Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Peacebuilding with a Focus on DRC

Durham, United Kingdom
£33,797 - £40,322 per annum (pro rata)
30 Jul 2021
End of advertisement period
13 Aug 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time

School Government & Int'national Affairs

Grade 7: - £33,797 - £40,322 per annum (pro rata)
Fixed Term - Part Time
Contract Duration: Until 31/07/2022
Contracted Hours per Week: 10.5
Closing Date: 13-Aug-2021, 6:59:00 AM

Durham University

A globally outstanding centre of teaching and research excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other.

We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things in the world.

As part of Durham University, you’ll be working with exceptional minds, all with the desire to ask, and answer, the big questions. Access to leading edge facilities and an active contributor to the global research and university community means you’ll be part of an international and diverse network of partners spanning the world’s best research institutions, organisations and businesses. And all this within the evocative and historic surroundings of the city, county and community that is Durham.

We find it easy to be proud of the extraordinary people we have at Durham. We offer the inspiration, they achieve the outstanding. We invite you to join them.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University. We are committed to equality: if for any reason you have taken a career break or periods of leave that may have impacted on your career path, such as maternity, adoption or parental leave, you may wish to disclose this in your application. The selection committee will recognise that this may have reduced the quantity of your research accordingly.

Durham University’s Athena Swan institutional award recognises and celebrates good practice in recruiting and supporting the development of women. We have also signed up to the Race Equality Charter, a national framework for improving the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education.

The Department

SGIA is a growing department over the next five years by which point we anticipate having 50 core academic staff, up from 29 in 2017-18. Building on current successes (QS top 100), SGIA aims to be amongst the World’s top 40 and the UK’s top 10 units in the field by the completion of our expansion. SGIA plans to be amongst the most diverse and inclusive departments in the UK, too. Our academic community ethos stresses equality and we will provide an environment that supports all its members effectively. The department holds an Athena Swan award at bronze level and is developing a range of initiatives to enhance equality and diversity in our research, teaching and management practices.

The successful candidate will join a vibrant research culture which provides a stimulating and supportive environment for developing and refining research projects and outputs, networking with colleagues within and beyond Durham, and providing pump-priming financial support for research. All staff have access to excellent individual research support and Durham University’s wealth of research resources, as appropriate for a University that aims to be firmly within the world’s elite.

SGIA attracts some of the most highly qualified undergraduates in the UK to its exciting undergraduate degree programmes, which are scheduled to expand significantly over the coming eight years. The postgraduate student community is large, at over 200 taught and research students, and highly international.

Our vibrancy is linked to the two journals we host (Global Policy and East Asia: an International Quarterly), and our additional research Centres and Institutes in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Global Policy, Global Security, Political Thought, Institutions and Political Behaviour, and Contemporary Chinese Studies.

The Role

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Research Associate (PDRA) in an AHRC/DFID funded project on ‘Peacekeepers as Soldiers and Humanitarians’ led by Dr Jutta Bakonyi. The project comparatively explores protection practices of UN peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and AU peacekeepers Federal Republic of Somalia. It focusses on protection providers (military peacekeepers) and compares their experiences with those they are supposed to protect: humanitarian actors and civilians.

The PDRA will contribute to the research at all levels and stages of the project, support the development of a research design (questions, methodology, methods), the training of research partners, conduct own field research, contribute to the analysis of research data (interviews, sketch-maps, field diary) and to the dissemination of research findings to military, policy and academia.

The PDRA will be the focal point for research in the DRC, establish and maintain contacts and liaise with partners and stakeholders. S/he and support field research of research partners and colleagues in the DRC and in troop contributing countries to the UN mission.

The PDRA will also contribute to the development of a training module for military peacekeepers and develop policy and practical recommendations to enhance protection practices. S/he will attend regular team meetings, cooperate closely with the research team and report research challenges and progress to the PI, Dr. Jutta Bakonyi.


Development of Research Project

  • To contribute to the review of literature with respect to peacekeeping and protection with a particular focus on the UN mission in DRC
  • To contribute to development and continuous finetuning of the research design: research questions, methodology, methods
  • To support the operationalisation of methodology and its practical adaptation to the DRC
  • To advise on all matters pertaining to research in the DRC and to support the development of research guides (oversee translation in French language for researchers in DRC)
  • To act as main contact point for research partners and stakeholders in the DRC and for all other French speaking partners

Field Research

  • To conduct own field research in the DRC and in at least one troop contributing country, if possible Tanzania (in cooperation with Co-I Lugano), under the overall supervision of the PI
  • To collaborate closely with partners in the DRC and to support their work
  • To plan and manage partners’ research activity and research resources
  • To lead communication and to guide and oversee research activities done by partner organisations and research assistants in DRC and to ensure that research ethics are met
  • To stay in regular contact with the PI, communicate and discuss all issues arising from research and field activities (Dr Jutta Bakonyi)

Data Analysis

  • To oversee and cross-check the transcriptions of interviews conducted in the DRC
  • To assist and contribute to coding of DRC relevant interviews and to cross-coding of samples of other interviews

Communication of Research Findings

  • To write at least one research brief/report that summarize research findings from peacekeeping in DRC and includes recommendations
  • To contribute to academic outputs (articles) and take the lead in at least one article on military peacekeeping and protection in the DRC
  • To contribute to the organisation and presentation of research findings in round table discussions with a broad set of stakeholders in DRC (in cooperation with partner organisations)
  • To support the organisation of meetings between researchers and other stakeholders (among them military, civil society representatives, humanitarians, peacekeeping training centres)
  • To contribute and develop material for research presentation for academic and non-academic staff

Teaching of Peacekeepers

  • To support the development of a teaching module for peacekeepers
  • To contribute to the development of research briefs and reports for non-academic audience and to academic publications under the direction of the Principal Investigator and Grant Holder (Dr Jutta Bakonyi)

Cooperation and Collegiality

  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator and offering suggestions for 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 fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.

This post is part of an AHRC/DFID funded fixed term research project, with an end date of the 31/07/2022. This fixed term post will therefore be available from 01/09/2021 and will end on the 31/07/2022.

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

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by the PI of the grant, Dr. Jutta Bakonyi. 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 01/09/2021. 

The Requirements



  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in International Relations, Peace and Conflict Studies, Anthropology, Political Geography or a related subject.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research
  • Experience of conducting research in the DRC
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings, meetings with policy makers and other practitioners.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Very good knowledge of French



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable knowledge of (military) peacekeeping and military interventions
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to engage with military and/or policy makers and/or aid practitioners
  • Knowledge of Ki-Swahili


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.