Senior Experimental Officer

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Senior Experimental Officer (
Job Number:
Department of Geography
Grade 7: - £36,333 - £43,155 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 14 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 18-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 Senior Experimental Officer will be responsible for supervising and supporting undergraduate and postgraduate laboratory-based work and field classes. The post holder will provide technical and academic guidance and advice to these students. This role will primarily service Geography teaching needs, including dissertations, assisting in the teaching laboratories, but may also support research laboratory activities as required. Working closely with the laboratory management, they will coordinate the allocation of laboratory and field resources for dissertations.

The Department of Geography at Durham comprises 65 academic staff (approximately equally divided between physical and human geography), a graduate school of around 100 research students, around 40 taught postgraduate students and 850 undergraduates. The Department is well supported with technical staff, including a cartography unit, and administrative staff.

Our laboratories contain an extensive suite of analytical and geotechnical instruments which are overseen and supported by a team of dedicated technical staff. Our laboratories facilitate world class research and are used extensively in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching. We also support a range of fieldwork related to teaching and research within the UK and internationally.

For more information, please visit our Department pages at: and

Further information about the role and the responsibilities is at the bottom of this job description.      

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.
  • 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

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 .   

What you need to demonstrate when you apply/Person Specification      

When you apply it is important that you let us know what skills/experience you have from a similar role and/or what skills/experience you have which would make you right for this role.  Further information about the role and responsibilities is at the end of this job description.  

Where a criteria has an asterisk* next to it, it may be given additional weighting when your application is considered.  Your application should cover the following criteria:     

Essential Criteria    

  • Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop excellent working relationships both internally and externally.   
  • Excellent digital competence with demonstrable skills in using core digital tools including internet, email, digital communication tools, Microsoft 365 applications, digital booking system, project planning, laboratory instrument software. 
  • Five GCSE’s at least Grade C or level four (or equivalent) including English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent experience). 
  • Post-16 qualification (or equivalent experience).
  • Educated to degree level (or equivalent experience).  
  • Ability to supervise and provide academic guidance to Geography undergraduate and postgraduate students*
  • Ability to assist with the running of geographical laboratory practical classes and fieldtrips for Geography undergraduates and postgraduates.*
  • Experience of being able to network effectively and develop strong and productive working relationships.  
  • Ability to solve problems and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions.  
  • Experience of providing specialist advice and guidance to a range of laboratory users and technical colleagues, including more senior colleagues.  
  • Expert knowledge and expertise in one or more areas of technical specialism, and the application of skills to create, build, construct and realise new and innovative resources, equipment and research outputs.  
  • Knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines, including health and safety.  
  • Demonstrable ability to teach or train others with specific technical skills in Physical Geography.
  • Experience of implementing policies and procedures.    
  • Desirable Criteria        


  • Relevant industry and professional recognition and certification of achievement of skills and knowledge.  
  • Continuing professional development required to maintain professional recognition.  
  • Regulatory, local and national professional knowledge and experience of compliance.  
  • Experienced practitioner who has led teaching/research project working within and educational, commercial or industrial environment.  
  • 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 above. 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.  Please don’t forget to check if there is any weighted criteria (see above).      

    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 you need to submit     

    • A CV: and      
    • A supporting statement or covering letter which provides clear and detailed information on how you meet all of the essential criteria within the Person Specification. 

    Contact details           

    For a chat about the role or any further information please contact Dr Eleanor Ross, Senior Manager (Technical Services & Facilities)   

    Typical Role Requirements   

    Service Delivery 

    • Implement changes to the design and development of service processes, techniques and deliverables within the geography teaching laboratory.
    • Design, build and maintain complex, specialist teaching and research apparatus, equipment, instruments, systems and appliances.  
    • Take responsibility for monitoring and updating risk assessments and safety procedures, providing guidance to others where necessary.  
    • Provide advice on digital tools and infrastructure to ensure an appropriate pedagogical approach to developing world class teaching.    
    • Provide guidance and advice on University health and safety and compliance issues in specialist area.  
    • Apply maintenance schedules to ensure the smooth, safe and efficient use of instruments and equipment in the geography teaching laboratory and services to teaching, research and learning activities.  
    • Develop, modify and optimise protocols and methodologies.  
    • A commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the University’s values. 
    • Coordinate allocation of laboratory and field resources for undergraduate dissertation projects.

    Knowledge and Experience 

    • Recognised professional practitioner and service specialist. 
    • Provide day-to-day management for the delivery of a high-quality laboratory facility and service to ensure teaching, learning, research and knowledge exchange outputs.  
    • Provide specialist expertise and support with data and information sources, interpretation and analysis.  
    • Contribute to development of operational service activities to ensure excellence in the stakeholder experience (geography students, staff and external clients).
    • Maintain an awareness of current policy for University business goals such as widening participation and access, and provision of advice using specialist knowledge.  

    Teaching and Learning Support 

    • Identify and design activities to meet geography learning objectives and outcomes.  
    • Deliver training, teaching and/or development delivery for stakeholders (geography students, staff and external clients).
    • Record, monitor and collate information, analyse patterns and trends as part of teaching, learning and research activities.  
    • Take responsibility for the design, set-up, maintenance and integrity of teaching, research and learning facilities, technology and resources within a specialist area.  
    • Collaborate with internal and external academics, industry and technical specialists to support the delivery of teaching, learning and research projects.
    • Supervise service users during practical and test teaching, learning and research work activities, projects, and self-directed sessions, providing technical and academic guidance as required.
    • Provide support to ensure the delivery of undergraduate and post graduate teaching and learning activities, and income generation where appropriate.  
    • Contribute to the planning, design and delivery of research outputs and prepare innovative teaching/research proposals.  

    Planning and Organising 

    • Collect and analyse stakeholder (geography students, staff and external clients) feedback to help define needs and requirements and the design and planning of services.  
    • Provide specialist technical problem-solving advice to inform activity and project planning, continuous improvement and service development.  


    • Internal and external relationship development and partnership working, networking and participation to engage and influence future services and the University reputation.  
    • Contribute to and lead laboratory meetings at departmental and operational service levels.  
    • Contribute to promotional events and presentations at conferences.  
    • Liaise with internal and external agencies, local authorities, industries and visitors where appropriate.  

    Any other reasonable duties 


    The post is full time fixed term for a 14 monthly period and may be offered on an internal secondment basis subject to the agreement of the current line manager. 


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