Postdoctoral Research Associate in Computer Vision and Machine Learning

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £35,845
27 Nov 2020
End of advertisement period
28 Dec 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Computer Science

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £35,845
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: 24 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 28-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 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 Computer Science is rapidly expanding – it will more than double in size over the next 10 years from 18 to approximately 40 staff. A new building for the department (joint with Mathematical Sciences) will be built to house the expanded Department, and is expected to be completed in 2021. The current Department has research strengths in (1) algorithms and complexity, (2) computer vision, imaging, and visualisation and (3) high-performance computing, cloud computing, and simulation. We work closely with industry and government departments. 

Research-led teaching is a key strength of the Department, which came 5th in the Complete University Guide. The department offers BSc and MEng undergraduate degrees and is currently redeveloping its interdisciplinary taught postgraduate degrees. The size of its student cohort has more than trebled in the past five years. The Department has an exceptionally strong External Advisory Board that provides strategic support for developing research and education, consisting of high-profile industrialists and academics.

Computer Science is one of the very best UK Computer Science Departments with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students.

The Role

We are seeking a full-time Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) to join Prof. Toby Breckon's research team at Durham University. The post is funded, for an initial fixed-term period of 24 months, by an ongoing portfolio of research work primarily spanning aspects of automatic object detection and classification for wide-area visual surveillance (in collaboration with a large industrial partner) in addition to use in aviation security (in collaboration with UK and US government) and sensing for future autonomous vehicles (in collaboration with a number of industrial collaborators).

The researcher will have the opportunity to work on common themes of machine learning research with applications across several funded work streams within the group. They will consider the use of cutting-edge deep learning algorithms for image classification and generalized data understanding tasks (object detection, human pose and behaviour understanding, and materials discrimination), in addition to integrated aspects of visual tracking and stereo vision across a range of image modalities. Specifically, they will investigate novel aspects of automatic adaptability of contemporary machine learning approaches as an aspect of these tasks. They will develop software algorithms, manage their own academic research in addition to project delivery to a range of external industrial and government collaborators.

In addition to published research output, the candidate can expect their research to have significant impact across a range of industrial/governmental collaborators and form a major innovation contributor to future visual surveillance and vehicle autonomy applications.

The post the offers an outstanding opportunity to gain a strong research track record in an exciting and fast-moving area of applied computer vision and machine learning whilst working in an environment with high levels of external collaboration and industrial research impact.

Further details on the research portfolio can be found on the following website:

Prof. Toby Breckon, publications and demos: https://www.durham.ac.uk/toby.breckon/


  • 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 write up results of own research and prepare and deliver presentations on research progress and outputs/activities in a clear and accurate manner to audiences which may include: bodies supervising research, 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, undertaking research within the framework of the project(s) to assess varying methodoligies and their relative performance.
  • 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 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.   
  • To collaborate and exchange information with the principal investigator (PI) and external collaborators.
  • To develop and implement, verify and validate computer software including development of software deliverables for demonstration to external research sponsors.
  • To document and maintain of computer software using established practices within the research group.

This Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) post at Durham University requires an enthusiastic researcher with expertise in the development of computer vision, image processing and/or machine learning techniques. The project work with external collaborators requires someone who can develop robust, well-documented code efficiently and have an ability to work with exotic sensing hardware as required. Researchers lacking evidence of code development in a delivery environment, or strong potential to work as part of a multidisciplinary team spanning multiple organisations are unlikely to be successful. It is fixed term for 24 months due to external funding.

While the post is based for the full period in Durham, it will be necessary for the researcher to travel for meetings and/or system trials as part of the project. There will also be the opportunity for the researcher to attend national and international conferences to present the work, and there will be opportunities to gain experience of teaching at undergraduate level. The researcher will join the Innovative Computing Research Group within the Department.

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 January 2021.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Prof. Toby Breckon, toby.breckon@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 brief statement of research interests (describing how past experience fits with the advertised position)
  • Publication list to date

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include formal interview and a presentation of recent research results. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment (Date TBC)

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in Computer Science related subject or equivalent in experience
  • A PhD (or strong alternative postgraduate experience) in Computer Science or a related subject (or be about to submit a PhD – to be awarded within 3 months of the appointment start date)
  • Excellent written and spoken English


  • Demonstrable experience in conducting high quality academic research independently, as well as collaboratively in a team.
  • Proven track record of successful liaison with a research sponsor and attend successful trials (trips) within the UK.
  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research in computer vision, machine learning or a related discipline
  • 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 academic collaboration with external parties of numerical methods and/or machine learning techniques in computer software development
  • Experience of software delivery to external parties (industry/open-source/end-user)
  • Ability to collaborate with academic colleagues and external parties of numerical methods in computer code
  • Experience in computer vision and machine learning


  • Appropriate mathematical and computational skills to be able to undertake the research as laid out in the project description
  • Intermediate to advanced Python or C++/C programming skills
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Mathematical and computational skills to be able to undertake the research as laid out in the project description
  • Independent preparation of high quality conference and journal papers
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills to a wide target audience
  • Excellent team-working skills, including a proven record of interacting with other researchers. 
  • Proven ability to provide high quality input and recommendations to inform decisions of others (e.g. advise PhD and project students on research techniques)
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Self-motivation and ability to work autonomously on agreed tasks
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.



  • PhD (or strong alternative postgraduate experience) in Computer Vision / Machine Learning or Image Processing
  • Experience working in Linux development environment spanning desktop systems, HPC and GPU
  • Strong publication record in the computer vision, image processing and machine learning literature/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 camera / sensor integration under Linux (and/or ROS)
  • Experience with one or more deep learning development environments
  • Experience of conducting independent research leading to research papers
  • Experience in delivering software to external parties using a variety of platforms (collaborators/open-source/end-users) and the ability to develop high-performance software implementations of cutting-edge algorithms from the literature.


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.