CAREERS IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH
Scientists at MSSL carry out research in Astrophysics, Solar and Stellar Physics, Space Plasma and Planetary Physics, Detector Physics and Climate Physics. A typical career in space science at MSSL will begin, after having gained an undergraduate degree in a physics-related subject, with research towards a PhD. This is a three-year research apprenticeship, supervised by an experienced scientist, which culminates in the writing of a thesis.
This is followed by several years on short-term contracts as a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, and finally, with some luck, a permanent appointment with the university.
Permanent academic posts involve university teaching and public outreach as well as research. There are different grades of academic; in increasing order of seniority, Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Professor. The teaching and managerial load can increase along with promotion and this needs to be balanced with scientific research.
After the PhD and Post-doc stage some scientists leave academia and go to work in industrial and governmental research organisations. Some also go on to work for the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.