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Science & Engineering

On the Science and Engineering Fast Stream you'll use your science and engineering skills to help shape government policy and decision-making


3 years






Society faces many challenges which science can help solve. The Civil Service needs highly talented, versatile, and numerate science and engineering leaders to deliver on exciting and challenging work that will make a difference to the lives of people across the UK.

The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the essential role of scientists and engineers in improving Government decision-making: to ensure not only that scientific evidence underpins policy but that it is also effectively communicated.

You may be a science or engineering graduate straight out of university, an experienced postgraduate academic, a seasoned industry professional or an existing civil servant with a technical background. Join the Science and Engineering Fast Stream and you will become part of a modern, vibrant and active community of professionals with one goal in common: to give back to the communities they serve.

What will you experience?

Over three years you will experience a wide range of stretching but rewarding postings across the Civil Service such as assistant Private Secretary to MOD Chief Scientific Adviser, Earth Observations Policy Support in DEFRA and a Materials Advisor for The Department for Science, Innovation and Technology. These are the types of roles you may experience and this means that you will likely work in areas outside of your scientific/engineering knowledge, and you will use your experience and expertise to grow through a tailored and accelerated leadership development programme. The Government Science Engineering Profession are keen to broaden experience and the SEFS scheme offers a unique interchange placement which may include working in Local Government, Charity and Private Sector roles. Together, these postings will develop your ability to apply your scientific mindset and your leadership potential, to prepare you to become a future senior leader in the Civil Service.

During all of your postings you will be involved in building and applying scientific knowledge so that Government can address key issues such as climate change or sustainable housing. You could be conducting critical analysis of large datasets, modelling a public health crisis or generating new evidence to inform decision making for clean energy. You may also be working to create new legislation and regulation, or helping industry to comply with statutory requirements, such as food safety standards or transport emissions.

From your scientific background you will understand the importance of developing and communicating evidence bases by interacting with scientific communities in academia and industry.

You will be passionate about science and engineering, and whilst on the programme will advocate for increasing its use across the Civil Service, and help to promote the Government Science and Engineering Profession.

As a future leader, you will be expected to lead on work from an early stage, including but not exclusively of a technical nature. This might involve management of research projects or working with policy teams to develop solutions for ministers and senior civil servants. By acting as an intelligent customer, you could oversee technical work to ensure successful delivery of a policy like a new inter-city transport project, or a research programme into artificial intelligence. To do so you will work adeptly and strategically with academics, industry experts and other key delivery partners inside and outside of Government.

You could also be involved in horizon scanning work to identify future trends and patterns of emerging technologies, such as autonomous vehicles, or genomics. You may be involved in applying systems thinking to help solve some of the highly complex problems Government faces.

Your unique skillset combining technical and leadership ability, and your adaptability to work in both technical and non-technical environments will make you widely deployable across the Civil Service at the end of the programme. When you finish after three years, you may wish to specialise in specific policy areas, taking on technical leadership and oversight roles, potentially influenced by your specific disciplinary background. Or you may instead want to use your scientific and engineering skills in a policy or operational delivery role, bringing a fresh perspective to teams. Alternatively, you may focus instead on direct leadership and management roles, but remain affiliated to the profession, and continue to promote science and engineering across the Civil Service.

Which ever path you eventually take, the Science and Engineering Fast Stream will develop you into a confident and inspiring future senior leader of the Civil Service, supporting our ambition to put science and engineering at the heart of Government policy making.


  • Eligible to work in the UK
  • You need, or expect to have, before the start of the programme, a 2:1 or higher undergraduate degree in any subject including degree apprenticeships
  • And hold a postgraduate degree in any science or engineering discipline, or be a chartered engineer or scientist registered by one of the professional institutions licensed by the Engineering Council or by the Science Council. For Integrated Masters you need, or expect to have, a 2:1 or higher.
  • We expect you to have secured your postgraduate degree before you start the programme.
Civil Service Fast Stream Civil Service Fast Stream

Your progression through the programme

Supporting your learning

You'll receive core training from the Cabinet Office alongside specialist training unique to the Science and Engineering Fast Stream. This specialist learning is linked to the Government Science and Engineering Profession's career framework, and includes:

  • Building a portfolio of knowledge and experience equipping you for leadership success in the Science & engineering profession.
  • A mixture of face-to-face training courses and e-learning packages.
  • The opportunity to build relationships with external industry partners and academia.
  • Bespoke training opportunities aimed at addressing your specific learning needs, enabling you to broaden your understanding of science and engineering in the Civil Service.
  • A programme of support for gaining membership and chartership through external professional institutions. We have developed close partnerships with a number of science and engineering bodies, who provide professional development and application support exclusively for Government Science & Engineering members.
  • The GSE Profession Team is always looking to continuously improve the scheme. As a scheme participant SEF's will be invited to actively participate in task and finish groups aimed at improving the scheme offer and outreach.
  • Once graduated off the scheme you will become a member of the SEFS Alumni network which is managed by the GSE Profession team. The Alumni network builds and connects a community of professionals with shared experience. It provides an environment to support learning, further career development opportunities, and to share knowledge and top tips.
  • The Government Science & Engineering (GSE) Profession have developed a skills assessment tool that allows you to track your GSE technical skills against the GSE career framework and access science and engineering related learning opportunities tailored to your development goals
  • Access to two new e-learning courses to help you in your new role, 'Understanding and Accessing Science and Engineering Advice' and 'Communicating Science and Engineering Advice'. These courses include video insights from the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Chief Scientific Advisers across government, as well as knowledge checks and reflections to help you apply lessons learnt into your SEF role.

Up to £55k

  • Starting Salary - £31,186
  • Capability assessed salary increases throughout the scheme
  • Towards the end of Year 3, you will complete your End of Scheme Assessment. If successful, you will be promoted off the scheme, either into a role you have identified or into a priority permanent role allocated by the scheme. In your role on graduation from the scheme, you could earn between £45k and £55k.

What benefits will you enjoy

Civil Service Fast Stream

Other benefits include the Civil Service pension scheme, flexible working, season ticket loans, sports and social activities, child care assistance and more.

Learning and Development on the Science and Engineering Scheme

Alongside the scheme-specific learning offer, you will complete the universal training which provides core foundation skills and leadership & management skills.

Application process

Step 1 - Online Assessments

Online assessments

The online assessments consist of Work Style Questionnaires, a multimedia Situational Judgement Questionnaire, Numerical Test and Work Based Scenarios.

Step 2 - Assessment centre

Assessment centre

If you pass the online assessments, you'll be invited to undertake a half day assessment centre. This will be conducted virtually on line. The Fast Stream Assessment Centre (FSAC) reflects some of the key elements of a Fast Stream role and will consist a leadership scenario, a team scenario and a written scenario. Information will be presented via an app that you will be able to access remotely.

Step 3 - Final selection

Final selection

If you are successful at the assessment centre, you'll be invited to take part in a final selection process.

The specialist assessments will assess your broad capabilities and motivation to be part of the profession you've chosen. You'll be sent detailed guidance before the assessment to explain what is involved.

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