Research Fellow in Natural Language Processing

Southampton, United Kingdom
£31,406 to £38,587 per annum
22 Oct 2021
End of advertisement period
09 Jan 2022
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Agents, Interactions & Complexity

Location:  Highfield Campus
Salary:   £31,406 to £38,587 per annum
Full Time Fixed Term (24 months)
Closing Date:  Sunday 09 January 2022
Interview Date:   To be confirmed
Reference:  1562021FP

You will join our team working on deep learning-based Natural Language Processing (NLP) models for behaviour classification as part of the ProTechThem (Building Awareness for Safer and Technology-Savvy Sharenting) research project. The post will be in the Agents, Interaction and Complexity (AIC) group, which is part of the department of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS) at the University of Southampton. The AIC group leads a number of nationally important research centres including the Trustworthy Autonomous System Research Hub ( and the UKRI MINDS Centre for Doctoral Training (

The ProTechThem project ( is exploring how criminology and computer science can enable better targeted awareness-raising activities and to improve the tools we currently have to study, prevent and mitigate the negative impacts of sharenting practices. Sharenting is the sharing of identifying and sensitive information of minors and can introduce significant risks. Beyond risks around the negative psychological repercussions of ignoring children’s desire to having (or not) an online identity, there are concerns regarding the potential for grooming and child abuse and the potential for identity fraud and identity theft.

Your role will be to develop deep learning-based NLP models for risky behaviour classification applied to short and long online conversations. This will include NLP research into areas such as few/zero shot learning based NLP models, memory augmented NLP models and the use of sentence embeddings to encode online conversation graphs. ProTechThem is an inter-disciplinary project with criminological experts in the project team. You will use off-the-shelf crawling software to support criminologists analysing and annotating a large (10,000 post) corpus of behaviour examples. You will also explore how your behaviour classification NLP models can use human-in-the-loop AI approaches such as active learning and/or adversarial training to overcome behaviour classes with limited training resources, such as emergent sharenting risks.

To be successful you will have a PhD* or equivalent professional qualifications and experience in natural language processing, artificial intelligence or a closely related subject. In addition to NLP research, an important part of the role is to interact with project partners in the UK and Italy and to become familiar with the sharenting problem domain.

The appointment is for 24 months due to funding restrictions.

The department of Electronics and Computer Science is the leading university department of its kind in the UK, with an international reputation for world-leading research across computer science, electronics, and electrical engineering. Research takes place in a multidisciplinary, collaborative environment and draws on our outstanding facilities. With over 550 researchers from many different subject backgrounds, the research culture in ECS is fast-changing and dynamic. Our internationally renowned teaching and research have been ranked among the highest in the UK.

Equality, diversity and Inclusion is central to the ethos in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. We particularly encourage women, Black, Asian and minority ethnic, LGBT and disabled applicants to apply for this position. We are committed to improving equality for women in science and have been successful in achieving an Athena SWAN bronze award in April 2020. We give full consideration to applicants that wish to work flexibly including part-time and due consideration will be given to applicants who have taken a career break. The University has a generous maternity policy**, onsite childcare facilities and other benefits such as the cycle to work scheme.

The University of Southampton is in the top 1% of world universities and in the top 10 of the UK’s research-intensive universities. The University of Southampton is committed to sustainability and being a globally responsible university and has recently been awarded the Platinum EcoAward.  Our vision is to embed the principles of sustainability into all aspects of our individual and collective work, integrating sustainable development into our business planning, policy-making, and professional activities.  This commits all of our staff and students to take responsibility for managing their activities to minimise harm to the environment, whether this through switching off non-essential electrical equipment or using the recycling facilities.

For informal enquiries before submitting your application, contact Dr Stuart E. Middleton ( 

Please include a covering letter and full CV in your application. You will also need to specify at least two references on the application form.

*Applications for Research Fellow positions will be considered from candidates who are working towards or nearing completion of a relevant PhD qualification.  The title of Research Fellow will be applied upon successful completion of the PhD. Prior to the qualification being awarded the title of Senior Research Assistant will be given.

**subject to qualifying criteria

Application Procedure: 

You should submit your completed online application form at The application deadline will be midnight on the closing date stated above. If you need any assistance, please call Hannah Farrance (Recruitment Team) on +44 (0) 23 8059 2507. Please quote reference 1562021FP on all correspondence.

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