Senior Research Officer Defence People Team

UK Ministry of Defence
  • Location
    Remote, United Kingdom
  • Sector
  • Experience
    Mid Career / Advanced
  • Posted
    Jan 24

Position description

Are you passionate about social research and evaluation?

Do you want to use your research and evaluation skills to inform policy development and decision making?

The Defence People Team within the Ministry of Defence creates, maintains and updates policies (for example, relating to accommodation provision, pay and allowances, diversity and inclusion) for over 180,000 Service personal in the UK Armed Forces and 40,000 civilians. These policies aim to ensure that Service personnel and civilians are motivated, engaged and committed to Defence. The work of the Defence People Team is high profile, with policy initiatives attracting ministerial, parliamentary and public interest and press scrutiny.

Government Social Researchers lead and undertake research and evaluation to ensure appropriate evidence and advice is available to policy colleagues to support evidence-based decision making in the Defence People Team.

We are seeking three skilled, experienced and enthusiastic social researchers to join the Defence People Team. This is a really exciting time to join, as Defence plans to make major changes to the way it supports its people.

This position is advertised at 37 hours per week


Job description

We are seeking three enthusiastic and passionate Senior Research Officers to lead social research in the Defence People Team.

There are two posts in the Defence Accommodation Team. The Accommodation Team is responsible for maintaining policy on the provision of accommodation to Service personnel. In 2023, there will be the biggest policy change for a generation, affecting the entire UK Armed Forces, to ensure the policy is more flexible and inclusive for Service personnel. The post holders will lead primary research to inform decisions on accommodation policy, as well as undertaking a process and impact evaluation of the new accommodation policy.

There is one post in the Defence People Research and Evidence Team (DPTRE). The DPTRE is a multi-disciplinary analytical team which ensures appropriate evidence and advice is available to a range of policy areas within the Defence People Team. The team is also a hub for broader personnel research being commissioned and delivered by other teams within the MOD, industry, academia and international partners. The post holder will support the creation and implementation of a unified research governance framework, undertake primary research and secondary analysis of existing datasets to solve people related policy problems and provide coherent analytical advice and challenge to policy and HR colleagues.

Across all posts, you will be working closely alongside other analysts, policy and operational delivery colleagues in the Defence People Team as well as with military personnel from across the Armed Forces to deliver research and evaluation. You will have the opportunity to lead your own research projects and the freedom to suggest alternative or innovative research approaches, where appropriate.

You will also be part of the MOD Government Social Research community and MOD Analysis Function, which operates across the MOD. The Analysis Function is a network of analytical professions within the MOD and provides opportunities for collaboration and professional development.

Successful candidates will be matched into suitable roles based on preferences stated at interview and discussions between the line managers of the posts.

Person specification

Post holders will be responsible for:

  • Leading, designing and conducting social research projects (primarily with Service Personnel and their families) using a range of recognised GSR qualitative and quantitative methods (for example focus groups, interviews, surveys etc) to deliver high-quality, robust evidence to inform decision making
  • Undertaking secondary analysis of existing datasets using qualitative and quantitative analysis techniques
  • Leading and undertaking evaluation of policy ensuring alignment with best practice outlined in the HM Treasury Magenta Book
  • Building strong working relationships with a range of stakeholders (including military and civilians) to conduct research and analysis to support their evidence needs
  • Planning and monitoring the delivery of research, considering potential blockers and delays and suggesting mitigations and workarounds
  • Overseeing and partnering with non-MOD contractors to ensure work is delivered to time and quality
  • Ensuring proportionate quality assurance for both own work and support to other researchers and analysts in accordance with the MOD Research and Ethics Guidelines, Government Social Research Code and the government best practice in the HM Treasury Aqua Book
  • Promoting and disseminating research findings to relevant stakeholders (including Senior Civil Servants, non-analysts and military colleagues) within the MOD and beyond to ensure outputs have maximum impact and inform policy decisions

The tasks outlined may not all necessarily be required within a single post and other tasks may also be undertaken. There will be a greater emphasis on autonomy and leading projects for a Senior Research Officer role.

Essential Criteria

  • A thorough and detailed knowledge of research methodology, including the main quantitative and qualitative research methods and experience of their use in more complex projects
  • Experience of leading, designing and managing medium scale or more complex research projects – applying best practice guidance and ensuring relevant legal, ethical, procurement and quality assurance practice is followed to ensure quality of results and methodological rigour
  • Experience of leading and managing projects to meet customer timelines and manage risks
  • Ability to work autonomously, whilst also collaborating with analysts and non-analysts to scope, plan and delivery research and analytical projects to high standards
  • Ability to accurately evaluate competing data sources and identify salient points and trends to draw sound, logical inferences
  • Experience of using verbal and written skills to disseminate complex research findings to a range of customers and stakeholders, including those in more senior roles and non-analysts
  • Experience of working effectively with different stakeholders to provide evidence to meet their needs
  • Eagerness to explore the usage of new and innovative research methods

Desirable Criteria

  • Knowledge of process and impact evaluation approaches, as outlined in the HM Treasury Magenta Book – however, you do not need to have experience of undertaking an evaluation.


In order to apply you need or should expect to achieve: 

  • a minimum of 2:1 in your undergraduate degree; or a 2:2 with a postgraduate degree. The degree must contain a minimum of 30% in social research methods covering all the criteria outlined below (it is not sufficient to hold the majority in one area – coverage across all areas is required) 


  • hold an undergraduate degree, at a minimum of 2:1; or 2:2 with a postgraduate degree in any subject or a degree equivalent (e.g. Advanced Certificate or Diploma from MRS); And at have at least 4 years social research practice experience social research practice experience consists of experience working in a research agency, market research agency or specialist research team. You must make explicit the breadth and depth of your research experience and skills, which must include the social research method degree content criteria noted in the qualification route section. You need to provide evidence of quantitative research methods and three of the following: systematic/literature reviews; qualitative methods; interpretation of data and presentation of results; study design and hypothesis testing; and application of ethics to research. 


  • Be already a permanent badged member of the Government Social Research (GSR) profession. 

It is the responsibility of the applicant to demonstrate these criteria clearly on application. Please ensure you indicate the number of credits associated with the relevant modules covering your social research methods training. 
Social Research Method Degree Content Criteria 
To qualify a degree must include quantitative research methods including research design, data collection (i.e. questionnaire design, sampling, weighting) and data analysis (e.g. statistical analysis). 
It must also include at least three of the following: 

  • qualitative methods, including research design, data collection (i.e. interviewing, focus groups, ethnographic), data analysis (e.g. thematic analysis) 
  • study design, hypothesis formation, testing and evaluation 
  • systematic/literature reviews 
  • interpretation of data (qualitative and quantitative), presentation of results, provision of recommendations/ conclusions 
  • application of ethics to research


We'll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

  • Leadership
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Working Together

Technical skills

We'll assess you against these technical skills during the selection process:

  • GSR Technical skills – Senior Research Officer Level
  • GSR - Using and promoting social research - Senior Research Officer Level


Flexible working and Alternative Working Patterns -The MOD prides itself on being a modern employer and encourages flexible working, giving you the opportunity to adopt a working pattern that suits you and/or your family life, and promotes a healthy work/life balance.
We offer many alternative working pattern arrangements including local flexible working hours schemes (which give you the opportunity to vary your start and finish times and even build a limited amount of credit), home working, part-time working, job sharing, term-time working and compressed hours.

Application instructions

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