in the Civil Service, and all of my questions about working in the organisation were answered through working there. I was even afforded the opportunity to present my findings to the military at the end of my internship, an immensely valuable experience.

Dstl is a vast organisation that covers a large amount of the scientific research commissioned by the MOD. If you are interested in working in the scientific side of defence, then they will have a position for you. From analysis, to programming to engineering, Dstl covers a massive range of skills and areas of research. Some graduate positions are still open, but deadlines are fast approaching. Summer internships have just opened, so get applying!


If you have applied to Dstl, we would like you to hear from you. Please use the following form to detail your experiences of application, to aid those interested in following a similar career path.

Position applied for:
Year of Application:
Educational Background:

What were your experiences of the application process?

What is it like working for Dstl?

How has it compared to your expectations?

Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Finally, any advice you would give to potential applicants?

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