Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Engineering

Durham, United Kingdom
28 Sep 2020
End of advertisement period
26 Oct 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Engineering

Grade 7: - 33797-40322
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 6 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 26-Oct-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 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

The Department of Engineering is one of the very best UK engineering departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our studentsRanked 5th in the Complete University Guide 2021 in the UK for General Engineering, this dynamic Department of Engineering is an excellent place in which to join our leading research group in Sustainable Infrastructure. 

The Role 

Outstanding applicants are sought for the post of Research Associate who will carry out high-quality research leading to the development of experimental and numerical techniques for the analysis of unsaturated soils. This work aims to understand the hydrometeorological impacts on existing and future infrastructure.


  • Perform high-quality research in the bespoke research project under the guidance of the supervisory team (Dr Ashraf Osman and Professor David Toll).
  • Meet the members of the supervisory team on a regular basis.
  • Write up the results of the research activity and present research papers and publications at meetings and conferences, as advised by the supervisors.
  • Widen personal knowledge in the research area and undertake complementary training.
  • Use initiative and creativity to deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines.
  • Plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • Liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • Assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • Conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the supervisory team.
  • To deliver training in research techniques / approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • Understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions.
  • 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
  • Work with the supervisory team and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • Contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • Engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.

This post is fixed term for up to 6 months. The post-holder is expected to contribute to a programme of research led by Dr Osman. 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, including the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols. They will also be encouraged and supported to develop and execute their own research project ideas within the general confines of the supervised research programme. 

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1 November 2020. 

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Dr Ashraf Osman (ashraf.osman@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;

Next Steps

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment in September/October 2020.

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in Engineering or Geoscience.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in Geotechnical Engineering 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 national/international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in experimental unsaturated soil mechanics.


  • 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.



  • 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 overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Experience in numerical modelling of multi-phase geo-materials.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research. 

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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