Associate Professor Astronomical Instrumentation (PSY_04)

Updated: about 16 hours ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Associate Professor Astronomical Instrumentation (PSY_04) (
Job Number:
Department of Physics
Grade 9: - £57,696 - £64,914 per annum
Open-Ended/Permanent - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 29-Jul-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

Working at Durham University  

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a warm and friendly place to work, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. 


As one of the UK’s leading universities, Durham is an incredible place to define your career. The University is located within a beautiful historic city, home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and surrounded by stunning countryside. Our talented scholars and researchers from around the world are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.   


We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things in the world. Being a part of Durham is about more than just the success of the University, it’s also about contributing to the success of the city, county and community. 


Our University Strategy is built on three pillars of research, education and wider student experience, but also on our keen sense of community and of inspiring others to achieve their potential.  


Our Purpose and Values  


We want our University to be a place where people can be free to be themselves, no matter what their identity or background. Together, we celebrate difference, value one another and are each responsible for creating an inclusive community that is respectful and fair for all. 


Find out more about the benefits of working at the University and what it is like to live and work in the Durham area on our Why Durham? information page.  

The Department 

The Department of Physics at Durham University is one of the top UK Physics departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. Ranked in the top 10 in REF2022 in terms of power, 96% of Durham Physics research was considered either to be of “internationally excellent quality” or “world leading”.

The Department of Physics is committed to building and maintaining a diverse and inclusive environment.  It is pledged to the Athena SWAN charter, where we hold a silver award, and has the status of IoP Juno Champion.  We embrace equality and particularly welcome applications from women, black and minority ethnic candidates, and members of other groups that are under-represented in physics.  Durham University provides a range of benefits including pension, flexible and/or part time working hours, shared parental leave policy and childcare provision.

The Department seeks to appoint a talented individual to the role of Associate Professor. We welcome applications from those with research and teaching interests in the broad field of astronomical instrumentation and we are particularly eager to hear from applicants with a focus on instrumentation for ground-based or space-based telescopes as part of larger collaborative projects. The applicant is likely to work closely with the observational astronomers in Durham in the development of new instruments and helping to provide early access to new instrumentation when deployed in the field.

This post offers an exciting opportunity to make a major contribution to the development of internationally excellent research and teaching while allowing you unrivalled opportunities to progress and embed your career in an exciting and progressive institution. For more information, please visit our Department pages at

Associate Professors at Durham 

Associate Professors on the Education and Research track are encouraged to focus on research and teaching but are also expected to engage in wider citizenship to enhance their own development, support their department and discipline, and contribute to the wider student experience.  

We will fully support your research needs including practical help such as resources to attend conferences and to fund research activity, as well as a generous research leave policy and a designated mentor. Academic colleagues are also supported to publish internationally excellent research in high impact outputs in their area of interest, with a focus on quality rather than quantity. Sitting alongside world class research; teaching quality and innovation is critical to ensure a first-class learning environment and curricula for all our students.

Durham University is also committed to ensuring outstanding teaching quality, stimulating learning environments, and innovative curricula for all our students. You will be supported to develop your teaching expertise and skills.  

We are confident that our recruitment process allows us to attract and select the best international talent to Durham. We therefore offer a reduced probation period of 1 year for our Associate Professors and thereafter, subject to satisfactory performance, your position will be confirmed as permanent.

Applicants must demonstrate research excellence in the field of astronomical instrumentation for ground-based or space-based telescopes, with the ability to teach our students to an exceptional standard and to fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University. 

We strive to provide a working and teaching environment that is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect. Candidates will be expected to demonstrate these key principles as part of the assessment process. 

Key responsibilities: 

  • To Pursue research that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour, commensurate with the Department’s continuing emphasis on international excellence; 
  • To make a significant contribution to the development of successful research project/ fellowship proposals in pursuit of suitable national and international funding opportunities to support research and end-user engagement. 
  • To maintain and expand strong scientific links between observational astronomers and instrument developers within Durham and beyond.
  • To be able to deliver excellent teaching offering lectures, seminars and tutorials at undergraduate and taught postgraduate levels and contribute significantly to the development and delivery of high-quality teaching, including the design of excellent learning environments and curricula. 
  •  To contribute to enhancing the quality of the research environment in the Department, the wider University and beyond.  Contribute to establishing and leading research groups within and beyond the University and engaging in the mentoring of early career researchers;  
  • To attract and provide excellent supervision to research students, and to enhance the Department’s commitment to its vibrant and international postgraduate culture.  
  • To contribute significantly to the administrative functioning and collegial environment of the Department and wider University, undertaking leadership activities which support the functioning of the Department and wider University. 
  • To fully engage in, champion and enhance the values of the Department.
  •  Carry out such other duties as specified by the Head of Department.

Durham University is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion

Equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key component of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our Purpose and Values  and our Staff Code of Conduct.   At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all colleagues undertake activities that are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.  


We welcome and encourage applications from those who are currently under-represented in our work force, including people with disabilities and from racially minoritised ethnic groups.  

If you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on the volume and recency of your research outputs and other activities, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will take this into account when evaluating your application.  


The University has been awarded the Disability Confident Employer status. If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.  

Person Specification 

Candidates must demonstrate research excellence in the field of astronomical instrumentation for ground-based or space-based telescopes, with the ability to teach our students to an exceptional standard and to fully engage in the services, citizenship and values of the University.  


Candidates must have the capacity for and be progressing towards the independent development of internationally excellent research that produces high-quality outcomes, including some work that is recognised as world-class or that has world-class potential.   

Essential Research Criteria

  • Qualifications - a good first degree and a PhD in physics or a related subject.
  • Experience - involvement as a scientist or work package leader in a large astronomical instrument development project or leadership as PI or Co-I of a smaller, more independent project.
  • Outputs - that are consistently recognised as internationally excellent, with at least one output regarded as world class.  Candidates are asked to submit four research papers with their application (as outlined in the How to Apply section below).  Candidates may additionally choose to submit evidence such as external peer review of their outputs. 
  • Personal Research Plan - evidence of a personal research plan which supports and enhances the Physics Department’s research strategy which is "To strengthen our international scientific excellence and leadership through the strategic growth of emerging cross-group and interdisciplinary research areas with high impact". In particular, there should be evidence of potential to further drive our astronomical instrumentation programme and a strong desire to educate and train the next generation of researchers.  
  • Education 

    Candidates must demonstrate a willingness to make a significant contribution to the development and delivery of high-quality teaching and to the design of excellent learning environments & curricula, including curriculum development, that enable students to achieve their potential.

    Essential Education Criteria

    1.    Quality - willingness to make a significant contribution to the development and delivery of high-quality teaching at a nationally competitive level. Contribution to training, educating and mentoring other teachers in the department and/or the University in relationship to learning and teaching. (Candidates may choose to provide student evaluation scores and/or peer reviews of teaching). 

    2.    Innovation – a commitment to successful new programme development and innovation in the teaching methods for the design / delivery of high-quality teaching at a nationally competitive level including lectures, small group learning and/or using technology or other techniques to enhance learning and/or assessment. 

    3.    Strategic – willingness to make a significant contribution to the design and delivery of excellent teaching activities and the creation of learning environments that enable students to achieve their potential.

    Service, Citizenship and Values 

    Active engagement in the administrative and citizenship requirements of the Department. Positive contributions to the University’s Purpose and Values and to fostering a respectful environment, as well as demonstrating a commitment to equality, diversity, and inclusion.

    Essential Service, Citizenship and Values criteria

    1.    Citizenship contribution – a significant contribution to the collegial work and environment of an academic Department, Faculty, or University or of a national facility/laboratory. (Candidates may choose to evidence departmental, laboratory, University or national roles, Faculty or University level committees or projects, mentoring activity, pastoral and academic support of students, engagement with widening participation, proactive support of the work of professional services colleagues, contributions to programme management and/or strategic development, contribution to equality and diversity initiatives and membership or engagement with external bodies).

    2.    Leadership - evidence of leadership roles or a significant contribution to leadership activities that support the administrative functioning of an academic Department, Faculty, or University or national facility/laboratory and/or which support the development of the relevant discipline.  (Candidates may choose to detail any leadership roles which they have undertaken.

    3.    Communication - candidates must have excellent oral and written communication skills with the ability to engage with a range of students and colleagues across a variety of forums.

    Desirable Criteria 

    The desirable criteria for this post (for which candidates should provide evidence of some if not all criteria) are: 

    1.    Research Leadership - significant contribution to establishing and leading research groups within and beyond the candidate’s institution, a recognised contribution to the development of the relevant research field, and engagement in the mentoring of early career researchers.  Significant contribution to the development of successful research project / fellowship proposals.  (Candidates may choose to include information about research group leadership, mentoring of research colleagues, invitations to external events, engagement with international networks or projects).

    2.    PhD Supervision – the successful recruitment and excellent supervision of PhD students. 

    3.    Research Impact - evidence of a significant contribution to the development of research that has a demonstrable impact beyond the Candidate’s institution.  

    4.    Income Generation - significant evidence of engagement in the development and leadership of successful research projects and high-quality research grant proposals.  

    Contact Information 

    Department contact for academic-related enquiries 

    Prof John Girkin ([email protected]), Director of Research and Director of the Centre for Advanced Instrumentation, Department of Physics

    Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application 

    If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to [email protected]  

    Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays).  

    University contact for general queries about the recruitment process 

    How to Apply  

    We prefer to receive applications online.    

    Please note that in submitting your application, we will be processing your data.  We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement  which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.  

      What to Submit 

    All applicants are asked to submit: 

    • A CV listing all peer reviewed publications.
    • A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above.
    • Personal research plan (maximum two pages). 
    • Four of your most significant pieces of written work.  Where possible at least two of the items your written work should have been published or submitted since January 2021, however work prior to 2021 may be submitted where candidates have had career breaks or if Covid caused experimental work to be delayed.  The other two may be older to illustrate leadership in the field over an extended period of time.
    • An EDI & values statement – (of no more than 500 words) which outlines work which you have been involved in which demonstrates your commitment to EDI and our values. I.e. Involvement in quality, diversity, and inclusion activities such as mentoring, volunteering, or attending conferences

    Where possible we request that you provide accessible web links to your publications, which the hiring Department will use to access your work. The application form contains fields in which to enter each of the web links.

    Please note we are unable to access publications behind a paywall.  

    In the event you are unable to provide accessible links to online hosting of your work, publications should be uploaded as PDFs as part of your application in our recruitment system.

    Please ensure that your PDFs are not larger than 5mb. Your work may be read by colleagues from across the Department and evaluated against the current REF criteria; 

    All application documents should be uploaded with your name and document type as PDF files. 

    We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system.  Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails.  


    You should provide 3 academic referees they should not (if possible) include your PhD supervisor(s).  The majority should be from a University other than your own (save for early career applicants applying for their first post). 

    References will be requested for candidates who have been shortlisted and will be made available to the panel during the interview process. 

    As part of your application, you will be asked whether you give your consent to your academic references being sought should you be invited to attend an interview. We will only request references where permission has been granted.  

    Next Steps 

    All applications will be considered; our usual practice is for colleagues across the Department to read the submitted work of long-listed candidates.   

    Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department.  The assessment for the post will normally include a presentation to staff and students in the Department, a practical teaching exercise followed by an interview and we anticipate that the assessments and interviews will take place over two days in or around May 2024. 

    In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date. 

    Applicant Guidance  

    For further guidance on your application please see HERE  

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