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Role details

Defence Scientific Expert Committee – Independent Members

Application deadline 28 June 2023


Sponsor department
Ministry of Defence
Business, Change Management, Commercial, Technology / Digital, Major Projects, Procurement, Transformation
Number of vacancies
Time commitment
20 day(s) per annum
£380 per day
Length of term
3 years, with option of a further 3 years
Application deadline
11pm on 28 June 2023

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Timeline for this appointment

  1. Opening date

    5 June 2023

  2. Application deadline

    11pm on 28 June 2023

  3. Sifting date

    6 July 2023

  4. Interviews expected to end on

    20 July 2023

Timeline dates are only an estimate and can change

About the role

Additional introductions

The Ministry of Defence’s Chief Scientific advisor would like to invite you to apply to join our Defence Science Expert Committee.  As can be seen in the Integrated Review of Defence, Security and Foreign policy, S&T is at the heart of Defence’s priorities to seize a decisive technological edge over our adversaries.   MOD is looking to build upon it’s excellence in innovation and S&T to become a Great Scientific Department with S&T and evidence at the heart of all the big decisions it will need to make.  The DSEC is a vital contributor to MOD’s success, drawing on world class expertise within the UK from within academia and industry through offering independent advice, challenge and guidance on steering MOD into an increasingly complex and contested technological future.  While primarily drawing on science, technology, engineering, analysis and mathematics expertise, we are keen to expand the diversity of advice we receive including from areas that you may not traditionally feel are core Defence needs.  If you feel that your areas of expertise could offer a refreshing and unusual perspective to Defence we are particularly keen to hear from you.

Dr Christopher Cooper

DST Hd Scientific Advice (Executive Officer to the Committee)

Role description

DSEC is the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD’s) key source of independent advice on non-nuclear science, technology, engineering, analysis and mathematics issues, and is an Expert Committee reporting to the MOD Chief Scientific Advisor (CSA), supporting the derivation and delivery of the Department’s Science and Technology (S&T) Strategy.

DSEC is comprised of an Independent Chairman supported by up to 10 Independent Members drawn from senior academic and industrial communities. All are specialists in a branch of science, engineering, technology, analysis or medicine of relevance to defence and security, and have proven ability in working on Boards or Committees. The Committee also contains senior MOD officials, including CSA, who keep the Committee abreast of developments in MOD and facilitate contacts within MOD and the wider S&T enterprise.

The primary role of DSEC Independent Members is to provide independent, objective, timely advice, based on their own knowledge and experience. They are appointed in a personal capacity, not as representatives of their employer or any other organisation. They are all security cleared before being appointed, allowing them access to sensitive material. 

Organisation description

DSEC provides a key role in delivering systematic independent peer review of the Science and Technology (S&T) provided by both internal and external providers and provide a key role in supporting good assurance of the health of the scientific and technical capabilities required to support MOD’s investment in research.

DSEC will provide advice and scientific assurance covering, but not limited to, the following:

a.     Challenge, and logical analysis of, topics of importance to the Department;

b.     Advice on the balance, strength, and appropriateness of the Department’s investment in research, technology, training and innovation;

c.     Support to strengthen MOD’s ability to identify and manage scientific risk across its business;

d.     Advice and support on MOD business where scientific principles are or should be applied;

e.     Advice and support to the Department in identifying:

                             i.     STEAM and scientific risk, emerging threats and opportunities;

                            ii.     Alternative ways of achieving military capability outcomes;

                           iii.     Emerging innovative opportunities;

                          iv.     Critical technologies and capabilities;

f.      Access to the broadest possible external STEAM networks including international partners where appropriate;

g.     Independent assurance and Peer Review of the S&T Portfolio and underpinning capabilities.

Members of the Defence Science Expert Committee (DSEC) have a collective responsibility for the operation of the Committee. They must:

  • Engage fully in collective consideration of the issues, taking account of the full range of relevant factors, including any guidance issued by the sponsor department or the responsible minister;  
  • Ensure that the code of Practice on Access to Government Information (including prompt responses to public requests for information) is adhered to;
  • Agree and produce an Annual Report;
  • Respond appropriately to complaints, if necessary, with reference to the sponsor department; and
  • Ensure that the committee does not exceed its powers or functions.

Communications between the Committee and MOD CSA will generally be through the Chair, except where the Committee has agreed that an individual member should act on its behalf. Nevertheless, any committee member has the right of access to MOD CSA on any matter which he or she believes raises important issues relating to his or her duties as a committee member. In such cases the agreement of the rest of the committee should normally be sought.

Board composition

Committee is made up of 10 independent members plus 1 Chair

Person specification

Essential criteria

The successful candidate will be able to demonstrate that they are an expert in their field, for example through overseeing an active research portfolio, their record of technical achievements in industry, or their leadership of corporate technology and engineering strategies or functions. The successful candidate will be recognised by their peers for their expertise in their field and have a track record of challenging the status quo and influencing senior decision-making at all levels of an organisation.

The successful candidate will meet one of the following criteria:

  • be a Corporate Fellow; or
  • hold a technical leadership position e.g. Chief Technical Officer; or
  • be a Fellow of a scientific or technical professional body; or
  • hold a permanent or honorary academic position; or
  • hold a prestigious long term Fellowship.

The successful candidate will have evidence of:

  • delivering fundamental research or applied research and development (R&D), and innovative thinking in STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Analysis and Mathmatics),  medicine and/or humanities;
  • being innovative in the application of research and/or successful pull-through of R&D;
  • demonstrating real science and technology impact via business or social outcomes;
  • demonstrating successful outcomes within a multidisciplinary Board or Committee environment;
  • using their strong, collegiate interpersonal skills, including their ability to work collaboratively with committee members and senior stakeholders and to actively and constructively contribute to discussions;
  • applying their specialist knowledge, authority, and breadth to complex and multi-faceted issues of defence relevance;
  • applying their logical and objective thinking to critically analyse, synthesise and evaluate evidence and information from diverse sources, identify key issues and make effective impartial and balanced decisions; and
  • using their ability to challenge established thinking and provide insight to problems related to the future of Defence.

Application and selection process

How to apply

In order to apply you will need to [1] create an account or [2] sign in.

Once you are logged into your account, click on 'apply for this role' and follow the on-screen instructions. To apply, all candidates are required to provide:

* a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

* a supporting statement

* an Expression of Interest form

* equality information

* information relating to any outside interests or reputational issues

We will ask you to check and confirm your personal details to ensure your application is accurate.

You will also have the opportunity to make a reasonable adjustment request or apply under the disability confident scheme before you submit your application.

The Advisory Assessment Panel reserves the right to only consider applications that contain all of the elements listed above, and that arrive before the published deadline for applications.


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Overview of the application process

Public appointments are made on merit following a fair and open competition process which is conducted in accordance with the Governance Code for Public Appointments.   We will deal with your application as quickly as possible and will keep you informed at key stages. We aim to conclude the appointment process within three months of the deadline for applications.

The assessment process

1.           The Approving Authority are responsible and accountable to Parliament for the public appointments made within their department. As a result, they must be consulted at every stage of the appointments process.

2.           An Advisory Assessment Panel (“Panel”) is appointed by Approving Authority to assist them in their decision making. The role of the Panel is to decide, objectively, which candidates meet the eligibility criteria for the role.

3.           At the shortlisting meeting the Panel will assess applications against the eligibility criteria and decide which candidates should be recommended for interview. The Approving Authority will then be consulted on the Panel’s recommended shortlist.

4.           Once the shortlist has been agreed by Approving Authority, you will be advised (by e-mail) whether you have been shortlisted. Those shortlisted will be invited to an interview.

5.           The Panel will meet again to interview candidates and determine who is appointable to the role. The names of all appointable candidates are provided to the Approving Authority. It is then for the Approving Authority to determine merit and decide who should be appointed. In some circumstances, the Approving Authority may choose not to appoint any candidates and re-run the competition.

6.           The Panel’s recommendations will be provided to the Approving Authority in a report which details the assessment method used and the outcome of each interview. They will then be asked to agree on the candidate(s) who should be appointed.

7.           Once the decision on the appointment has been made, interviewed candidates will be advised of the outcome of their application. Successful candidates will be issued with their Terms & Conditions and a letter of appointment should they agree to take up the position.

Advisory Assessment Panel (AAP)

Panel Chair

Professor Hugh Griffiths Chair DSEC

Representative of the Organisation

Dr Christopher Cooper, DST Head Scientific Advice

Independent Panel Member - Specialism Representative

Justin Fellows - Dstl Chief Scientist in Energetic Materials (explosives)

Deborah Fish - Dstl Fellow

Paul Caseley - Dstl Fellow

Ian Youngs - Dstl Fellow

John Wilkinson - Fellow

Advisory Assessment Panels (AAP) are chosen by the Approving Authority to assist them in their decision-making. These include a departmental official and an independent member. For competitions recruiting non-executive members of a board (apart from the Chair), the panel will usually include a representative from the public body concerned.

AAP’s perform a number of functions, including agreeing an assessment strategy with the Approving Authority, undertaking sifting, carrying out interviews in line with the advertised criteria and deciding objectively who meets the published selection criteria for the role before recommending to the Approving Authority which candidates they find appointable. It is then for the Approving Authority to decide who to appoint to the role.

Eligibility criteria

You must be a UK National.

In general, you should have the right to work in the UK to be eligible to apply for a public appointment.

There are a small number of specialist roles that are not open to non-British citizens. Any nationality requirements will be specified in the vacancy details.

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. 

You cannot be considered for a public appointment if:

  • you are disqualified from acting as a company director  (under the Company Directors Disqualification Act 1986);

  • have an unspent conviction on your criminal record;

  • your estate has been sequestrated in Scotland or you enter into a debt arrangement programme under Part 1 of the Debt Arrangement and Attachment (Scotland) Act 2002 (asp 17) as the debtor or have, under Scots law, granted a trust deed for creditors.

When you apply, you should declare if:

  • you are, or have been, bankrupt or you have made an arrangement with a creditor at any point, including the dates of this. 

  • you are subject to a current police investigation.

You must inform the sponsor department if, during the application process, your circumstances change in respect of any of the above points. 

When you apply you should also declare any relevant interests, highlighting any that you think may call into question your ability to properly discharge the responsibilities of the role you are applying for. You should also declare any other matters which may mean you may not be able to meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct of Board Members (see Outside interests and reputational issues section below)
If you need further advice, please contact  [ADD CONTACT DETAILS]

Security clearance

The successful candidate will be required to undertake Baseline Personnel Security Standard checks in line with the Civil Service guidelines. Additional Security Clearance may also be required for certain roles. This will be specified in the vacancy details. Further information on National Security Vetting can be found on the website here

Additional information for candidates

Equality and diversity

The Ministry of Defence value and welcome diversity.  The appointment will be governed by the Principle of Public Appointment based on merit with independent assessment and transparency of process. Successful candidate will need to demonstrate that they meet the criteria for this appointment.

We encourage applications from talented individuals from all backgrounds and experience across the whole of the United Kingdom.  Boards of public bodies/Advisory Committees are most effective when they reflect the diversity of views of the society they serve and this is an important part of the Government’s levelling up agenda.

We collect data about applicants’ characteristics and backgrounds, including information about people’s educational and professional backgrounds, so that we can make sure we are attracting a broad range of people to these roles and that our selection processes are fair for everyone. Without this information, it makes it difficult to see if our outreach is working, if the application process is having an unfair impact on certain groups and whether changes are making a positive difference.

Disability confident

We are a member of the Government’s Disability Confident scheme. We use the Disability Confident scheme symbol, along with other like-minded employers, to show our commitment to good practice in employing people with a disability. The scheme helps recruit and retain disabled people. 
As part of implementing the scheme, we guarantee an interview for anyone with a disability whose application meets the essential criteria for the role, set out in the advert, and who has asked that their application is considered under the scheme. Indicating that you wish your application to be considered under the scheme will in no way prejudice your application. By ‘minimum criteria,’ we mean that you must provide evidence which demonstrates that you meet the level of competence required under each of the essential criteria, as set out in the job-advert.
When you apply you will have the opportunity to select if you would like your application considered under this scheme.

Reasonable adjustments

Government departments are committed to making reasonable adjustments to make sure applicants with disabilities, physical or mental health conditions, or other needs are not substantially disadvantaged when applying for public appointments. This can include changing the recruitment process to enable people who wish to apply to do so.

Some examples of reasonable adjustments are:

            ensuring that application forms are available in different or accessible formats,

            making adaptations to interview locations

            allowing candidates to present their skills and experience in a different way.

            giving detailed information on the selection / interview process in advance to allow candidates time to prepare themselves.

            allowing support workers, for example sign language interpreters.

            making provision for support animals to attend.

When you apply you will have the opportunity to request reasonable adjustments to the application process.

Principles of public life

Holders of public office are expected to adhere to and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life. These are:
  1. Selflessness - Holders of public office should act solely in terms of the public interest.
  2. Integrity - Holders of public office must avoid placing themselves under any obligation to people or organisations that might try inappropriately to influence them in their work. They should not act or take decisions in order to gain financial or other material benefits for themselves, their family, or their friends. They must declare and resolve any interests and relationships.
  3. Objectivity - Holders of public office must act and take decisions impartially, fairly and on merit, using the best evidence and without discrimination or bias.
  4. Accountability - Holders of public office are accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to the scrutiny necessary to ensure this.
  5. Openness - Holders of public office should act and take decisions in an open and transparent manner. Information should not be withheld from the public unless there are clear and lawful reasons for so doing.
  6. Honesty - Holders of public office should be truthful.
  7. Leadership - Holders of public office should exhibit these principles in their own behaviour and treat others with respect. They should actively promote and robustly support the principles and challenge poor behaviour wherever it occurs.

Code of conduct for board members

The Government expects all holders of public office to work to the highest personal and professional standards. In support of this, all non-executive board members of UK public bodies must abide by the principles set out in the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. The Code sets out the standards expected from those who serve on the boards of UK public bodies and will form part of your terms and conditions of appointment.

Management of outside interests and consideration of reputational issues

Holders of public office are expected to adhere and uphold the Seven Principles of Public Life and the Code of Conduct for Board Members of Public Bodies. Before you apply you should consider carefully:

            any outside interests that you may have, such as shares you may hold in a company providing services to government;

            any possible reputational issues arising from your past actions or or public statements that you have made;

            and/or - any political roles you hold or political campaigns you have supported;

Which may call into question your ability to do the role you are applying for. You will need to answer relevant questions in relation to these points when making an application. Many conflicts of interest can be satisfactorily resolved and declaring a potential conflict does not prevent you from being interviewed. If you are shortlisted for an interview, the panel will discuss any potential conflicts with you during that interview, including any proposals you may have to mitigate them and record that in their advice to the Approving Authority. Alongside your own declaration, we will conduct appropriate checks, as part of which we will consider anything in the public domain related to your conduct or professional capacity. This may include searches of previous public statements and social media, blogs or any other publicly available information. The successful candidate(s) may be required to give up any conflicting interests and their other business and financial interests may be published in line with organisational policies.

Details of declared political activity will be published when the appointment is announced, as required by the Governance Code (political activity is not a bar to appointment but must be declared).

Status of appointment

As this is an office holder appointment, you will not become a member of the Civil Service. You will not be subject to the provisions of employment law.

Appointment and tenure of office

Appointments are for the term set out in this advert, with the possibility of re-appointment for a further term, at the discretion of the Approving Authority.  Any re-appointment is subject to satisfactory annual appraisals of performance during the first term in the post. If re-appointed, the total time served in post will not exceed more than two terms or serve in any one post for more than ten years.

Remuneration, allowances and abatement

Remuneration for this role is treated as employment income and will be subject to tax and National Insurance contributions, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.
You can claim reimbursement for reasonable travel and subsistence costs which are properly and necessarily incurred on official business, in line with the travel and subsistence policy and rates for the organisation to which you are applying. However these payments are taxable as earnings and will be subject to tax and national insurance, both of which will be deducted at source under PAYE before you are paid.

Pension and redundancy

This is an office holder appointment and does not attract any benefits under any Civil Service Pension Scheme. You will not be eligible for redundancy pay as you are not an employee. No other arrangements have been made for compensation upon the end of your term of appointment because an office holder who is appointed for a limited duration would have no expectation of serving beyond that period.

Application feedback

We will notify you of the status of your application. We regret that we are only able to offer detailed feedback to candidates who have been unsuccessful at the interview stage.

How to complain

We aim to process all applications as quickly as possible and to treat all applicants with courtesy.  If you feel that you have a complaint about the way in which your application has been handled, please contact in the first instance Defence Business Service (DBS) Civilian Personnel Public Appointments Team If you are not completely satisfied with the response, please contact the MOD Public Appointments Team at

We will acknowledge your complaint upon receipt and aim to provide a response within 5 working days.

Data protection

The Cabinet Office will use your data in line with our privacy policy.
The Ministry of Defence privacy notice can be found here

Contact details

Catherine Lewis
Sectors also included:
Business, Finance & Skills
Science & Technology