Are you looking for research jobs in software engineering?
Software engineering research focuses on the design, development and management of software used in computing. Almost every discipline, sector and product involves the use of software and innovative research into the evolution of large-scale complex infrastructures is vital.
There is global demand for talented software engineering graduates and researchers who have the skills and vision to help develop software which transforms the lives of billions of users. If you are aspiring to a research career in software engineering you will find exciting and ground-breaking projects in the higher education sector, research institutes and foundations, public bodies, and within research-intensive technology industries worldwide.
In this section of our series on Academic Jobs in Computer Sciences, we take a look at routes into a software engineering research career and where your qualifications and knowledge can take you in this dynamic field.
Most higher education research jobs require candidates to have completed a PhD. On completion of doctoral studies, the next step would be to apply for a postdoctoral research position on a project or activity which aligns with your knowledge and experience.
Software engineering research reaches across computer sciences, engineering, science, and mathematics and statistics. The research discipline you choose to pursue will depend on your first degree and/or Master’s and software engineering-related doctoral specialism. For any research post in software engineering, you will need excellent programming skills in at least one commonly used programming language (such as R, Python, Julia, etc.).
Research projects and activities tend to be fixed-term contracts, so you will likely complete a few postdoctoral projects before being considered for promotion to senior research associate/fellow or lecturer/senior lecturer. Alternatively, you may want to consider research posts in related institutes, government or public sector organisations and software development and engineering companies.
Working as a Software Engineering Researcher
Software engineering research is an exciting and rewarding career. Working with a network of like-minded experts from diverse academic backgrounds, you would spend most of your time testing and developing multi-use software programs and solving complex problems. The scope of software engineering research is expansive; however, current and popular research areas include:
- Software design, quality, and maintenance
- Software process and automation
- Software evolution and security
- Artificial Intelligence
- Pervasive and ubiquitous computing
- Data architecture and science/data modelling
- Programming languages
The day-to-day duties of a software engineering researcher depend on the area and the type of project you are involved in. You could be applying the most up-to-date technologies to business software and operating systems or helping to engineer enhanced software used in game design. Whatever your field of expertise, you would spend most of your time using powerful computational equipment in a lab or technical facility.
The majority of software engineering research projects are funded in partnership with external organisations and companies, so you would be working with experts from a range of backgrounds and sectors, both inside and outside academia.
In general, the majority of technical research jobs include the following duties:
- Large-scale data analysis and interpretation.
- Testing, analysing and modelling multi-use software.
- Writing and maintaining modular, maintainable, and testable code.
- Using highly specialised computational equipment.
- Working within a multi-disciplinary team.
- Collaborating with project partners and tech companies/industries.
- Delivery of workshops and demonstrations to students.
- Documenting research outcomes and development of manuscripts for publication.
- Working with your team to compile funding proposals.
Where to find jobs
Whether you are just finishing your PhD in a related area or have already completed a postdoctoral project, there are software engineering research jobs available to suit every specialism and interest.
Software engineering research is a highly collaborative endeavour linking experts from every discipline. The development of software for a multitude of sectors and uses has led to the establishment of Research Software Engineers (RSEs), a global network of multi-disciplinary academics whose aim is to further the use of software in a research context by combining professional software engineering knowledge with research expertise. Many universities have an RSE group, so it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with current activities if you are considering a career in software engineering research. Visit the Society of Research Software Engineering (RSE) for more information about RSE fellowships and groups, member institutions and projects. You can also find out how software engineering research is funded and about current and future UK projects at UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).
If you choose to work as a researcher at a university, here are some of the roles you may come across during your search:
- Research assistant
- Research technician
- Postdoctoral research fellow/associate
- KTP associate
- Research engineer
- Research scientist
- Research associate/fellow
- Senior research fellow/associate
- Lecturer/Senior lecturer
Find Research jobs in Software Engineering here.
Salaries in computer sciences research vary depending on the field and specific activities of the university. However, as a general rule, postdoctoral researchers and research associates can expect to start on a salary of around £30,000 to £39,999 p.a.
Demand for experts who can combine in-depth knowledge of software engineering with appropriate research skills is high. Most research jobs require candidates to have a PhD (or soon to be completed) and a doctorate will also give you the edge in the research-intensive technology sector. You will find a wide range of PhD studentships available in software engineering, however, bear in mind that competition for places is fierce in this popular field.
A PhD takes around 3-5 years to complete; most are fully funded and come with a stipend in the range of £15,000 and £17,000 p.a.
Find PhD Studentships related to Software Engineering here.
- Academic jobs in Software Engineering
- Lecturing jobs in Software Engineering
- Senior-level academic jobs in Software Engineering