Postdoctoral Research Associate Social Science

Updated: 6 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!

Postdoctoral Research Associate Social Science (
Job Number:
Department of Engineering
Grade 7: - £36,333 - £38,474 per annum (pro rata)
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: 36 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 22.5
Working Arrangements: 0.6 FTE
Closing Date
: 25-Jun-2023, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The University

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  
Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here .

The Role and Department 

The Department of Engineering is consistently one of the very best UK engineering departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.  The Department is ranked 4th in the Complete University Guide, 5th in the Guardian University Guide and 6th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2022 in the UK for General Engineering.  Ranked in the top six in the UK for overall profile in REF 2021 (with 95% of publications rated as 4* and 3*), this dynamic Department is an excellent place to work.  The strategic vision for the Department includes a growth plan of over 50% over the next five years, with a significant enhancement of the research challenge portfolio and a drive to enrich our undergraduate, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research provision.  It is an exciting time to join this expanding Department and make your mark.

Led by Professor Tony Roskilly, the Thermal Energy Systems Group in the Engineering Department consists of 23 staff members ranging from academic, post-doctoral research staff, administration, and technical personnel. A number of researchers from Anthropology, Chemistry, Earth Sciences, Biological Science and Durham University Business School also support the Group’s collaborative research activities directly. The group has a successful track record of attracting funding, primarily from Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), Innovate UK, EU and industry. The group’s themes include energy system integration, decarbonisation of heating and cooling; industrial decarbonisation; hydrogen fuelled transportation; engine technology; energy storage; and thermochemical energy systems.


The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Social Science, working with colleagues in both Engineering and Anthropology with a particular emphasis on energy policy and regulation, planning and development, to work on projects in collaboration with a range of stakeholders.

The successful applicant will primarily work on two multidisciplinary projects within the Group’s portfolio. For an EPSRC funded project they will contribute to research on the governance issues surrounding the design and implementation of hydrogen energy centres, including relevant planning, policy, and regulatory aspects for potential commercial, industrial, and urban sites. They will coordinate workshops and engagement with end users and explore the potential challenges with developing energy hubs. For a Horizon Europe project they will contribute to critical research around the notion of ‘social acceptance of technology’, co-design and governance of integrated energy systems. The role includes support for research on stakeholders, social impact, non-energy costs, market integration and governance of integrated energy systems at pilot sites in Denmark, Norway, and Portugal.

The successful applicant will be expected to organise and conduct primary research, working closely with the work-package leader in the department of Anthropology. They will take direction from Prof Simone Abram (Anthropology) in relation to the various work packages but will be line managed by Prof Tony Roskilly (Engineering).  As such, there is an expectation that the successful candidate will work across disciplinary boundaries and engage with internal and external colleagues involved in the projects. They will have primary responsibility for empirical fieldwork, collection and analysis of data and for the production of publishable outputs, as well as regular reports to the project partners.



  • 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 Grant-holder.
  • 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 Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder 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 Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues 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 and wider 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.   

This post is fixed term for 36 months as the funding is available for a fixed period only

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 as soon as possible

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  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.
  • 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, inclusion and values

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University, equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our 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 of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  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 

Further information about the role is available from Professor Simone Abram in the Department of Anthropology ( )

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  

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;
  • A covering letter which shows examples of how you meet all of the essential and desirable criteria within the Person Specification. We encourage applicants to use a table or sub-headings to ensure they set out clearly how they meet each individual criterion.
  • Next Steps 

    Shortlisted 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 followed by an interview and the date of assessments and interviews will be confirmed after the closing date.

    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:


    1.     A PhD in a relevant social science field related to energy development, governance and/or planning


    2.     Experience in conducting high quality academic research.

    3.     Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.

    4.     Demonstrable ability to present research papers at national and international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.

    5.     Experience in organising stakeholder research workshops.

    6.     Knowledge of energy and development governance

    7.     Experience in participatory (qualitative) research methods.


    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.

    Desirable Criteria:


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

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

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

    14.  Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.


    15.  Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

    16.  Demonstrable ability to prepare oral, written and poster presentations to convey information about research to academic, professional and public audiences.

    17.  Relevant language skills.

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