Postdoctoral Research Associate in Geomorphology and Geomatics

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 per annum
Thursday, 18 March 2021
End of advertisement period
Thursday, 15 April 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Geography

Grade 7: - £33,797 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 13 Months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 15-Apr-2021, 6:59:00 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 around 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, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. 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 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 Department

The Department of Geography at Durham comprises 68 academic staff (approximately equally divided between physical and human geography), a graduate school of around 100 research students, around 40 taught postgraduate students and more than 650 undergraduates. The Department is well supported with technical staff, including a cartography unit, and administrative staff.

The most recent QS rankings for Geography placed Durham 7th overall in the world, its 5th year in the top ten, and 1st for citations in the discipline. The department is recurrently ranked in the top handful of programmes in the UK by various league tables; in 2016, we were ranked 2nd in the Times Good University Guide and 3rd in both the Complete University Guide and the Guardian University Guide. The Department was graded top for research power (quality weighted by volume) in UK geography in REF 2014 and 3rd for iGPA (average score scaled by proportion of staff submitted). With 43% of work assessed as being in the highest category, it produced the largest number of world leading (4*) publications in the country.

The Role

The Department of Geography at Durham University seeks to appoint a Post-Doctoral Research Associate for a period of up to 13 months. This post will form part of the research team working on the industry-funded project: Coastal Behaviour and Rates of Activity (COBRA). In collaboration with the project PI and team, the position holder will conduct research using airborne and ground-based remote sensing and geospatial modelling on regional-scale rock slope evolution. Whilst the project focuses on coastal rock slopes sites, the research concerns fundamental processes of mass wasting and erosion applicable to unstable landscapes more generally.

Areas of work:

  1. In collaboration with the project team, liaise with sub-contractors to capture high-resolution airborne LiDAR surveys of rock slopes on the North Yorkshire coast.
  2. Undertake detailed analysis of high-resolution LiDAR point-cloud data to understand the spatial and temporal patterns of rockfall and erosion.
  3. Collect and collate key datasets to develop quantitative understanding of the patterns of regional-scale rock slope evolution and links to driving processes.
  4. Dependent on the ability to travel at the time, conduct fieldwork at key sites, in collaboration with the project team and technical staff in the Department of Geography.
  5. Provide advice and mentoring to the PhD students within the project team.   
  6. Provide support to the PI and Co-I to respond to requests for data and support from the industrial partner.
  7. Contribute to the presentation of project outputs at international conferences, and to industrial and public stakeholders.
  8. Contribute to the development of publications.


  • 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.

The post will run for until the end of the funded project, which is time limited and will end on 30th May 2022. There may be an additional four months of funding available, subject to contractual agreement, which may be available to extend the duration of this post to the end of September 2022.

The post-holder will be employed to work on the research project which will be led by the project PI and Co-I. 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.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Matt Brain (matthew.brain@dur.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 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;
  • Relevant published papers, as and where available.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include the opportunity to give a short presentation, and an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in a week to be confirmed.

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in physical geography, geology, engineering geology, GIS, geomatics or geoscience.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in relevant fields of geoscience 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 in handling and analysing large-scale 3D datasets, specifically airborne LiDAR and geospatial modelling.
  • Postgraduate experience of research in geomorphology, geology, engineering, geomatics or related subjects.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently, to a high level of accuracy and to 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 conducting research in slope stability, quantitative geomorphology and/or engineering geology.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.
  • Numerical skills appropriate for handling and analysing large 3D data, using software such as TerraScan, Matlab, or Point Cloud Library.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.