Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Anthropology

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322
22 May 2020
End of advertisement period
26 Jun 2020
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Geography, Sociology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Anthropology

Grade 7: - £33,797-£40,322
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 12 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 26-Jun-2020, 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 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 Department

Durham Anthropology is one of the best in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. We are 24th in the QS World Rankings, tenth in the Complete University Guide, and one of the UK’s top five anthropology departments for graduate prospects. The Department of Anthropology has a vibrant research culture with many visitors, seminars, global conferences and workshops, and is set to grow significantly over the next ten years. We were the top-ranked integrated Anthropology department in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, being fifth in the UK for overall GPA (Times Higher Education), first equal for world leading and internationally excellent Impact and Research Environment, and second equal for world leading publications.

We aim to provide a supportive and friendly environment with a strong sense of community. Currently there are more than 30 permanent members of academic staff, conducting world class excellent research in Evolutionary Anthropology, Social Anthropology and the Anthropology of Health. The department is well represented in University research Institutes and Centres, and has a close relationship with the Durham Energy Institute.

Durham Energy Institute(DEI) supports and produces cutting-edge energy research drawing on the expertise of world-leading researchers across Durham University's departments in Science, Social Science, Humanities and Business. DEI was born in 2009 out of the realisation that energy challenges cross conventional discipline boundaries and that new ways of thinking about and conducting energy research are required. DEI has now grown into an internationally leading institution, recognised for its ability to apply new methods and perspectives to existing and emerging energy challenges. By unlocking research synergies between different disciplines and sectors, DEI aims to produce major breakthroughs in our understanding of how to best meet the energy demands of the future.

Working together across departments enables us to build on world-leading research in specific energy technology areas integrating perspectives from Social Sciences and Humanities to generate insights into how technology is shaped by, adopted by, and influences society. DEI addresses energy challenges collaboratively through strong partnerships with industry, international partners, governments, community groups and other academic institutions, ensuring that our research is relevant, timely and effective. The successful applicant will be invited to apply for a non-stipendiary fellowship of DEI.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate in Social Anthropology or Human Geography with a particular emphasis on local government, energy policy, energy vulnerabilities and social inclusion, to work on a project in collaboration with Durham County Council and the Norwegian ‘Include’ research centre.

Durham University is a partner in ‘Include’, a research centre for socially inclusive energy transitions. Include is a research centre that will produce knowledge about how we may realise a socially just low-carbon society though inclusive processes, through close collaboration between research and public, private and voluntary sectors. (see https://www.sum.uio.no/english/include/ for further information.) The DU team is led by Professor Simone Abram, and includes Professor Gavin Bridge, and Dr Andres Luque Ayala, as well as Dr Kirsten Jenkins (who is at Edinburgh University).

DU’s role is to conduct comparative research in the UK, focused on the role of local authorities in progressing socially inclusive energy transitions. We are working closely with Durham County Council, who are a committed ‘user partner’ on the project.

The aims of the project include:

  1. identify the strategic objectives of UK municipalities with regard to the implementation of Energy Transitions, specifically to ascertain the emergence of declarations of Climate Emergencies and responses to them;
  2. carry out an ethnographic case study with Durham County Council (DCC), focusing on knowledge transfer in the context of the tensions/correspondences arising between decarbonization and social justice, and considering the role of civil society groups and other actors in shaping new initiatives.

The successful candidate will be based in Durham, and will be partly ‘embedded’ in the LCE team at DCC based at County Hall. They will spend 2-3 days per week in the team, with the rest of the week spent at DU under the supervision of the DU Include team. A key part of their role will be to will document the process by which DCC is developing and implementing its Climate Plan, and explore how the plan seeks to achieve DCC’s strategic objectives for an energy transition in the context of a climate emergency.

The researcher will report to project leaders at Durham University, providing written reports and submitting at least one jointly-authored academic article based on project findings within the term of employment.


  • 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 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 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.   
  • [Any other specific responsibilities].

This post is fixed term for 12 months (or part-time equivalent). The post is fixed term due to external funding.

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 1 October 2020. 

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Professor Simone Abram, simone.abram@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 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 (an article in preparation, thesis chapter, or any published piece of work).

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment.

Essential Criteria:


  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Social Anthropology, Human Geography or a related field that uses ethnographic methods


  • 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 national and international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in participatory ethnographic (qualitative) research methods. 


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

Desirable Criteria:


  • 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 in local government or similar bureaucratic institutions.
  • Experience of comparative international research.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 
  • Demonstrable ability to prepare oral, written and poster presentations to convey information about research to academic, professional and public audiences. 

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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