NCSC Head of User Research Ref. 2590

Black History MonthMind Silver AwardThe Times Top 100Disability confident leaderThe Prince's Responsible BusinessStonewall Diversity Champion 2021The Guardian UK 300 logoSocial Mobility Foundation Award

Cheltenham, London, Manchester
£57,570 plus London allowance £5,500 if applicable

At GCHQ, diversity and inclusion are critical to our mission. To protect the UK, we need a truly diverse workforce that reflects the society we serve. This includes diversity in every sense of the word: those with different backgrounds, ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, ways of thinking and those with disabilities or neurodiverse conditions. We therefore welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including those from groups that are under-represented in our workforce.


Short Summary of Role

The NCSC – a part of GCHQ – is the UK Government’s authority for cyber security. We are headquartered in London, with a significant presence in Cheltenham and Manchester. Our aim is to make the UK the safest place to live and do business online. Since our creation in 2016, the NCSC has quickly become a leading national voice on one of the most important issues of our time.

The NCSC’s greatest achievements have only been possible through the use of digital delivery techniques and our digital services and, looking ahead it is clear that these approaches will be fundamental for us to achieve our goals. Whilst we are proud of what we have achieved thus far, we need to improve our internal capability in certain digital skills areas to help us be more effective. User-centred design, and user research in particular, is one of the highest priority skillsets we wish to grow.

This is a new role in the NCSC that will establish and embed a user-centred, evidence-based approach to service design and delivery for the NCSC’s whole portfolio of digital services. The role includes both being an expert practitioner working on important user research yourself, as well as defining and assuring best practice for all the user research work. You will collaborate with professionals in other digital specialisms and will use your expertise to influence strategy and priorities. 


Job Description 

The Head of User Research will provide deep (and proven) technical expertise. You will ensure that the user research underpinning our digital service design and delivery is of high quality and that our services are developed to meet user needs. Your work will include both your own important user research on some of our highest profile or highest impact digital services, as well as providing guidance to, or assurance of user researchers working on other digital services across a broad portfolio of cyber security services, both internally and externally developed. 

You will:

  • Lead and align user research activities across the different digital delivery teams in the NCSC.
  • Ensure that teams take a user-centred, evidence-based approach to service design and delivery.
  • Develop and assure good user research practice.
  • Develop and maintain re-usable research artefacts to guide digital teams across the NCSC.
  • Provide an authoritative voice on user research in engagements with other digital leaders across NCSC and GCHQ.

You will also have or develop an understanding of the wider context – including the cyber security problems we are aiming to solve. You will understand trends and practices within the broader organisation and how these will impact on your work. You can look for deeper underlying problems and opportunities and anticipate problems before they occur.

This role can be worked from Cheltenham, Manchester or London, but it is anticipated that up to 50% of this role can be performed remotely if preferred. Occasional travel to other sites may also be required.



We’re looking for an expert practitioner, experienced in applying their expertise to a wide range of problems, and in setting good practice across a complex organisation. A natural leader and excellent communicator, you’ll thrive in deeply technical environment. You will have strong intellectual curiosity, and an outstanding ability to engage people.


Essential criteria

You will need to have:

  • Experience and understanding of a range of user centred service design and delivery practices.
  • The ability to understand what problem we are trying to solve, and align user research activities to inform decision making.
  • Experience and understanding of a range of user research methods, when to use those methods and how to apply them correctly.
  • Experience and understanding of a range of techniques for analysis of research data, synthesis of findings, and presentation of clear findings.
  • Experience of working with colleagues to plan and do continuous user research in a multidisciplinary team.


Competency Requirements

  • Communication and Knowledge sharing - Higher
  • Corporate Vision and Efficiency - Higher
  • Change and Innovation - Higher
  • Analysis and Decision Making - Advanced
  • Contribution to Delivery - Higher
  • Managing the Customer Relationship - Advanced
  • Working with and Leading Others - Higher


You can familiarise yourself with the general competencies we use to assess the aptitude of candidates here - Recruitment Process  

If you’re excited about working with us and think you have some of what we’re looking for but aren’t sure if you’re 100% there yet… Back yourself and give it a go


Benefits we offer 

At NCSC and GCHQ, we are proud of our inclusive and supportive working environment that’s designed to encourage open minds and attitudes.  As an organisation that values and nurtures talent, we are committed to helping you fulfil your potential.  With comprehensive training and development opportunities, tailored to your needs and the requirements of your work, we will enable you to flourish in your role and perform to the very best of your abilities.


  • Access to learning and development tailored to your role and support to gain professional qualifications and certifications.
  • An environment that supports a range of flexible working options (including a flexible working hour scheme).
  • A culture which encourages inclusion and diversity.
  • Support to gain professional qualifications and certifications
  • Membership of the Civil Service Pension Scheme which includes; Life cover, benefits for dependents, an average employer contribution of 27% of your pay and an attractive pension build up rate. For more information visit :
  • 25 days annual leave, rising to 30 days based on length of service.



Salary of £57,570 (London allowance of £5,500 if applicable)



Cheltenham, Manchester or London



Selection Process 

To apply for this position, you must meet our nationality, residency requirements. You’ll find more details here.


As a Disability Confident employer, we will ensure that a fair and proportionate number of disabled applicants who meet the minimum criteria for this position will be offered an interview. This is known as the Offer of Interview (OOI). 

To secure an interview for this role, candidates applying under this scheme must meet the minimum criteria for the role.

On the application form you will be asked to provide a personal statement of no more than 500 words. Please explain why you are suitable for the role and the skills and experience you will bring. Please give examples of how you meet the essential criteria listed above.  


Be prepared to dedicate 60-90 minutes to completing your application. We’re conscious this might be more time than you expected, so our system will allow you to save your application at any time and come back to it later. But remember to submit your full application before the closing date. 


Once we’ve established that you meet our eligibility criteria, the next steps of this selection process are: 


  • Paper sift
  • Personal Interview (conducted Virtually). If shortlisted for interview, you will be asked to share a link to some sample user research work from your portfolio for the panel to refer to at interview.
  • Drugs test
  • Vetting interview


If you successfully complete these stages, you’ll receive a job offer, conditional upon you completing our developed vetting (DV) process which enables you to obtain the level of security clearance required to perform this vital role. 


The closing date for this role is 17:00 on Thursday 1st September 2022.


Please be aware that we withhold the right to bring forward the closing date for this role from the original closing date once a certain number of applications have been received. Please be mindful of this and submit your application at your earliest convenience to avoid disappointment. 

This Program / Vacancy is closed to applications.