Postdoctoral Research Associate in Film, Visual Culture and Media

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 per annum
Tuesday, 24 November 2020
End of advertisement period
Monday, 21 December 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Grade 7: - £33,797 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 21-Dec-2020, 7:59:00 AM

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from aroiund the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, one of the greatest Romanesque buildings in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than three 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 breathtaking 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 benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The School of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLAC)

MLAC is one of the largest and most successful Schools of Modern Languages in the UK, bringing together research in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese and Russian Studies. It is consistently ranked in the top five in national league tables, such as the Complete University Guide. The School’s reach spans Europe, the Arab world, Russophone Eurasia, Hispanic America, and East Asia, and their mutual socio-cultural, intellectual and linguistic relations. The School federates expertise to generate innovative research practices and activities that cross historical, geographical and methodological boundaries. Its research focuses on the transnational study of literatures, cultures and histories. Translation – understood in its broad sense of transmission, interpretation and sharing of languages, ideas and histories – underpins the School’s collective practices. The School has particular strengths in Medieval and Early Modern Studies, Visual Arts and Culture and the relationship between the Sciences and the Humanities, with further research interests in 19th to 21st century literature and culture, textual scholarship, gender and sexuality studies, critical and cultural theory, travel literature, creative writing, and translation.

In the School, staff and postgraduates are brought together in interdisciplinary discussions and collaboration through a set of research groups, which currently include: Digital Studies, Ecology and the Arts, Justice and the Arts, Living Texts, Translation and Linguistics, and Transnational Cinema. The School plays a leading role in the Institute of Medieval and Early Modern Studies, the Centre for Cultural Ecologies, the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture, the Institute of Medical Humanities, and in the University’s prestigious Institute of Advanced Study, which promotes world-class research across the Faculties. The School is also a key contributor to one of four major research programmes to which the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) awarded funding in 2016 as part of its Open World Research Initiative (OWRI). It is part of a consortium headed by the University of Manchester, which has been awarded c. £4 million to develop a large interdisciplinary research programme titled ‘Cross-Language Dynamics: Reshaping Community’.

The Role

The general role of the PDRA (Postdoctoral Research Associate) is to develop and undertake research as part of the international, multi-institutional UKRI GCRF (United Kingdom Research and Innovation Global Challenges Research Fund) Living Deltas Research Hub (www.livingdeltas.org).

The UKRI GCRF Living Deltas Hub

The Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) is a £1.5 billion fund to address the global issues faced by developing countries. GCRF harnesses expertise of the UK’s world-leading researchers to promote the dignity and prosperity for some of the most disadvantaged and hardest to reach people on our planet. The sheer scale and ambition of the Research Hubs are what makes them so exciting, with researchers working in partnership with governments, community groups and international agencies across 85 countries. Each Hub has the potential to transform the quality of life for significant numbers of people across the world and help safeguard our planet for future generations.

The Living Deltas Hub has the overarching aim to safeguard delta futures through more resilient communities and sustainable development. River deltas comprise just one per cent of global landscapes yet support over half a billion people. Deltas are vital social-ecological systems and regional food-baskets, but the terrain and the livelihoods of those who rely on them are under threat from human exploitation, environmental degradation and climate change.

Focusing on the Red River and Mekong deltas in Vietnam and the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna delta in Bangladesh and India, the Living Deltas Hub’s core aim is a significant contribution to better sustainable development outcomes for developing countries in the region, transforming policy and practice based on new approaches to understanding delta change. The Hub will address the significant social-ecological challenges currently confronting these delta systems in a transdisciplinary manner that responds to the interlinked agenda of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The Hub is coordinated in Newcastle University and has over 20 partners across the delta regions and the rest of the world.

Role of the PDRA

The role of this PDRA is to support the analysis and articulation of the GCRF Living Deltas Hub goals through the development of audiovisual activities, research and impact proposals. Specifically, the PDRA will work with the line manager (Dr Hernández Adrián) to explore local and transnational relationships between environmental challenges and audiovisual responses, including participatory fora, communication, and sharing. The Hub’s transdisciplinary nature requires an on-going process of collective learning and audiovisual capacity building between local communities and stakeholders, researchers and practitioners across Work Packages and between countries to ensure the Hub delivers its impact goals. The PDRA will work with Dr Hernández Adrián and research teams to ensure transdisciplinarity, co-production and collaboration across the Hub. The PDRA will contribute to generating capacity using interdisciplinary exercises in critical thought and practice and enabling new opportunities for creative exchange, co-production and sharing of local and transnational initiatives in DAC (Development Assistance Committee) delta countries.

The successful applicant will be expected to have a PhD in a relevant research area such as film, visual culture, media or a related field.


  • Analyse how audiovisual strategies and practices can help design better enabling environments and incentive frameworks, including building capabilities of vulnerable groups, and contributing to the lowering of institutional barriers in delta regions.
  • Conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of Dr Hernández Adrián that support two-way exchange of information and knowledge between the Hub and non-academic stakeholders. This work stream will involve working in delta regions of interest with a range of stakeholders at different scales, from community groups to professional stakeholders and institutions.
  • In coordination with Dr Hernández Adrián, plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others, and contribute to the planning of research projects. This involves attending the Annual Meetings and selected field visits across the delta regions of interest.
  • Work with Dr Hernández Adrián and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing these with Dr Hernández Adrián and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • Prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • Publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of Dr Hernández Adrián.
  • Coordinate with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.

This post is fixed term for 24 months duration as part of the GCRF Living deltas Hub funded by UKRI.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/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 by 1st February 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact the Grant-Holder, Dr Francisco-J. Hernández Adrián (f.j.adrian@durham.ac.uk) or Professor Andy Byford (andy.byford@durham.ac.uk). All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence. 

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women, LGBTQ+ and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  • A writing sample, preferably a published piece in film, visual culture or media.
  • A research proposal.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include an interview with a short presentation. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment (date to be confirmed).

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in the Humanities or Social Sciences, including Film Studies, Visual Culture, Modern Languages or a related discipline.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in the Humanities or Social Sciences, including Film Studies, Visual Culture, Modern Languages or a related subject.


  • 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 international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience of working in collaborative and interdisciplinary research projects.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research activities.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of audiovisual research in at least one of the delta regions, including film and media communication, archives, and working with practitioners.


  • Ability or potential to use film and media technologies in participatory research methods.
  • Familiarity with film, visual culture and media environments, including photography, digital media and related fields.
  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.
  • Experience conducting research in one of the delta regions.
  • Language proficiency in one of the delta region languages.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.