Postgraduate Research Coordinator

Durham, United Kingdom
£22,417 - £25,941 per annum
18 May 2021
End of advertisement period
27 May 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Earth Sciences

Grade 5: - £22,417 - £25,941 per annum
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contract Duration: Fixed Term until June 2022
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 27-May-2021, 6:59:00 AM 

Job Family: Business Process and People Services

OUR CHARACTERISTICS: We are a globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, in a unique and historic setting.    

OUR VALUES: We are inspiring, challenging, innovative, responsible and enabling.

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Business, 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.

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.

It is expected that all staff within the University:

  • Contribute to our learning culture by engaging in mentoring, training and coaching.
  • Positively contribute to fostering a collegial environment; as well as demonstrating commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion.
  • Have due regard to Health and Safety requirements appropriate to grade and role.

Family key attributes

Roles in this family provide a comprehensive service and deliver the efficient administration and governance of the University.

Overall family purpose

  • Deliver direct and indirect services to stakeholders.
  • Provide advice and answer queries as part of an enquiry-desk/help-desk function.
  • Respond to and manage requests for information and resources.
  • Deliver services to meet regulatory requirements and procedures. 
  • Plan and deliver a joined-up approach to University business and people services.
  • Align business processes and services to meet operational and strategic policy objectives.  
  • Deliver business processes to ensure effective management, governance and the economic viability of the University. 
  • Encourage, collaborate and participate in the development of productive cross-institution relationships and working.
  • Provide excellent professional services that meet strategic and operational goals and business needs.
  • Carry out monitoring, analysis, development and planning to design new services and service updates for continuous improvement whilst meeting changes in regulations.
  • Engage with specialist professionals, consultants, and suppliers to exchange knowledge and facilitate partnership working.
  • Work collaboratively and network across the University with staff in other families to ensure a smooth, timely and high-quality delivery of service.
  • Align and deliver programmes and activities to meet operational and strategic objectives to enhance the stakeholder experience.
  • Engage and encourage participation with external professionals, schools, alumni and donors.

Link to key strategic plan

  • An economically sustainable approach to delivering Professional Services across the University;
  • A joined-up approach to University professional services, regardless of location or line management;
  • A culture and practice of continuous improvement; 
  • Design services that meet business need;
  • A stakeholder-focused orientation, offering satisfying careers to all staff;
  • Support and facilitate programmes that offer intellectual challenge, cohesiveness and a strong sense of progression;
  • Ensure that an increasingly diverse workforce is treated equally, fairly and with respect, and that all staff are demonstrably valued and actively engaged.

The Department and role purpose

Durham Earth Sciences is one of the 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 40.

Our community is around 35 academic staff, 25 research & technical staff, and 10 professional service staff, working together to provide a vibrant atmosphere in which to teach and to undertake research. We work with around 80 postgraduate research students and 270 undergraduate students.

The Department strives for a collegial, collaborative and flexible working environment and is a member of the Athena SWAN Charter, currently holding a departmental Bronze Athena SWAN award and applying for a Silver Award later this year.

Our research covers a spectrum of Earth Science disciplines around three themes: Earth Surface Processes and Hazards; Climate, Environment and Resources; Physics and Chemistry of Earth and Planetary Processes. We recognise that we are living through a time of unprecedented change on Earth. Scientific understanding of climate change, geological hazards, sustainability, infrastructure, energy and natural resources is increasingly important to society. Our aims are therefore to help shape the future by providing the highest quality education for our students and to undertake research which is intrinsically excellent and which is relevant to society. We do this within a collegiate, collaborative and flexible working environment.

We are committed to providing the highest level of education to our students within an inclusive and supportive environment, helping them develop the knowledge, skills and confidence to contribute positively to the world after they graduate. We provide research-led teaching with a large proportion of practical classes and a deep commitment to field-based teaching. Our students are highly sought after by a diverse range of employers.

The Postgraduate Research (PGR) Coordinator is responsible for the provision of a professional, efficient administrative service and acts as a first point of contact for the postgraduate community of around 80 students in the department. Although they will work closely with the Director of PGR Studies and the PGR Admissions Tutor, the PGR Coordinator will work independently, taking day to day decisions and using their own initiative and experience to decide on appropriate courses of action and resolve complex problems. They will possess excellent communication, organisational and time management skills, display initiative and flexibility.

The PGR Coordinator will take responsibility for operational aspects of postgraduate research programme delivery and other related departmental activities. The post holder will ensure deadlines are met and administrative standards are maintained, working in accordance with University and departmental policies and procedures.

 They will provide a professional, efficient administrative service, supporting a wide range of activities from admissions through to graduation, ensuring PGR student experience is at the forefront of delivery. They will engage in supporting networks, committees, meetings, and ensure efficient and accurate distribution of information to the PGR community. They will prepare, record and distribute documents and communications, including minutes. They will work flexibly to ensure the team functions effectively in meeting priorities, working in accordance with University and Departmental policies and procedures. They will represent the department and liaise with other Professional Support Service divisions across the University.

 The PGR Coordinator will provide postgraduate student support including resolving queries and providing information on academic and welfare related issues. Professional communication and judgement skills are key, as the PGR Coordinator often will make referrals to other staff, teams and services as appropriate, escalating more specialist and complex queries or issues, as required.

This appointment could be a secondment opportunity.

Core responsibilities:

  • Plan and organise own workload, taking responsibility for operational aspects of programme delivery, ensuring deadlines are met and administrative standards are maintained. 
  • Resolve queries and requests for information and act as a key contact in relation to research student issues, signposting to other staff or departments where appropriate and escalating more specialist and complex queries or issues to more experienced team members and/or academic colleagues.
  • Respond to student needs to deliver and shape an excellent student experience.
  • Apply theory and practice, from professional development and previous knowledge within a service team.
  • Contribute to collaborative decision making  to deliver an excellent student experience in accordance with policy and procedures. 
  • Work collaboratively across the department, faculty, university and/or externally with colleagues ensure efficient and effective administration of the PGR programme.
  • Provide guidance and advice to resolve problems and queries for a broad range of service users, developing expertise in relation to PGR admissions, progress and assessment policies and processes.
  • Collaborate with team members to implement new policies and procedures.
  • Organise and schedule resources, activities and events. For example, PGR induction and training and the deployment of PGR students as demonstrators for taught undergraduate modules.
  • Identify priorities and monitor processes and activities to ensure success. For example, monitor progress against deadlines, ensure accurate recording of viva outcomes, production of documentation and multimedia material to promote research projects.
  • Provide more in-depth independent research and analysis activities within the role such as reporting on student number projections against targets.
  • Analyse work activities to ensure the effective and efficient use of capital and consumable equipment and resources such as analysing and projecting demonstrator costs for financial planning purposes.
  • Provide demonstrations and instruction to others within and outside the team.
  • Support the capture of the needs of the PGR students and work with colleague to translate these into recommendations for future research student support provision.
  • Liaise with contacts and participate in networks and communities internally and possibly externally, contributing to effective collaborative working.
  • Advise others and make recommendations into work processes and procedures for consideration by senior management to improve services.
  • Act as more knowledgeable team member without responsibility for team members.

Role responsibilities:

  • Deliver PGR student support services to ensure the effective and efficient running of administrative processes and systems systems via prompt and professional communication with the PGR community ensuring students receive appropriate support and guidance. 
  • Monitor and evaluate programme administration to ensure compliance with regulatory and professional procedures and standards including UK Border Agency requirements.
  • Collaborate with colleagues across professional and administrative areas to ensure seamless research service provision.
  • Develop and enhance operational and administrative policies, systems and procedures, fostering a continuous improvement philosophy.
  • Provide training to team members on data handling and recording.
  • Monitor data accuracy checks to identify anomalies and ensure the integrity of data and information.
  • Coordinate and monitor the implementation of Departmental and University policies and initiatives.
  • Update data and information on systems and media for recording, storing, communicating and informing service users and team members.
  • Work with internal and external partners to maintain effective relationships and to plan and deliver complex deliver cross-functional services and activities. 
  • Analyse and interpret PGR data and statistics and provide reports for higher level decision makers.
  • Accurately record information and data and disseminate within internal networks including committees, including acting as Secretary to the PGR Staff Student Forum and other Departmental meetings as required, e.g. arrange meetings, draft agenda, take minutes, initiating and monitoring follow-up actions.
  • Contribute to the development and implementation of policy and procedures within own area of working as required.
  • Prepare written reports for consideration by management where required.
  • Contribute to the preparation of documentation associated with internal accreditation, quality management and enhancement activities related to research student activities and the wider research environment.
  • Any other reasonable duties.

Specific role requirements:

Work outside office hours during peak periods for example induction week in October and January and February when studentship applications are being submitted and considered.

Recruiting to this post

In order to be considered for interview, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification above (including those listed in the section ‘Realising Your Potential Approach’).  

In some cases, the recruiting panel may also consider the desirable criteria, so we recommend you evidence all criteria in your application.  

Please note that some criteria will only be considered at interview stage.

How to apply 

We prefer to receive applications online.

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.dur.ac.uk/ig/dp/privacy/pnjobapplicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.

What you are required to submit

  1. A CV; 
  2. A covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above;
  3. The person specification grid.  

Please copy and paste the grid from this job description into a separate Microsoft Word document, complete the evidence columns and submit this alongside your other application material.

Please ensure that you submit all documentation listed above or your application cannot proceed to the next stage.

Contact details 

For further information please contact; Jill Hoult, Departmental Manager, J.L.Hoult@durham.ac.uk or Louise Bowron, PGR Coordinator, earthsci.pgadmin@durham.ac.uk

At Durham University, our aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work. We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.

We will notify you on the status of your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to ensure you receive all emails

Person specification - skills, knowledge, qualifications and experience required

Essential Criteria

  1. Excellent oral and written communication skills and the ability to develop effective working relationships, both internally and externally.
  2. Proven IT skills, including use of Microsoft Office and MS365.
  3. Five GCSE’s at least Grade C or level four (or equivalent) including English Language and Mathematics (or equivalent experience). 
  4. Evidence of personal development to maintain skills.
  5. Post-16 qualification or equivalent experience.
  6. Relevant administrative experience in a busy an office environment.
  7. Demonstrable ability to proactively work with team members to ensure the delivery of high-quality services.
  8. Demonstrable ability to work without direct supervision, exercise initiative and demonstrate a pro-active approach to problem solving over an annual cycle.
  9. Demonstrable evidence of excellent organisational and time management skills.
  10. Experience of working on the front line with service delivery, and the ability to work under pressure and meet tight deadlines without compromising on quality.
  11. Demonstrable ability to provide advice and guidance to a range of customers students and colleagues.
  12. Demonstrable ability to gather, sort, analyse and present data, and an awareness of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
  13. Demonstrable ability to solve problems as part of a team and resolve issues, plan solutions and make pragmatic decisions.
  14. Demonstrable ability to effectively network and exchange advice and information to improve administrative processes. 

Desirable Criteria

  • Experience of working in the Higher Education sector.
  • Familiarity with student record systems.
  • Experience of organising programmes of events and monitoring. attendance, particularly under the UK Border Agency guidelines.
  • Experience of appropriately handling difficult and sensitive situations

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