Research Assistant in Impact of Shale Gas Exploitation

Durham, United Kingdom
£26,715 - £32,817
25 May 2020
End of advertisement period
06 Jun 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Earth Sciences

Grade 6: - £26,715 - £32,817
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 12 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 06-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 Earth Sciences is one of the very best UK Earth Science departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and both the satisfaction and employability of its students. It is regularly ranked in the top 5 of UK departments and is within the global top 30.

The department has around 35 academic staff, 30 research staff, 90 PhD students and 250 undergraduate students. Its research covers a spectrum of Earth Science disciplines around four broad themes: Solid Earth; Climate and Environmental Change; Geoenergy, Resources and Waste; Geohazards. The themes reflect our aim to not only undertake fundamental and intrinsically excellent research, but also research which is relevant to and which impacts society. We collaborate widely, and within Durham we work closely with both the Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience (link to https://www.dur.ac.uk/ihrr/) and the Durham Energy Institute (link to https://www.dur.ac.uk/dei/ ).

The Department is committed to providing the highest level of education to its students, giving them the knowledge, skills and confidence to contribute positively to the world beyond Durham. We provide research-led teaching with a large proportion of practical classes and a deep commitment to field-based teaching. We regularly receive > 90% satisfaction scores on the annual National Student Survey and our students are highly sought after by a range of employers.

The Department of Earth Sciences holds a departmental Bronze Athena SWAN award in recognition of its efforts to promote gender equality and address challenges particular to the earth sciences More information on the department, its research and its facilities can be found at https://www.dur.ac.uk/earth.sciences/.

The Role

We invite applications for a Research Associate to join the Department of Earth Sciences at Durham University on a project funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, "SHAPE-UK". The position is fixed term for 12 months, with a preferred start date before 1st June 2020. The project Is led in Durham by Prof Fred Worrall.

The aim of the project is to understand the impacts of hydraulic fracturing in the overburden of shale resource plays. In particularly the research. The successful applicant will be expected to conduct field experiments and modelling activities to understand the role of fluids in returning to surface from depth. The research assistant will work with members of the project team both in Durham and as part of the wider project team, to interpret and model the results and produce high-impact publications based on the findings.

The research assistant will benefit from close interaction with a wide range of collaborators in an inter-disciplinary environment, and will be expected to attend conferences to present their work. The research assistant will join the vibrant research group at Durham University, and will further benefit from the Department’s mentoring programme for Early Career Researchers. Research assistants are encouraged to co-supervise MSc and undergraduate research projects.


The successful candidate will be expected to contribute to the general activities of the Professor Worrall’s research group and participate actively in the intellectual life of the department. There may be opportunities to teach/demonstrate in labs and field classes depending on the interests of the successful candidate.

Specific responsibilities will include:

  • To conduct field campaigns with the project team
  • To understand and convey information which needs careful explanation to the team or group of people through presentations, discussions and meetings which contribute to the production of research reports and publications.
  • To write up results of research work, present information on research progress and outcomes to bodies supervising research in a clear and accurate manner.
  • To analyse or undertake basic research by deciding how best to apply existing methodology according to overall context and objectives.
  • 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 contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To assist in contributing to support student projects on the use of research methods and equipment.
  • 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 attending relevant training and development courses.
  • This post is fixed term for 12 months –the research project funding is from NERC and is available for this fixed period only.

The post-holder is employed to work on 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 June 2020, or as soon as possible thereafter.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Prof Fred Worrall (Fred.Worrall@durham.ac.uk; +44 (0)191 334 2295). 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; candidates will not be shortlisted if they cannot demonstrate that they meet all essential criteria (i.e. these are mandatory for the post)

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include an interview and a task related to the project. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment within two weeks of closing date.

The Requirements



  • A good first degree (preferably higher degree) in Earth or Environmental Sciences, or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting 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 or international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience of working with industrial impacts on the environment especially upon ground and surface waters.


  • 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, including written and spoken English.
  • Strong computational skills.
  • Experience with data collection in the field.
  • Ability to work and solve problems independently.
  • Enthusiasm and personal initiative for research.



  • A record of publication 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.
  • Experience of working on interdisciplinary and collaborative projects.
  • Experience of, and enthusiasm for, outreach and public engagement.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.