British Antarctic Survey is offering a unique opportunity as Zoological Field Assistant in Antarctica.

What is it about?

Zoological Field Assistants will be recruited to carry out fieldwork on seabirds and seals. Bird Island is small (7 km in length) and forms part of the South Georgia archipelago where it is buffeted by both prevailing westerlies and cold winds from Antarctica. It has a high annual rainfall and variable snow cover during winter. In summer tens of thousands of seals and hundreds of thousands of seabirds breed there. Up to 10 staff live in a modern research station with a satellite link to the outside world and comfortable accommodation.

The successful applicants will work and live on Bird Island continuously, living with other residents and 3 summer only visitors. Whilst everyone is assigned duties to keep the research station running (including cooking and cleaning), the residents have extra responsibilities (after pre-deployment training), such as providing IT, communications and medical cover. They will each be responsible for one element of a long term science programme. The learning curve is very steep and so all candidates must have previous experience of handling appropriate wild animals, but BAS will provide a finishing school (at Bird Island) to hone these skills. A recent magazine article gives an insight into what it is like to do one of these jobs.

Work in the wildlife breeding season at Bird Island is very intensive, with long hours of fieldwork and data preparation, so it is important to be well organised. Data are collated using databases and by submitting reports, observing deadlines at frequent intervals. The results underpin key research into regional and global change processes based on seabird and seal life histories, reproductive success, behaviour and diet.

The position of Zoological Field Assistant offers a unique opportunity for highly motivated and disciplined individuals with relevant fieldwork skills and a keen interest in wildlife, who will adapt well to small island living in a challenging sub-Antarctic environment.

Job reference: BAS 20/29
Contract type: Antarctic Contract – Winter Over (Up to 18 Months)
Duration: Up to 18 Month Fixed Term Appointment.
Salary: £24,272 per annum initially. Additionally, upon completion of a successful tour, you will receive a bonus of up to 10%.
Benefits: We offer generous benefits
Team: Antarctic employment pool team
Location: Antarctica – Bird Island, sub-Antarctic  South Georgia.
Closing date: 31 March, 2020 11:59 pm

Who are we?

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Its skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through its extensive logistic capability and know how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. British Antarctic Survey is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation ukri.org

We employ experts from many different professions to carry out our Science as well as keep the keep the lights on, feed the research and support teams and keep everyone safe! If you are looking for an opportunity to work with amazing people in amazing places then British Antarctic Survey could be for you. We aim to attract the best people for those jobs.


To work at Bird Island for 18 months (with a possibility of extension) preparing, collecting and recording seal and seabird data for a long term science programme. To assist with other elements of the zoological research programme as required.


Must have been awarded an honours degree in biology/zoology or equivalent.


Field Assistant 1:
Responsible for work on seals
Monitor a population of tagged fur seals, sample for diet and weigh pups (to estimate growth rates).
Systematically tag and re-sight leopard seals during winter.
Assist with penguin and flying bird monitoring.
Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to determine at-sea behaviour).

Field Assistant 2:
Responsible for work on albatrosses.
Monitor and collate data from four species of albatross including parameters on population size, breeding success, chick growth and diet.
Assist with seal and penguin monitoring.
Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to measure aspects of foraging and chick provisioning strategy).

Field Assistant 3:
Responsible for work on penguins and giant petrels.
Monitor and collate data from penguins and giant petrels including parameters on population size, breeding success, chick growth and diet.
Assist with seal and albatross monitoring.
Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to measure aspects of foraging and chick provisioning strategy).

Skills specification

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Communication skills

  • Fluent in written and spoken English language. – Essential
  • Experience of scientific report writing. – Desirable [1]

Computer / IT skills

  • Proficient in the use of IT equipment, word processing, spreadsheet and email software. – Essential
  • Knowledge of GIS software. – Desirable [1]

Interpersonal skills

  • Considerate and mature in attitude. – Essential
  • Worked in a small team in remote locations. – Essential

Managerial ability

  • Self-motivated and can work unsupervised. – Essential

Other Factors

  • Physically fit and capable of carrying out fieldwork in rugged terrain. – Essential
  • Knowledge of wilderness survival techniques and first aid. – Desirable [1]


  • Must have been awarded an honours degree in biology/zoology or equivalent. – Essential

Skills / Experience

  • Wild bird/animal handling experience in the field. – Essential
  • Bird ringing license. – Desirable [1]
  • Handled wild seabirds or non-captive seals. – Desirable [1]
  • Laboratory management experience. – Desirable [1]
  • Attached devices to animals. – Desirable [1]

How to apply

You can apply for this job online with a CV, cover letter and application forms; or you can print off the application forms, fill them out by hand and mail them.

Apply online

Apply by post:

If you would like to apply for this job but cannot apply online, you can print the application form(s) and post it back to us.

Please ensure you complete all required sections of the application form(s) and include a Cover Letter and a copy of your CV.

When posting your application, ensure there is sufficient postage.

These forms are in an OpenDocument format and may not be suitable for users of assistive technology. An accessible format may be requested by contacting us.

Send your completed application forms to:
Human Resources Team
British Antarctic Survey
High Cross, Madingley Road
United Kingdom

If you need more information

Email: [email protected]
Telephone: +44 (0)1223 221400
Facsimile: +44 (0)1223 362616

Please quote the following reference for any queries: BAS 20/29

As part of our commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and promoting equality in careers in science, we hold an Athena SWAN Bronze Award and have an active Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programme of activity. We welcome applications from all sections of the community. People from ethnic minorities and disabled people are currently under-represented and their applications are particularly welcome.

Antarctic deployment involves working in a remote and harsh environment where adaptations to working, living and recreation areas are not achievable to a level that might be expected in the UK. There is a Genuine Occupational Requirement to be physically capable of negotiating rough, icy and snowy terrain as well as being mentally resilient and medically fit.

The information you provide during the application process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements where necessary or, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire, to help BAS meet its equal opportunities policy.

The British Antarctic Survey will not share the information you provide with any third parties, and the information will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. Please note that the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will be detached from your application prior to the short-listing of candidates for interview.

Unsuccessful applications will be securely destroyed 6 months after the end of the recruitment process (or 1 year after the end of the recruitment process in the case of Marine Staff and AEP. The applications of successful applicants will be retained as part of their personnel file.

Further information can be found in the information notice of NERC, our parent body.