Defence Engineering and Science Group

How to apply for opportunities and training schemes for sixth form students, undergraduates and graduates.


The Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG) is a large community of professional engineers and scientists working within the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) civil service, to equip and support the UK armed forces with state of the art technology.

Our armed forces increasingly depend on scientific and technological advances to maintain their ability to operate effectively. This means the provision of advanced technologies that deliver a decisive operational edge.

Countering new types of threats as they emerge will be a key challenge to UK forces in the future. We therefore place a premium on the ability to generate and identify innovative technologies, adopt them for military use and integrate them rapidly into platforms, weapon systems and force structures.

Taranis is an unmanned combat aircraft system (UCAS) advanced technology demonstrator programme.
Taranis (MOD Crown Copyright)

Project and programme managing new equipment and its support solutions.

MOD engineers are at the heart of ensuring that our forces have the right equipment. Most of our professional engineers are involved in managing MOD’s major programmes; setting requirements, overseeing industry, ensuring equipment is safe and effective. Some are involved in identifying and developing new technologies, ensuring equipment works with allies, ensuring current equipment remains safe and available.

We offer careers in :

  • aerospace Systems
  • land systems
  • maritime systems
  • nuclear systems
  • communications and information systems
  • sensors and command and control
  • weapons, ordnance, munitions and explosives

MOD engineers work in the UK and overseas to equip and support our armed forces.

DESG Graduate Scheme

The DESG Graduate Scheme is now closed.

Current vacancies

The DESG Graduate Scheme is widely recognised as probably one of the best graduate development scheme for engineers and scientists in the UK.

If you have graduated, or are about to graduate:

We can offer you the chance to join what is reputed to be one of the very best Graduate Development Scheme for engineers and scientists in the UK: The Ministry of Defence, Defence Engineering and Science Group Graduate Scheme.

Our prestigious graduate scheme is fully accredited by the leading engineering institutions including: IET, IMechE, RINA, IoP, RAeS, ICE and IMarEST and has been an industry leader for almost thirty years, launching many hundreds of graduates into satisfying careers in engineering and science.

With the DESG Graduate Scheme, over and above your salary, we will invest considerably in support of your personal professional training and development. This will give you the chance to gain tremendous engineering or science experience, whilst broadening and deepening your professional knowledge. Working at the cutting edge of technology, and with the support of a professional mentor, the DESG Graduate Scheme will also provide the opportunities for you to make it possible to gain Chartered status in your profession after just four years.

How the scheme works

The DESG Graduate Scheme is tailored to individual development needs to ensure that you have the best possible preparation for your first professional post and subsequent career in the MOD.

The DESG Graduate Scheme lasts for 2 years (reduced for graduates with previous experience) and includes an exciting range of in house work placements, industry secondments and formal training courses.

There is no age limit for entry to the graduate scheme, but, it is designed for those with little or no work experience in engineering and science and may not benefit those with significant previous experience.

Graduates are based at many locations across the UK; and demand is mainly in the areas of Bristol, London, Corsham, Manchester or Barrow-in-Furness. Work placements during the graduate scheme, however, can be located anywhere in the UK (and sometimes overseas).

At the end of the graduate scheme, most graduates take up permanent appointments in the named above areas.

See the Engineering system anchors for a guide the career anchor areas available on the DESG graduate scheme.

Eligibility for the scheme

We require people of good character and with the right credentials to work in the business of safeguarding the UK and its interests:

  • do you possess strong problem solving skills?
  • do you enjoy the thought of working at the cutting edge of technology?
  • do you have the potential to lead people and work effectively in teams?
  • do you have a genuine interest in developing yourself to your full personal and professional potential?

If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’ then the MOD could be for you.

To apply to the graduate scheme you must:

  • be British or have dual-nationality of which one is British
  • have completed or be in your final year of an approved engineering or science degree (or others listed below)
  • have obtained, or expect to obtain a minimum 2:1 bachelors degree or a masters degree at any grade in one of the disciplines below

At the moment we will consider degrees in the following:

  • electrical/electronic engineering
  • mechanical engineering
  • general engineering/engineering science
  • naval architecture/ship science
  • marine engineering
  • systems engineering
  • automotive engineering
  • avionics
  • aeronautical/aerospace engineering
  • computer systems engineering
  • telecommunications engineering
  • information technology/information systems
  • computer science
  • control systems engineering
  • mechatronics
  • mathematics
  • physics

We may also consider accredited degrees in similar subjects.

All degrees must be accredited by a professional institution licensed by the UK Engineering or Science councils or RICS. Contact us if you are not sure if your degree is being sought this season.


DESG offers you many benefits including:

  • one of the very best graduate development scheme for engineers and scientists available in the UK.
  • considerable investment in you. Over and above your salary, we support your personal professional development.
  • an accelerated path to Chartered status in your Engineering or Science profession.
  • development opportunities that are not available in private industry.
  • a truly rewarding career. MOD projects are fascinating, valuable, unique and sometimes highly classified.

As well as all of the above, the DESG also offers the following: a competitive starting salary of £24,130 (rising considerably after completion of the graduate scheme), flexible working arrangements, the possibility of international travel, 26.5 days annual leave, plus 9 days public, bank and privilege holidays, pension scheme, performance based bonus scheme (on graduate scheme completion), and sports and social opportunities

If you require clarification regarding your eligibility for this scheme, or would like more information, please contact our graduate training team using the details below.


Chartered engineers and scientists are an important asset to the MOD and as a result the scheme has developed in accordance with the needs of the leading professional institutions. This has allowed for formal development plans to be applied to the scheme with the aim of our graduates achieving Charted status.

The scheme is currently accredited by the following institutes:

  • Institution of Engineering & Technology
  • Institution of Mechanical Engineers
  • The Royal Institution of Naval Architects
  • Institute of Physics
  • Royal Aeronautical Society
  • Institution of Civil Engineers
  • Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology

For further advice regarding the DESG Graduate Scheme please contact us and we’ll be pleased to help.

Telephone: 030 679 84320

Graduate scheme case studies

Here are some personal profiles from just a few of our DESG graduates who are currently on the DESG Graduate Scheme. Through this handful of typical experiences, we hope that this will help you to gauge the high quality, range and depth of the opportunities available to you.

Vikas, who comes from Kent, graduated from University with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. He has been on the scheme for 14 months and is now a Defence Analyst on secondment at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills in the Aerospace, Marine and Defence Team. Read the case study for Vikas.

Andrew graduated from university with a degree in Computer Science, and is now doing an MSc in Explosives Ordnance Engineering. He has been in the DESG Graduate Scheme for 18 months. Read the case study for Andrew.

Emily graduated from university with a degree in Mathematics, where she was sponsored throughout her degree by the MOD through the DTUS, having come from Welbeck DSFC. She is currently working as a Systems Analyst with 41 (R) Sqn at RAF Coningsby where she is part of the Fast Jet test and evaluation centre. Read the case study for Emily.

Caroline has a degree in Mathematics. She’s currently working in the Assessment Group within a Project Team at the Defence Engineering & Science Group (DESG), dealing with weapons. Read the case study for Caroline.

Jacqui is a Naval Architect who has recently come through the DESG Graduate Scheme and is now working in our Landing Craft Team. Read the case study for Jacqui.

For related information see ‘Engineering system anchors’.

Example projects

DESG has a demand for a vast range of different types of engineer, including a particular need for Electronic and Electrical Engineers:

DESG has a demand for a vast range of different types of engineering related disciplines, including a particular need for those who are Naval Architects;

Potential naval architect roles

A pilot from 39 Sqn remotely controls a Reaper MQ-9 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle, during a training sortie over the west coast of America from Creech Air Force Base.
DESG work extends across a wide range of equipment (MOD Crown Copyright)

Taranis: a ‘Bond worthy’ automaton

An example of this is Taranis, of which the Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support says:

Taranis…is something that would not be out of place in the latest James Bond film, a pilotless combat aircraft for the British armed forces that will be capable of delivering weapons to a battlefield in another continent with almost no need for operator input. It does not come much more exciting than that!

Bloodhound, a record breaking project

Another example of work that DESG graduates are a part of is the Bloodhound, supersonic car project. DESG graduates have helped to overcome many technical challenges over the years and the quest for a car that will exceed 1,000 mph is no exception.

Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU)

Ever wondered how most equipment gets to the front line fast? It’s not by boat, nor land, and it’s most definitely not just a simple question of putting it on a sling. The JADTEU is another example of a team where DESG graduates can work. Working on tight time schedules, graduates have been helping solve complex engineering problems ranging from how to parachute someone safely from never attempted heights, speeds or places, to how to transport the latest tanks to the field, and how many we can carry safely.

Defence Technical Undergraduate Scheme (DTUS)

The Defence Technical Graduate Scheme will not be opening to applications this year. The scheme details are under currently under revision.

Computer Generated Image (CGI) of the basic specification of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship (T26 GCS)
The DESG offers sponsorship in Naval Architecture and also Systems Engineering (BAe Systems)

DESG Sponsorship Scheme

The DESG Sponsorship Scheme is now closed.

The DESG Sponsorship Scheme is an excellent opportunity to explore the exciting variety of career possibilities within the MOD. The aim of the scheme is to help you explore the exciting variety of career possibilities within the MOD whilst gaining valuable work experience during your summer vacations.

You will get:

  • bursary of £3,000 a year while you study
  • paid summer employment within MOD establishments

For more detailed information please download the Sponsorship Scheme fact sheet.

Welbeck: the Defence Sixth Form College (DSFC)

Welbeck DSFC has become one of the UK’s top sixth form colleges with an outstanding academic reputation. If you wish to apply to Welbeck you could eventually join the DESG scheme through the Welbeck route.

Welbeck teaches a science and technology based A level curriculum designed to prepare students for a technical degree at a leading UK university. It provides a head start in training for a career with the MOD civil service or the armed forces.

Civil service Welbexians are expected to transfer to the DTUS to study for an approved degree and will receive an annual bursary plus paid summer placements. Following graduation you will join the prestigious MOD DESG Scheme.

Eligibility to apply for Welbeck

To join Welbeck as a MOD civil service candidate you must be a British citizen or hold dual nationality, one of which must be British.

The MOD civil service welcomes applications from disabled candidates.

Minimum entry requirements are an ‘A’ grade at GCSE (or equivalent) in mathematics (the higher or credit level syllabus) and a ‘B’ in grade dual award science/single science equivalent, as well as a ‘C’ grade in English language.

Candidates must also score at least 40 points (38 in Scotland) for their best 7 subjects on the basis of:

Academic scoring system

GCSE Grades Points SCE Standard Grades
A* 8  
A 7 1
B 6 2
C 5 3

Your school or college must supply a reference showing that you are expected to achieve the minimum entry requirements. Candidates must also be capable of taking mathematics and preferably physics and two other subjects for the first year of their sixth form, as well as an ICT course.

Tuition is paid for by the MOD. Parents or guardians are required to make a contribution towards the cost of their child’s maintenance, which covers board, lodging and the value of clothing and services provided.

The level of contribution is determined on the basis of the parents’ or guardians’ residual or disposable income after allowance is made for other children, mortgage payments and other amounts normally accepted by the Inland Revenue. No other boarding school offers such a comprehensive and high-quality education as such low cost.

How to apply to Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College

DESG is now open to Welbeck DSFC applications for 2014 entry. See link for closing date.

DESG Engineer and Science Group Welbeck 2014 Entry

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