Senior Project Manager - Reimagining Governance for a Flourishing Research Culture

Updated: about 2 months ago
Location: Durham, ENGLAND

Senior Project Manager - Reimagining Governance for a Flourishing Research Culture (
Job Number:
Research and Innovation Services
Grade 8: - £45,585 - £56,021 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 Months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 05-Jan-2024, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The Research Culture Team at Durham University, led by Professor Jane Macnaughton Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Research, has been awarded £1 million from the Wellcome Trust for an action research project entitled ‘Reimagining Governance for a Flourishing Research Culture’. The PI is Professor Karen O’Brien, Vice Chancellor, who is keenly engaged in the project’s success, but it will be led by Jane Macnaughton supported by a diverse interdisciplinary team of Co-Is including academic, professional and technical staff.  The project is due to start in January 2024 with a duration of 24 months.  This exciting initiative is part of a wider programme of activities to transform research culture at Durham (Flourish@Durham ) and it will investigate the effectiveness of our research governance structures across departments, research institutes, and the university itself while launching a series of interventions including Shadow Committees and co-designed pilot projects aimed at improving research governance and contributing toward an improved research culture across the University.

The University

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. Durham University is one of the world’s top research-intensive universities, boasting a welcoming and vibrant international community. Durham is an exceptional place in which to base your career. Our strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences see us listed as a top 5 UK and top 100 global university. As part of our growth strategy, we are investing strongly in new academic staff and new facilities. We look forward to welcoming your application to join our thriving community.

As one of the UK’s leading universities, Durham is an incredible place to define your career while enjoying a high-quality work/life balance. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who 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.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience. Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breath taking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare provision and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

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 University Strategy ;  Our Purpose and Values

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 Role and Department

The Senior Project Manager will enable the delivery of ‘Reimagining Governance for a Flourishing Research Culture’ project. They will be pivotal in enabling the strategic objectives of the project, will deliver the operational and process management of the programme and be critical in the development and dissemination of the projects aims, outcomes and communication. The Senior Project Manager will have excellent organisational, analytical and process management skills, and be experienced in creating and nurturing positive collaborative relationships. 

To facilitate the operational and technical delivery of the project within Research and Innovation Services (RIS), the post-holder’s line manager will be the Director of Research Development and Operations but their day to day work will be directed by the project lead, the Deputy Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and the Research Culture Manger (also a Co-I on the project). They will be embedded within the project team. The team includes the co-applicants: Professor Ari Saranandom (Department of Biosciences), Professor Fuschia Sirois (Department of Psychology), Dr Ladan Cockshut (Assistant Professor (Research) and Co-I for Evaluation), Dr Beth Upex (Senior Technical Manager, Department of Archaeology) and Andrew Moss (Research Culture Manager, RIS), an external consultant, and four postdoctoral research associates. We are a cross-departmental and cross-faculty team and will be based in a collaborative space in a central office. We also offer the opportunity for flexible hybrid working subject to the business delivery requirements of the project. 

The Senior Project Manager will be supported by the Research Culture Team in RIS which sits within the Research Development Team. The Senior Project Manager will be expected to work closely with teams from across the division particularly the Research Policy Team. As well as working with various teams and colleagues within RIS, the post-holder will work across the university with different divisions including the four academic faculties, University Research Institutes, HR, Governance Support Services, and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion unit. The Senior Project Manager will work alongside external stakeholders, especially the external consultant and charitable organisation engaged with the project.

This role is an exciting opportunity for someone who wishes to develop a career in project management and university research governance and administration. The role requires someone who has the drive and desire to bring about effective culture change and wishes to engage in innovative approaches to co-create and advance a positive research culture at Durham across the research community. 

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

Research and Innovation Services

Research and Innovation Services (RIS) provides guidance, expert advice and hands-on support for all aspects of research and research-related work, including securing funding, working with partners, undertaking knowledge exchange, demonstrating impact, commercialising outputs, ensuring good research practice and supporting professional development.

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

Working arrangements

This role is full time (35 hours/week) but we will consider requests for flexible working arrangements including potential job shares. It is expected that this role will be predominantly face-to-face on campus, and the successful applicant will be prepared to locate to the northeast of England. There will be some scope for hybrid working arrangements in agreement with line manager, but this post will not be fully hybrid.

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 this 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 access to holiday camps for children aged 5-16 throughout the year.
•    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. 

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.  

Essential Criteria


  1.     A robust understanding, interest in, and passion for Research Culture.

2.     Experience of working within a research management and governance environment.

3.     Experience of working within and supporting a team towards a collective endeavour.

4.     Educated to degree level (or equivalent professional experience).

5.     Professional practitioner with specialist knowledge and expertise to influence service delivery, events and activities within the organisation.

6.     Experience of participating in internal or external networks to share and discuss good practice, develop strong and productive working relationships and positively influence the University’s reputation.

7.     Experience of implementing policies and procedures and supporting service improvements.


8.     Excellent spoken and written communication skills including the ability to develop effective working relationships, both internally and externally.

9.     Strong digital competence across a range digital devices and apps including  Microsoft 365 applications.

10.  Ability to manage a budget and maintain good records for accountability.

11.  Commitment to and ability to ensure good communication within the project team and project across the organisation, as well as to external interested stakeholders.

12.  Committed to continuing professional development to maintain professional recognition.

13.  Extensive knowledge and experience of ensuring compliance with regulatory and organisational policy and guidelines.

14.  Ability to contribute to planning at operational and strategic levels.

15.  Ability to solve problems and decide on and plan appropriate solutions.

Desirable Criteria

1. Experience of working in a Higher Education institution

2. Knowledge and understanding of the rapidly changing operation and culture of Higher Education.

3. Relevant project management, postgraduate or professional qualification.


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.

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 covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above and how you satisfy each essential criteria within the personal specification section of the job description.

Contact details   
For a chat about the role or any further information please contact:

Lorna Wilson, Director of Research Development and Operations – [email protected]

Andrew Moss, Research Culture Manager and Co-I – [email protected]

Typical Role Requirements

Service Delivery/Development

·         Work with team members and stakeholders to build and maintain excellent working relationships.

·         Develop and deliver on the programme of work established by the project team.

·         Show a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion and the University’s values.

·         Develop and promote an in-depth understanding of university policy and external developments relevant to your role and to the project.

·         Ensure that policy and regulatory standards are met by regular reporting updates to the project team, and the funder by liaising with the RIS post award team, ensuring that this is carried out throughout the project.

·         Use your professional knowledge and experience as a project manager to resolve problems, shape processes and activities, and develop good and sustainable organisation systems.

·         Provide specialist advice on the analysis and interpretation of complex data and information.

·         Responsible for operational activity across the project including managing the project administration and timelines, meetings of the Project Oversight Group (POG) and stakeholder engagement.

·         Look for ways to continually improve services and take a lead role in the development and implementation of assigned policies, processes and standards.

·         Instigate and manage business process reviews to improve the project.

·         Meet the professional development needs of your stakeholders, providing training when required.

·         Ensure data (commercially sensitive and/or personal) is appropriately stored and managed.

·         Manage quality and regulatory audits of systems and procedures.

Planning and Organisation

·         Contribute to operational leadership of the team to influence the development and delivery of the project.

·         Contribute to the development of operational and strategic level planning across the university through the project.

·         Oversee the project to deliver agreed aims and objectives while solving any problems which are encountered.

·         Working alongside the Co-I for evaluation, analyse data encountered within the programme and make recommendations for improvement in reports to senior managers and committees.

·         Allocate and monitor designated budgets, expenditure and resources, including finance reporting to the Project Oversight Group

·         Co-ordinate and take minutes of the meetings of the POG and other stakeholder meetings. 


·         Use your professional knowledge to identify and recommend priorities for long-term delivery of the project, including the creation of shared resources for dissemination.

·         Provide professional guidance and advice when managing and working with stakeholders across the University and externally, including across the N8 Evaluation Group.

·         Design creative and innovative communications to promote and increase engagement relating to the project.

·         Influence University policy and standards by leading operational business meetings, working groups and sub-committees.

·         Create strong working relationships, including internal and external networks, using your networks to increase your knowledge and skills, swap information with peers and positively influence the University’s reputation.

·         Represent the project team and University at promotional events.

·         Identify opportunities to develop and increase participation in special interest groups.

·         Any other reasonable duties.

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 Privacy Notices - Durham University  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.

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