Research Assistant - Department of Psychology

Durham, United Kingdom
£26,715 per annum
21 Dec 2020
End of advertisement period
15 Jan 2021
Academic Discipline
Social Sciences, Psychology
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time

Department of Psychology 

Grade 6: - £26,715 per annum
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: 12 months
Contracted Hours per Week: 14
Closing Date: 15-Jan-2021, 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

Founded in 1952, the Department of Psychology is consistently ranked as one of the very best in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and student employability. We are currently ranked in the top 100 of Psychology Departments world-wide according to the QS World Rankings. The department is committed to creating and maintaining a research environment that spans the entire breadth of psychology. Currently the department’s research falls within three groupings: Cognitive Neuroscience, Developmental Science, and Quantitative Social Psychology. There is a vibrant research culture with a weekly departmental research seminar series.

The department is extremely well-equipped for research, including facilities for fMRI, TMS, tDCS, EEG/ERP, VR, eye movement tracking, and biophysiological recording. The department also has a motion capture lab for analysis of visuomotor action and experiments in immersive VR, a ‘bar’ lab for naturalistic studies in health psychology, and setups for psychophysics including an echo-attenuated chamber. The department benefits from full IT and mechanical research support from departmental technicians between 8:30 and 16:30 Monday to Friday.

We offer a prestigious Psychology undergraduate programme (C800), a new undergraduate programme in Behavioural Science (C803), as well as a suite of masters programmes. We are committed to research-led and small group teaching. Our single honours Psychology programme achieved 91% satisfaction with our students in the 2020 NSS and we are privileged to work with outstanding students who are attracted to Durham from across the globe.

The successful candidate will join the vibrant Developmental Science Research Group who host regular meetings and activities, as well as have the opportunity to join a host of exciting inter-disciplinary networks in the University such as those supporting early career researchers. The successful candidate will be a core member of the Centre for Developmental Disorders (www.durham.ac.uk/devdis) which includes researchers conducting a wide range of studies in the field of neurodevelopmental research – especially focused on Williams Syndrome and Autism and they will be invited to join the North East Autism Research group.

The Role

A 12-month fixed-term Research Assistant (RA) position is available two days per week in the Department of Psychology at Durham University. The successful candidate will join the research project “Family Wellbeing and Anxiety in Williams Syndrome – An International Study” led by Prof Debbie Riby and Dr Mary Hanley and funded by Autour des Williams. The project focuses on anxiety in Williams syndrome (hereafter WS) and family functioning with a specific focus on parental well-being. A critical element of the project is the international aspect, as we will involve families from a number of countries (linked through the European Federation of WS charities) and will be working with an international network of family support charities (using online methods). The aim of the project is to both contribute to our understanding of anxiety and well-being in WS families (from a research perspective) and also consider how best to develop resources to support families (from an impact perspective).

The Project: The project has three over-arching aims. Aim 1 is to understand the expression and experience of anxiety in individuals with WS from an international perspective. Aim 2 is to understand parental wellbeing and experiences in WS families and particularly in relation to i) child anxiety and ii) regional acceptance of disability / knowledge of WS. Aim 3 is to use the research evidence to begin to make an impact on supporting families in the international WS community.

The Project Team: The research assistant will join a vibrant research group in the field of developmental disorders (inc 5 PhD students, a postdoc, another RA, academic staff). The grant is held by Prof Debbie Riby and Dr Mary Hanley, who will jointly provide RA supervision. The broader project team also involves three dissertation students conducting linked projects towards their MSc Developmental Psychopathology.

Expectations: The successful applicant will be expected to contribute to the design, implementation, and data analysis for this project. They will need to interact with the WS community and international support charities to ensure we can capture data from families in a number of countries. The study will be conducted primarily through online questionnaires. Data analysis will be conducted in SPSS. The RA will also be involved in reporting the findings back to the relevant regional charities / families involved in the project. The successful applicant will be expected to be actively engage with the activities of the Centre for Developmental Disorders. Standard RA responsibilities and specific requirements are listed in more detail below.


  • 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 and this is set by the level of funding provided for this post by the sponsor, Autour des Williams charity. The successful applicant will, ideally, be in post in February 2021 or as soon as possible thereafter.

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.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Professor Debbie Riby, deborah.riby@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

The assessment for the post will include an interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an online interview and assessment in January 2021.

The Requirements


  • A good first degree in psychology or related discipline.
  • A Masters degree in psychology.
  • Experience in conducting basic academic research or providing research assistance, including the use of standard research methods.
  • Demonstrable ability to produce concise and well-written reports for a range of stakeholders.
  • Experience of conducting research with children, or with families of children with developmental conditions
  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to manage time effectively and work to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.


  • Experience in conducting online questionnaire studies.
  • Experience of conducting research with schools, families, or charities.
  • Knowledge of research on the cognitive and behavioural phenotypes associated with Williams Syndrome.
  • Ability to liaise with a range of stakeholders.
  • Ability to contribute to the planning and management of research.
  • Ability to communicate research across academic and non-academic boundaries.
  • Ability to convert research into practice.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.