Information Services Division


Research Software Development

Providing expertise in creating software for academic research, and collaborating with researchers across UCL on projects requiring these skills.

Key features

  • Close collaboration with researchers to produce high quality research software.
  • Capabilities span the development of new applications to optimising existing code.
  • Experts from diverse academic backgrounds and disciplines essential in understanding your research goals.
  • Flexible options to pay for staff and expenses.


The UCL Research Software Development Group (RSDG) are professional software developers with particular expertise in creating software for academic research. Our goal is to enhance UCL's capacity to produce high quality scientific software, from the simplest scripts to complex simulations running on state-of-the-art supercomputers. Researchers can collaborate with us on projects with a significant programming component by costing our services into grant submissions or paying a day rate.

Types of projects

Many different academic disciplines have benefited from working with RSDG; a full list of current and former projects is available on the Research IT Services website. The following is a partial list of the kinds of projects we typically work on:

  • Implementing new algorithms or methods
  • Addition of new components to existing models
  • Import/export tools for linking with other codes or loading new data formats (e.g. for multiscale modeling, data import/export)
  • Performance improvements
  • Design and architectural effort
  • Testing, reliability and correctness improvements
  • Usability improvements
  • Deployability improvements

Note, however, that these are not exhaustive  if you are not sure whether we can help you, do get in touch to ask at rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk

Working with RSDG

If you are interested in recruiting RSDG to work on a research project, the first thing we will want to do is meet to discuss your requirements; please email us at rc-softdev@ucl.ac.uk – time spent developing new project proposals is not charged for. 

It is important that the aims and scope of the project are clear before we proceed. Research teams should have a look at our ways of working for an idea of what to expect when working with RSDG.

Prioritisation criteria

The Research Software Development Group will always aim to take on paid-for projects that lie within our remit, and may become involved either pre- or post-award as described below. However, due to high demand, we are at times unable to work with all groups that contact us. In such circumstances, we will prioritise projects where we can provide the most benefit, relative to other potential solutions. See our prioritisation criteria for more explanation of what this principle entails.

Directly Allocated/Pre-award

We can be included on grants as a directly allocated cost and will prepare a section in Worktribe for this as part of the grant submission process. We can provide fractional or full time effort as needed, throughout the project or at critical intervals, and manage resourcing and recruiting issues to ensure the team is capable of servicing such obligations.

Post award

For research groups who already hold appropriate grant funds there are two routes. Where the total budget is £5000 or more, following advice from Research Services we will require a separate project sub-account to be set up against which will charge our costs, and will cost on the basis of a retrospective costing using UCL's standard grant costing tools. For projects with a budget of less than £5,000 we will request lump sum transfers via IDT instead. For these smaller projects we can on occasion use a day rate of £420/day (updated March 2021). Note that the prevailing day rate is subject to twice yearly review; contact us for the currently prevailing day rate.

Free support and advice

We aim to help all researchers at UCL to improve the standard of their research software. With this in mind our developers provide the following types of support for free where time allows:

  • Helping to troubleshoot code; e.g., within the RITS drop-in sessions
  • Recommending technology and tools
  • Helping researchers to setup and use software development tools (see the Research Software Development Tools service)
  • Helping groups to recruit software developers by advising or joining interview panels
  • Providing training in research software development

We also encourage researchers with an interest in programming or computational methods to explore the UCL Research Programming Hub for community events, support and discussion with colleagues.