RSE Service Lead – IT Services

Full-time University of Birmingham in Specialist/Professional Email Job
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Job Description


Position Details

IT Services

Location: University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham UK

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £56,021 to £64,914 with potential progression once in post to £84,644

Grade: 9

Full Time, Permanent

Closing date: 22nd July 2024


Our offer to you

People are at the heart of what we are and do.

The University of Birmingham is proud to have been a part of the City of Birmingham and the wider region for over 100 years, and we are equally proud to be recognised as a leading global university. We want to attract talented people from across the city and beyond, support them to succeed, and celebrate their success.

We are committed to helping the people who work here to develop through our sector-leading Birmingham Professional programme which provides all professional services staff with development opportunities and the encouragement to reach their full potential. With almost 5,000 professional services jobs in a wide-range of functions in Edgbaston and in our campus in Dubai, there are plenty of opportunities for you to be able to develop your career at the University.

We believe there is no such thing as a typical member of staff and that diversity is a source of strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation, and debate. We warmly welcome people from all backgrounds and are committed to fostering an inclusive environment where diversity is at the heart of who and what we are, and how we work.

Supporting our people to achieve a healthy work/life balance is important both to our employees and to the success of the University and, depending on the role, we offer a variety of flexible working arrangements. We therefore welcome discussions on all forms of flexible working. In addition, you will receive a generous package of benefits including 40 days paid holiday a year, one paid day a year for volunteering, occupational sick pay, and a pension scheme. We also have three high quality subsidised day nurseries.

The University is situated in leafy Edgbaston and there are excellent transport links to our beautiful campus, including main bus routes and a train station on site. On campus we have a state-of-the-art sports centre with pool, shops, places to eat and drink, our own art gallery, museum and botanical gardens.

Find out more about the benefits of working for the University of Birmingham


Over the next decade, our aspiration is to establish Birmingham in the top 50 of the world’s leading universities. That’s a pretty big aspiration, and high-quality digital services and infrastructure are crucial to achieving it. In recognition of that, our Digital Strategy combined with significant investments in technology mean this is an exciting time to join IT Services, ‘making IT happen’ at the University of Birmingham.

We want to attract outstanding, inspirational, and talented people, support them to succeed, and celebrate their success. It’s our role to ensure that our community has access to accessible, responsive, resilient, and secure systems and support. What we do enables our students, staff, researchers, visitors and partners to confidently and creatively use digital services, technology and data for the benefit of their learning, teaching, research or work.

The culture of IT Services is one of innovation, collaboration, excellence, and inclusivity, and we apply the principles of customer focus and continuous improvement to everything we do. We have an active People and Culture network, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Women in IT group, bi-annual making IT happen awards recognition programme, and a superb Social Committee which arranges regular activities and events.

The Advanced Research Computing team (ARC) sits within IT Services and delivers a suite of computing services to enable world-class research under the name of the Birmingham Environment for Academic Research (BEAR). The post holder will contribute to initiatives enabling researchers to fully exploit the compute power of BEAR. The services support research across the entire spectrum of academic endeavour at Birmingham from Music to Medicine, English to Economics, Physics to Theology, and Computer Science to Climatology. ARC also operates the multi-million-pound EPSRC-funded Baskerville Tier 2 accelerated compute system. Individuals working in ARC need to be resourceful, innovative and attuned to the research process.

Role Summary

The post holder will join, and lead, a strong and dynamic group of Research Software Engineers with a particular focus on supporting researchers. The post holder will be an expert in research software engineering and exercise a substantial degree of independent professional responsibility and discretion. They will be a senior individual contributor and a leading expert in specialist areas. They will take a strategic lead for the Research Software Engineering (RSE) Service in collaboration with senior management in ARC and ensure it is in line with the broader functional and University strategy. They will champion and manage major engagements and initiatives to ensure continued high-quality delivery and significant improvements across ARC.

The post holder will be part of the Advanced Research Computing Team (ARC) in IT Services, a well-respected and highly performant team with a national and international profile. The Research Software Group works in partnership with ARC’s Architecture, Infrastructure and Systems Group and Research Engagement and Data Group to provide a sector-leading environment for computationally and data intensive research, catering for all academic disciplines. The breadth and diversity of requirements create both challenges and opportunities for developing innovative solutions.

Reporting to the Research Software Group Leader, the post holder will line manage a group of “Senior RSE and Manager” staff, who in turn line manage RSEs and Senior RSEs. The RSE Service Lead will oversee and take responsibility for the RSE Service: a technical software development and support service to academics from a wide range of disciplines. They will shape Birmingham’s delivery of research software services both for University staff, students and collaborators as well as for researchers at partner and client research institutions, regionally and nationally. The post holder will use their expertise routinely to develop others.

The post holder will deputise for the Research Software Group Leader when required, and will represent the group at national and international events, such as RSECon24, UK RSE Leaders meetings, or ISC High Performance, showcasing Birmingham’s achievements and learning from those of others.

While this is mainly a leadership role (25% line management and 35% service leadership), this role does include a substantial (40%) technical aspect. This technical work would often take the form of technical advice, review or oversight of the technical work of others, but would also include opportunities to be the main technical person on short projects. It is important to retain technical credibility by doing such tasks, in order to effectively lead the service and team. As such the post holder will collaborate closely with research colleagues and will provide expert knowledge and skills to develop, improve, maintain and support high quality software solutions and access to services, fulfilling the requirements of research projects. The post holder will contribute to developing the knowledge and skills within the research community at all stages of the research software development cycle, e.g. by providing training and coaching sessions as well as promoting the adoption of best practices.

Main Duties

  • Shape and grow the RSE Service, balancing supply with demand and risk and ensuring the right skills mix over time.
  • Oversee delivery of the RSE Service (in collaboration with the Research Software Group Leader): a technical software development and support service, available to all members of academic staff and researchers throughout the University.
  • Develop and maintain a programme of work and a system for allocating the finite development resource effectively.
  • Carefully and strategically manage the finances of the RSE Service, meeting cost recovery targets (expected to be over £600k in 2024-25) and develop efficient mechanisms for the administration of the associated finances.
  • Build a team and line manage a group of “Senior RSE and Manager” staff, who in turn line manage RSEs and Senior RSEs.
  • Coordinate and provide oversight, expert advice, code review and mentoring to RSEs from the Research Software Group working on research projects.
  • Oversee the provision of advice, support, coaching, and coding services; crucially always with the aim of ownership and responsibility remaining with the research group. Help and oversee members of the RSE teams to: Prioritise tasks across multiple engagements to meet agreed objectives, ensuring effective communication to project leads; Manage the expectations of researchers and research groups; Engage with researchers at all development stages and disseminate best practices in the development of reproducible and maintainable research software; Contribute to research papers to be published in academic literature, and produce case studies.
  • Carry out appropriate technical work as required. This will often take the form of technical advice, review or oversight of the technical work of others, but would also include opportunities to be the main technical person on short projects – for example 30% FTE for 3 months.
  • Build and maintain relationships with research communities within the University and beyond including senior academics and PIs, seeking opportunities to contribute to research or funding sources for new projects. Work closely with researchers and contribute to research bids to funding bodies. This will mean defining the scope of work and the associated costs for software engineering support for the grant applications as well as the associated IT infrastructure and support costs. Share best practice with these communities, to improve services at the University and to improve the University’s reputation and impact nationally and internationally.
  • Contribute to raising awareness of ARC, BEAR and Tier2 services for researchers and the profile of the team. Help build active communities locally and regionally, by contributing to seminars and networking events, encouraging the adoption of best practice, sharing knowledge and expertise.
  • Liaise and engage with external professional networks such as the Society of RSE and the Software Sustainability Institute. Maintain and help to raise ARC’s reputation as a leading organisation in the field of RSE and research computing.
  • Maintain expertise in a wide range of research software engineering aspects. This will include maintaining an awareness of technical developments, tools and ideas in research computing and in software engineering, including attending and speaking at seminars, technical briefings, international conferences and technical groups.
  • In addition to University-provided training and development, you will undertake sufficient personal and professional development as required, ensuring skills and knowledge are up to date so that the role is performed to the required level.
  • Actively manages equality, diversity and inclusion through monitoring and evaluation and actively challenging unacceptable behaviour.
  • Supports the University’s sustainability agenda through resource efficient working.
  • Any other duties commensurate with the grade.

Required Knowledge, Skills, Qualifications, Experience

  • Educated to degree level (or equivalent qualifications) preferably in a subject with a strong software engineering component plus substantial work experience in a relevant technical/scientific and/or management/supervisory role in a specialist area, plus higher degree where appropriate. A postgraduate qualification that included substantial software engineering would be an advantage.
  • Significant relevant experience supporting software and software development environments, ideally in a research environment.
  • Experience of supporting researchers with complex requirements.
  • Experience of mentoring and coaching technical staff, strategic thinking and line managing technical staff.
  • Experience leading a technical service or project is desirable.
  • Broad and deep knowledge of software development and analysis processes, tools and techniques.
  • Broad and deep knowledge of programming and programming languages – including at least one of Python, R, C++ or Fortran.
  • Significant experience of one Linux and associated software applications.
  • Experience supporting others using version control in git (using GitHub or GitLab).
  • Broad and deep knowledge of unit testing and continuous integration.
  • Experience using High Performance Computing systems is desirable.
  • Experience as a researcher, or a track record successfully collaborating with researchers.
  • Good customer relationship management skills.
  • Proven ability to work as part of a team to deliver services.
  • A self-motivated learner with a track record of continually updating skills.
  • Excellent organizational/project management skills.
  • Good communication skills.
  • Good broad knowledge of C&IT, including latest technology industry trends.
  • Knowledge of Higher Education, Research and its environment.
  • Familiarity with ITIL would be an advantage.
  • Authoritative and advanced technical expertise in a relevant technical, professional or functional specialism.
  • Demonstrable professional development through a series of progressively more demanding and influential work roles.
  • Ability to exercise a substantial degree of independent professional responsibility and discretion, and apply an expert understanding of their specialist to the needs of the University.
  • Evidence of literacy and numeracy.
  • Experience of championing Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in own work area.
  • Ability to monitor and evaluate the extent to which equality and diversity legislation, policies, procedures are applied.
  • Ability to identify issues with the potential to impact on protected groups and take appropriate action.


Informal enquiries to Andrew Edmondson, email:

View our staff values and behaviours here


We believe there is no such thing as a ‘typical’ member of University of Birmingham staff and that diversity in its many forms is a strength that underpins the exchange of ideas, innovation and debate at the heart of University life. We are committed to proactively addressing the barriers experienced by some groups in our community and are proud to hold Athena SWAN, Race Equality Charter and Disability Confident accreditations. We have an Equality Diversity and Inclusion Centre that focuses on continuously improving the University as a fair and inclusive place to work where everyone has the opportunity to succeed. We are also committed to sustainability, which is a key part of our strategyYou can find out more about our work to create a fairer university for everyone on our website.

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