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Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship in Space

Job Details


We are seeking exceptional academic colleagues who have research plans which will have a remarkable impact on our disciplines and/or drive development of our Research Peaks, to join our Vice-Chancellor's Fellowship Scheme. 

As a Vice Chancellor’s Fellow, you will have a permanent academic role, and for the first three years you will be supported to undertake independent and collaborative research, delivering an agreed research plan to make a significant contribution to the research profile of the University. Further information about the role is available in the Vice-Chancellor's role outline


Northumbria conducts world-class research in multiple areas of space research, and we are looking for excellent people to join us. Space is, by definition, an interdisciplinary topic. To understand and exploit the space environment, technology must be developed and placed in orbit. We need to combine multiple fields – both engineering (electrical, mechanical, information technology, communications, power, propulsion, aerospace), and science (physics, chemistry, biology, materials, artificial intelligence) to develop novel technologies. This novel space technology is used for and by humans; with space applications in our natural environment, human society, biology, economy, law, politics, and the arts. You can find out more on our Space research webpages.

Northumbria is creating a world-leading £50 million space skills research and technology centre in the North East of England after major funding awards were confirmed from the UK Space Agency and global aerospace giant, Lockheed Martin. This £50 million project is leading to the development of the North East Space Skills and Technology Centre, to be known as NESST. Located in the heart of Northumbria University’s Newcastle city campus, NESST will be a new national space asset that brings together industry and academia to collaborate on internationally significant space research and technological developments. NESST will put the UK at the forefront of research and innovation in areas including optical satellite communications, space weather and space-based energy, and will lead the way in providing specialist education and training to ensure the UK space sector has the highly skilled workers it needs in the future. NESST is expected to support the creation of over 350 jobs and inject over £260 million into the North East economy over the next 30 years, playing a critical role in the government’s levelling-up agenda and immediately becoming a catalyst for the wider development of the UK space sector in the North East region. In other words, NESST is set to fundamentally transform the UK space industry.

To support NESST we are interested in making appointments in several areas of our space-related research portfolio:

Space Engineering: We are looking for applicants with expertise in the design and development of novel payloads for satellites to complement and enhance the University’s strengths in engineering: electrical, mechanical, materials, manufacturing (including 3D printing), communications, power, information technology, novel photovoltaics, propulsion, aerospace, and AI in space.

Satellite Communications Engineering: We are looking for applicants with expertise in areas such as inter-satellite, satellite-to-ground, and satellite-to-UAV laser communication systems, free-space optical communications, photonics, sensors and high-power laser systems such as: [a] optical communication systems, including high data rate lasers, sensors, detectors (APD’s, PIN diodes), FPGA-based drive electronics, data controllers and precision optics; and [b] high power laser or maser systems for remote applications, including lidar, IoT, power transfer, miniaturisation and optimisation of technology for space applications.

Space Weather and Space Situational Awareness: the University plays multiple key roles in the UKRI SWIMMR (Space Weather Instrumentation, Measurement, Modelling and Risk) national space weather programme.  We are looking for experts in solar physics, in areas including numerical modelling, observations of solar and space plasma, data intensive science, monitoring the space environment and space-related hardware.

Earth Observation and/or Astronomical Instrumentation: The University hosts the NERC Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling and experts in ice/ocean modelling. To support our activites in earth observation we welcome applications from individuals measuring changes of the Antarctic and Greenland ice sheets, global climate system, global hydrological systems and those with an interest in calibration and validation of satellite systems and the development of novel satellite sensors including [a] telescopes, adaptive optics; [b] infrared, visible and UV imaging,; and [c] spectroscopy, including hyperspectral imaging;.

Robotics and Artificial Intelligence: We are looking for experts in computer vision, intelligent robotics, and affective computing with interest and expertise in bringing technology to the level of space mission involvement through, for example the UK Space Agency, European Space Agency or connections with industry.

Space Physiology: The University conducts world-leading research looking at physiological deconditioning resulting from exposure to reduced gravitational loading, as well as novel exercise countermeasures to potentially mitigate against this deconditioning.  We have strong collaborations with the ESA Space Medicine Team and the lead physical therapists and strength trainers at NASA. We are looking for candidates with expertise in astronaut health and the effects of micro/hypo-gravity on human physiological systems.

Space Law, Policy and Finance: our research interests include International Space Law, Astropolitics, International Relations and Policy in Space, Environmental Space Law and Space Sustainability, Space Mining, National Space Legislation, Military Space Activity, and legal and ethical underpinnings of space governance. We would welcome applicants with expertise in any related areas of space law. In addition, we would welcome interest from experts in space finance, including insurance, regulation, investment and risk management.


To be considered for this prestigious opportunity you must demonstrate academic excellence, evidenced through your role in the production of world-leading research outputs and have experience of winning grant funding (appropriate to discipline and career stage). In addition, you must demonstrate a clear research plan for the period of the Fellowship.  


To apply for these vacancies please click 'Apply Now'  Your application should include a covering letter, CV and a two page 'Research Plan' which outlines how you would use the Fellowship period and including details of anticipated outputs, income and impact. Please ensure your CV includes research / education statements, and grants and publications list, highlighting your highest quality research outputs up to a maximum of 4. For your most recent grants please include the grant title, funder reference, funder, amount and your role.  In addition, candidates are asked to provide copies of the top 3 research outputs (Journal / book chapter /practice-based portfolio).

To support you in preparing your application below are the standard Job Descriptions and Person Specifications for Academic roles at Northumbria.  Appointments will be made to the Academic role and grade the selection panel believe are commensurate with individuals Academic experience and profile.

Assistant Professor (£45,584 - £56,021) 
Associate Professor (£57,695 - £66,856)  
Professor (Competitive) 

 If you require any additional information about the application process, or would like an informal discussion about the opportunities, please contact Kathryn Atton, HR Adviser at 


At Northumbria, we embrace tomorrow. We pursue new thinking, forge new partnerships, create, and exchange new knowledge, and find new solutions. Our inspirational academics, partners and students work together to tackle tomorrow’s challenges head on. We are ready for the future whatever it may hold. 

One of the largest universities in the UK with over 37,000 students from 137 countries, filled with world-leading research, award-winning partnerships, and students at the heart of an outstanding experience, Northumbria is a new kind of excellent university.  Discover more about us.  

Northumbria is a great place to work.  We empower our exceptional people to achieve shared ambitions and promote a positive work life balance.  To say thank you, we offer a wide range of benefits including excellent pension schemes, flexible working, a generous holiday entitlement, continued commitment to your learning and development and more. 

We are an on-campus organisation where colleagues work regular patterns of hours and on campus, with some flexibility on the timing of their hours and the location of their work in discussion with their manager. 

Northumbria is committed to creating an inclusive culture where we take pride in, and value, the diversity of our staff.  We encourage and welcome applications from all members of the community.  The University holds a bronze Athena Swan award in recognition of our commitment to advancing gender equality, we are a Disability Confident Employer, a member of the Race Equality Charter and are participating in the Stonewall Diversity Champion Programme.  We also hold the HR Excellence in Research award for implementing the concordat supporting the career Development of Researchers and are members of the Euraxess initiative to deliver information and support to professional researchers.  

The University has implemented a range of flexible working arrangements, and we are happy to explore candidate requirements as part of the recruitment process. We also welcome applications from the UK and across the world. Visit our web pages for details about Relocation Assistance

Some roles may  be exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 therefore successful candidates may be subject to a Disclosure and Barring Service check.


*Northumbria University recruitment portal is currently unavailable. If you wish to apply for a vacancy or if you have applied for a vacancy in the last six weeks but have not heard anything from us please e-mail your CV and Covering Letter to using the vacancy reference number as the subject. Thank you for your patience.*

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