Postdoctoral Research Associate

Updated: 3 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Postdoctoral Research Associate (
Job Number:
Department of Sport & Exercise Science
Grade 7: - £22,259.43 - £26,557.76 pro rata to the full time salary of £37,099 - £44,263
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: 12 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 21
Working Arrangements: TBC
Closing Date
: 06-Dec-2023, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Please note that the successful applicant will require DBS disclosure. Further info: 

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 Departments

The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences was officially launched in August 2018. The department’s world-class scholarship brings together psychologists, physiologists, nutritionists, sociologists and political scientists. The multi- and inter-disciplinary nature of the team coalesces around two research themes: ‘Sporting Lives, subcultures and performance’, and ‘Sport and Physical Activity for Societal Change’. Currently undergoing an ambitious period of academic recruitment, the department is expanding expertise and global visibility across these two areas of research excellence.

The School of Education is one of the very best UK Education departments, with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. Our research was ranked second overall in the latest Research Excellence Framework while our Initial Teacher Education programmes were rated as Outstanding in our most recent Ofsted inspections. The School is home to the Durham University Evidence Centre for Education (DECE) and research clusters in: Higher and Further Education; Intercultural, International and Comparative Education; Psychology and Education; and Pedagogy and Curriculum.


The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate (part-time 0.6 FTE and fixed term for 12 months) with research interests in the broad field of child public health and inequalities. The successful candidate will contribute, as a member of Fuse ( ), to a research project which is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research (SPHR). The project aim is to Develop a best practice framework for the Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme ( ). We plan to use a range of qualitative methods (including counter-mapping) not previously used to evaluate the HAF programme to find out why children who are eligible to attend HAF clubs do not, and what types of programme delivery best covers the intended aims and reaches the most children and families.  The project is being conducted in three parts of the country by researchers from Fuse (primarily Durham), Bristol and Birmingham Universities. Specifically, the candidate’s contribution will focus on co-ordinating the effective and timely engagement of Fuse with this project, developing and managing a child advisory group in the North East for the project, and data generation with families and young people through a range of qualitative, participatory and creative methods.

The successful candidate will be based in The Department of Sport and Exercise Sciences with Carolyn Summerbell (Principal Investigator and Line Manager) but will work across this department and the Department of Education with Laura Mazzoli-Smith (Supervisor for counter-mapping research component) in Durham University. They will liaise with Nadia Siddiqui (Durham) and Greta DeFreyter (Northumbria) and the project Postdoctoral Research Associates at Bristol and Birmingham.

The post holder will take primary responsibility:

  • ·     To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals. To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or  Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio. 
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Dr Laura Mazzoli-Smith and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues, particularly Fuse and SPHR members, and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department, Fuse and wider the wider pubic health discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   
  • To co-ordinate the Public Involvement in the North East for the project
  • To co-ordinate the Child Advisory Group for the project.
  • To contribute to the knowledge-exchange outputs from the project.

This post is part-time (0.6 FTE) fixed term (12 months) post. Although the postholder will be expected to normally work from the department (in-person) one day a week and be willing to travel to various locations across the North-East for meetings and data collection when required, hybrid and flexible working arrangements are available. The postholder will be able to drive and have access to a car.

The post-holder is employed to work on a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post in January 2024

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits: 

•    30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
•    The University closes between Christmas and New Year – please include or delete if not applicable. 
•    We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
•    No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
•    There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities. 
•    Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
•    On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
•    Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
•    The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community
•    Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions. 
•    A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits. 
•    If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.

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. 

Contact Information 

Department contact for academic-related enquiries 

Professor Carolyn Summerbell ([email protected])

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  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  

Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about 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 make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit 

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • a CV and cover letter which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below.

Next Steps 

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 Fuse project team.  The assessment for the post will normally include a presentation to members of the Fuse project team staff followed by an interview and we anticipate that the presentations and interviews will take place in December.

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. 

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University 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.   

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria:


  • A good undergraduate degree in a relevant subject/discipline (this project is inter-disciplinary and we welcome applications from applicants with a wide range of subject/discipline backgrounds)
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in a relevant subject/discipline (this project is inter-disciplinary) with a focus on public health or inequalities.
  • Experience

  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research.
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national conferences and communicate complex information to the public and the wider public health community
  •  Experience in qualitative research method
  • Experience of public engagement and/or knowledge exchange with professional and public bodies and stakeholder groups outside academia.
  • Skills

           8. Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.

           9. Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.

          10. Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.

          11. Excellent organisational skills.

    Desirable Criteria


         12. Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.

         13. A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.

         14. Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.

        15. Experience in working with children from low-income families.

        16. Experience in mixed research methods.

        17. Experience of creative and participatory research methods with children and families.


        18. Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

       19. Demonstrate ability to think creatively about sharing findings from a research project with the public and the wider public health community (knowledge exchange), for example designing a Blog or Infographic.


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